Sunday, February 19th, 2006

Anne Lamott, a so-called “progressive” Christian, wrote an article in the LA Times concerning a response she gave to a question about abortion during a panel discussion in Washington about social justice. She is staunchly pro-choice, and even had an abortion herself. Listen to what he has to say about abortion:


“I wanted to express calmly, eloquently, that pro-choice people understand that there are two lives involved in an abortion — one born (the pregnant woman) and one not (the fetus) — but that the born person must be allowed to decide what is right.

“I am so confused about why we are still having to argue with patriarchal sentimentality about teeny weenie so-called babies — some microscopic, some no bigger than the sea monkeys we used to send away for — when real, live, already born women, many of them desperately poor, get such short shrift from the current administration.

“But as a Christian and a feminist, the most important message I can carry and fight for is the sacredness of each human life, and reproductive rights for all women is a crucial part of that: It is a moral necessity that we not be forced to bring children into the world for whom we cannot be responsible and adoring and present. We must not inflict life on children who will be resented; we must not inflict unwanted children on society.”

Let me make a few observations in the way of evaluation. In the first paragraph she made a moral distinction between the born and the unborn, and asserted that the choice of the born trumps the right to life of the unborn. Why? Why doesn’t the existence of the unborn life trump her right to choose? The baby’s location? But since when does where you are determine what you are, or what rights you are entitled to? Maybe Lamott can explain to us how it is that being in a womb robs a human being of his/her rights. Are there any other places humans reside in which they cease being the subject of basic rights? How about Washington?

Based on her comments in the second paragraph she seems to be arguing that the born have the right to decide the fate of the unborn because of differences in size. Why? How is size morally relevant? Since when does your size determine one’s moral worth, and who is the subject of rights and who is not? Does an adult female have the right to decide the fate of a 5 year old human being because she is bigger than her? Of course not! So why can an adult female decide the fate of a one month old human being? Is it because it sooo small? Well, then, exactly how big does one have to be before they are protected from being killed with impunity? What is the exact size? And what is it about that size that magically transforms the unborn into a morally significant subject of rights?

Lamott’s last paragraph is the most confusing. While she says each human life is sacred (including the unborn’s), she argues that the right to an abortion is a crucial part of the fight for that sacredness. What?!? We protect the sacredness of each human life by protecting a woman’s right to rob a tiny human being of his life? If words mean anything at all her position is nonsensical.Lamott’s most outrageous statement, however, was when she said we “must not inflict life on children who will be resented.” Inflict life? Since when is life something to be avoided? She acts as though it is a disease. And what’s so bad that life would not be worth living? Having someone resent you? There’s no doubt that being resented by anyone—yet alone your mother—would be a horrible experience, but since when do we kill people so they won’t experience potential emotional pain? Should we kill our unborn children because someone other than the mother might resent them someday? And how is it that something as immoral as resentment makes it a “moral necessity” that we kill unwanted children? It seems to me that one immoral act is being used to justify another, all in the name of morality. Such is the moral confusion of our generation, and it is being done in the name of Christianity. God help her!

William Saletan of Slate recently proposed some new rhetoric for abortion-choice politicians to use when they are debating pro-lifers. His proposal is as follows: “My opponent and I both want to avoid as many abortions as possible. The difference is, I trust women to work with me toward that objective, and he doesn’t.”

Pretty good! It makes the abortion-choice candidate look sympathetic to the pro-life and abortion-choice side, all the while making the pro-life candidate look like someone who does not trust people to make their own choices. But there are some serious logical problems with this approach.

First, if you truly want to avoid as many abortions as possible then the ultimate goal should be to eliminate all abortions. Why? Because abortion is unnecessary, making it possible to eliminate the procedure altogether. One might argue that some abortions are necessary, particularly when the mother’s life is at stake. I can accept that qualification, but since that situation accounts for less than a fraction of 1% of all abortions we’re still talking about the real possibility of eliminating more than 99.9% of all abortions. Does the abortion-choice candidate truly want to eliminate 99.9% of all abortions? I highly doubt it. I would advise a pro-life candidate to call his opponent on this. Make him say he wishes to eliminate all elective abortions. I’ll guarantee he won’t do it.

Secondly, if you want to avoid as many abortions as possible, and you know there are women out there who are opposed to your desire, why would you trust them to work toward your objective? If you desired to save more Jews during the Holocaust, would you say the difference between you and the Allies is that you trusted the Nazis to work with you toward that objective while they did not? Of course not! How about murder? Would anyone say the difference between them and their opponent is that they trust murderers to work with them to eliminate murder while their opponent does not? Of course not! Then how can we trust women who want to murder their babies to work with us to avoid abortion? We can’t. We must legislate morality on them just as we do in every other area of the law.

So much for Saletan’s new rhetoric!