Thursday, April 12, 2007

My Essay on the Pro-choice vs. Pro-life philosophies

Abortion's victims

By: Patrick Beeman

Posted: 4/12/07

Nothing is so tragic as abortion. The strident cries of pro-choice activists cannot silence the effete screams of the baby suffering at the hands of an abortionist. Abortion is a polite and civilized genocide. In the political and moral rhetoric, the pro-life cause has conceded much. Talk to anyone, and you will hear the debate framed in terms of "pro-choice" versus "pro-life." But the innocuous term "choice" does no justice to the grim reality of elective abortion. For this reason, I sympathize with those who insist on calling the pro-choice cause "anti-life" or "pro-death." However, the rules of intellectual debate demand we call our opponents by what they want to be called. Persuading them to believe their self-claimed appellation is wrongheaded is another matter and more important is persuading them that their cause is wrongheaded.

I think it's fair to assume no one wants to kill babies. It is a perverted barbarism that has as its goal the destruction of helpless innocents. This is the reason pro-abortion people want to be called pro-choice. This removes the moral locus from the death of a human being to the putative "choice" of an articulate and autonomous mother. However, the rhetoric and arguments often advanced by the pro-choice camp do not seem to hint at anything more profound than the following: 1) people should be encouraged and free to have sex on any terms, no matter what the cost, and 2) human life is a dispensable and destructible thing subservient to the will of those who, to borrow Chesterton, "happen to be walking about." The pro-choice philosophy includes no notion of moral responsibility or heroism, supererogation or self-sacrifice. At bottom, its first principle is pleasure for pleasure's sake.

It's no wonder pro-choice activists make little attempt to hide their efforts to de-sacrilize, de-personalize, instrumentalize, genitalize and animalize (yes, I made up those words) human sexuality. Yet they accuse the Church of being "obsessed with sex" and tell her to "stay out of people's bedrooms." Their shrill voices succeed only in proving the opposite: they are the obsessed. Their whole worldview is defined by a faulty understanding of sexuality wedded (pardon the pun) to a rebellious notion of human freedom.

They cry, to paraphrase the Gospels, "We have no king but Pleasure." Their concept of freedom does not say that every person has a right to do what she wants with her life but rather a person's choice determines what is good. This, my friends, is autonomy unrestrained by reason and commonsense. And it is one of the most insidious forces at work in medicine, law and politics.

Note my following words with careful precision: pragmatically, the aforementioned worldview makes out pro-choice arguments and protestations to be so many thinly veiled expressions of a vicious desire to maintain a world that permits and even encourages the killing of unborn babies. The express position of the pro-choice philosophy is compassion solely for the mother. But compassion is morally neutral and it can be misguided and dangerous when not guided by a proper understanding of the good for human life.

On the other hand - the boisterous exclamations of the pro-choice lobby notwithstanding - the pro-life philosophy's express position is compassion for both mother and child. And it is a compassion motivated by a genuine love for both woman and child, created equal in the "image and likeness of God."

Unfortunately, arguments aren't very convincing, even when they are logically sound. There is an element of the human heart not persuaded by reason alone. As Pascal observed, "The heart has its reasons, which reason knows not." To this end, groups such as the Genocide Awareness Project, couple graphic images of abortion to their arguments supporting the pro-life worldview. This is meant to appeal to the pathos of pro-choice and pro-life alike. Few of the pro-choice crowd will ever be convinced by logical argument, and few pro-lifers will be roused to action by the same, but no one can argue with the pitiable sight of a helpless innocent maimed and dismembered by the overweening conclusions and practicalities of the pro-choice philosophy. After all, as a "liberal" - as if massacring innocents could have anything to do with the promotion of authentic freedom - shibboleth goes, the GAP is merely "speaking truth to power." For my birthday, on the first of these two days, why not come express your solidarity with these tiny victims and their defenders? GAP will be here April 18-19.
© Copyright 2007 Independent Collegian

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