Friday, February 8, 2013

Abortion in a Box

This all started on Facebook, when someone made a group called “I support showing graphic abortion images in public.” Now, I am as pro-life as anybody, but I don’t think gory pix are going to change anybody’s mind, so I posted on the page:
“Sorry, but I don't. When my oldest daughter was about six or seven we stumbled upon graphic images in front of a clinic that we didn't even know was there. She was quite traumatized and, rather than blame the abortionists, she blamed the protesters. Today she is "pro-choice" and I think this encounter contributed to that.”

Then, one Tim Locklear (a gun-nut from O-max) counter-posted:
“That is SUCH crap kind sir... To be honest, my 5 year old KNOWS what Abortion is...and that it is murder...and WHEN she has seen them, it makes her as sad as it makes me...”

 I tried to explain:
 “My point is very simple. People do not like being shown revolting pictures and are very likely to resent the people showing these pictures DESPITE the intention of those people”

He never responded, but sweet and friendly April Fitz Scheidler did:
“There is something to what you say about being turned off the pro-life side because of a negative association with the horrific pictures. Still, I wonder if the image itself stays in the mind longer than the negative feelings toward the people showing it.
I also wonder about our feelings about protecting our children are a good reason to keep the graphic images out of the public eye. What cost are we willing to pay to stop abortion? Is it right to shelter children, at the expense of the truth being shown? I think sometimes we, even prolifers, want to keep abortion in a "box", only to be taken out when we feel like thinking about it. I know I'm guilty of that.
You are obviously committed to stopping abortion. Going out to pray at clinics is probably the most difficult place to be. So I respect your thoughts about the signs, but I wonder if you have really wrestled with all aspects of this issue.”

Okay, yes, I want to keep abortion in a box. Let’s start with I am pro-life. I am a Catholic who accepts the Church’s teachings on EVERYTHING. Let’s go beyond that and say that, even when I was a godless communist, I believed that abortion was genocide against workers in the womb. Though my parents were bourgeois liberals, and I grew up in a pro-choice household, since becoming an adult I have always been pro-life.

But, having grown up liberal, I know and understand the other side. About a year ago I shared a story with Mrs. Greer, a very sweet and pious woman from my parish. It seems that my youngest daughter, Willa, had to do a report for school on a contemporary political issue, and she chose abortion. This involved actual fieldwork, and so I took her to an International Socialist Organization meeting about the “War on Women.” The irony here is that even though Willa and I are hard left (and Willa very much impressed the comrades there with her fluency in Marxist jargon) we opposed the ISO line on abortion and were there as spies. Mrs. Greer saw the humor in this, but she also said something along the lines of “It must have been awful to be in a room with such hateful people.” I contradicted her flatly, saying, “These aren’t hateful people. They earnestly want a better world. They love the poor and social justice. They are far better than most mopes you see walking down the street. They support abortion rights because they actually think that’s best for women.” Now, Mrs. Greer has known me for years, our children have played together, I have had dinner at her house, we pray for each other, and so she simply had to take my word for it. PEROPLE ON BOTH SIDES OF THIS ISSUE ARE TRYING TO BE MORAL.

 Now, when I say I am a Catholic and accept ALL of the Church’s teachings, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t hard. From what I understand, research has indicated that 70% of fertilized eggs may never go on to become a full-term pregnancy. Is God really that prodigal of souls? Was Heine right?

     The older brother, lowers his dark torch.
     Sleep is good: and Death is better,
     yet Surely never to have been born is best.

 I cannot think so. I have real difficulty with the idea that God bestows a soul upon every fertilized egg, only to destroy seven in ten before they can be saved. And this is the nut of the issue, isn’t it? Only an idiot would deny that LIFE begins at conception, but does all life have a soul? The godless are forced into not discussing the issue, because they can make no demarcation between life and ensoulment, while Catholics dare not to. For if they did, then the question becomes open.

I did some printing for Rabbi Mikva recently and had a nice talk with her about the issue. Being a serious and pious individual, she saw the central issue as being that of the disposition of the soul, and she quoted Saint Thomas Aquinas to me about ensoulment. Would God really waste 70% of souls? It is hard to think so.

And, if we are to believe the opinion polls, most Americans think not. Two-thirds of Americans think that first trimester abortion should be legal, while the numbers fall off a cliff for second and third trimester. Plainly, people have difficulty thinking that the earliest stages of development are human, yet become very protective once it begins to look like a baby.

 And we have to ask ourselves: do I believe in democratic government? It is obvious that a simple majority of opinion does not constitute truth or right, but when we subscribe to the idea of democracy we have to ask ourselves how far does that extend. At some point, our moral principles must supercede our commitment to democracy. Certainly, genocide is beyond tolerating, and deomocide as well. A government that will not allow the free practice of my Catholic faith is one that must be opposed. How far must a government go in opposition to our principles before we will call upon a man like Franco? Is abortion so intolerable that we would use violence to topple a government that allowed it? The man who shot Dr. Tiller thought so. I cannot.

As long as I am left in peace to live my life as a Catholic, I can accept the will of the people. Frankly, I am much more concerned about that poor pharmacist who was fined because he refused to dispense oral contraceptives. Frankly, I am glad that I am closing my unprofitable business rather than be faced with the prospect of paying for insurance that covers abortifacients. Frankly, I wish that Illinois would enforce the parental notification law that is on it’s books so that I can be certain that my under-age daughter does not make a catastrophic mistake.

Yes — I keep abortion in a box. I live and work in the art district, where people are overwhelmingly liberal, so I don\t talk about it. I don’t think that any politician is actually going to get rid of something so popular as abortion, so I don’t vote that issue. And I oppose showing graphic pix of abortion because I think it’s counter-productive.

 Most people have fixed beliefs. Abortion is not an issue like taxes, were we can talk about them being too high or too low and compromise in between. No, it is either right or wrong, and people usually fall on one side or the other. Usually, it bothers people. It’s bloody, and it’s messy, and on some level they have to acknowledge that something is being killed. But, they don’t want to be caught either. If they don’t want that baby, at that time, with that person, they want a way out. And seeing an horrific pic of a mutilated fœtus is just going to irritate them.

Conversions are made one at a time. It is a tricky business to nudge someone into thinking something new. You cannot push them, for then they will push back, and you have to know when not even to nudge, when to allow them to think it over. Life is a messy business.

Most Saturday mornings you will find me at the corner of LaSalle and Division, in front of the Planned Parenthood clinic, saying the Rosary with Darlene and Lynn. This is the kind of protest I like. Low key, pious, friendly. We give witness.

When my son was eleven or twelve, I laid down my three rules for him. “If you are caught doing drugs, I will throw you out of the house.”

He nodded, for he knew I was fanatically anti-drug.

“If you corrupt a good catholic girl, I will throw you out of the house.”

This was reasonable enough and he nodded.

“And you must never be party to an abortion.”

 “Or you will throw me out of the house?”

 “No—“ I shook my head, “Worse than that. You will never forgive yourself.”


“Do you think I will ever forgive myself?”

 He just stared at me.

“Not ever!”


Maria Aiura said...

Raw, realistic, and beautifully sincere. Thank you for this, Dutchman.

Is the last graphic from postsecret?

The Dutchman said...

I sent that card in to PostSecret about ten years ago. It was never posted to the blog, but then it showed up in the book "The Secret Lives of Men and Women."