Two recent news stories shocked pro-lifers and pro-choicers alike. In a sad way, that’s good news.
The statistic has everyone reeling: According to a recent survey, forty-one percent of pregnancies in New York City end in abortion. Forty-one percent. Nearly half.
As you might expect, pro-lifers are deeply concerned, and already trying to find ways to bring that number down. Archbishop Timothy Dolan to name one, called a news conference to say that the church would be stepping up its efforts to encourage and help women in crisis pregnancies.
But pro-choicers weren’t too excited about this news either. The New York Times—hardly a pro-life bastion—reported, “No one is exactly celebrating. . . . Even abortion rights advocates expressed some concern about the numbers, trying to change the conversation to a broader one on reproductive health.”
The Times noted that the easy access to abortion makes the city a “magnet . . . for doctors who wish to practice without restrictions [and] for women who want to live in an atmosphere of sexual self-determination.”
Those are, of course, noble and laudable desires according to the pro-choice folks. And yet the tone of the article is distinctly uneasy. It quotes late-term abortionist Dr. Robert Berg, who says his patients tend to be “hostile” to him, treating him like “a punching bag” even though he’s providing a service that they’ve asked for.
If abortion is a morally neutral medical procedure, as the pro-choicers would have us believe, why all the angst coming from people who are getting abortions? I think it all comes back to what J. Budziszewski calls “what we can’t not know.”
Why would a woman be angry at an abortionist? Because he is about to kill her child, and any woman knows that is wrong. She can’t help but know it. None of us can. It’s one of the deepest truths written on our hearts—that human life is sacred, and destroying an innocent life in the womb is one of the most violent acts imaginable.
The recent arrest of Dr. Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia dragged that ugly truth into the spotlight. Gosnell ran a “house of horrors” where babies were slaughtered with scissors, where some of their mothers died as well, and where some of the babies’ body parts were kept in jars.
The nation was horrified—but why? Late-term abortions often involve killing babies with scissors—the only difference is that it’s usually done as the baby is still emerging from the birth canal, not after it’s all the way out. Some difference.
But when Gosnell made the news, we were all reminded of what we can’t not know—that it’s wrong to kill babies in this way, or in any other way.
Eric Metaxas, author of Bonhoeffer, has written that the grand jury report on Gosnell may become the Uncle Tom’s Cabin of the pro-life movement. I hope he’s right. It’s tragic that it takes something as drastic as a baby’s foot in a jar, or a 41 percent abortion rate in a major city, to remind everybody that abortion is an unjustifiable travesty.
But when we see even pro-choicers getting upset about these things, then we know that the truth is written on their hearts just as it is on ours.
May the day quickly come when they can no longer ignore it.