Science & Tech

Science Supports Life

Sign at the March for Life rally in Washington, D.C., in 2011. (Jason Reed/Reuters)
So why are we still appallingly defending the indefensible?

Science begs us to tell the truth about life and death and the misery we unnecessarily inflict.

“Until birth, you guys. Until BIRTH. Where’s the ‘science’ supporting that??”

That’s how one young commentator responded to an NBC news “health” article highlighting the tweets of an abortion provider at the University of California–San Francisco. “Research has shown a fetus does not yet have the capacity to experience pain until at least the third trimester, and unlikely until birth,” the medical doctor had tweeted at Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.

Should your child happen to be wanted, you might be a little sensitive to that kind of bedside manner, to say the least.

The Senate’s failure to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, legislation that would have prohibited abortions ater 20 weeks — abortions that, as David Brooks recently pointed out in his New York Times column, most people oppose — should be a cultural line in the sand. In opposing the ban, Democrats — including many Catholics, who should know better — are defending the indefensible. Atlantic reporter Emma Green should get an award for her recent essay on the science of abortion. “New technology makes it easier to apprehend the humanity of a growing child and imagine a fetus as a creature with moral status,” she explained.

“Appalling” was the ignoble inhumanity in the Senate, which should be sounding a siren beckoning a rediscovery of who we are and want to be. New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan used the word in a statement on behalf of the U.S. Catholic bishops:

The U.S. Senate’s failure to adopt the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, prohibiting abortions at 20 weeks post-fertilization, is appalling. Abortions performed in the second half of pregnancy usually involve brutally dismembering a defenseless unborn child, while also posing serious dangers to his or her mother. The Senate’s rejection of this common-sense legislation is radically out of step with most Americans. Opinion polls consistently show that a strong majority of the public opposes late-term abortions — including those who self-identify as “pro-choice.” Furthermore, the United States is currently one of only seven countries that allows abortions beyond 20-weeks. The other six are North Korea, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada and the Netherlands. The Senate must rethink its extreme stance on late-term abortions. I call upon the public to tell the Senate that this vote is absolutely unacceptable.

In short: You don’t have to describe yourself as pro-life or be a Catholic bishop to see what’s true! We don’t have to be stuck in the misery of our abortion politics. We can find common ground and cause in helping women and families instead of strangling ourselves in euphemisms and voluntary ignorance for the sake of ideological loyalties.

A friend who has been writing about abortion and our need for a better way — and an end to the grave manipulation of language that has dire consequences, which include in no small way the extended immiseration of women — expressed with some exasperation:

When you look at this whole situation, it’s just unbelievable. It’s surreal that we as a culture are pretending that the unborn child is not a child, that it doesn’t feel pain, or that it doesn’t matter. And supposedly they’re all about science!

It was all the way back in 2004 when National Review’s founder, William F. Buckley Jr. (who died ten years ago this month), wrote about the sometimes brutally nonsensical partial-birth-abortion debate at the time: “A political event is needed to affirm that a democratic society is free to react against uncivilized practices, athwart abstractions of the judiciary.” It’s long past time we seize on such an event.

It doesn’t matter what you think of Donald J. Trump or any particular politician at this point in human history. We ought to insist a rising above this abysmal impasse.

Again, it was 2004 when my friend Shannen W. Coffin, who as deputy assistant attorney general for the civil division of the Justice Department, coordinated litigation in trials defending a partial-birth-abortion ban that had passed Congress and was signed by President George W. Bush the year before, explained in NR how

the abortion-rights lobby perverts the law, co-opts the medical profession, and debases the very language we speak. By controlling and distorting the debate in these ways, abortion advocates hope to prevent the American public from learning the stark truth about abortion practices — especially the abhorrent partial-birth method, in which a doctor delivers a living child until its legs and torso are hanging outside the mother and then pierces the child’s skull with a sharp instrument and vacuums out its brains.

We ought to insist a rising above this abysmal impasse.

See why words such as “miserable” and “appalling” should be guideposts taking us to a better place in our history — guiding our law to somewhere healthier and driving us to give witness to something better with our lives: in what we support (including volunteering our time and energy to), in what we insist on, and in pleas to politicians and to the press to frankly tell the truth?


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