Thursday, May 22, 2008

Reflections on Legal Abortion, Operation Rescue, and Another Opportunity at Election Year

By Dave Armstrong (5-22-08)

My words below were brought about by an excellent post at CHNI about Abp. Charles Chaput's remarks on abortion and those who support Obama for President despite his pro-death views.

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I participated in 25 or so rescues (Operation Rescue) and was arrested five times (wound up with one easy night in a country club-type jail that was supposed to be a week), and that experience is a major reason why I am a Catholic, because I met very committed Catholics: one of whom challenged me on contraception. I eventually changed my mind on that as a Protestant and it was the first thing on the road to conversion. Randall Terry, the leader of it, recently entered the Catholic Church.

I think one such factor in how legal abortion came about is clearly contraception: both legally and philosophically / ethically. It was a legal precedent in Griswold V. Connecticut (1965, I think). I remember learning about that during the circus Senate hearings for Robert Bork.

I wrote in my conversion story in Surprised by Truth:
At this time I became seriously troubled by the Protestant (and my own) free and easy acceptance of contraception. I came to believe, in agreement with the Church, that once one regards sexual pleasure as an end in itself, then the so-called "right to abortion" is logically not far away. My Evangelical pro-life friends might easily draw the line, but the less spiritually-minded have not in fact done so, as has been borne out by the sexual revolution in full force since the widespread use of the Pill began around 1960.

Once a couple thinks that they can thwart even God's will in the matter of a possible conception, then the notion of terminating a pregnancy follows by a certain diabolical logic devoid of the spiritual guidance of the Church. In this, as in other areas such as divorce, the Church is ineffably wise and truly progressive. G.K. Chesterton and Ronald Knox, the great apologists, could see the writing on the wall already by the 1930s.

I was utterly shocked by the facts that no Christian body had accepted contraception until the Anglicans in 1930, and the inevitable progression in nations of contraception to abortion, . . .
There is an internal logic to this: if a person thinks that it is okay to prevent a conception that may indeed be God's will at the time, then what is to stop them from thinking that they can "terminate" a pregnancy that they didn't want? The obvious reply is that now a human being is present and it is a new ballgame, so to speak, but as we all know, they will simply deny that this is the case, in the face of all logic and biological fact.

They look at it in terms of rights and "their body" and utilitarian ethics: as if they own another human being (reminiscent of slavery). The Supreme Court permitted it; no one can prevent them, and so they think it is right and good. And the contraceptive, anti-child mentality played a key and crucial role in bringing this outrageous state of affairs about: essentially within the last 50 years (with Kinsey, Playboy, et al playing their role in the 50s, to undermine Christian moral teachings).

Many Christians accepted the whole thing uncritically. I know I did myself. It never occurred to me when we got married, that contraception was wrong. What little I knew about the Catholic objections seemed to me weird and extremist and retrograde.

I've always said, too, that abortion is oftentimes a result of women giving into men's self-serving choices of wanting sex without consequence. They want to please the man and so (many times) they do it, even partially or fully against their own will. That doesn't sound very "feminist" to me: it's exploitation by sex-crazed men (same old same old), so that the woman can be exploited some more sexually. The woman bears all the consequences: medically, emotionally, guilt: sometimes ending up not able to have children at all.

Men lose little except the parental responsibility they would and should have had. In the old days, the men would marry the pregnant woman, to protect her honor and reputation. Now they can split and tell them to go jump in the lake, or else take out the child and continue on as always.

Thus I place primary blame on men for the whole genocidal abortion phenomenon. It was feminism that (ironically) gave into being like men (the very ones they often despise), that led to abortion, but it is definitely male-driven.

The pro-life circles I moved in were always very good at emphasizing that the woman needed a great deal of love and was the second victim. I remember that there was a talk on this very topic from a woman that we later became good friends with (Sally Kresta: wife of talk show host Al Kresta) at the first conference I went to in 1982 (in my evangelical non-denominational church), where I instantly became a committed pro-lifer.

All I saw in my time of overt activism was love and concern, and friends (Al and Sally, again) setting up crisis pregnancy centers, etc. I saw nothing of the stereotype of being anti-woman or unconcerned with their welfare. The pro-life movement is other-directed by nature. People aren't in it for themselves, but for the rights of other human beings (similar to white abolitionists in the 1800s), so it stands to reason that the pro-life activist would be concerned about the woman as well as the potentially aborted child. And they certainly are. I've never seen otherwise. There is a great deal of compassion and love and understanding of the emotional aspects of difficult situations.

Lastly, I always feel duty-bound to report that most birth control pills today are abortifacients themselves. They're not always merely preventing conception.

There is also increasing scientific evidence of a link between oral contraceptives and breast cancer.

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Someone questioned the utility of Operation Rescue, to the effect that maybe it didn't save as many lives as it claimed?

Isn't even one life saved more than worth it? I'm delighted to have spent merely one night in jail after three trials or pre-trials, so that human beings are alive now who wouldn't have been. That's what Operation Rescue was all about. This particular child was going to be killed, and was not, directly as a result of people sitting out in front of the abortuary, out of biblical obedience, rather than (technically) civil disobedience.

People who think that OR was primarily a movement designed to change people's opinions, are wrong (many people automatically dissed it as an extremist movement, as fully expected). It was a group of Christians who wanted to save the lives of babies and assist women considering abortion. And it succeeded in doing so. Randall Terry and those in OR could not or cannot change people's hearts. There are plenty of pro-lifers out there who are using persuasive techniques to cause people to reconsider the pro-death position. More power to them. May they multiply exponentially. But that is not what OR was primarily about. It wasn't a mere "tactic" or "strategy." It was felt obedience to biblical commands. And it could have easily succeeded in shutting down abortion (and the legal system) if millions had entered into the movement.

Meanwhile, millions upon millions of Christians, including Catholics, continue to vote for child-killers (mostly in the Democratic Party), so that the holocaust continues. Abortion could be over in a month if only Christians would be consistent in this, and not give sanction to evil (we wouldn't even have to disobey human laws; it would all be perfectly legal). If Christians would simply continue having children at the rate we used to, and raised good Christian disciples, legal abortion in America would be over in 20 years at the most. Once the Baby Boomer generation (my own illustrious folks) that brought in most of the rotgut "liberated" sexual practices dies out in 20-30 years, then maybe we can see some real societal progress and revival (as when the generation of the Exodus had to die out before God could make any forward progress with His people).

Stopping legal abortion, though, is an absurdly simple procedure: stop voting for those who allow the evil to continue, and have lots of kids and raise them as pro-life Christians. All we gotta do is be consistent Christians. How unnecessary, then, that the murder continues. What a sad commentary on the state of Christianity in America . . . we either have the scores of Protestant denominations who expressly uphold abortion rights as a matter of policy, or we have those in pro-life denominations and the Catholic Church who vote for those who see nothing wrong with maintaining legal child-killing. God help us.

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A vote for Obama (as with any pro-abort Democrat or Republican) is a vote for maintaining legal abortion. That's not all it is a vote for, of course, but it is certainly one result, and any Christian who is pro-life should ponder this very seriously before pulling the lever in November.

I happen to like Obama personally, but that has no relationship to whether I should vote for him. I like the children who stand to be killed better than the charming, charismatic candidate.

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The Baby Boomers will eventually die out. All we Christian pro-lifers have to do is have lots of children, and raise them up as good Christians and Catholics. Demographics is destiny.

Why do we hear so much about Muslims? Cuz there are so many of 'em. They still have kids. Christians (including Catholics) don't anymore. Obviously, we have decided that many things are more important than children, and that the world is so bad that we shouldn't bring children into it. My own brother decided this. I remember thinking at the time (before I was a pro-lifer or a committed evangelical) that there was something very odd and unusual about this attitude.

Perhaps the now small percentage of Catholics and other Christians who are having lots of children can make a difference. When those children grow up, hopefully, they'll continue the trend, too, and refuse to vote for pro-abort politicians. But I think it will take a lot more than that. We need a full-scale revival of old-fashioned Christian morality and lifestyle. That comes only by God's grace, not human planning, so we need to pray fervently for it.

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The "pro-choice" mentality entails rationalization of sin; unwillingness to face the horrible sins we have committed and legally sanctioned as a society; living in a dream world where sex is free and without any responsibility, even if death results. It's being sold a bill of goods that helps no one and makes everyone miserable. It's Burke's old maxim:

"The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

One thing I have done through the years is to have a large poster of preborn children who haven't been slaughtered. Then you take away the (irrational) objection of people to seeing butchered babies. They instinctively turn away from those and have a gut reaction (and we understand why). But if we simply show the development of preborn children (like the famous LIFE magazine spread some 40 years ago, where I first saw these kinds of pictures around age 10), then no one can make that reaction, and we can say "isn't life beautiful?" It's switching from the goal of having people be repulsed by the evil, to being awestruck by the good and the beautiful (which, hopefully, could produce an effect of making one pro-life).

I'm not saying we should never do the other (I have it on my blog: the link above), but this is one approach where it might have more actual effect on people, if they'll look at the pictures and learn a few things. It's the old "honey rather than vinegar" thing. I don't disagree with showing the butchery photos at all. I do it myself. But I'm also suggesting that we can do the other too. The pro-life cause can be promulgated in many different ways. What won't reach one person may reach the next.

For example, many people (like myself prior to 1982) are so ignorant that they think babies aren't aborted when they have limbs and a heartbeat and brain waves. They think the child is a little "clump of tissue" when murdered. So someone like that sees our pictures of dead babies and they think it is a trick and a manipulation (the rare "exception"), because to them, most abortions do not occur at that late term. Our opponents have been extremely successful in their damnable propaganda.

The "non-gory" pictures overcome that altogether, because we can simply show someone an eight-week-old child and say, "this is when most abortions occur: from 8-12 weeks, and this is what the child looks like. Did you know that?" And if they did not, they'll never look at abortion the same again. They can never again be so ignorant.

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