Gloucester Daily Times Debate on Abortion (1): February 9, 1984

As I began full-time pro-life ministry in late 1983, I had no experience in public-policy advocacy, and learned as I proceeded. The newspaper editorials and opinion pages were full of the subject, and I joined the fray in early 1984 with my local paper, the Gloucester Daily Times (for whom I worked as a local sportswriter while in seminary for about a year, in 1980-1981). On February 9, 1984, my letter was entitled by the paper, “Pro choice: doublespeak?” There were no subsequent challenges to this letter.


Pro Choice: Doublespeak?

In a recent article published by the Times (click here), Nicki Nichols Gamble of Planned Parenthood endorsed the option for abortion. She correctly stated that “The voices (of pro-choice advocates) are varied — even contradictory — and their perspectives change over time.”

I would like to underscore this fact, but probe a little deeper into its significance. Why the variance and obvious contradictions? I submit the answer is that the pro-choice ethic is relativistic and Darwinistic, and as such can appeal to no sure basis for moral standards or hope for human destiny.

Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who was an original and enthusiastic supporter of legalized abortion [he led the nation in performing and/or supervising some 60,000 abortions in a two year-period when legalized in New York City before Roe v. Wade], states that early in the pro-abortion movement, the label “pro-choice” was adopted, since it was less offensive. It was in fact a type of Orwellian Doublespeak. The label spoke of choice, but not of the agony of the fetus suffering the poisoning and burning of the saline solution. The phrase that a woman has a right to do with her body as she wishes is also Doublespeak, since it is a medical fact that the human fetus is not a part of her body physiologically. The child in the womb is unique, merely dependent on Mom for protection until the day of birth. And even after birth. A child is not truly “viable” until long after birth.

This points to the statement in Gamble’s article that human life and biological life can be separated — that when human life begins is a matter of “religious” interpretation. How can origin be separated from destiny? It is a medical fact that all the “ingredients” for human life are present at conception. It is only a matter of development. We all began that way. How can we separate our present sense of humanity from our origins? Thus, the separation of “human” and “biological” life is contrived, a mode of Doublespeak from which to justify abortion.

“Pro-choice,” as used by its definers, does not include the choice of the human fetus — the most innocent, vulnerable and helpless of us all. When invaded by the instruments of abortion, these little ones fight to stay alive according to their developing abilities. They cannot speak, neither can a newborn. But they are alive and they “voice” their choice in the struggle to stay alive.

This points us to the basis for any set of ethics. There are two basic options. On the one hand is Darwin’s postulate that human life is the result of the Epicurean swerve, a chance collision of atoms multiplied by infinity, and lo, we are here. We are derived from apes, from fish, from the dust of space. There is no purpose or goal for human life. Only the strong survive. H.G. Wells loved this ethic as he called for the letting the poor and retarded fend for themselves. Friedrich Nietzsche loved it, and it led him to nihilism and an insane asylum. Adolf Hitler loved this ethic, and was most consistent in it as he applied eugenics to the exclusion of Jews, Gypsies, political opposition and the handicapped. Today, “pro-choice” people love this ethic, as one human child is aborted every 20 seconds, round the clock, in the U.S.

I opt for the other hand — an ethic based on a personal God who created the universe for humanity to enjoy. I opt to believe his revelation of himself through Jesus Christ. In this ethic, human life is sacred, and it has a destiny and purpose. There is hope that transcends the fear of nuclear holocaust, and there is power to live responsibly and lovingly in this painful world. And part of responsible love involves upholding marriage, challenging the male chauvinism that feeds the abortion industry, and ministering to the needs of hurting people. It recognizes the social and moral evils that force many women to “choose” abortion, and embraces the fight to overcome those evils, but it will not add evil to evil by aborting a fetus that has been programmed to live. To enjoy the fresh air as we do.

John Rankin, Rockport, executive director, Massachusetts Bay Christian Action Council