Abortion Rights Advocates Who Silence Themselves

John C. Rankin

[excerpted and adapted from First the Gospel, Then Politics …, 1999, Vol. 2, not published]

In my book, Jesus, in the Face of His Enemies (see teibooks.com), I cover how, during Passover Week, Jesus invites his sworn enemies to a level playing field where they can rake him over the coals with their toughest questions, on the spot. At the end of the encounter, “no one dared to ask him any more questions” (Matthew 22:46). They silence themselves according to the prophetic realities of Psalm 8:2.

Here are four examples of the silence of self-censorship in the context of the abortion debate.

In the first case, I spoke with a national abortion-rights political leader in 1992. We talked for awhile, and at one juncture I appealed explicitly to the POSH Ls of the image of God (peace, order, stability and hope; to live, to love, to laugh, and to learn). Then I asked her: “Are you seeking these same qualities, and if so, how does human abortion could serve this end? She looked at me with widened eyes, took a step back and said, “Oh, you’re good – really good.” And there she ended the conversation, refusing as well later invitations to address a Mars Hill Forum.

Second, in my 1995 Mars Hill Forum at Georgetown University with Kate Michelman, president of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), she declared on live television broadcast (C-Span), that thereafter she wanted no further dialogue. She silenced herself in the face of a biblical witness, and yet at the same time, as interviewed by the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) immediately afterward, Kate said she was grateful for the forum. We have no desire to see people “silenced” in their sins – we wish them to taste and see that the Lord is good, and that his goodness extends equally to women and their unborn children.

Third is when I crossed paths with Bill Weld in 1990 in front of the State Capitol  in Boston, at a pro-abortion political rally. He was running for governor and was working the crowd. As I joined a discussion he was having with a friend of mine, I mentioned the biological humanity of the unborn, and that it begins at the moment of conception. So he quizzed me directly, asking me if I could prove it, with an incisive focus. So I gave a brief and succinct overview of the haploid spermatozoon fertilizing the haploid ovum, and producing a diploid cell which equals a biologically discrete and whole human being. As I did, I saw a spiritual darkness palpably descend upon him, he said not a word, and immediately turned away and began to seek votes elsewhere. Weld succeeded in his run for governor, as a Republican against Boston University president John Silber, and he won by a narrow margin that was supplied by pro-abortion and pro-homosexual advocates.

And fourth, and as a cognate to this question of biological humanity, I once addressed a debate at the Arlington Street Unitarian Church in Boston, with the Rev. Jerry Goddard, a Unitarian minister. In the course of the Q & A period, Rev. Goddard backed himself into a corner, when answering a question, and almost admitted the biological humanity of the unborn – something he had earlier sought to avoid when I questioned him directly. As his peril became obvious, and he paused, I then interjected, and asked him again specifically about the biological humanity of the unborn. Thereupon, he pointed out to the audience and said to one person in particular, “Oh, did I finish answering your question?” But his deflection backfired. He called on John Bernard, then a student at Gordon-Conwell, and John merely picked up on my question, so Rev. Goddard changed the subject again. “A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest” (as penned by Paul Simon in The Boxer), thus becoming silent on a subject when he will not admit a fact to be a fact.

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