NECAC Debate: Brockton High School, October, 1988: Definitions, Statements and Questions

John C. Rankin

In my files, I have a thank you note from twelve students in  the Contemporary Issues Class at Brockton (MA) High School, dated November 4, 1988. But I have no details on whom I debated, and in truth, I do not remember any further details. But I have the hand written outline I used for my presentation, and here it is:


  1. Open mind to investigating truth — the asking of hard questions.
  2. The ethics of choice/boundaries of freedom (RCAR [Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights] critique).
  3. Conception.
  4. Abortion.
  5. Male chauvinism of abortion v. feminist “ethics of nurture.”
  6. Post-abortion syndrome.


  1. 1988 ballot question and how it addressed the unique weakness of Roe. v. Wade.
  2. Anti-choice and undemocratic blockage of Attorney General, SJC [Supreme Judicial Court], Planned Parenthood, et al. [Boston Chapter, National Organization  for Women (NOW); Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (CLUM) [the last three of whom filed amici curiae against us in court]].
  3. Future recourse.


  1. In biological terms, when does an individual human life begin?
  2. Can anything good be said about human abortion?
  3. Is our ballot question fair? If so, how can it be opposed unless one is anti-choice and undemocratic?

Concluding quote from Paul Simon in The Boxer:

I know a father who had a son, he longed to tell him all the reasons for the things he had done/He came a long way just to explain, he kissed his boy as he lay sleeping, he turned around and headed home again/Slip-sliding away … You know, the nearer our destination, the more we’re slip-sliding away.


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House of Lords 17 October 2017

Text of John Rankin’s address on the occasion of the 500th annive5rsary of the Reformation.