While the presidential candidates are spending a lot of time on
education, tax cuts and prescription drugs, the real hot-button issue in
this campaign, as it has been in so many others, is abortion. Thanks to
Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joseph Lieberman, we constantly are
being reminded of the importance of religion in this country, but it is
within this segment of the population that this battle is being waged.
Among the 5 percent to 10 percent of our population who see
themselves as a product of matter, energy and chance, the issue largely
is settled. Everything is situational; anything goes. It is survival
of the fittest.
Abortion is a religious problem, or so it seems. Religious people
largely fall into one of two categories. Those who carefully have
examined the Bible, Koran or other sacred writings, along with
scientific evidence, and those who haven’t. Those who haven’t fall into
five subcategories: 1) those who maintain that Scripture is silent on
the issue; 2) those who accept only certain portions of Scripture as
relevant; 3) those who have bought into the idea that the child in the
womb is nothing more than a glob of tissue; 4) those who believe
abortion to be a political issue, therefore unworthy of critical
examination and; 5) those who refuse to examine it because abortions in
their past make the possibility of discovery too painful.
Most who hold to one of the first four positions also fall into
The 1973 Supreme Court decision known as Roe vs. Wade, which took the
abortion issue out of the hands of the individual states and made it
legal for any reason, under any circumstance, at any time, was based on
a “world is flat” theory. The court did not attempt to answer the
question of whether or not the child that was being aborted was, in
fact, a human being, it simply refused to grant to the unborn the legal
status of “personhood.” Ironically, Roe was handed down just as
real-time ultrasound imagining was being developed which would give us a
window into the womb.
Among the scientific community the case now is closed. In the Jan.
14, 1985, Newsweek magazine, writers Kenneth L. Woodward and Mark D.
Uehling examined the moral dilemma created by this new technology and
put it like this: “In most serious debates, however, it is taken as a
biological fact that a fetus is alive, human and unique — a developing
human being.” The term “developing human being” was an interesting
choice of words for we are all “developing human beings.” There is
nothing magical that happens to end this development at birth. No one
will argue that a child is fully developed at this stage of life.
However, it is primarily the religious, not the non-religious, who
still try to pretend that we really don’t know what is in the womb.
Peter Singer, the Australian philosopher who was given the prestigious
chair of bioethics at Princeton University’s Center for Human Values
recently offended our sensibilities by arguing that infanticide should
be an option for parents for the first 28 days of a newborn’s life.
This is nothing new. Back in 1985, Woodward and Uehling found that
many pro-choice theorists believe that an individual becomes a person
“only when he or she becomes a responsible moral agent.” They
interviewed anthropologist Virginia Abernethy of Vanderbilt University’s
School of Medicine who believes that would be around the age of three or
four. Until then, Abernethy considers infants — like fetuses — to be
“nonpersons.” She also believes that defective children, such as those
with Down’s Syndrome may never become persons. She says that the claim
they have on persons is compassion, not a moral right to life.
“Compassion is always very important, but (it) loses when weighed
against the rights of a person.”
Atheists and secular humanists, like Singer and Abernethy aren’t
afraid to confront the facts. However, the vast majority of our
citizens, who consider themselves religious, prefer to look the other
way. That is why Vice President Al Gore, a professing Christian, and
his Democratic running mate Joseph Lieberman, an observant Jew, still
are clinging to phony medical reasons in order to justify their support
for the brutal partial birth abortion, which involves killing a child,
which for all practical purposes is delivered. This is why Republican
presidential candidate George W. Bush and his running mate Dick Cheney
are having such a hard time making their case against abortion. It’s an
issue that incites a lot of emotion, but few are willing to face.