Visibility. It has been, perhaps, the biggest game-changer in the battle on abortion. For the pro-life side, the increased visibility of the unborn child has challenged many presuppositions the abortion-rights movement was founded on. No longer do any pro-abortion activists worth their salt refer to a “clump of cells” or “blob of tissue.” Such language is laughable in today’s world where “Baby’s First Picture” in frames or gracing the refrigerators of proud parents and grandparents is a grayscale ultrasound image.
On the flipside, in this social media culture, there has been greater visibility for abortion activists. It’s been only in the last few years that abortion-rights groups have even said the “A” word in public, starting to proudly wear their scarlet letter. The growing visibility of non-apologetic post-abortion women, and even those who perform abortions have changed the nature of the debate.
If it seems desperate and caustic to proudly flaunt participation in the killing of a human life, that’s because it is. Perhaps most interesting to observe has been the tight rope that activists attempt to walk- some more sucessfully than others- in appearing sympathetic to those who wish to consider themselves pro-choice but have reservations about violent abortions being celebrated, while still declaring loudly and proudly that there is nothing to be ashamed of in an abortion decision.
Of course, we all know that you cant have it both ways. Either abortion is a difficult decision rife with moral pitfalls, to say the least, or it’s not. Either it’s something to be unabashedly celebrated (ala the “abortion on demand without apology” crowd) or it’s something that can cause ethical dilemmas.
That tightrope is most recently walked in a Guardian article, titled “Being an abortion doctor has taught me a lot about life.” While the author (or editor) was undoubtedly pleased about the wordplay in the title, there is a sad reality behind those words.
If I’m honest, I haven’t found it emotionally easy (and I suspect neither have those closest to me!) but I’d never go back and change that decision…
I have performed 21 abortions today, ending pregnancies in women ageing from 16 to 44, who have travelled from as far as Northern Ireland to regain control over their own bodies. I have carefully sieved through aspirate to identify the tiny translucent jelly-fish-like gestation sac at five weeks. I have painstakingly removed a foetus part by part at 23 weeks and watched the ultrasound image of the uterus shrink back to size. I have heard 21 stories of 21 difficult decisions, some agonising, others more straightforward, but not one of them taken lightly. One woman made it as far as the operating table and changed her mind. I wiped away another woman’s silent tears as the anaesthetist counted her down from 10 as he put her under.
She is quick to affirm the choices of each of these women, and her own decision (solidified by the presence of pro-life sidewalk counselors) and speaks blithely of performing a dismemberment abortion on a 23 week old baby. A baby who, in another hospital, could potentially survive outside the womb. A baby who can feel pain. A baby who was killed, by her, and removed part by part.
Undoubtedly she has learned much about life, for death is as much a part of life as any other. But as she speaks of her compassion for these women – one of whom found herself so alone she took multiple buses to arrive and risked bleeding alone on the bus on the way back rather than tell anyone where she needed to go- she falls into the same pitfalls that many pro-abortion activists find themselves in: The belief that we have to pit mother against child. That compassion for one must mean apathy for the other.
Had that young woman gone to pro-life counselors, though, she would have found herself embraced with love and compassion for her and her child. She would have found options. She would have found hope. She most certainly would not have been left alone to risk bleeding on a bus.
If we were to truly embrace women in need of help, we wouldn’t suggest their only option was a violent procedure on their body ending in the death of another human being. Compassion and empathy (not to mention basic human decency) demand we find better options.
It shouldn’t be surprising that the abortion movement has so loudly attempted to reclaim abortion as a good thing. After all, it’s bad for business when people don’t even like to say the name of your product. We can’t lose sight of the fact that, at the end of the day, abortion is a multi-million dollar business. As abortion practitioners wipe away the tears of their clients, and reassemble dead babies on a table, they can try to couch their actions in compassion – perhaps it even helps them sleep at night – but they can’t mask the truth: They repackage violence as compassion and market it as “learning about life.”
In the end, there are no winners here: only victims. The unborn child who has been brutally killed, the mother who has been sold violence, and the practitioners themselves, who try to rebrand their assault upon vulnerable women as compassion. The pro-life movement has a long history of embracing former abortion workers and post-abortive women, and I’ve never considered a pro-abortion activist to be a ‘lost cause.’ But my heart does grieve for them, and for the mental gymnastics they must employ in order to justify their advocacy for killing.
The anonymous writer in her piece for the Guardian concludes,
Abortion can improve life and prevent harm; pro-choice, to me, does not mean anti-life.
It seems that even the visibility of the baby- the very one she has removed piece by piece- won’t allow her to consider the harm done to the child.