National Catholic Register

Opinion

Dear Pro-Choice Friends,

BY The Editors

November 2-8, 2008 Issue | Posted 10/28/08 at 11:35 AM

 

If you’re reading this at all, thank you. So many mass e-mails are unfair, unkind, uninformed or all three. If the subject has anything to do with politics, the right response is often to hit “delete.”

Thank you for not hitting “delete” — so far. Let me reassure you that the rest is worth reading.

• I promise not to deliberately misconstrue your point of view.

• I promise not to assume I know the motives of those who disagree with me.

• I promise not to insult your intelligence and pretend you haven’t thought carefully about momentous questions.

I think it is important that we have a discussion, though, because …

• We are all Americans who want what’s best for our families and the next generation.

• We are friends for a reason: We care about each other and would trust each other with anything.

• I won’t lie. Of course, I’m sending this because I think the right to life is an issue of crucial importance in the election. The right to life is a fundamental part of the Declaration of Independence and the U.N.'s Declaration of Human Rights. If we don’t defend the right to life, all the other rights are weakened.

I know you don’t think of abortion as something good or desirable. I know you are against abortion being used simply for convenience. I know you have welcomed unborn children with joy in your own family.

Maybe you’re pro-choice because you realize that life is sometimes messy. You realize that sometimes people make mistakes, and you don’t believe their lives’ future course needs to be changed so that it follows the path made by that mistake.

Maybe you’re pro-choice very reluctantly. You’d like a world where abortion isn’t an issue. You wish a better social safety net were in place to help unwed mothers. You wish the world were such that so many women hadn’t been forced into this necessity. But now, abortion laws are entrenched, and it’s a pipedream to think they could be wished away as if by magic.

You’re not alone. In opinion polls, most Americans say they are against most abortions.

America’s voters are basically divided into three camps. The two smallest camps are the activists on either side, for whom abortion is the major issue. On one side are the abolitionists — those who want to ban abortion outright. On the other side are those who benefit directly from the abortion industry and the ideologues who want zero restrictions on abortion throughout pregnancy.

Those in the middle aren’t always sure what they think of abortion, but they know they don’t like the extremism of either side.

Politicians tend to agree with the middle, but want one of the extremes on their side. They will send coded signals to one of the activist camps while reassuring the middle.

Thus John McCain, in the third presidential debate, said: “I believe strongly that we should have nominees to the United States Supreme Court based on their qualifications rather than any litmus test. I voted for Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsburg. Not because I agreed with their ideology, but because I thought they were qualified and that elections have consequences when presidents are nominated.”

With these words, he both told the people in the middle he was on their side, and warned the abolitionists that if they don’t vote for him, they’ll get more Supreme Court justices who support abortion.

Then McCain said: “We have to change the culture of America. Those of us who are proudly pro-life understand that.” He acknowledged to the people in the middle that he knows abortion laws must change gradually, and he told the people on the pro-life side that he was one of them.

In the same debate, Barack Obama said: “It is very likely that one of us will be making at least one and probably more than one appointments, and Roe v. Wade probably hangs in the balance. Now I would not provide a litmus test. But I am somebody who believes that Roe v. Wade was rightly decided.”

He, too, was trying to calm the middle while signaling to “his” ideologues that he was on their side.

Then, Obama said: “With respect to partial-birth abortion, I am completely supportive of a ban on late-term abortions, partial-birth or otherwise, as long as there’s an exception for the mother’s health and life, and this did not contain that exception.”

To the middle, he was saying, “Don't think of me as a supporter of the late-term abortions you abhor, in which ‘preemies’ are killed.” To the abortion industry, he was saying, “I will give you exactly what you want, retaining the exception for a mother’s health, which as you know means that any mother can get any abortion up to partial-birth abortion, simply by saying it’s for her health.”

Which of these positions best matches your own worldview?

I know which best matches mine. I also know that you and I have a lot in common.

I believe, like you, that abortion isn’t good or desirable, or something to be chosen lightly, for convenience.

Like you, I have welcomed the unborn in my own family.

Like you, I know that life is sometimes messy and that people sometimes make mistakes — big mistakes. In fact, several people we know and love started out as just such “big mistakes.” In cases we’re all aware of, mothers imagined that this “mistake” would change the course of their whole lives in a bad way, and almost made the choice to end the lives of people we now love. Thank God, and thank these wonderful women, that they didn’t.

They discovered what I think our whole culture is discovering: Abortion is the tragic answer despair gives to a common mistake. But it isn’t the answer hope gives.

We’re Americans, and I believe that if the abortion industry went out of business tomorrow, we would do just fine without it.

We wouldn’t just serve those women in need; we would serve them proudly.

And we would thank God just as much for their “mistakes” as we do for the “mistakes” that today we call our wives, husbands, children and friends.

See also: What Kind of Voter Are You?