Requiescat in pace

“Abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women.”
 -Alice Paul 

Humanity is rarely granted the comfort of an existence painted in black and white.  Our charge in moral decision making is never complete perfection, rather, decisions are made on the basis of historical reality and the vast reservoir of human experience.  However, grace does intervene in our struggle.  We are presented with moral absolutes which are inviolable–whether derived from a natural or divine law, truth intercedes to contrast the shades of gray.  The most basic right is that to life, we would neither deny life to ourselves or our fellow man.  This much is certain.

A corollary to the right to life is the right to equality of opportunity.  Conservatives and liberals agree on this point, access to opportunity should not be rejected.  The arc of American history has tended to remove barriers at every bend–from tyranny, bondage, to segregation.  With abortion, the death of an unborn child, not only is the right to live denied, but the opportunity to go forth and achieve.  Our current laws and attitudes towards abortion ignore not only basic human dignity but also all that our history managed to accomplish.

The two major organizations fighting for the status quo, NOW and NARAL, won’t even approach the morality of ending a human life as part of the debate.  In their concession we know that our position is correct.  Issues of fetal personhood are not addressed, with personhood always written in quotations.  Their focus relies on notions of “reproductive rights” and the perpetuation of feminine liberation myths.  Certainly, women and men have the right to use contraception, but not murder.  The founding mothers of modern feminism, from Mary Wollstonecraft to Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton recognized abortion as immoral and inhumane.  The right to life, in Stanton’s mind, was an extension of the freedom of women from being considered as property, writing, “When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.”  The opinion of the modern feminists, that greatest embodiment of equality is the ability to oppress, is irreconcilable with the intellectual foundation of feminism.

It was Fr. Richard Neuhaus that saw the struggle to end abortion as the greatest human rights campaign, inseparable from the human rights campaign led by Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s.  The Black Power movement viewed abortion as a genocide perpetrated against the black community.  All of this demonstrates that the sanctity of life is total, we cannot extend equality to all with the exception of the unborn.

Neuhaus, in his seminal address to the National Right to Life committee in July of 2008, stated “The culture of death is an idea before it is a deed.”  We cannot reduce or eliminate abortion in our country unless we refuse to except the premise of the “culture of death.”  We must reject the utilitarian argument that life is not worth living unless certain prerequisites are met.  This culture robs life of its mystery, a culture in which all are merely functional units consuming goods and being herded by the state.  An attitude supportive of the single mother and child born into undesirable circumstances begins to combat this culture, and places a limit on the cult of liberation supported by the modern left.  We must heed the cries of “ne plus ultra” emanating from the graves of the unborn.

Last week, members of GWYAF took to University Yard to heed these cries and defend the right to life.

Joe Naron is the Director of Press of the George Washington University Chapter of Young America’s Foundation

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