Average “pro-choice” people in America are actually quite moderate. They support a ban on abortions after the first trimester. They support informed consent and waiting periods. And they do not join a mob at the state capital to spit on pro-lifers and chant “Hail, Satan.”
This is not a post about average pro-choicers. This is a post about abortion activists who dedicate significant portions of their lives to defending the practice of prenatal killing against any and all regulation, or to actually committing abortions. I’m talking about activists who believe in abortion with what is practically a religious fervor.
Religious doctrines can provide a tool for understanding the views of these abortion rights hardliners. Below, I draw upon traditions from Catholicism, Hinduism, and other faiths to shed light on the pro-abortion worldview. Whatever your own beliefs, I hope that you find these analogies to be helpful.
Admittedly, not every abortion advocate subscribes to every belief listed here. But these themes appear frequently enough that pro-lifers are bound to come across them in conversations and debates with people from the other side. Bear in mind, too, that people can hold these beliefs without having examined them carefully or even consciously realizing that they hold them.
“[B]y the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.” ~Catechism of the Catholic Church
“Well, in my heart and my mind, you know, life begins when the mother says it begins, not when anybody else thinks it begins. For some women it’s before they conceive; for some women, it’s never. Even after they deliver, it’s still a problem, not a baby.” ~Late-term abortionist Leroy Carhart
The basic idea of transubstantiation is that when a particular individual speaks particular words, this causes the fundamental nature of something to change, even though this change is not physically apparent or scientifically measurable. In Catholicism, the speaker is a priest, the words are a blessing, the object is a loaf of bread or goblet of wine, and the transformation is that the bread or wine becomes the body or blood of Jesus. In abortionism, the speaker is a pregnant woman, the words are an acknowledgement of positive feelings about motherhood, the object is the unborn child, and the transformation is that the “clump of cells” becomes a living baby.
|7 weeks, 4 days|
Of course, this is the sort of thing that has to be taken on faith. An 8-week-old unborn baby who is scheduled to be aborted looks and functions just like an 8-week-old who is loved by his or her mother. Both have clear signs of life.
“When people die with strong unfulfilled desires, which can only be fulfilled on earth, their minds—while they are in the other world—strongly yearn for the fulfillment of those desires. As every conscious action is prompted by a thought, those unfulfilled desires eventually bring them back to earth, thus causing their rebirth or reincarnation.” ~Swami (monk) Bhaskarananda, Vedanta Society of Western Washington
“Abortion access is very rarely about being a mother vs. not being a mother, about having a baby to love or not. While that’s true for a small percentage of women seeking abortions, for most women, it’s about timing. Women just want to give the children they do have the best possible shot at a good life by having them at the right time.” ~Abortion supporter and blogger Amanda Marcotte
Unlike the abortion transubstantiation doctrine discussed above, abortion advocates rarely state a belief in reincarnation explicitly. But it is implicit in the idea that abortion is not a matter of deciding which children will be born, but when children will be born. If abortion is all about the “timing” of parenthood, and abortion is a morally acceptable way to accomplish that timing, then unborn children cannot be unique individuals; the aborted child and the later-born one must be essentially the same. This flies in the face of scientific and medical evidence, which shows that every human being has unique DNA from conception. But reincarnation makes sense of it; the aborted child may not be physically the same as her later-born sibling, but they are spiritually the same. The aborted child is “reborn” at a more convenient time.
“Good Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions.” ~Rev. Jerry Falwell
“You can’t call yourself a feminist if you don’t believe in the right to abortion.” ~Nora Ephron
Fundamentalism has been widely criticized, by secular and religious leaders alike, because it makes a virtue of closed-mindedness and fosters an “us versus them” mentality. When you meet an abortion advocate who refuses to see pro-lifers as anything other than misogynists, and who declares “You will never change my mind,” you are dealing with a fundamentalist. No amount of evidence for the humanity of the unborn child will move them; it will go in one ear and out the other. Just as religious fundamentalists reject any facts that contradict their religious texts, and try to prevent those facts from being widely disseminated, so too abortion fundamentalists condemn life-saving ultrasound technology and try to insulate women from the reality of the abortion choice.