Our worst export just hit Argentina.
The current president of Planned Parenthood is unafraid to use the word “abortion.” In a Christmas-season interview with the Washington Post, she scolded those who would downplay the importance of abortion to their work. She says it is “stigmatizing” to do so.
For those who oppose abortion, this is a cause for gratitude. For decades, abortion has been subject to euphemisms from its advocates. “Choice,” “freedom,” “health” — all are used to avoid saying the actual word “abortion.” Which makes sense: Polls consistently suggest that Americans don’t like abortion. Well, of course. We know in our hearts that severing a child from its mother isn’t natural, isn’t ideal, isn’t good. But life is difficult. People want to know that women in need have options.
As it happens, Alexis McGill Johnson’s short-tenured predecessor tried to play down the priority of abortion to Planned Parenthood. I was hopeful that she was doing this because she wanted to make abortion less central to Planned Parenthood. But she was opposed by the organization she helmed. So honesty is best. It’s the only way to make progress. “I think abortion is health care,” Johnson says. “And so, if the first thing [people] think about is health care when they think about Planned Parenthood, I think that’s fine.” One of the worst things is to pretend otherwise. We can’t have an honest debate when people are pretending.
The interviewer gave McGill Johnson further opportunity to play down abortion if she wanted to do so. She had no interest. “We are a proud abortion provider,” she declared.
At the same time that the interview with McGill Johnson was published, activists in the streets of Buenos Aires were celebrating abortion, as Argentina adopted our worst value. Where is our humanity when we cheer for abortion? Reuters quoted someone from Human Rights Watch who was encouraging the prospect of an abortion-legalization domino effect throughout the continent.
We are frequently told to “trust the science” on all issues, most unavoidably with regard to COVID-19. But there is a glaring exception when it comes to the unborn baby — a baby, we can clearly see on a sonogram, who is alive and human. It’s not in fashion to state that those innocent most vulnerable humans have rights. Headlines about the Argentinian senate vote had abortion proponents pitted against the Catholic Church — which included the former cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires, the current Pope Francis, who emphasizes that this needn’t be a religious argument.
It’s not unusual for people who support abortion to embrace Pope Francis’s views on other issues, such as climate change. But he talks about the environment in the context of a broader plight — that we are a throwaway society. Shouting that abortion is health care and freedom helps us conveniently ignore the reality. But seeing that it’s consistent and healthful to care for both the human person and the rest of creation would get us somewhere better.
January 22 is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in all three trimesters. It codified a dehumanization that we can be prone to when it’s convenient. It’s one thing — and bad enough from a moral-conscience point of view — when you ignore (or worse) a troubled person on the street. It’s another when the law says that such ignorance — an ignorance that ends lives and poisons the individual conscience — is a boon. What has law been teaching people for almost half a century now? That the vulnerable don’t have rights. That we can end the lives of those who don’t fit into our plans.
There’s a new sobering documentary, Divided Hearts of America, featuring former NFL player Benjamin Watkins. He goes on a journey asking people about abortion. It’s a response, in part, to New York’s abortion expansion in 2019, with a niece of former Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy as one of the filmmakers. the filmmakers clearly have a pro-life perspective — Watkins himself is a father of seven and active in pro-life and family evangelical advocacy circles, but he does talk to both sides. The movie broadcasts many black pro-life voices, including that of Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece and also Democrat Katrina Jackson from Louisiana.
Earlier this year, Planned Parenthood of Greater New York took Margaret Sanger’s name off its building when cancel culture gave them grief about Sanger’s pro-eugenics views. While the truth about the founding of Planned Parenthood should have been confronted long ago, taking her name off the building only whitewashes history. And, in the aforementioned interview, Planned Parenthood’s president says that she was motivated to get involved with the organization about a decade ago when she saw outraged to see the pro-life ministry’s sign in SoHo proclaiming the womb “the most dangerous place for an African American.” She wasn’t new to the argument, only shocked that anyone in New York would hold such a view. As it happens, New York has been dubbed the abortion capital of the world, and in recent years the state has seen more abortions than births of black children in certain zip codes. Johnson says she was “shocked, like, What is going on here?”
Excellent question. Unborn black lives matter, too.
Let’s do better for life in this new year — having and honest, open, humane debates, finding meeting ground where we can. And let’s absolutely come together for the best for children who are alive but do not have homes’ let’s protect faith-based resources even as we may disagree about some basics of family life. And let’s celebrate courageous birth mothers who aren’t ready to raise a child; let’s reverence both lives.
This column is based on one available through Andrews McMeel Universal’s Newspaper Enterprise Association.