Rationalizing More Attacks On the Unborn

“Perhaps nothing has been so damaging to our cause as the advances in technology which have allowed pictures of the developing fetus, because people now talk about the fetus in much different terms than they did 15 years ago. They talk about it as a human being, which is not something I have an easy answer on how to cure.”

Harrison Hickman, pollster for the National Abortion Rights Action League, addressing NARAL's 20th anniversary conference, October 1989

It is usually taken for granted that self-declared “intellectuals” are in favor of finding the truth and in favor of progress in the area of human rights. In fact, intellectuals regularly define themselves by their engagement in these precise pursuits. Except, of course, in the Through-the-Looking-Glass world of abortion politics. There, truth is to be ignored when it doesn't serve the one end of keeping abortion available on demand. And progress isn't allowed if the beneficiaries include the unborn.

Polls taken over the last three decades have regularly shown that Americans with more money and more years of education favor abortion to a far greater degree than Americans with less of either. No matter that the developing scientific evidence points in the exactly opposite direction — evidence that has gone so much further in the 10 years since Hickman's admission above.

A recent incident highlights the continuing reality of this dynamic. It came to light recently in Washington, D.C., that public television stations and pro-abortion groups, including Planned Parenthood, the mother of them all, were swapping mailing lists of potential donors — probably on the presumption that intellectuals are more likely to watch PBS stations and support abortion on demand.

So much for truth. What of progress toward a more complete realization of human rights? That, too, goes by the boards when the “human” at issue is unborn. More shocking evidence of this would be hard to find than abortion advocates' statements in recent weeks on the subject of a proposed law to protect the unborn victims of violence. The Unborn Victims of Violence Act would charge a person with two crimes if, during the course of a violent act — one that is already a federal crime — against a woman, he or she also injures or kills that woman's unborn child.

Abortion advocates'responses to this legislation have been blunt — surprisingly blunt considering how well they ordinarily cloak their true intentions with a “pro-woman” and even a “pro-child/pro-family” spin. No matter that this law would apply to mothers who chose (the most important word in the pro-abortion rights lexicon) life for their child. No matter that the killing of unborn children regularly happens in the context of domestic violence against pregnant women — a crime these same advocates claim to abhor. No matter that many of these unborn victims are killed after viability — when even some pro-abortion groups grudgingly acknowledge the child's humanity — a small, but significant, admission.

Polls regularly show that Americans with more money and education favor abortion far more than Americans with less of either.

In their own words, abortion advocates' response to the law has been as follows: “This is an effort to establish in law another little chink in the ground of Roe v. Wade“ — Patricia Ireland, National Organization for Women. “Indeed, the Act must be seen as another battle in the 26-year-long crusade since Roe to endow the fetus with rights and thus erode the fundamental right of women to choose” — Kate Michelman, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. And in an indirect swipe at all women with “unplanned pregnancies,” Gloria Feldt of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America: “The loss of a planned pregnancy is terrible,” but this bill is the wrong solution because it “elevates a two-week embryo to the status of the woman carrying it.”

Never mind these women's deliberate evasion of the more typical scenario, in which a husband or boyfriend deliberately destroys an unborn child of 20 – 30 weeks' gestation.

In recent years, pro-abortion opposition to common sense, clear thinking and human progress has become more and more visible. The list is long, but some of the more notable examples include their opposition to the idea that parents should be informed before an abortionist performs surgery on their minor daughter. Opposition to doctors giving women mandatory informed consent before abortion surgery is performed. Opposition to protecting a child who is four-fifths delivered outside of his or her mother. And now opposition to providing woman full legal satisfaction when a child she chose to nurture in her womb is brutally harmed or killed by another.

In short, the pro-abortion intellectuals have a track record that should be publicly highlighted again and again. People might even begin to believe that “pro-abortion” is “anti-intellectual.”

Helen Alvaré is director of planning and information, Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, National Conference of Catholic Bishops.