Toward Ending the Denial

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

You’ve heard here before about Andrew Cuomo’s push to expand abortion in New York under the guise of a grab-bag of “women’s equality” and “health” claims.

Yesterday, New York’s Cardinal Dolan wrote:

We also have the threat of an expansion of abortion here in New York, under the rubric of “women’s equality”.  Many of the governor’s proposals being advanced under that title are worthy of support, and we have not yet seen the actual details of his “Reproductive Health Act.”  However, some of the advocates continue to insist that abortion is a central part of “women’s equality.”  Their proposals include defining abortion as a “fundamental right”, as if it were equal in significance to the right to vote.  They are also pressing to permit non-doctors to do abortions, and allowing risky late-term procedures to be done outside of hospitals.  All this would expand the number of late-term abortions, and prevent many common-sense regulations, like ensuring that parents are involved in a decision made by a minor.

In the wake of the Gosnell trial — and his not-for-the-first-time criticism of President Obama’s appearance before Planned Parenthood – Dolan continued:

One abortion is too many, but every year we have over 100,000 in New York, and over a million in the United States.  Over half of the African-American children conceived each year in New York are aborted, as much as 60% in some areas. So expansion of abortion is hardly something that anyone needs.  I’m glad that more and more of our political leaders, including Governor Cuomo, are urging creative ways to decrease the number of abortions by assisting pregnant women, their unborn and newly-born babies. 

Nor is there any reasonable way to consider abortion as good for “women’s health” or “equality”.  Half of the aborted children are women, some of whom are aborted for no reason other than their sex.  Women who have experienced abortion sometimes die from complications, or suffer psychological and physical effects for years afterwards.  It is utter madness to treat the gift of a woman’s fertility as if it were a disease, and her unborn baby as if it were a tumor to be eliminated.   

It started there. Where does it end? When doctors in clean clinics in wealthy parts of town are willing to let newborns die? When doctors see patients with challenges as something less than human, less worthy of their medical efforts to preserve and protect?

Mary Eberstadt’s earlier book remains an important one.

More from the cardinal: 

We frequently hear calls for a “national conversation” about serious issues, yet our leaders never seem to want to talk frankly about abortion.  It has become the great taboo, the subject that we must never mention.  When we do raise the subject, we are accused of “imposing our values” on others.  

Really, who is imposing values?  When our cultural leaders deny or avoid the truth about abortion, isn’t that imposing a view of reality?  When the government forces taxpayers to pay for abortion, isn’t that an imposition of anti-life values? What about the unborn babies — how do they feel about having the value of “choice” imposed on them in the most permanent way possible? 

As Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput recently put it, as the Gosnell trial was occurring in his backyard: “A consequence of the fact that we have a growing culture of disrespect for human life as a result of the decision of the Supreme Court here those many years ago.” He continued: “If we can treat unborn children this way, it means we’re capable of treating born children this way, and the elderly this way. Unless there’s a deep profound respect for human life at all levels, people will see a gradual disintegration of respect for human life at all.”

Cardinal Dolan continued:

Deep in our hearts, there are truths that cannot be erased, that cannot be completely clouded by ideology, or utilitarian calculations, or by our own weaknesses and self-delusions.  Our lives are an awesome gift, they are precious and must be safeguarded and nurtured.  But not just our own — every human life is just as important, and must be preserved and protected as well.  We are all called to be a gift of self, a loving servant, to our brothers and sisters, particularly those in need.  And we know, at the core of our being, that abortion contradicts these truths. 

Our society is once again challenged to recognize these fundamental truths, to discuss them candidly, to deal with the hard and challenging decisions that they entail, and to support those who struggle with them.  The days of denial have to come to an end.  We can no longer hide behind euphemism and distraction. 

Can we all finally agree that things have gone way too far, and begin to make corrections?  Can we start to talk common sense?

Those last two are excellent questions. I share Steve Hayes’s sense of urgency that was on display the night of the Gosnell trial. I share Daniel Henninger’s. I also am sobered by the reality of Kirsten Powers’ pessisimism. We have a moral imperative not to look away. And yet. We had a Gosnell moment, where Anderson Cooper paid attention, then it seemed to pass. And so we’re back on abortion expansion and attacking those seeking to err on the side of life.

Did you read Henninger’s column last week? He wrote, in part: 

The Gosnell case is a chance for people of reasonable mind, assuming any remain on this subject, to come to grips with abortion in America. . . .

After Gosnell, all reasons for having an abortion do not carry equal weight.

Across the 40 post-Roe years, the idea of a deeply personal decision, or choice, has taken a back seat to the hard face of public politics. The partisans in the abortion battles will deny they have demoted personal concerns, and that may be true. But when every nominee to the Supreme Court must run the abortion gauntlet, when every presidential convention must include strict nightly commitments to “choice” or “life,” when bishops battle politicians, and “litmus test” means only one thing, then abortion’s public politics have overwhelmed its human tragedies. After 40 years, we still have too much of both.

Can the Gosnell case change that? If it doesn’t, we’re in trouble.

If we still remember what conscience is, ours should be rocked.