FridayLife is a weekly opinion column which appears on the ProLife NZ blog every Friday morning.
I once remember someone referring to the horror of abortion as a ‘holocaust’, which of course attracted immediate and cynical scorn from other people listening at the time, but the more I think about this issue, the more I realise that this person was right, and that abortion truly has become a holocaust.
Now in no way am I trying to belittle or reduce the severity of the very grave suffering of the Jewish people at the hands of the Nazis by my use of this word in relation to abortion, I am simply pointing out that the number of human beings who have been killed by abortion, and who continue to be killed by abortion each year, truly has become genocidal in proportions.
It can be very tempting for us as pro-lifers, and even more so for those of us who have the unenviable duty of appearing in the media and other public forums, to try and soften the blow of our opposition to abortion by talking only about the serious risks and harm that abortion does to women, or only about the lack of informed consent in relation to abortion laws.
Yes, it is very appropriate, and only too right that we present the truth about the harm that abortion does to women, after all, pro-abortion lobby groups are more than willing to promote the lie that abortion is a simple and straightforward procedure that doesn’t really harm anybody.
Not only that, but they’ll normally take things one step further and blame any harm that is caused to women, particularly psychological harm, on pro-lifers by suggesting that the only reason that women will feel pain and regret after an abortion is if they are tricked into feeling guilt by pro-lifers.
And yes, it is very appropriate that we draw public attention to the fact that almost all women undergoing abortion in this country are not provided adequate information about risks, fetal development and alternative options, and that many of them are being coerced into abortion either by circumstance or by another person – which of course makes an absolute mockery of the pro-abortion mantra that women are making a free and informed choice to abort.
But ultimately, our response to abortion needs to focus not just on the health of women, and the lack of information provided to them, but also on the rights of the unborn child, who is unjustly killed by an abortion.
I think that in many ways, warning people about risk factors, and denial of rights is far easier than raising the issues of morality and killing that are part and parcel of abortion, which is of course why there is a tendency not to mention the later as often as we should.
It takes a bit more work to present the moral case against abortion than it does to present the risks associated with it, and it actually requires a much thicker skin to get through the initial accusations of insensitivity and anti-woman fundamentalism that are used as the stock standard insult on anyone who dares to mention the fact that abortion kills a living human being.
It certainly comes across a lot better from a PR perspective if you fight abortion on the grounds of injustice and harm to women, especially because our culture has been conditioned to wrongly believe that abortion is nothing more than a women’s rights issue, and so appealing to that confusion regarding rights and womanhood can seem like an approach that would be attractive to our culture.
In fact, I once heard an international pro-life speaker tell an audience that one of the errors of the pro-life movement was that they focused on the unborn baby, and if they framed the abortion issue around the women involved then they would be more successful in their efforts.
The problem is that these sorts of sentiments aren’t actually correct.
Don’t get me wrong, there is some truth in this notion, and as I have already stated I firmly believe that there is a place for addressing the harm that abortion does to women, and the lack of informed consent, etc, but ultimately, solely arguing that abortion is wrong because of risk factors to women, or lack of informed consent is both disingenuous and not very fruitful.
Firstly, abortion isn’t actually morally wrong because of the risks to women, and it isn’t morally wrong because of the lack of informed consent in the health system, it is morally wrong because it kills an innocent human being.
So trying to argue against abortion without ever mentioning the unborn child is not actually an honest representation of the pro-life position, and it also ends up playing right into the hands of the pro-abortion ideology, which holds firm to the belief that the unborn human being, and their rights are unimportant and they shouldn’t be given any real weight or focus in the abortion debate.
Secondly, trying to argue against abortion without mentioning the unborn child is almost always a fruitless path to head down because while the reliable research showing the harm that abortion causes to women is sound, the pro-abortion lobby groups also have their own studies which, they claim, show that abortion is harm free, or nowhere near as risky as is claimed by pro-lifers.
This reduces the argument to little more than a fight about whose research is better, which effectively turns the debate about abortion into a popularity contest, and in such cases 99.99999% of all people who support abortion will simply go with the research which appeals their already pre-existing pro-abortion bias and beliefs, rather than stopping and considering the very sound counter research which is put forward by the pro-life camp.
And on the issue of informed consent, the argument against abortion stalls as soon as the issue of informed consent is addressed by a government, or as soon as the pro-abortion supporter you are debating agrees that lack of informed consent is an issue that needs to be fixed – but of course, this still doesn’t resolve the core issue; that abortion is always a grave evil regardless of whether informed consent is occurring or not.
As pro-lifers our opposition to abortion isn’t an opposition to a lack of informed consent, or an opposition to the harm that abortion does to women (even though we are opposed to harm caused to women), instead we are opposed to the fact that abortion unjustly kills an innocent human being, and because of this it is one of the most serious violations of human rights that can be carried out.
Which brings me back to my original point, abortion has become the greatest human holocaust in our history, and it is not at all extreme or overly emotive to refer to it in such terminology precisely because of the fact that every abortion kills an innocent human being.
If abortion was simply a risky proposition for women, or an act where women aren’t making an informed decision, then yes, calling abortion a holocaust would be extreme and totally irrational.
But referring to an action which has killed millions, upon millions, upon millions of untold innocent human beings as a holocaust is not at all irrational or extreme, it is simply being honest.
The problem is that many people in our culture have been deceived, and others are in denial, and, as Orwell famously once said, “In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
And woe to anyone who dares to draw a comparison between state sanctioned abortion and the state sanctioned killing of the Nazi regime – you’ll be met with instantaneous and harsh insult and scorn before such sentiments have hardly even had time to find their way out of your mouth.
In a sense, comparing our modern state sanctioned abortion to the killing of the Nazi regime isn’t really apt at all, because the fact is that we have managed to institutionalize, normalize and create widespread social acceptance of the state sanctioned killing of innocent human beings, and that’s something that the Nazis never managed to achieve.