A couple of items from Sisterlife, the publication of Feminists for Life. An outfit called TurboGrafix 16 has a video game called “Slaughterhouse.” The sixth level is named “The Womb.” There little babies in amniotic sacs float toward the hero, who must slay them because they will “jump on your back if you let them live,” according to the game book. Sisterlife comments: “At last, a toy that isn’t based on gratuitous violence but points kids toward a profitable career.” Then there is a report from Bonnie Shullenberger (a contributor to First Things) who is teaching in Uganda. She saw a new play by Uganda’s leading young playwright, Alex Mukulu, titled “Excuse Me, Muzungu” (“Muzungu” is a term for Europeans). In one scene a very proper white woman scolds several black men, “Why don’t you take responsibility for all the children you father?” A black man responds, “Excuse me, Muzungu! Where are the fathers of the all the babies you abort?” That might be called multiculturalism with a twist.
Ignored by the press here but carried on UPI and published in the London Daily Telegraph is a report “that doctors at the state run Shenzhen Health Centre for Women and Children hand out bottles of thumbsized aborted babies to be made into meat cakes or soup with pork and ginger. Zou Qin, a doctor at the Luo Hu Clinic in Shenzhen, said the fetuses were ‘nutritious’ and that she had eaten one hundred herself in the last six months. ‘We don’t carry out abortions just to eat fetuses,’ said Qin. ‘[But they would be] wasted if not eaten.’ “ Two hundred and fifty years later, Dean Swift’s modest proposal might indeed seem modest to the hosts of the UN conference on women and human rights in Beijing.
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. August/September 1995.
In Letters to Gabriel (Briefly Noted, October), Karen Garver Santorum includes a moment that should not be forgotten. In the Senate her husband Rick Santorum was in 1997 leading the fight on behalf of a ban on partial birth abortion. Senator Barbara Boxer of California, in opposition, thanked the women who had had such abortions for coming forward with their stories and declared, “They are crying. They are crying because they do not understand how Senators could take away an option. They are crying because they do not believe that those Senators truly understand what this meant for their families.” Santorum said in response, “The Senator said she hears the cries of the women outside this Chamber. We would be deafened by the cries of the children who are not here to cry because of this procedure.” The Washington Post described what happened next: “Republican Sen. Rick Santorum turned to face the opposition and in a high, pleading voice cried out, ‘Where do we draw the line? Some people have likened this procedure to an appendectomy. That’s not an appendix,’ he shouted, pointing to a drawing of a fetus. ‘That is not a blob of tissue. It is a baby. It’s a baby.’ And then, impossibly, in an already hushed gallery, in one of those moments when the floor of the Senate looks like a stage set, with its small wooden desks somehow too small for the matters at hand, the cry of a baby pierced the room, echoing across the chamber from an outside hallway. No one mentioned the cry, but for a few seconds, no one spoke at all.”
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. December 1998.
We’ve told the story before. One evening Jean Garton, cofounder of Lutherans for Life, was preparing some slides she was going to use in a presentation the next day. On the screen was a dismembered victim of abortion. Suddenly her threeyearold son, who she thought was safely in bed, was standing behind her and asking with infinite sadness, “Who broke the baby?” Garton’s little book, Who Broke the Baby?, has become something of a classic in prolife circles and is now out in a new edition from Bethany House Publishers (Minneapolis). It is one of the most accessible introductions to the basic arguments in the abortion controversy. You might want to pick up a copy, and maybe another for a friend who still doesn’t understand.
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. June/July 1998.
Abortion, Alleged Biblical Support For
James Trott of Philadelphia writes to correct one of our contributor’s claim that Exodus 21:2225 says that the _eath of a fetus is a relatively minor offense compared with injury to the mother. This, he insists, is a mistranslation and in support of his position he sends along an extensive discussion of the passage in Christianity Today (March 16, 1973) by Jack W. Cottrell, professor of theology at the Cincinnati Bible Seminary Graduate School. As the encyclical Evangelium Vitae notes, the judgment regarding abortion does not rest on any one or any several Bible passages but on the entire teaching of revelation about life created in the image of God. Nonetheless, readers who come across the invocation of the Exodus passage in support of abortion might want to have recourse to the Cottrell article.
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. February 1996.
Abortion, As A Convenience For The Affluent
According to an extensive survey by the Los Angeles Times, the abortion license is chiefly for the convenience of the welltodo. “Contrasted with the widespread perception that abortion clients come from the low end of the socioeconomic ladder, women who told the Times poll that they had aborted a fetus tended to be better educated, working full time, earning good salaries, and generally representative of every racial and ethnic group. They also tended to be either childless or the parent of just one child, a baby boomer and living in metropolitan areas. Religion is not very important in their lives.”
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. April 1993.
Abortion, Callousness And
Here’s the (edited) text of an article that appeared in The LA Times. It is chilling in many places (I’ve italicized these places) and reveals the callousness of the abortion culture.
“Offering Abortion, Rebirth”
Yes, an Arkansas doctor says, he destroys life. But he believes the thousands of women who have relied on him have been ‘born again.’
By Stephanie Simon
Times Staff Writer
November 29, 2005
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Dr. William F. Harrison…opened an obstetrics and gynecology practice, but after the Supreme Court established abortion as a constitutional right in 1973, he decided to take on an additional specialty. Now 70, Harrison estimates he’s terminated at least 20,000 pregnancies.
…Harrison warns every patient he sees that abortion may be illegal one day. He wants to stir them to activism, but most women respond mildly.
…He calls himself an “abortionist” and says, “I am destroying life.”
But he also feels he’s giving life: He calls his patients “born again.”
”When you end what the woman considers a disastrous pregnancy, she has literally been given her life back,” he says.
Before giving up obstetrics in 1991, Harrison delivered 6,000 babies. Childbirth, he says, should be joyous; a woman should never consider it a punishment or an obligation.
”We try to make sure she doesn’t ever feel guilty,” he says, “for what she feels she has to do.”
It is a few minutes before 11 a.m. when Harrison raps on the door of his operating room and walks in.
His Fayetteville Women’s Clinic occupies a onceelegant home dating to the 1940s; the firstfloor surgery looks like it was a parlor. Thick blue curtains block the windows and paintings of butterflies and flowers hang on the walls. The radio is tuned to an easylistening station.
An 18yearold with braces on her teeth is on the operating table, her head on a plaid pillow, her feet up in stirrups, her arms strapped down at her sides. A pink blanket is draped over her stomach. She’s 13 weeks pregnant, at the very end of the first trimester. She hasn’t told her parents.
A nurse has already given her a local anesthetic, Valium and a drug to dilate her cervix; Harrison prepares to inject Versed, a sedative, in her intravenous line. The drug will wipe out her memory of everything that happens during the 20 minutes she’s in the operating room. It’s so effective that patients who return for a followup exam often don’t recognize Harrison.
The doctor is wearing a black turtleneck, brown slacks and tennis shoes. He snaps his gum as he checks the monitors displaying the patient’s pulse rate and oxygen count.
”This is not going to be nearly as hard as you anticipate,” he tells her.
She smiles wanly. Keeping up a constant patter — he asks about her brothers, her future birth control plans, whether she’s good at tongue twisters — Harrison pulls on sterile gloves.
”How’re you doing up there?” he asks.
Harrison glances at an ultrasound screen frozen with an image of the fetus taken moments before. Against the fuzzy blackandwhite screen, he sees the curve of a head, the bend of an elbow, the ball of a fist.
”You may feel some cramping while we suction everything out,” Harrison tells the patient.
A moment later, he says: “You’re going to hear a sucking sound.”
The abortion takes two minutes. The patient lies still and quiet, her eyes closed, a few tears rolling down her cheeks. The friend who has accompanied her stands at her side, mutely stroking her arm.
When he’s done, Harrison performs another ultrasound. The screen this time is blank but for the contours of the uterus. “We’ve gotten everything out of there,” he says.
As the nurse drops the instruments in the sink with a clatter, the teenager looks around, woozy.
”It was a lot easier than I thought it would be,” she says. “I thought it would be horrible, but it wasn’t. The procedure, that is.”
She is not yet sure, she says, how she is doing emotionally. She feels guilty, sad and relieved, all in a jumble.
”There’s things wrong with abortion,” she says. “But I want to have a good life. And provide a good life for my child.” To keep this baby now, she says, when she’s single, broke and about to start college, “would be unfair.”
…Kim, a single mother of three, says she couldn’t bear to give away a child and have to wonder every day if he were loved. Ending the pregnancy seemed easier, she says — as long as she doesn’t let herself think about “what could have been.”
…For the few women who arrive ambivalent or beset by guilt, Harrison’s nurse has posted statistics on the examroom mirror: One out of every four pregnant women in the U.S. chooses abortion. A third of all women in this country will have at least one abortion by the time they’re 45.
”You think there’s room in hell for all those women?” the nurse will ask.
If the woman remains troubled, the nurse tells her to go home and think it over.
”If they truly feel they’re killing a baby, we’re not going to do an abortion for them,” says the nurse, who asked not to be identified for fear protesters would target her.
The 17yearold in for a consultation this morning assures the nurse that she does not consider the embryo inside her a baby.
”Not until it’s developed,” she says. “That would be about three months?”
”It’s completely formed about nine weeks,” the nurse tells her. “Yours is more like a chicken yolk.”
The girl, who is five weeks pregnant, looks relieved. “Then no,” she says, “it’s not a baby.” Her mother sits in the corner wiping her tears.
Harrison draws his own moral line at the end of the second trimester, or 26 weeks since the first day of the woman’s last menstrual period. Until that point, he will abort for any reason.
”It’s not a baby to me until the mother tells me it’s a baby,” he says.
But Harrison refuses to end thirdtrimester pregnancies, even if the fetus is severely disabled. Some premature infants born at that stage, or even a few weeks earlier, can survive. Harrison believes they may be developed enough to feel pain in utero. Just a handful of doctors around the nation will abort a fetus at this stage.
”I just don’t think it should be done,” says Harrison, who calls the practice infanticide.
…”It’s an everyday occurrence,” she says as she waits for her 2:30 p.m. abortion. “It’s not like this is a rare thing.”
Amanda hasn’t told her exboyfriend that she’s 15 weeks pregnant with his child. She hasn’t told her parents, either, though she lives with them.
”I figured it was my responsibility,” she says.
She regrets having to pay $750 for the abortion, but Amanda says she does not doubt her decision. “It’s not like it’s illegal. It’s not like I’m doing anything wrong,” she says.
”I’ve been praying a lot and that’s been a real source of strength for me. I really believe God has a plan for us all. I have a choice, and that’s part of my plan.”
….His first patient of the day, Sarah, 23, says it never occurred to her to use birth control, though she has been sexually active for six years. When she became pregnant this fall, Sarah, who works in real estate, was in the midst of planning her wedding. “I don’t think my dress would have fit with a baby in there,” she says.
The last patient of the day, a 32yearold college student named Stephanie, has had four abortions in the last 12 years. She keeps forgetting to take her birth control pills. Abortion “is a bummer,” she says, “but no big stress.”
Source: Stephanie Simon, “Offering Abortion, Rebirth.” Los Angeles Times. Nov. 29, 2005. (www.latimes.com)
“Ours is a country in which you are illadvised to be a fetus. The highest court in the land has ruled that you’re a parasite, disposable at will, even when you’re almost out of the chute. You’re just an extension of your mother’s whim. She can do whatever she likes with you. Her courtinstituted right to ‘choose’ trumps your right to live.” So writes Norah Vincent in, of all places, the Los Angeles Times. What set her off was the 63 Supreme Court decision that a hospital may not test a pregnant woman for drugs, although drug testing of government employees and highschool athletes is permitted because there are “special needs.” Apparently the health of unborn children does not count as a special need. Feminists declared the Court decision a victory for the autonomy of women, but Ms. Vincent doesn’t buy that. “We can do anything. We can have as much sex as we want—as much wanton sex as some men do—and we need not be concerned with the consequences. If the unthinkable happens, if—surprise, surprise—nature actually takes its course and we become pregnant, well, we’ll just do what we do after we binge on too many French fries. We’ll purge. After all, if you want to stay thin after eating everything in sight, then it’s the finger down the throat. If you want to stay barren but have as much protected or unprotected sex as you want, then it’s the doctor in your business—but not too much in your business. Only as much as you want him. What’s more, when we’re good and ready to have a child, we’ll still be totally in control of our bodies. We’ll smoke, we’ll booze, we’ll crack it up all night long if we take a mind to, and it’ll be nobody’s business. Because the Constitution protects us. We have a right to our privacy and our bodies, even though, when it comes to that seventh, eighth, ninth month of pregnancy, we’re pretty sure we’re not alone in them anymore. But who cares, those babies are ours, and we can do with them what we like. We can smoke three packs a day. We can drink motor oil. And if that baby comes out with a brain that doesn’t quite work right or that doesn’t work at all, if it has an imposed mortal dependency on a narcotic, if it comes out with expensive special needs, well, the government will pay for it. That’s what government is for: to safeguard my right to do what I like and pick up the tab when I’ve done it. I can do anything, consequences be damned. Let freedom ring, because, by God, I am woman, and this is America.”
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. October 2001.
Professor Susan Greenfield of Oxford University says, “Consciousness grows as the brain grows. As soon as something has a nervous system, however primitive, we have to tread more cautiously.” The “something” in question is an unborn baby. Her statement was in connection with a British newspaper survey that found that 80 percent of neuroscientists who responded say that babies aborted after eleven weeks of gestation should receive pain relief during the procedure. The kindness that kills.
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. February 2000.
Barbara Ehrenreich is hard as nails and demands that other women be so too. “Time to take your thumbs out of your mouths, ladies, and speak up for your rights. The freedoms that we exercise but do not acknowledge are easily taken away.” What has her upset in her column in the New York Times is that polls show that “only 30 percent of women are unambivalently prochoice.”…There are, she writes, “an appalling number of women who are willing to deny others the right that they once freely exercised themselves.” It is the women who regret having an abortion and feel guilty about it who outrage Ms. Ehrenreich. She would deny them their remorse and their resentment of an unlimited abortion license that made it too easy for them to do wrong. They do not want other women to be similarly tempted. Ehrenreich will have none of it: “Honesty begins at home, so I should acknowledge that I had two abortions during my alltoofertile years. You can call me a bad woman, but not a bad mother. I was a dollaraword freelancer and my husband a warehouse worker, so it was all we could do to support the existing children at a grubby lowermiddleclass level. And when it comes to my children—the actual extrauterine ones, that is—I was, and remain, a lioness.” Do not call her a bad mother. She acknowledges all her children and is very protective of the ones she did not have killed. She perhaps feels a bit uneasy about the abortions, since she offers the excuse that the alternative would have been intolerable: submiddleclass existence with a husband working in a warehouse. Ugh. She writes, “Choice can be easy, as it was in my case, or truly agonizing.” Today Ehrenreich is a bestselling author and liberal activist, is divorced from her lowermiddleclass husband and remarried to Yale literary critic Peter Brooks, has houses in Charlottesville and the Florida Keys and a column in the Times. No wonder the choice was easy. What are the lives of two children compared to all that? It isn’t as though the children died for nothing. As for those for whom abortion was “truly agonizing,” Ehrenreich tells them to get over it. “Assuming the fetal position,” she writes, “is not an appropriate response.” If that does not persuade those millions of women with whose unhappiness she is unhappy, Ehrenreich invokes the moral authority of JeanPaul Sartre who, she says, would accuse them of “bad faith” for wanting to discourage other women from doing what they did. Sartre, it may be remembered, was throughout his life an unrepentant apologist for Communism’s mass murderers. He taught generations of leftists the moral wisdom that you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs. Ehrenreich’s column, “Owning Up to Abortion,” carries the pullquote, “It’s time to get past the guilt.” It’s time to move on. Money, fame, media stardom, Ivy League connections. Those thumbsucking women are implying that it is not really terrific to be Barbara Ehrenreich, which is ludicrous. Not that they will be able to match her success, but they can at least support the abortion license that made it possible. Too bad about those two kids, but, as Sartre understood, nothing comes without paying a price. Sure it’s unfair, but, then, life is unfair. The children died in the cause of giving the public Barbara Ehrenreich and giving Barbara Ehrenreich some really neat advantages. Do these women know what it’s like to live in a grubby lowermiddleclass world with a husband who works in a warehouse? Barbara Ehrenreich should feel guilty about what she did? Get real, ladies.
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. October 2004.
Abortion, Callousness And
I don’t mean to pick on Wesley Clark. On this question there is no substantive difference between him and other politicians who strive to prove their impeccable proabortion credentials. But the language is different. “I’m not going to be appointing judges who are prolife,” he told the Manchester Union Leader. One imagines an aide whispering, “Our people do not say ‘prolife,’ General.” Clark also told the paper, “Until the moment of birth, the government has no right to influence a mother’s decision on whether to have an abortion.” That would seem to go beyond Roe v. Wade, which allows that there is a government interest in unborn life, at least in its later stages, if the mother has no “health” reason for wanting an abortion, which includes psychological health, which means she has a right to an abortion if she would be distressed by not having an abortion. Again, the difference is not substantive, but the general’s language is strikingly blunt. Then, on the allegedly complex but obviously obvious question of when life begins, the general accepts the price of medical and metaphysical incoherence in order to win the Most Candid Candidate Award. He says, “Life begins with the mother’s decision.”
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. March 2004.
Abortion, Callousness And
“Happy children don’t grow up to build concentration camps, Dr. Henry Morgentaler told a University of Western Ontario convocation yesterday, as he argued that abortion has helped radically reduce hate and violent crime in Canada,” reports the Toronto Star. Morgentaler is Canada’s foremost champion of the unlimited abortion license. Many protested his getting an honorary degree from Western Ontario, including the board of governors, which does not have authority over the committee that made the choice. While he is all for nipping in the bud, so to speak, the potentially hateful and violent, Morgentaler says he is not an advocate of eugenics. The reduction in crime is “an unintended, if happy, consequence” of choices made by women, he says. Rosie DiManno, a Star columnist, says she is for “the absolute right to reproductive freedom,” but is uncomfortable with Morgentaler’s argument. “Abortion as social corrective that’s spared us a bunch of felonious misfits is offensive. Let’s not go there, Dr. Morgentaler,” she writes. Sorry, ma’am, you are already there.
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. October 2005.
Abortion, Early Christian Quotations Against
“You shall not kill the child by obtaining an abortion. Nor, again, shall you destroy him after he is born.” (Barnabas, 7080 AD, 1.148)
“You shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill one who has been born.” (The Didache, 80140 AD, 1.377)
“We say that those women who use drugs to bring on abortion commit murder. And we also say that we will have to give an account to God for the abortion.” (Athenagoras, 175 AD, 2.147)
“In our case, murder is once for all forbidden. Therefore, we may not destroy even the fetus in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood from other parts of the body for its sustenance. To hinder a birth is merely a speedier way to kill a human. It does not matter whether you take away a life that has been born or destroy one that is not yet born.” (Tertullian, 197 AD, 3.26)
“Indeed, the Law of Moses punishes with appropriate penalties the person who causes abortion. For there already exists the beginning stages of a human being. And even at this stage, [the fetus] is already acknowledged with having the condition of life and death, since he is already susceptible to both.” (Tertullian, 210 AD, 3.218)
“Are you to dissolve the conception by aid of drugs? I believe it is no more lawful to hurt a child in process of birth, than to hurt one who is already born.” (Tertullian, 212 AD, 4.57)
“There are some women who, by drinking medical preparations, extinguish the source of the future man in their very bowels. So they commit murder before they bring forth.” (Mark Minucius Felix, 200AD, 4.192)
“The womb of his wife was hit by a blow of his heel. And, in the miscarriage that soon followed, the offspring was brought forth, the fruit of a father’s murder.” (Cyprian, 250AD, 5.326)
“The soul is not introduced into the body after birth, as some philosophers think. Rather, it is introduced immediately after conception, when the divine necessity has formed the offspring in the womb.” (Lactantius, 304313AD, 7.297)
“You shall not slay your child by causing abortion, nor kill the baby that is born.” (Apostolic Constitutions, 390 AD, 7.466)
Source: The AnteNicene Fathers (ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson;18851887; repr. 10 vols. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1994).
Abortion, Early Christian Quotations Against
“To deny that the young who are cut out limb by limb from the womb, lest if they were left there dead the mother should die too, have never been alive, seems too audacious.”
Source: St. Augustine, The Enchiridion on Faith, Hope, and Love, 421 AD, LXXXVI
Abortion, Early Feminist Quotations Against
“The murder of the innocents goes on. Shame and crime after crime darken the history of our whole land. Hence it was fitting that a true woman should protest with all the energy of her souls against this woeful crime.” (Paulina Wright Davis, The Revolution, January 20, 1870)
“The gross perversion and destruction of motherhood by the abortionist filled me with indignation, and awakened active antagonism. That the honorable term ‘female physician’ should be exclusively applied to those women who carried on this shocking trade seemed to me a horror. It was an utter degradation of what might and should become a noble position for women.” (Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell , diary quoted in Child of Destiny: The Life Story of the First Woman Doctor, New York: Harker and Brothers, 1949, p.88)
“We have not such an amount of inherent depravity, nor such a degree of reckless daring to our composition, nor such a deficiency in the motherly instinct and other elements that go to make up the true woman, as to lead us into the commission of this most deadly crime realizing it to be so.” (Dr. Anna Densmore French, The Revolution, March 19, 1868)
“Life must be present from the very moment of conception. If there was not life there could not be conception. At what other period of a human being’s existence, either prenatal or postnatal, could the union of soul and body take place? Is it not plain that the violent or forcible deprivation of existence of this embryo, the removal of it from the citadel of life, is its premature death, and hence the act can be denominated by no more mild term that murder, and whoever performs the act, or is accessory to it, is guilty of the crime of all crimes?” (Dr. Alice Bunker Stockham, “Feticide” in Tokology: A Book for Every Woman, 2nd ed.,
Chicago: Sanitary Publishing Company, 1887, 24551)
“In a populous quarter of a certain large Western city it is asserted, on medical authority, that not a single AngloAmerican child has been born alive for the last three years. This is incredible; but, making all due allowances for exaggeration, it is plain enough that the murder of infants is a common thing among American women.” (Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “Infanticide and Prostitution”, in The Revolution, February 5, 1868)
“Guilty? Yes, no matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; but oh! Thrice guilty is he who, for selfish gratification, heedless of her prayers, indifferent to her fate, drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime.” (Susan B. Anthony, “Marriage and Maternity”, The Revolution, July 8, 1869)
“Can any apology be offered for a woman who commits the crime of antenatal murder, after she has voluntarily yielded to the relation that leads to maternity?” (Anonymous, The Unwelcome Child, or, the Crime of an Undesigned and Undesired Maternity, Boston: Bela Marsh, 1858, 101104, from the Department of Special Collections, University of Chicago Library)
“[Abortion] is a crime in the fullest extent of the term, because it is murder, just as much as though the mother took her newborn babe and plunged a knife into its bosom, or cast it away from her, and refused to nourish it. Is there a woman not driven to the last depths of despair by wounded love and impending disgrace, who could do that to the little, soft, helpless thing, that is laid in her bosom so soon after its first cry has appealed to her heart? Yet the abortionseeker regards with satisfaction the means to kill the little creature that has nestled so confidingly beneath her heart, as if it were the safest place in all the world for it.” (Eliza Bisbee Duffey, The Relations of the Sexes, New York: Wood and Holbrook, 1876, chapter thirteen)
“Scores of persons advertise their willingness to commit this form of murder, and with unblushing effrontery announce their names and residences in the daily papers. No one seems to be shocked by the fact…” (Sarah F. Norton, Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly, November 19, 1870)
“We are aware that many women attempt to excuse themselves for procuring abortions, upon the ground that it is nor murder. But the fact of resort to so weak an argument only shows the more palpably that they fully realize the enormity of the crime. Is it not equally destroying the wouldbe future oak, to crush the sprout before it pushes its head above the sod, as it is to cut down the sapling, or cut down the tree? Is it not equally to destroy life, to crush it in its very germ, and to take it when the germ has evolved to any given point in its line of development?”
(Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee Claflin, “The Slaughter of the Innocents”, Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly, June 20, 1874)
Source: All referenced in: Rachel MacNair, Ed. Prolife Feminism. (New York: Sulzburger & Graham Publishing, Ltd., 1995).
Abortion, Feminist Opposition To
The British journal History Today recently printed an article claiming that many of the most prominent pioneers of feminism—Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, and Mary Wollstonecraft, among others—not only refused to support abortion but aggressively denounced it as “the ultimate in the exploitation of women.” Such an article, in such a publication, in such a culture? Perhaps it is a straw in the wind, the UK wind at least. It is certainly an argument that the Feminists for Life have been making for a long time. The recent issue of their magazine, the American Feminist, contains a vigorous argument by Rosemary Oelrich Bottcher, who claims that abortion is nothing less than “a betrayal of feminism.” “In rejecting both violence and the concept of humans owning other humans,” she writes, “the suffragists also rejected abortion. Human worth, in their view, was not based upon size (physical size had always been one supposed reason for male superiority), ‘wantedness’ (women were wanted only in[as]much as they could be controlled by men), or dependency. . . . All feminists share the vision of a world in which violence directed against women is not only legally condemned but also regarded as both socially and morally unthinkable. As we work together toward that vision, pro–life feminists hope that our sisters who promote abortion will one day realize that unborn children are not property either and that violence against them is equally unacceptable. Let us not have to spend another 150 years establishing that the children we bear are also persons.”
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. May 2000.
Abortion, Infanticide And
…The following is from the parish newsletter of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Arlington, Texas. “Dear Mom, Gosh, can you believe it’s 2023 already? I’m still writing ‘22’ on nearly everything. Seems like just yesterday I was sitting in first grade celebrating the century change. I know we haven’t really chatted since Christmas. Sorry. Anyway, I have some difficult news and I really didn’t want to call and talk face–to–face. Ted’s had a promotion and I should be up for a hefty raise this year if I keep putting in those crazy hours. You know how I work at it. Yes, we’re still struggling with the bills. Timmy’s been ‘okay’ at kindergarten although he complains about going. But then, he wasn’t happy about day care either, so what can I do? He’s been a real problem, Mom. He’s a good kid, but quite honestly, he’s an unfair burden at this time in our lives. Ted and I have talked this through and through and finally made a choice. Plenty of other families have made it and are much better off. Our pastor is supportive and says hard decisions are necessary. The family is a ‘system’ and the demands of one member shouldn’t be allowed to ruin the whole. He told us to be prayerful, consider all the factors, and do what is right to make the family work. He says that even though he probably wouldn’t do it himself, the decision is really ours. He was kind enough to refer us to a children’s clinic near here, so at least that part’s easy. I’m not an uncaring mother. I do feel sorry for the little guy. I think he overheard Ted and me talking about ‘it’ the other night. I turned around and saw him standing at the bottom step in his PJ’s with the little bear you gave him under his arm and his eyes sort of welling up. Mom, the way he looked at me just about broke my heart. But I honestly believe this is better for Timmy, too. It’s not fair to force him to live in a family that can’t give him the time and attention he deserves. And please don’t give me the kind of grief Grandma gave you over your abortions. It is the same thing, you know. We’ve told him he’s just going in for a vaccination. Anyway, they say it is painless. I guess it’s just as well you haven’t seen that much of him. Love to Dad . . . Jane.”
Source: Richard John Neuhaus. “While We’re At It.” First Things. January 1999.
Abortion, Medical Quotations Against
“I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; furthermore, I will not give to a woman an instrument to produce abortion.”
Source: Hippocratic Oath, 1st c. BC
“I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception.”
Source: The Declaration of Geneva, September 1948, adopted by the General Assembly of the World Medical Organization.
Abortion, Modern Christian Quotations Against
“Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed upon this nascent life. To raise the question of whether we are here concerned already with a human being is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life. And that is nothing but murder.”
Source: Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Ethics (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1986), p.175176
Abortion, Modern Christian Quotations Against
I was present for a public scene of confrontation that followed the gracious patter Dr. King lad down. The morning I interviewed President Clinton, as I have mentioned, we both attended the National Prayer Breakfast where we heard Mother Teresa speak. It was a remarkable event. The Clintons and the Gores sat at elevated head tables on either side of Mother Teresa. Rolled out in a wheelchair, the frail, eightythreeyearold Nobel Peace Prize laureate needed help to stand up. A special platform had been positioned to allow her to see over the podium. Even so, hunched over, fourfeetsixinches tall, she could barely reach the microphone. She spoke clearly and slowly with a thick accent in a voice that nonetheless managed to fill the auditorium.
Mother Teresa said that America has become a selfish nation, in danger of losing the proper meaning of love: “giving until it hurts.” The greatest proof, she said, is abortion, the effects of which can be seen in escalating violence. “If we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill each other?…Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.”
Source: Philip Yancey. What’s So Amazing About Grace. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997), p.244245.
Abortion, Modern Inconsistencies And
Oklahoma’s Court of Criminal Appeals has ruled that a fetus that is viable at the time of a fatal injury is a human being. The ruling came in connection with a drunken driver who caused the death of a fetus four days before it was expected to be born. Oklahoma thus joins Massachusetts and South Carolina in rejecting the “born alive” criterion of common law. The judges said that medical advances made the “born alive” principle obsolete. Oh yes, the finding that a viable fetus is a human being does not apply in the case of a legal abortion. You figure it.
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. May 1994.
“Thank God I’m alive and my baby is healthy,” said Jean Morgan of Hauppauge, Long Island, after being rescued from the trunk of her car where two thugs had locked her in six hours earlier. Mrs. Morgan was five months pregnant. That is from the story in the New York Times. On the same morning, the anchor on New York One, a local news show, concluded her version of the story with, “Both mother and baby are well.” Then a brief look of consternation and this correction, “I mean the fetus, of course.”
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. November 1995.
A number of states have feticide laws that make it a criminal act to kill a fetus, other than by abortion. Such laws make it clear that drunk drivers and homicidal maniacs do not have the same privileges enjoyed by abortionists. The Virginia House of Delegates, however, recently rejected a feticide bill after heavy lobbying by proabortion groups. Ms. Karen Raschke of Planned Parenthood told the legislators, “If you call a fetus a person for the purpose of the homicide statute, it makes it arguable that a fetus is a person for the purposes of abortion.” It would seem to follow.
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. October 1996.
I am told it is an old French saying: “Coincidences are events in which God wishes to remain incognito.” The following, from National Right to Life News, is no coincidence: “On October 10, 1997, at 3:50 p.m., the Office of the Press Secretary at the White House released a presidential proclamation designating October 12, 1997, as ‘National Children’s Day.’ In the first paragraph of the presidential declaration, Bill Clinton states, ‘With the birth of every child, the world becomes new again. Within each new infant lies enormous potential—potential for loving, for learning, and for making life better for others. But this potential must be nurtured. Just as seeds need fertile soil, warm sunshine, and gentle rain to grow, so do our children need a caring environment, the security of knowing they are loved, and the encouragement and opportunity to make the most of their Godgiven talents. There is no more urgent task before us, as a people and as a nation, than creating such an environment for America’s children.’ On October 10, 1997, at around 4:30 p.m.—less than an hour after issuing his Children’s Day proclamation—Bill Clinton issued another proclamation: his veto of the PartialBirth Abortion Ban Act.”
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. April 1998.
Herewith the statement of George D. Lundberg, M.D., editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, on abortion: “Americans are constitutionally guaranteed religious freedom. This editor considers abortion to be a religious issue—a decision to be reached by the pregnant woman, after consultation with the father (if possible), members of her family, perhaps a religious adviser, and the woman’s physician. I believe that one woman’s abortion is not the business of police, lawyers, courts, the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, the Congress of the United States, various state legislatures, or anybody else except the individuals named above. This editor has not performed an abortion and believes that he could not. Abortion is killing—regardless of length or state of gestation. However, as a practical matter, this editor recognizes that abortion is considered necessary by many people on a situational basis and that many abortions will be done, often unrelated to what beliefs may have been held previously by the participants and regardless of any laws.” Perhaps, like many Americans, Dr. Lundberg would allow that abortion is the same thing as murder, but go on to observe not that it is necessary at times but that it is “considered necessary” at times and therefore murder should be allowed. As a “practical matter,” of course. (Dr. Lundberg has since been fired as editor. Not, alas, for his views on abortion.)
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. April 1999.
Here is an account of how Ken Burns glossed over the reality of early feminist opposition to abortion:
That indomitable civil libertarian, jazz maven, columnist, and champion of the unborn, Nat Hentoff, asked Ken Burns, director and coproducer of the PBS documentary Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, why the film excluded any reference to what those founding feminists said about abortion. Didn’t Mr. Burns, who earlier received just acclaim for his documentary on the Civil War, know their position? “Yes,” Mr. Burns unhesitatingly replied, but he did not want the documentary “burdened by present and past differing views on choice.” Ah yes, the burden of truth. “Susan B. Anthony on abortion: ‘The woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life. It will burden her soul in death.’ Elizabeth Cady Stanton: ‘When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit. There must be a remedy even for such crying evil as this [abortion]. But where shall it be found? At least, where begin, if not in the complete enfranchisement and elevation of women?” Were Anthony and Stanton still with us, opines Mr. Hentoff, “I think they would have picketed the showing of Not for Ourselves Alone.”
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. June/July 2000.
A pregnant twelve–year–old in Scotland wanted to keep her baby but was in dire financial straits. The Catholic Church offered to pay the bills. This was just weeks after the British government launched a program to cut the number of teenage births. The Church’s action provoked a furious backlash in some quarters. Said Sarah Colborn, head of the National Abortion Campaign, “We are talking of money being offered to a child to keep a baby, which removes choice.” (Choice that counts as choice removes the baby.) The thirty–five–year–old father of the girl vehemently denies that she has been bribed to keep the baby, whom he and his wife plan to rear.
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. January 2000.
They had to call out the police at the University of Texas, Austin. Justice for All: Students for Bio–Ethical Justice had put up posters with photographs of aborted fetuses. A protest by about two hundred students and faculty, organized by International Socialist Organization, got a little rough. They called the display “offensive and grotesque.” Exactly right. What was displayed, that is.
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. May 2001.
A New Jersey reader points out that the Supreme Court has recently ruled that child pornography that uses virtual imagery is constitutional and, at about the same time, the Ninth Circuit ruled against antiabortion protests. So child pornography is protected by the First Amendment but abortion protest is not. What these decisions have in common, he says, is that they are both against children and in favor of adults indulging their desires in the sexual revolution, er, regression. It does give one pause about the conventional claim that ours is a childcentered society.
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. August/September 2002.
This is unusual television fare. Promoting an upcoming segment on Dateline, Jane Pauley said, “Still ahead, the latest round of bloodshed and violence at abortion clinics.” At last they are going to show what really happens at abortuaries: cutting bodies of babies in pieces, plucking out the bloody limbs one by one, puncturing the heads of infants and sucking out the brains. At last, one thought, at least one network has the nerve to tell the truth about abortion. Then Ms. Pauley completed her message: “The antiabortion movement has been creeping to the edge of bloody fanaticism for a decade.”
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. May 2003.
The quandaries created by the regime of Roe v. Wade. In Lufkin, Texas, sixteenyearold Erica had been trying by various measures to kill the twin babies with whom she was fourmonths pregnant. She finally asked her boyfriend Gerardo to stomp on her stomach, which he did, and the babies died. Gerardo, but not Erica, is charged with murder. The Associated Press reports, “The case has attorneys on both sides questioning the fairness of a statute that considers one person’s crime another person’s constitutional right.” According to Roe, Gerardo was helping Erica exercise her constitutional right to kill her babies. Unlike other abortionists, of course, he was practicing without a license, which is against the law in Texas.
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. October 2005.
Recall the grisly case in Missouri in which Lisa Montgomery killed by strangulation a woman who was eight months pregnant. The Associated Press reported: “Authorities said Montgomery, 36, confessed to strangling Bobbie Joe Stinnett of Skidmore, Mo., on Thursday, cutting out the fetus and taking the baby back to Kansas.” What happened to the fetus? And where did Montgomery get a baby? Encapsulated in one sentence are the absurdities of thought and language that bedevil liberal talk about abortion.
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. March 2005.
Abortion, Modern Secular Quotations Against
“The members of our organization have all had abortions and have come to realize, too late, that our decision was wrong. We were encouraged and pushed into a hasty decision that now we find impossible to live with. We were lied to and deliberately misinformed.”
Source: Sandra Haun, leader of “Women Exploited” before the Pennsylvania legislature in the midlate 1970’s as quoted on page 509, note 37, in Francis Schaeffer and Dr. C. Everett Koop’s Whatever Happened to the Human Race? (The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, Vol. 5, Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1991)
We have no hard data on the question, but suspect that few of our readers also read Rolling Stone. For which reason we are indebted to John Farrell of Braintree, Mass. Who does. A recent issue featured rock star Dolores O’Riordan, a lady from Limerick who wears about twenty earrings and is lead singer of the Cranberries, a group that is, says Mr. Farrell, on its way to becoming No. 1 on some chart or the other. She appears to be a person of definite views, including this from the article: “And don’t count on O’Riordan as an ally in defending abortion: ‘I’m in no position to judge other women, you know? But, I mean, “Idiotwhy didn’t you not get pregnant?” It’s not good for women to go through the procedure and have something living sucked out of your bodies. It belittles womeneven though some women say, “Oh, I don’t mind to have one.” Every time a woman has an abortion, it just crushes her selfesteem, smaller and smaller and smaller.’” Rolling Stone yet. How au courant dare we be?
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. October 1995.
Pity the publicists of the proabortion cause whose job is to dramatize the allegedly noble and idealistic struggle to help women by securing “reproductive rights.” In 1995, they suffered a severe setback when Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade, was baptized and became a prolife activist. Less publicized, although equally problematic to them, is Sandra Cano. She was the “Jane Doe” of Doe v. Bolton, the companion decision to Roe handed down from on high the same day of infamy, January 22, 1973. “It is like blood on my hands,” says Mrs. Cano, “I don’t want to be a participant.” “Both women,” says the Washington Times, “now say their status as poor, uneducated Southern women in their early twenties who married abusive men while still in their teens made them malleable plaintiffs for lawyers anxious to bring an abortion rights case to the Supreme Court.” Abused women abused by lawyers who exploited them for their own purposes. Some idealism. Mrs. Cano says she thought the papers she signed without reading them were to help her get a divorce. Her lawyer, Margie Pitts Hames, said nothing about abortion. “I never wanted an abortion,” says Mrs. Cano. “God gives life and God is the only one who should take life. Margie knew I was stupid. I didn’t ask questions. I was mentally unstable.” In 1989 she briefly made the national news by stating that Doe v. Bolton had misrepresented her, but two driveby shooting incidents at her home shortly thereafter persuaded her to say no more about the case. The shootings are not on Planned Parenthood’s list of incidents of “abortionrelated violence.”
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. June/July 1997.
Now here’s something you don’t run across every day: the Atheist and Agnostic ProLife League. Founder Matt Wallace calls himself a Secular Humanist and a “Compleat Heretic,” but nonetheless has the good sense to be opposed to “the lifedenying horror of abortion.” His reason? “Because life is all there is and all that matters, and abortion destroys the life of an innocent human being.” He hopes other nontheists will see the light of, well, whatever, and invites those who fit the following requirements to join the League: 1) being an avowed atheist, agnostic, or other nontheist, 2) opposing abortion and desiring its abolition, with or without exceptions, and 3) supporting nonviolence as the sole legitimate means of achieving the goals of the prolife movement. So far, he has eight members, including himself.
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. November 1999.
Once again the Pro–Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians (PLAGAL) was prevented from participating in the big pro–life march in Washington on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. “Many members of PLAGAL were strong pro–life leaders before they identified themselves as gays and lesbians,” said Moses Remedios, newly elected president of PLAGAL, who spoke from the March for Life stage four years ago when he was president of American Collegians for Life. Some organizers of the march claim that PLAGAL is there to “push a gay agenda.” The organization undoubtedly does push that agenda, but they are at the march, in the words of PLAGAL founder Tom Sena, “to show that, contrary to stereotypes, we care about the unborn as much as any other pro–lifers.” Which leads me, once again, to urge that PLAGAL be permitted to march, and that precisely in order to challenge stereotypes of the pro–life movement.
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. April 1999.
Whoever would have guessed that the incorrigible deconstructionist Stanley Fish thinks abortion is wrong? And not only does he think it wrong, he also thinks the logic of the pro–choice side is both flawed and flimsy. And all it took was a little prodding from Princeton’s Robert George for him to come out. George challenged Fish during a debate sponsored by the American Political Science Association over the pro–choice claim to have science on its side. Fish immediately conceded, “Professor George is right. And he is right to correct me,” to the astonishment of all present. “I should have known better,” Fish said later. “Pro–life arguments are now based on scientific evidence and the pro–choice arguments are not. That is a cultural, historical fact.” He recognizes the irony of the intellectual role reversal in the abortion debate: “Nowadays, it is pro–lifers who make the scientific question of when the beginning of life occurs the key one in the abortion controversy, while pro–choicers want to transform the question into a ‘metaphysical’ or ‘religious’ one by distinguishing between mere biological life and ‘moral life.’ . . . Until recently pro–choicers might have cast themselves as defenders of rational science against the forces of ignorance and superstition, but when scientific inquiry started pushing back the moment when significant life (in some sense) begins, they shifted tactics and went elsewhere in search of rhetorical weaponry.” Although Fish openly opposes so–called abortion rights, he’s still hesitant to call himself pro–life. One step at a time.
Source: Richard John Neuhaus. “While We’re At It.” First Things. February 1999.
Abortion, Taking A Stand Against
There is possibly no reason why you should ever have heard of Joseph W. Moylan of Omaha, Nebraska. But in a time of moral derangement his name should be noted. For many years he served on the Nebraska state court, and then the legislature passed a law requiring judges to authorize abortions when the parents of a minor would not give permission. Knowing what he would be required to do, Judge Moylan resigned. He refused to be complicit in what he recognized as an unspeakable evil. Just that. An apparently little thing. The local papers took notice, but it did not ignite any great furor of public attention. Maybe, however, here and there, a few people were prompted by Moylan’s witness to think again about the responsibilities and opportunities of moral agency. When, please God, this dark night is past, people will remember Joseph Moylan and take heart from the fact that not everybody went along.
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. August/September 1994.
In the early eighties quite a number of churches, towns, and cities declared themselves “nuclearfree zones.” Despite the wrongheaded politics involved, I generally thought that a good idea since most of the people agitating for such declarations were definitely not to be trusted with nuclear weapons. Now I see that the city council of Highland, Illinois, a town of 7,000, has declared itself an “abortionfree zone.” That sounds like an unqualifiedly good idea, and I hope it catches on.
Source: RJN, “While We’re At It,” First Things. June/July 1997.