To Russ on Abortion

Finally, here is my reply to Rev. Young’s letter to me about abortion.

I don’t mean to hide behind semantics where abortion is concerned. Abortion ends life. Where I disagree with you is in treating newly conceived “babies” as the equal of newborns. Yes, pregnant women call the offspring in their wombs “babies.” However, forced to make a “Sophie’s Choice,” virtually every parent I know would choose the child in their arms to the one nine months from birth. The choice, no matter how wrenching, wouldn’t even be a close contest.

You say that calling a baby a fetus, or “little one” in Latin, is deceitful but it strikes me that calling a fertilized egg a baby is also a deceit. In common parlance babies need suckling, burping and changing. You can’t do that with something the size of a punctuation mark.
You have graphically described the gruesome realities of surgical abortion. Yet one of the ironies of the pro-life movement has been its complicity in driving up the number of abortions because of its opposition to birth control.

You are too young to remember the days prior to Roe vs. Wade before the anti-abortion movement began calling itself “pro-life.” Back then the people who opposed abortion were more upset about the possibility that access to birth control and/or abortions would encourage young people to have pre-marital sex. In fact, pregnancy was typically viewed as a fitting punishment for the sin of sex. “If you’re gonna play you gotta pay.” So severe was the disgrace faced by unmarried mothers that back-alley abortion mills thrived.

Even after the movement adopted the pro-life label it did not give up its opposition to birth control. I’ve always marveled at this because I agree that rescuing “babies” in the womb is noble. But apparently the pro-life movement is less concerned with saving the lives of unborn babies than it is with discouraging illicit sex.

The folly of this anti-sex priority was revealed in yesterday’s news story which reported that the rate of premarital sex has held very steady since World War II. Since that time roughly 19 out of every 20 Americans, of both sexes, have engaged in premarital sex. With “pro-lifers” doing everything in their power to discourage contraception it is no wonder that America leads the world in the dismemberment of the unborn.

You have said that it would be wonderful if every child in the womb could be held in its mother’s arms. Yes, it would, but pro-lifers have tried to prevent contraceptives from being distributed in the third world where infant mortality is rampant. Pro-lifers even oppose birth control which could prevent mothers from contracting and dying from AIDS. Orphans have no mothers to hold them.

Infant mortality drops when women can choose when to conceive. I look forward to the day where all women can expect to see their children reach maturity. I’d like to think that this is because I care deeply about people but you find fault with my “heart condition.”

Well Russ, you worship a God whose son will send me and others like me to a fate worse than any surgical or saline abortion. What’s more our suffering will be eternal. How does that reflect on your heart?

I asked you whether you believed aborted babies would go to heaven but you gave me an equivocal answer to this question. Perhaps this is because you believe that heaven is reserved for those who have been “reborn.” That is what some of your pro-life allies believe. For all I know you expect aborted babies to spend eternity with me in Hell rather than with you in Heaven.
Instead, you explained that my being glad that aborted children might be destined for Heaven is like being glad that Dietrich Bonhoffer was hung on a meat hook so that he could enter heaven. Russ, I don’t think either of us is confused by the difference between a brutal death and the hope for a heavenly afterlife.

At the end of your letter you offered me blessings and I thank you. If I can’t have your God’s blessing I’ll be happy to accept yours.Sincerely,
Harry Welty

2 thoughts on “To Russ on Abortion”

  1. Hi Harry!

    I suppose I should check in more often so my notes won’t be on old posts. :)
    Could you agree to this? Let’s give the abortion issue back to the states and let them decide. I tend to think this polarization of the electorate is partially due to decisions such as Roe V. Wade which took the right to legislate on such issues out of the hands of the state and placed them into the hands of the federal government.
    Being consistent, I think I’d have to give end of life legislation such as the Terry Schiavo decision back to local control as well. I don’t think the federal government should be getting involved in things like this.
    I’m pro-life but I’m also pragmatic. We can’t force our views on others. The nation is too divided. Let it go back to local control and just choose to live with it.
    Your friend,

    Roger :)

  2. Nice abortion argument, Harry. You did a good job of taking the emotional out of an emotion driven controversy. Kindness to all is a better motto in this kind of disagreement.
    Reb

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