Even the most cynical pro-lifers—the types who are jaded enough about abortion politics to not feel much surprise over it all—must occasionally re-confront the quaint horror of abortion, and the effect that abortion has on the moral fabric of a community or a nation. NPR has the scoop on some new abortion laws in Arizona:
Many states have what proponents call Born-Alive Infant Protection laws, but Arizona is now taking its rules further. It’s defining what are signs of life, like a heartbeat or the movement of voluntary muscles, and requiring doctors follow set procedures to resuscitate if any of those are present…
One mother, who had her daughter aborted when it was discovered that the child would have serious health problems, is not okay with this:
If [my daughter] was born [under this law], I felt like then they would have tried to, in my definition, torture her by trying to resuscitate her when I wanted to give her a peaceful death.
It does nobody—pro-lifers, pro-choicers, anybody—any good to claim that abortive women (at least of this variety) are bad, or evil, or monsters of any type: while the realities of abortion are clear-cut and inarguable, the motives behind it are often confused, murky and stupid, and are thus understandable though not condonable. Case in point: the mother in this example has grown up in a world where it’s considered acceptable to kill your child rather than try to help her live. You can make a distinction between the moral center and the sociological actuality, but it is often difficult if not impossible to separate them in the moment. A personal attack against this woman, or any abortive woman in similar circumstances, is both counterproductive and ultimately wrong.
Just the same: consider for a moment. Consider what abortion politics does to people: it may not make them monsters, but it does, sometimes, every so often, make them seem like monsters, insofar as it makes people do and believe things that, in other circumstances, we would properly consider monstrous. Put another way: the mother in this case chose to “terminate her pregnancy” at 23 weeks because of her unborn daughter’s serious health problems. But suppose these serious health problems were discovered only upon birth? Would it be acceptable for her to give her daughter a “peaceful death” under those circumstances? The law says no—for now—but it’s not clear why; nor is it clear why we draw a moral line between a human being inside a uterus and a human being outside of one. If a woman gave birth to a sick child and then elected to pull her child apart limb from limb, or inject the baby with poison, all in order to give her a “peaceful death,” we would gasp and say, “That’s monstrous.” If a woman does the same thing with the child inside of her, we nod and sympathize and say, “That’s sad.” Just consider this for a moment.
Ultimately that is the great horror of abortion politics, and any politics that reduces human beings to mere units of practical consideration: it allows and encourages good people to do awful things, blurring the line between the person and the thing in a way that is meant to be deliberately obfuscatory. We know killing innocent people is bad, after all—everyone knows it—but the politics of the current moment also obliges us to pretend that killing innocent human beings falls under the rubric of “a woman’s choice.” So most of us clam up, too afraid to state the obvious, becoming ourselves somewhat complicit in the whole mess, a mess wherein attempting to save a little newborn baby’s life is equated with “torturing her,” and where a public radio broadcast can leave unchallenged and unremarked the proposition that it’s okay for a mother to proactively kill her own baby in order to give her a “peaceful death.” It is easy to be jaded these days—but sometimes it is impossible not to be appalled.