Saturday, January 19, 2013

Anti-abortion, not pro-life

A few years ago, when a new "pro-life" group formed in my parish, there was a debate over what we should call ourselves. Almost everyone in the group agreed that we must not use the word abortion in any of our communications, too negative. One person said we must be "pro-life" because we have to be seen as positive, not as nay-sayers. It didn't sit well with me, and Jonathon van Maren does a great job explaining why that is so.

For starters, the term “pro-life” is a bit fluffy. It doesn’t do a very good job of conveying opposition to a horrifying medical procedure that completely shreds a tiny human being. We’re not just pro-alive-and-healthy-fetuses, we’re also very specifically anti-suctioning-them-to-death.

The specificity of the moniker “anti-abortion” is helpful in a lot of ways. People often want to be seen as supporting something, not opposing something—but I’ve discovered that if the conversation we’re having is focusing on abortion specifically, it’s generally not a hard argument to win. The vast majority of people have no idea (either intentionally or by default) how grotesque abortion actually is, so when they are confronted with that reality, rhetoric like “choice” or “reproductive health” falls flat very quickly.

The pro-choice movement and their supporters in the media have long insisted on referring to us as anti-abortion. I say we should give them the argument they want. Yes, we are anti-abortion, and for very good reasons too. Imagine an exchange on a TV station that would go something like this:

Guest: Well, I’m strongly pro-life…

Host: You mean anti-abortion.

Guest: Well, yes. I think that using a suction machine or forceps to dismember a living human being in the womb is something I should oppose. Do you?

Host: Uhhhhh….

Pro-lifers should embrace the title: Yes, I’m anti-abortion, and I’ll tell you why. That, I think, is an argument we will win.
Rewatch the second video in the post below, the one that shows the reaction of marchers at last year's March for Life to the graphic images of abortion shown by Created Equal. A couple of people turned away, obviously upset with the images. But the majority of the young people who saw the images looked stunned. They were silent, just staring at the photos of aborted fetuses. It really is true that most people do not know the violent reality of abortion; and, when they do see it, the instinctive reaction is shock and disbelief - that we can do such a thing.

And just for the record, our "pro-life" group no longer exists except in name only in the parish directory. It had no guts to it.

1 comment:

Mama P said...

Well said! This is something I struggle with. I always strive to be very positive in how I argue my side of the debate, trying to keep the focus on the life at stake, but I think we need to be unafraid to share the REAL truth about abortion. It's a brutal, ugly procedure that doesn't just kill a life, it tears it apart. I watched a youtube video once where a former abortionist showed a real ultrasound of an abortion, explaining each part. I think it was called the Silent Scream or something similar. Even in the black and white of the ultrasound, it is a brutal ordeal for the baby. I can't imagine the confusion and terror that strikes a child being aborted. There should be no place safer than a mother's womb, and yet there are woman allowing medical professionals to torture their child and suck them out, only to throw them out with the trash. We can never forget this essential fact. Yes, I am anti-abortion, and I'd like to think that if many of our middle of the road pro-choice friends had seen this video or another like it, it would change their hearts.