10 September 2008

A response to a friend about abortion...

Dear -----------,
Because I haven't seen the video in question, I can't speak to that; but I'd like to respond to some of your thoughts on abortion.
I'm pleased to know that you consider yourself pro-life, and that you "clearly feel that abortion is immoral;" but, I have to disagree with your assertion that abortion is not more of a pro-life issue than war or political policies that would provide basic needs to children and their families. I don't want to downplay those other issues. They are very important. But as important as they are, abortion is more important. It really is more of a pro-life issue because it is foundational. Yes, there are many other important issues, just as there is much more to a house than its foundation. But as the foundation goes, so goes the rest. It is an absurd society which advocates for its children's rights to food, water, or health care, yet denies these very same children the right to even be born. How can human life be deemed sacred enough to afford it the right to basic needs if it is not deemed sacred enough to afford it the right to life itself? The basic right to life is fundamental; it is ontologically prior to all other rights...and the very condition of all other rights. Hence, denying the basic right to life undermines and erodes all other rights. It is a danger to everyone whenever a society allows itself to declare an entire class of human beings—be it blacks, Jews, or the unborn—outside the protection of the law.
Secondly, abortion is the greater pro-life issue because it involves a more grievous injustice—the deliberate killing of an innocent life. I agree that we are guilty of injustice if we don't assist the impoverished in their quality of life. But aren't we guilty of a greater injustice if kill them?
You assert that education—in lieu of legislation—is the way to end abortion. You also assert that abortion is immoral. But, why is it immoral? It is immoral because it is the deliberate taking of an innocent life. It is the lethal discrimination against an entire class of human beings—because of their age, size, and place of residence. If that doesn't warrant legislation, then what does? I agree that education is essential to ending abortion, and that legislation alone is not enough. But this also applies to other injustices such as abuse, assault, murder, discrimination, etc. However, no one seeks to redress these injustices by education alone, in lieu of legislation.
Furthermore, education assumes a worldview. If we are going to end abortion through education, who is going to be doing the educating? Moral relativists? Philosophical materialists? Those that do believe that the fetus is a person, or those that don't? Different worldviews educate completely differently on any given topic. The popular notion of a generic education about abortion is na├»ve. As a case in point, Planned Parenthood—whose very name suggests that it exists primarily for the purpose of reproductive education—is the largest abortion provider in the U.S. Here, we see education and abortion complimenting one another.
In regards to your reference to war and abortion, making abortion tantamount to war is a false analogy. Abortion, by its very nature, is intrinsically evil because its purpose or "final cause" is the deliberate killing of an innocent life. War, however, is not intrinsically evil. A given war can either be just or unjust. America's part in WWII is an example of a just war because its purpose was, ultimately, the defense and protection of life. Germany's involvement in that same war is an example of an unjust one. It is not at all inconsistent to believe a given war to be just, and to believe that abortion is always unjust.
Finally, you say, that "pro-lifers are being manipulated into voting in ways that are causing more death and suffering in children than if all abortions halted overnight." I would like to see the evidence which demonstrates that: (i) conservative politicians are directly responsible for policies which cause anything remotely comparable to the 1,250,000 deaths caused by legalized abortion every single year (in just the U.S. alone); (ii) liberal politicians will annually save 1,250,000 lives that would otherwise have perished under the leadership of conservative politicians.
Again, I agree that there are many things that need to be changed in our society, but among them, the deliberate killing of our own children needs to be highest on the list; for if the basic right to life is denied, then the dignity of the human person is significantly undermined, placing all other human rights on shaking ground. As Pope John Paul II said, "If you want equal justice for all, and true freedom and lasting peace, then, America, defend life! All the great causes that are yours today will have meaning only to the extent that you guarantee the right to life and protect the human person."