Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The abortion milieu

Barry Michaels has an excellent essay in the September issue of Touchstone magazine. In it, he shares a discussion he had with his high school religion students about abortion. You can read it here.

As I just wrote to Barry:

At the end, you said,
"Neither biological insights nor logical consistency is important. Convenience is."

And gut reactions. My theory is that most pro-choice adults maintain their position because they

a. had an abortion themselves
b. love someone who has had an abortion
c. helped a friend get an abortion

and to them, "killing" doesn't define what they (or those they love) are capable of. Ergo, it must not be killing. (This was certainly my thinking when I was pro-abortion. ) These kids are mostly too young to fall into the above categories, but as you said in the article,

"They reflect the way the abortion issue is thought about and discussed by their parents, their peers, their legislators, and the media, which is for them and many of the rest of us the very cultural air we breathe."

That's it exactly. And the pervasive denial is based on feelings. With approximately 40 million abortions since 1973, what are the chances that you don't know someone who has been involved in an abortion? Your best friend, your next-door neighbor, that nice lady at the bakery ....

I think we can only turn this tide one heart, one post-abortive woman, one person who loves another person, at a time. But as long as adults are living in such feeling-based denial, kids will keep breathing that same deadly cultural air and the irrational thinking will be perpetuated because we cannot face who and what we are.


Suzanne Temple said...

I remember, keenly, a debate we had in public high school about abortion. I was one of the few pro-lifers. What I remember most was a male classmate defending abortion with rage. Later when I spoke to him (I had thought his rage was directed at me)I discovered he had just paid for his girlfriend's abortion. This was quite shocking to me. I'll never forget it.

Jennifer said...

Technology is catching up with pro-choice people (as the article mentioned). They are living on borrowed time. I don't think the women who have had abortions are the same ones marching in parades... I do know a person or two - it's a deep source of shame for them.

Karen E. said...

Yes, Jennifer, I agree -- *if* a woman has faced the abortion, then it becomes a source of pain and shame. *But* if she's still in denial, she's often out there with the activists .... I think technology has already passed the pro-choice argument by. As Barry's essay points out, this is not an argument that's based on reason.

Sue Sims said...

I too have found that logical reasoning gets one nowhere with teens (I teach English in a girls' grammar school - in Britain, one which takes children from 11 to 18, selecting for academic ability, though you wouldn't always believe that), but focusing on the physical horror of abortion works well.

When President Bush signed the bill (don't know the US language) preventing partial birth abortions, I happened to be working in the computer room open to staff and senior girls. Two girls (about 17) were talking about how appalling it was that Bush had done this terrible thing.

I broke into the conversation and asked them whether they knew what these late abortions entailed. No, they didn't. "The mother goes into labour," I told them, "and as the baby's head appears, the doctor plunges a pair of large scissors into the skull and kills the baby."

"But - that's horrible!" said one. "You're not making it up?"

"No," I said.

"Well," said the other, "I think President Bush was quite right to stop that going on."

The thing is, of course, that they're all brought up to feel that the highest virtue in life (apart from non-judgementalism) is to be Nice. Stopping someone from having an abortion which she wants is obviously Not Nice; so you have to trump that bit of notniceness with something even more notnice - brutality to a living creature. Their sentimentality* - often resulting in vegetarianism - can be co-opted very usefully here.

*That term isn't used pejoratively here, merely to describe the exaltation of feeling above reason.