Last month, Princeton’s University Center for Human Values sponsored a discussion on the abortion debate. Austin Ruse wrote a scathing summary of the conference over at That Catholic Thing but I’m focused here on one point made by William Saletan of Slate Magazine who summed up a number of points he believed pro-lifers should learn from the conference.
While such as predictably liberal solutions like embracing contraception and more government programs subsidizing single mothers were paramount, one of the “lessons” Saletan thought pro-lifers should learn boggled my mind and made clear why there is such a disconnect between pro-lifers and pro-choicers. Saletan wrote that pro-lifers’ push for waiting periods and required ultrasounds simply delay the date a mother can procure an abortion and this is bad because “early abortions are better than late ones.” So therefore we’d be better off removing all restrictions so that women can get their abortions quickly?
It’s kind of like blackmail. Don’t fight us or the babies will die after they look all cute.
Early abortions are better than late ones. The best question I heard at Princeton came from Cristina Page, author of How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America. “Studies show that restrictions on abortions push women later into pregnancy,” she told Alvare and Kaveny. “What if we were to find that in fact it [was] pro-choice policies that would reduce the gestational age? And do you think that reducing gestational age of abortion is a common-ground goal?” Kaveny welcomed the suggestion and said she’d like to see the studies. Alvare was loath to accept the legality of killing, but she conceded that later abortions were worse than earlier ones. From a pro-life standpoint, trading late abortions for early ones is hardly ideal. But it’s better than nothing, and if you pursue it, nobody will stand in your way.
I’m puzzled by this assumption in that Catholics believe that life is sacred from the moment of conception. It doesn’t become more sacred as time goes on.
One could understand if we were talking about issues of fetal pain but I don’t think many pro-choicers even admit that such a thing exists. The unborn do not become MORE human as time goes on so I’m unsure why a point of agreement would be that early abortions are better than late ones.
Pope Benedict XVI wrote:
God’s love does not differentiate between the newly conceived infant still in his or her mother’s womb and the child or young person, or the adult and the elderly person. God does not distinguish between them because he sees an impression of his own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26) in each one.
So while I understand that this conference’s aim was to bring the two sides together but that’s very difficult when the two sides so fundamentally misunderstand the other.
We don’t defend only cute life that looks like us. We defend human life. From the beginning to the end.
Note: Pro-lifer Helen Alvare says she was misquoted by Saletan. She writes: “Saletan fabricated any statement on my part regarding any difference between early and late abortions. A pure fabrication but INCREDIBLY frustrating.”
She said her thoughts are published here.