No more cliches about abor­tion

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OPINION - Kathryn Lopez Columnist Kathryn Jean Lopez is se­nior fel­low at the Na­tional Re­view In­sti­tute, edi­tor-at­large of Na­tional Re­view On­line and found­ing di­rec­tor of Catholic Voices USA. She can be con­tacted at klopez@na­tion­al­re­view.com.

In 1974, not long af­ter the U.S. Supreme Court made abor­tion le­gal in all three trimesters of preg­nancy, Wil­liam F. Buck­ley, the founder of Na­tional Re­view, wrote a col­umn called “How to Ar­gue about Abor­tion.” He cau­tioned against the use of “blood­cur­dling cliches” on both sides of the abor­tion is­sue. He said it would be a tragedy if Amer­i­cans tuned out the de­bate be­cause of them.

I thought of this dur­ing the re­cent vice-pres­i­den­tial de­bate. We’ve seen blood-cur­dling cliches of the kind that do in­deed ex­haust peo­ple on the cam­paign trail this year, on both sides of the aisle.

Blood-cur­dling cliches abound in the Demo­cratic plat­form, which prom­ises not just to main­tain the sta­tus quo, but to ex­pand abor­tion. It prom­ises to op­pose and over­turn state and fed­eral laws that put re­stric­tions on abor­tion, in­clud­ing the long-stand­ing pro­hi­bi­tion on tax­payer fund­ing of abor­tion. This is all eu­phemisti­cally couched, of course, in terms of women’s health care and equal rights, and dur­ing Tues­day’s de­bate, Tim Kaine faith­fully kept to the script.

But the prob­lem with the script is that it’s a lie that cov­ers up what is re­ally go­ing on.

In 1995, Pope John Paul II wrote in “The Gospel of Life”: “There are sit­u­a­tions of acute poverty, anx­i­ety or frus­tra­tion in which the strug­gle to make ends meet, the pres­ence of un­bear­able pain, or in­stances of vi­o­lence, es­pe­cially against women, make the choice to de­fend and pro­mote life so de­mand­ing as some­times to reach the point of hero­ism.”

John Paul praised the “daily hero­ism” of the silent but ef­fec­tive and elo­quent wit­ness of all those “brave moth­ers who de­vote them­selves to their own fam­ily with­out re­serve, who suf­fer in giv­ing birth to their chil­dren and who are ready to make any ef­fort, to face any sac­ri­fice, in or­der to pass on to them the best of them­selves.” He noted that these hero­ines “do not al­ways find sup­port in the world around them. On the con­trary, the cul­tural mod­els fre­quently pro­moted and broad­cast by the me­dia do not en­cour­age moth­er­hood.”

Add to those mod­els vice pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Kaine, a Catholic Demo­crat who, though he says he’s per­son­ally op­posed to abor­tion, mouths plat­i­tudes about “trust­ing women” to make their own choices.

John Paul’s let­ter con­tin­ued: “We thank you, heroic moth­ers, for your invincible love! We thank you for your in­trepid trust in God and in his love. We thank you for the sac­ri­fice of your life.”

That Buck­ley col­umn I men­tioned was based on a pam­phlet by the same ti­tle by a phi­los­o­phy pro­fes­sor named John Noo­nan, who wrote: “Per­cep­tion of fe­tuses is pos­si­ble with not sub­stan­tially greater ef­fort than that re­quired to pierce the phys­i­cal or psy­cho­log­i­cal bar­ri­ers to rec­og­niz­ing other hu­man be­ings. The main dif­fi­culty is ev­ery­one’s re­luc­tance to ac­cept the ex­tra bur­dens of care im­posed by an ex­pan­sion of the num­bers in whom hu­man­ity is rec­og­nized. It is gen­er­ally more con­ve­nient to have to con­sider only one’s kin, one’s peers, one’s coun­try, one’s race. See­ing re­quires per­sonal at­ten­tion and per­sonal re­sponse. The emo­tion gen­er­ated by iden­ti­fi­ca­tion with a hu­man form is nec­es­sary to over­come the in­er­tia which is pro­tected by a vi­sion re­stricted to a con­ve­nient group.”

It’s long past time for bad ar­gu­ments seek­ing to prop up and in­creas­ingly ex­pand abor­tion. If you want a bet­ter pol­i­tics and cul­ture, work to pro­tect and cel­e­brate the most nat­u­ral love there is.

It’s long past time for bad ar­gu­ments seek­ing to prop up and in­creas­ingly ex­pand abor­tion. If you want a bet­ter pol­i­tics and cul­ture, work to pro­tect and cel­e­brate the most nat­u­ral love there is.

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