Friday, August 26, 2011

"Why Is Abortion Still Such a Big Deal in America?"

The one question that most perplexed the Norwegian TV crew that was interviewing me in my living room was "Why, after so long a time, is abortion still such a desperate controversy here in the United States?" Their experience in Europe gave them few clues. After all, abortion had come to most Western European countries, been rapidly accepted and was now off the political agenda altogether. So they were sincerely trying to figure out why four decades had elapsed since abortion had begun to be legalized in the U.S. and yet abortion was still, as Jan described, "issue number one for America's people."

My answer, given in 20-30 second bursts as we explored this issue, centered on three things.

1) The deep religious faith of a large section of the American people. I explained that for these Christians (Catholic, evangelical, Orthodox), defending the sanctity of life is a biblical command. It is our Christian obligation. Therefore, no matter what politicians or judges or celebrities or the opinion polls may say, we have a motivation for our pro-life activity that is transcendent. They seemed to like my biological illustration in which I explained that though secularists tend to be like amphibians, that is, cold-blooded animals whose body temperature adapts to that of their surroundings, genuine Christians exemplify quite human qualities; namely, their blood runs warm until it ceases to run at all. Christians seek a higher goal, accept the fact of a higher judgment and depend upon a higher power. Thus, the pro-life movement in America remains strong, vibrant and uncompromising because of its starkly religious nature.

2) Technology has proven to be a tremendous ally of our movement. No one with any sense of responsibility or honesty (make that any sense, period) still tries to say that the unborn child is just a clump of cells or mass of undifferentiated tissue. And the stubborn fools who still do talk like this have been marginalized to the nutty fringe of the debate. Fetal photography, fetal surgery, techniques and equipment which are used to help earlier and earlier "preemie" babies and, most of all, the development of ultrasound has given the pro-life movement, which always held the higher moral ground (i.e., justice, compassion, opposition to barbaric violence) the higher scientific ground as well.

And 3) I told the interviewers that though Europeans might have a harder time identifying with this third foundation, it was of critical importance to their question. It was simply this -- Americans have always held as ideals the right of self-determination, liberty, equality, democracy. It is why most Americans still treasure the Declaration of Independence with its heralding of the God-given, unalienable right to life and the Constitution with its separation of powers. Thus when an unscientific, unjust, wildly unpopular law is forced upon all Americans by a mere 7 people in black robes (which thus, in one swipe, uprooted every abortion restriction ever passed by any of the 50 states), it is bound to generate enormous and long-lasting antipathy. Tyranny doesn't set well with us.

No, I confirmed to the TV crew, because of these three things (the depth of our religious faith, the ever-advancing power of technology, and the incontrovertibly unconstitutional nature of legalized abortion), the pro-life movement will only become stronger in the years to come.

(Denny Hartford, Vital Signs Ministries LifeSharer letter, March 2010)