Religion

‘Seizing’ and ‘Pouncing’ . . . or the Truth about Life

Signs at the 2019 March for Life in Washington, D.C. (Katie Yoder/National Review)
Zero tolerance for the ongoing pile-on that obscures life

Not everything is about Donald Trump or the next presidential election or even politics. Not everything has to do with Right and Left and Republicans and Democrats. Life and our words and actions are more complicated and deserve more than that.

There is more to life than politics.

There is more to life than Donald Trump.

These things should not need to be said. And yet. If you look at Twitter or read the “news” or overhear a dinner conversation, or try to have one yourself, these can be absurd thoughts.

And when it comes to abortion, we really need to take a stand and have a zero-tolerance policy. As January was coming to a close, there seemed to be a new breeze blowing, and it wasn’t from a polar vortex. There were moments of clarity and even newfound transparency.

It started with the new president of Planned Parenthood talking about how abortion is what they do. She seemed unashamed to say the a-word, a word that for years abortion activists have largely suppressed, opting for euphemisms, seeking a culture change where everybody comes to think of abortion not as an unfortunate evil or politically contentious issue, but as women’s “health care.” The problem, of course, is the old doctor’s oath to Do no harm — and what we’re doing to the medical profession and the law by saying that some lives don’t deserve life. And there’s also the reality that while politics talks about “choice” and “freedom,” many women feel only pressure when it comes to abortion.

Then there was Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, becoming a trailblazer in the culture of death for, among other things, stripping away legal protections for babies who survive abortions. Babies who survive abortions. There’s really no euphemistic way to phrase that, no way look away from that.

Now that doesn’t mean people won’t try. The governor of Virginia, who is a medical doctor, was asked about something similar being proposed in his state. He talked about making the just-delivered baby “comfortable”:

If a mother is in labor . . . the infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and mother.

A “discussion”? After a baby has been born? Then we decide if the infant lives or dies? This is the darkness we’ve gotten ourselves into by letting abortion be decided by our political parties.

Poll numbers consistently suggest that Americans are more pro-life than our politics would suggest. People who are pro-choice want to know that a woman in a difficult situation has options. Take a look at more than a decade’s worth of analysis from the Knights of Columbus and polls they’ve commissioned, and you see that there are some real opportunities for common ground on this issue. Democrats and Republicans can work together on ways to help women choose adoption, help families adopt, make sure there is informed consent, and focus on so many other issues that don’t have the mobilizing force of the same-old politics. It would actually be the right thing to do and would turn down the heat in our public life (which seems to have bled into every aspect of life in entirely unhealthy ways).

A game-changer that could upend the culture of stagnation and screaming on abortion may just be the upcoming movie Unplanned. It’s the story of Abby Johnson, who ran a Planned Parenthood clinic and believed she was helping women but walked away when she had to participate in an ultrasound-guided abortion. The movie will show what she saw — a baby pulling away from the doctor’s instruments that were going to make sure he would not be delivered alive. Johnson couldn’t look away, and we shouldn’t. This could launch conversations like nothing else.

Headlines have been dismissive about the Virginia example, especially. Some say: Conservative pounce. Others: Republicans seize. Try: People are heartbroken and horrified. And not people who watch politics like it’s a sport but those who only half pay attention as they live their lives, and people who work on the frontlines helping women and families. In New York, we need to hear from people like Cheryl Calire, who will talk to you about abortion and what’s wrong with what the governor did. An even more powerful message is her example, founding and running the Mother Teresa maternity home in Buffalo, New York.

I always like to talk about the Sisters of Life because not only are they 100 or so women who are completely dedicated to helping people embrace life, but they have a network of some 15,000 people who will help in myriad ways a woman who is pregnant or families in need of help. Just a few weeks ago, on their way to the March for Life, two sisters told me their stories of a woman they ran into at a drive-through who needed mattresses for her kids. Done.

The fact of the matter is that there are people out there who walk the pro-life walk. They are reasonable. They provide solutions. And they give us an out from a culture that celebrates abortion. Unless that’s who we are and want to be. But I think the Democrats’ doubling down on abortion extremism will backfire for them. Those who choose to embrace the opportunity for something more life-giving than a pink Freedom Tower to celebrate abortion expansion will have a winning ticket for something much more enduring than an election.

This column is based on one available through Andrews McMeel Universal’s Newspaper Enterprise Association.

 

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