Twenty-eight years ago today, the United States Supreme Court handed down a decision that made abortion legal in all 50 states, for any reason, at any time during a nine month pregnancy. If Roe v. Wade is “settled law,” as Bush’s attorney general nominee John Ashcroft stated in his confirmation hearing last week, what are thousands of protesters doing today out in the streets in front of the nation’s capitol and the various state houses? Did Ashcroft get it wrong in Day 2 of his confirmation hearing?
Despite what you may have heard or read, he did not. The matter is settled in the minds of the five justices who make up the abortion-at-any-cost, under-any-circumstance, don’t-bore-us-with-the-facts majority on the current Supreme Court. If confirmed, Ashcroft’s job will be to enforce the law as it is written, not as he wishes it to be.
That is the cold, hard reality that Ashcroft drove home last week. As hard as it may be for his fellow pro-lifers to accept, there would be no point in sending the inspector general on a kamikaze mission to try to overturn this decision before this court.
However, Ashcroft made another point that should be harder for moral conservatives to handle: Even if the make up of the court should change, making the overturn of Roe possible, it isn’t likely he would bring a test case before this body because he doesn’t believe that it is in the agenda of this administration. As Bush’s attorney general, he said, “It wouldn’t be my job (to make it happen).”
That’s the straight story from the man who ought to know. If you are expecting this new president to take his bat and ball to the Supreme Court of the United States and try to hit one out of the park on behalf of the most innocent among us, it isn’t going to happen. Get used to it.
When it comes to controversial issues like this one, you can expect this president to run in place. He simply isn’t going to stick his neck out. Why should he? Why should a president fight for something for which the majority of the American people are unwilling to fight? Apart from the couple of hundred thousand people who are out in the street today, the rest of us have become complacent.
If we are to believe the spin dished out in the Ashcroft hearing and in the media, the majority of Americans now believe abortion is a woman’s constitutional right and that right now extends up to, and includes, the actual moment of birth. Anyone who believes otherwise is on the radical fringe of our society and has no right to serve in a Cabinet post, much less on a high court, especially the Supreme Court. If such a person should be elected to Congress, that person should be tolerated by his (or her) colleagues only if he keeps his opinions to himself.
This is, of course, not reality. It is spin. It is a spin the majority of Americans, by their silence, help preserve.
There are two value systems at work here. One is the value system of those of us who, like Ashcroft, believe in a creator God, in whose image we are made, where there are moral absolutes based on His character, revealed in His word. The other value system is that of secular humanism or atheism. In that value system everything is situational, anything goes. An atheist is, in effect, his own god. Therefore, abortion is OK if he says it’s OK.
It’s not the atheists in this country who are out there demonstrating against Roe. It’s people of faith. Roughly 95 percent of the citizens of this country say they believe in God, so the question is this: Why aren’t more people out there today demanding that the wheels be put in motion to have this flawed decision –- wrongly decided in an information vacuum –- overturned?
Look at the numbers: Since 1973, when Roe came down, there have been approximately one and one-half million abortions per year. That’s roughly 4,100 per day, 171 per hour, or 3 abortions per minute. Some 40 million legal abortions have been performed here and, in some states, abortions were legal before that landmark decision.
Statistics tell us that roughly five people are involved in every decision to end a life: a mother, father, aunt, sister, some other relative, friend, teacher, counselor and often boyfriend. If you do the math and multiply those 40 million abortions times the five people who were involved in those decisions, you come up with 200 million people in this country with blood on their hands. That’s roughly the adult population in this country.
Some women have had multiple abortions so some of those people are the same, but it’s safe to say that if you are an adult and your hands haven’t been stained by the blood of one of those aborted children, you are one of the lucky ones. However, you are in the minority in your town, in your church and very likely in your own family.
These people with blood on their hands aren’t anxious to face up to this grim reality, much less talk about it. I know, because I’m one of them. Shortly after Roe was handed down, I helped one of my closest friends through an abortion. At the time, she told me that she had made up her mind, but — like most pregnant women — she really was looking for someone to talk her out of it. In the end, I was the one by her bedside. I was the only one who could have done that, but I didn’t.
I tried not to think about it. It took me years to face the reality of what we had done and my part in it. It took me even longer to talk about it with her. When we finally did discuss it, I discovered that it was something we both deeply regret. At the time of the abortion, we had bought into the “glob of tissue” theory. It was not a tiny baby, it was just a clump of cells, and it was her “choice” to eliminate it.
At some point, the women who made these choices and the people who supported them become aware of the miracle that takes place when a child is conceived. Just two weeks after a woman has missed her first period, the developing child in her womb is quite recognizably human. The heart is beating and there are brain waves.
In 1998, Family Research Council paid Wirthlin Worldwide to do an extensive survey on American attitudes toward abortion. The results flew in the face of the spin in Washington. Three-in-five respondents (61 percent) disagreed that “abortion should be permitted after fetal brainwaves are detected.” Nearly three-in-five, (58 percent) agreed that “abortion should not be permitted after the fetal heartbeat has begun.”
Furthermore, Wirthlin found that a majority of Americans (57 percent) described their own personal position on abortion as being more pro-life. Specifically, one in 10 (11 percent) felt that abortions should be prohibited in all circumstances. Fourteen percent felt abortions should be prohibited except to save the life of the mother, and one-third (32 percent) felt that abortions should be prohibited except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.
Wirthlin also found that among those who fall into the pro-choice category only a slim 9 percent felt that abortions should be legal at any time during pregnancy and for any reason, which is what we now have under Roe.
Contrary to popular belief, Wirthlin found that women continued to be stronger pro-life supporters than did men. Sixty-one percent of women held a pro-life position compared to 53 percent of men.
While this was one of the most responsible and most extensive surveys on abortion done in recent years, it had its problems. The pollsters used the term “fetal heartbeat” and “fetal brainwaves” instead of “baby’s heartbeat” and “baby’s brainwaves.” “Fetus” is a medical term for a baby in the womb, no more, no less. It is a rather ugly word and makes the child in the womb appear less human. Pro-abortion advocates successfully sold it to the media.
However, in “Journalism 101,” reporters are taught to use plain, everyday language. If a reporter is writing about someone who had a heart attack, he doesn’t refer to it as a coronary infarction. If a reporter is writing about a broken arm, he doesn’t refer to it as a fractured distal radius. Only when writing or reporting on abortion is a medical term commonly used in place of plain, everyday English.
George W. Bush is right. We’ve come too far down the abortion road to solve this problem with a bill, or one stroke of a pen or perhaps even a Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe. We’ll never solve this problem politically until we change the culture. However, we can’t change the culture if we can’t talk about it. And we aren’t going to get folks talking about it with so many walking wounded.
Forty million abortions and 160 million people like me have participated in a decision to end a life. Some 200 million people with blood on their hands need to find forgiveness. How many worship services have you been in where the pastor, rabbi or priest faced this issue squarely and then offered those in attendance an opportunity to place that sin on the altar once and for all?
Those people who are out there marching today, who care enough to leave the comfort of their homes and, at their own expense, travel to Washington, D.C., or their own state capitals in order to call attention to this terrible injustice, are to be admired.
However, if we are to reverse Roe and change the culture, the focus must be on the individual churches back home. If you truly desire to do something positive about this issue, before you write a letter to President Bush or call the White House, make an appointment to sit down with your own pastor, rabbi or priest and talk about what is needed at your own place of worship.