“You’ve been a joy and a pleasure to talk to.”
These words were spoken to me by a journalist in New York City yesterday, after a 45-minute conversation about my conversion from pro-choice to pro-life. Throughout our talk, this woman – a self-described liberal feminist – seemed engaged in our talk and even laughed at the right places. I’m speculating here, but her attitude reminded me of other pro-choicers who have been a little surprised to find me – an unapologetic and rather bold no-exceptions pro-lifer – a sane, rational human being.
I don’t really think she expected me to yell “THE BABY JESUS CRIES WHEN LADIES HAVE ABORTIONS!” into the phone in a thick Appalachian accent and then start speaking in tongues. We had e-mailed a bit during the pre-screening process, after all. But I am often told by pro-choicers that I don’t fit the pro-life stereotype. For one, I don’t mention religion unless I know I’m talking to a religious person. I don’t have to. Reason, science, and human rights all argue for the right to life of the unborn; they are the arguments that converted me when I was a liberal, feminist agnostic.
This journalist mentioned several times that the feature would be a thoughtful, balanced look at the opinions of several women about this “very complicated” issue. She used that phrase several times – “very complicated.” And I politely agreed with her.
But what kept popping into my head – and what I had to marinate on for a while after I got off the phone – was the following observation from the late, great English essayist and journalist, G.K. Chesterton:
Moral issues are always terribly complex for someone without principles.
I’m not implying that this journalist – who seemed like a perfectly lovely woman – is an amoral monster. But she is a product of a culture that has lost its way and collapsed into a moral relativism where whether or not a woman should be allowed to kill her unborn baby for any reason whatsoever is “a very complicated issue.”
I still firmly believe that most anti-lifers, if they could open their minds long enough to actually understand what abortion is, would stop supporting the right to it, at least privately. I was rabidly pro-choice, but I was also intellectually honest, and once finally disabused of the falsehood that the embryo is not a human but a “clump of cells,” with the help of accurate images of intact and aborted fetuses shown to me at my request, I could not help but admit that I had been wrong.
You don’t hear a lot of pro-lifers call abortion a complicated issue. It mostly comes from the other side, where it’s considered outmoded and simple-minded to believe in objective morality. The idea that there is such a thing as right and wrong, that moral issues can be black and white, is foreign and embarrassing to them. I remember the eye-rolling I engaged in back in my anti-Christian days when anyone used the word “evil.”
To the moral relativist, everything is colored in shades of gray, as if a fetus could be part human and part not human. Things are never “bad”; they are “tragic.” We don’t get “angry”; we get “concerned.” It’s the same way of thinking that implores us to scratch our ironic beards and ponder the “very complicated” issue of institutional racism or “difficult childhoods” instead of putting rapists and murderers in prison forever and ever.
At what point are we allowed to start assigning responsibility? At what point are we allowed to say something is absolutely wrong?
I posit to you that if that point – the point where we draw the line and say “this is wrong” – is not elective abortion, then there is no point. If a woman can legally pay someone to kill and dispose of her unborn child for any reason at all, we have not just lost our way; we have thrown the moral compass in the river and gone tromping off through the woods, unfettered by thoughts of morality or ethics.
In order to find abortion “complicated,” you have to say, “Sure, human biology tells us a new life is created, but that new life is not a ‘person.'” Why not? “Well, because it does not fit our invented definition of ‘person,’ that’s why!”
I’m glad I’m a pro-lifer who is considered more or less approachable by the other side. It means I’m able to talk to them and maybe change their minds. But the next time an abortion advocate calls the issue “very complicated” in my presence, I’m going to politely stop her and say, “It’s actually not that complicated. It’s either wrong or it’s not. And it’s wrong.”