What happens when we discover that what we have embraced has a brutal side? That something entirely inhuman lurks behind the words we have believed for so long? What if inequality and discrimination in its most violent form is being committed in the name of personal autonomy, independence, and even equality? What if what we call a right is actually anything but? What if abortion is not a medical procedure, but a human rights injustice?
Warning: Contains some graphic images.
Every human rights injustice in the history of the world has had human faces behind it. Without fail, the oppressors seek to hide these human faces. As long as civilized society cannot personally witness the atrocities being committed, few will stop them, especially if we comfort ourselves with the belief that we are “personally opposed.”
And yet, in any of the injustices below, was being “personally opposed” enough?
“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.
Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” ~ Elie Wiesel
In 1955, segregation was embraced by Southern society at large that had barely moved past slavery. Segregation quickly erupted into violence, demonstrating the deep injustice at its roots — the same roots that had caused slavery.
Emmett Till’s mother showed the world the face of a human being: her son. Mamie Till Mobley’s 14-year-old son was brutally disfigured and killed after being accused of whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. Mamie, with her desperate grief, jumped headfirst into the civil rights movement. She ordered Emmett’s coffin to be open at his funeral, and she had his photos published by any press that would take them.
“…I want the world to see this because, there is no way I could tell this story and give them the visual picture of what my son looked like,” she said. Because Mamie Till Mobley put a human face on this injustice, people stepped forward to stop it.
Child Survivors of the Holocaust
Prior to the horrors of the Holocaust, Adolph Hitler readied his people to accept one of the world’s worst injustices. He began by telling them in 1923: “Jews are undoubtedly a race, but not human.” Little by little, he enacted laws that took humanity from the Jews until his Nazis were eventually sending millions to their violent deaths.
Nazi concentration camps were essentially death pits for children. Once they arrived at Auschwitz, most Jewish children were sent straight to the gas chambers. A few, however, managed to survive. Tragically, photos of these suffering children — clearly humans — were not broadcasted to the world until it was all over. Millions of men, women, and children were brutally murdered, their human faces successfully hidden by their oppressors behind barbed wire and cattle cars.
The Rohingya Baby Thrown in the Fire
The New York Times writer Jeffrey Gettleman has been putting human faces on the current genocide in Myanmar against the Rohingya. The Myanmar army has embraced the view that the Rohingya are less than human and that they have no right to be treated equally. Gettleman’s story that drew horrified eyes to the ongoing torture and brutal killing was called, “Rohingya Recount Atrocities: ‘They Threw My Baby Into a Fire.'” While Gettleman could not include a photo of the stolen and burned baby, he showed the world the human face of the baby’s mother, Rajuma, who has suffered under a devastating injustice.
Even though many Americans identify as “personally pro-life,” this view does little in the public sphere and rarely influences voting. We are an independent people, and this has led to our sometimes dangerous tendency to dismiss something as “his business” and “her decision.”
Even in the first trimester — when most abortions are committed — the preborn child is a growing, developing human being who reaches amazing milestones at a speed few realize. She is not a potential human; she is a human.
We cannot allow abortion to be a mere word or a faceless “right.” And being “personally pro-life” cannot dupe us any longer. Just as it would be unjust to be “personally opposed” to segregation, Nazi ideology, and the torture of specific people groups, so it is unjust to be only “personally opposed” to abortion.
Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry are the oppressors, these tiny children are the victims, and we must be their rescuers.
“If a mother can kill her own child – what is left for me to kill you and you to kill me – there is nothing between.”
~ Mother Teresa