Garry Wills was on Talk of the Nation today. The discussion was about whether abortion is or is not a religious issue. He says it's not, because it isn't specifically addressed in the Bible, and besides, we humans happily engage in mass killing just about all the time, so let's not be so squeamish. (He didn't use those words, of course, but that's what he was saying in essence.)
I completely agree with him, even while wondering what his opinion might be if the Bible did proscribe abortion.
I've never had an abortion, and given what I know about myself, that's a very good thing. My heart would have been broken - by the procedure itself, and by the circumstances that would have necessitated it. Luckily for me, those circumstances never arose. And that's why my opinion shouldn't count for very much: I don't have the right to settle a question for others that I never had to face myself.
Not to say that others don't have this right. I'm willing to give it to them, for a price. But this is what I need from them first: some real commitment. That's right, all you pro-lifers out there. I will never take you seriously until I see you actually inconveniencing yourself for your pro-life principles. Here are some ways you might prove yourself to me:
- adopt a child no one else wants; there are lots of them. These excess living children could use your assistance.
- demand an end to our adventure in Iraq, which has killed untold numbers of innocent civilians (all already born and living on the planet at the time of their deaths).
- become a vegetarian. (Ever seen photographs of "factory farm" chickens? It's genocide on a mass scale.)
- write a 1,000-word essay describing what our society would be like if abortion were outlawed. Compare and contrast statistics from countries were abortion is currently legal/illegal. Describe maternal death and injury due to backstreet abortions. Face the fact that, if you got the society you say you want, it would look different from the one you enjoy now: more unwanted children, either raised by inadequate mothers or an inadequate social service system (one is as bad as the other, if you know anything at all about foster care), and growing up to foist upon society all their well-deserved furies and confusions. Graph and color-code all this, and get back to me with conclusions that for once are founded in reality, not theatrical religious impulses.
- explain to me why we value some lives more than others. Don't deny it; we do. There are those of us in favor of keeping a brain-dead woman alive in Florida, at vast expense, and at the same time denying poor children insurance. Figure that one out.
Do all this, and I'll begin to listen. But not until then. Not one moment before then.