John Clark is an author and speechwriter. His first book Who’s Got You? reached #1 in the Amazon Kindle “Fatherhood” category and his new book How to Be a Superman Dad in a Kryptonite World, Even When You Can’t Afford A Decent Cape was just released by Guiding Light Books. He has written hundreds of articles and blogs about Catholic family life and apologetics in such places as Seton Magazine, Catholic Digest, and Homiletic and Pastoral Review. A graduate of Christendom College, John and his wife Lisa have nine children and live in Virginia.
I recently listened to actress Alyssa Milano’s Sorry Not Sorry podcast, in which the starlet takes up the political cause of abortion. In the course of the 55-minute podcast—which manages to be simultaneously unsettling and calculatingly boring—various angry voices speak about the desperate need for further abortion legalization. At the conclusion of her podcast, Milano tells about the two abortions that were performed on her babies when Milano was in her twenties, along with the obligatory knock on the Catholic Church. Since the podcast has received so much attention, I’d like to address two aspects in particular: choice and consequentialism.
Speaking of her decision to abort her two children, Milano says she was “not equipped to be a mother and so I chose to have an abortion. I chose. It was my choice. And it was absolutely the right choice for me.” (Emphasis mine.)
In the 1970s, abortion advocates claimed that a fetus was only a “blob of tissue.” In fact, on Left, “blob of tissue” might have been the most common utterance of the decade. But since the advent of 4D imaging—which has been called a “window to the womb”—the blob of tissue defense has gone out of style. (Actually, I was recently debating an atheist who used the blob of tissue catchphrase; however, when I asked him why I was anything more than a blob of tissue, he had no answer.)
But the fact that the blob of tissue rhetoric is currently out of favor is no reason to cheer. Today, abortion-advocates largely agree that the being in question is a baby.
For many years, those of us in the pro-life camp assumed that if we could simply demonstrate that prenatal life is human life, we would win the argument. We were wrong. The biological proof that abortion ends the life of a child hasn’t made a dime’s worth of difference to many abortion-advocates. The fact that abortion is the intentional taking of a human life is not considered the most relevant point nor even a relevant point.
What is relevant? Choice.
The word “choice” is not shorthand for an underlying ethical philosophy; rather, it denies the need for an underlying ethical philosophy. And “choice” can be applied to any action by anyone:
Why did you falsely accuse that kid of robbery to send him to prison? Choice.
Why did you sleep with your secretary? Choice.
Why did you embezzle from the company? Choice.
For someone even remotely interested in the field of ethics, it prompts a question Milano must avoid: Why is anything wrong? By the way, that’s a fair question to ask the next abortion advocate you meet: Why is anything wrong? How does the intentional taking of an innocent human life—complete with heartbeat—not amount to being wrong?
Milano concludes that if she had not aborted the two babies in question, her “life would be completely lacking all its great joys.” It’s unclear how she arrives at this certainty, although she does say that bringing a baby to term would have devastated her acting career. If that’s true, the world might have never seen Milano’s career-defining works Poison Ivy II or Embrace of the Vampire—a chilling speculation, indeed.
Consequentialism, or the claim that the morality of an action should be determined by its consequences, is often the go-to argument for abortion advocates. In plenty of cases, they seem absolutely certain that if a woman brings her baby to term, the consequence for the woman will be inevitably by misery. As a corollary, they often present abortion as the most empowering—the most womanly—thing that a woman can do.
For all their talk of women’s empowerment, many abortion advocates speak about women as though they are feeble and helpless creatures whose most significant worth in life can only be realized by ending the life of a baby. That’s a damned lie. It’s also uniquely insulting to women everywhere—including those women still in the womb. The fact that the argument is usually made by a woman is no defense.
In fact, the child may well be a woman’s greatest and most enduring source of happiness, whereas abortion can bring about hurt, pain, and a deep sense of regret that can be difficult to overcome. Three-time Academy Award-nominated actress Gloria Swanson can attest to that sad fact. Swanson chose to abort her child in 1925 to continue her acting career. Because of that abortion, she began to hate her acting career. In fact, 55 years after the abortion, Swanson wrote, “the greatest regret of my life has always been that I didn't have my baby...”
One last point. Though Milano is intransigent in her lack of sorrow, I am plenty sorry. I’m sorry for Swanson’s baby. I’m sorry for Swanson. I’m sorry for Milano, who was lied to by both the abortion establishment and by a Hollywood culture that—as has become even clearer in recent months—routinely uses and mistreats young women. I’m sorry the leadership of the Catholic Church has been so weak on the life issue and I’m sorry that the laity has often seemed disinterested. I’m sorry I haven’t done more for the pro-life cause. I’m sorry for the lies Milano was told yesterday. I’m sorry for the untruth she repeats, perhaps without knowing, today. And I’m sorry that so many will be moved by these lies to choose death for their babies.