The Best-Ever Definition of Being Pro-Life
Being pro-life is about far more than can be captured in a well-lit Facebook image. It is about avoiding the many tempting promises of barbarity. Both sides in the abortion debate are aware the world is full of things that ought not to be. Babies should not be ill, dependent on tubes for survival, exposed to drugs or alcohol in utero, born into poverty in crime-infested neighborhoods, or rejected by their biological families.It makes me wish that folks like Robin Williams had known even a few truly pro-life people, as described in Mussman's article. It's clear he didn't, at least as of this interview years ago.
In one sense, we can both agree such children “should not exist.” Yet the solution is not to eliminate ... these babies while they are most vulnerable. Doing so is to fall into the understandably human, but absolutely wrong, logic that was used by a group of third-grade boys in my classroom when they asked why, since the Middle East is always fighting and wants to hurt America, we don’t just nuke the whole region to end the problem.
Barbarians respond to the world’s brokenness by doing what seems necessary to protect either themselves personally or their group as a whole. In ancient Carthage, for example, parents sacrificed newborns to the gods. These parents were human beings who surely felt as much of an impulse to protect their children as any other human being does, and presumably would not have given their babies to the gods unless they thought it was a necessary sacrifice, just as today there are loving parents who think they also must sacrifice a baby.
Barbarism is perilously natural. It comes so easily. We look at the world, see a thing that should not be, and attempt to force the world into a better shape. For instance, we see a woman whose life is a tragedy: she is willing to commit a crime for a few dollars, her brain is permanently damaged by drugs, her various boyfriends are physically and emotionally abusive, and any children she bears will probably be sucked into the same vortex of dysfunction. It seems so logical to say that such a woman “should not” have babies, and that society has the right to sterilize her as it sterilized thousands of “feeble-minded” citizens in the heyday of the eugenics movement. It makes so much sense to push her into an abortion through the threat of punishment should she deliver another child into the world. After all, she is hurting not only her children, but the larger society that surrounds them.
...Barbarism sounds logical, but it fails to make the world a better place, either in the national sphere or the domestic one. When we act as if other people’s fundamental human rights fall on a sliding scale based on their relationship with or value to the group (or to ourselves), no one’s human value is secure. Such an approach leads to philosophies like that of atheist thinker P. Z. Myers, who declares there is no inherent moral reason to restrict abortion to pre-born babies. He says a society would be morally justified (although brutal) if it also allowed the abortion of young children who cannot yet meaningfully contribute to the group. The thing is, barbaric logic leads to—well, to barbarism, in which each individual lives only for himself.
...Abortion is a terrible thing. Yet as we fight to protect our weakest citizens from death in their mother’s womb, we must remember we cannot guarantee them happy endings. The babies whom we wish to save will not all be happy, healthy children who will be adopted by picture-perfect, loving families. Some of them will grow up in tragic circumstances. Some will suffer tragic illnesses. All of them, one way or another, will face the brokenness of life in this world. Knowing this, all we can do is give. Barbarism takes. Civilization gives. It is the essence of civilization to say that the weakest, least beautiful among us are precious beings who must be protected, even when this requires sacrifice from the strong.
That is what pro-life means.
I don't agree at all, however, with the postulating that went on about Robin and his long-ago abortion involvement. I am saddened to see pro-life people presuming and posting as though they know anything with certainty. As Emily first wrote in our blog's guidelines,
We believe that compassion is the appropriate response, and that compassion shouldn't be conditional on whether or not someone perceives their abortion through the same cognitive and religious eyes as mine...please don't imply that men or women who say that their abortion experience was positive are in denial. If people are in denial, that would be because of an event that is too traumatic for them to process in the light of reality. If you really believe someone is in denial, why would you want to add insult to injury?Meaning: that "pro-life" article about Robin Williams did just that.
If I could say anything to him, now, it might be this: No, Robin, those of us who believe in the right to life, we do "support the second part of the process." We do support the education, we do support their health care. No one's ever "mandated" having children but a child being conceived has always been a biologically-possible result of having sex. That's just a "fact of life." You said you didn't want to deny life to anybody, yet you did condone it by saying that the "other dilemma" was worse, and you and I both did it to our unborn children, and now you've done it to yourself.
"Right to a decent life"? That leads to the "barbaric logic" spoken of above, doesn't it? That it's ok to do away with someone who would suffer needlessly or even just be "numb," if allowed to live?
Robin, all we can do is give. And that's all we can keep on doing. I wish your soul rest. I will pray for that, and for your loved ones.