Gloucester Daily Times Debate on Abortion (33), February 5, 1986

Griffith Totally Missed the Point

Tom Griffith’s “My View” column of Jan. 23, “Abortion: A Religious Issue,” missed the central, albeit ignored, concern of the debate. Mr, Griffith’s premise is that all those who support the pro-choice position are, unwittingly or not, promoting an immoral, Godless concept of society, one that denies the existence of the soul and devalues human life. Quite the opposite is true.

A moral person does not do what he knows is right. Rather, a moral person does what he thinks is right. The difference in semantics is subtle but crucial to our understanding of our moral and religious life. The latter definition implies doubt, and contemplation, and worry, and finally, a choice made with the best that reason and logic and love can guide. Such a person acknowledges the presence of the all-knowing spirit by his very inability to be sure. Such a person is humble before God that dwells within his heart, but from which he is forever separate from, and whose lifelong journey is an attempt to unite what is human and what is spirit.

Those who advocate free choice do so because to outlaw safe abortions, to dismantle the reproductive care network, would not eliminate abortion, but only make it unsafe for the poor and a clandestine alternative for the privileged. Criminalizing abortion would create a national health hazard to poor women who make a moral choice to end their pregnancy. The pro-choice movement doe snot presume to put the lives of such women at risk for the sake of a religious ideal those women may share. Until the economic injustice in this country is alleviated, this will remain the central moral issue of the abortion debate.

The pro-life people are sure of themselves. They know they arr right. There is no doubt. But the bane of human history is people who know they’re right. Only someone who knows he is right can gun down tourists at an airport. Think about it. What kind of person blows up an abortion clinic? What rabid strains of the pro-life movement are at this moment lying in wait? I hear no ringing condemnation of these people from President Reagan, the pro-life leadership, or from Mr. Griffith. Their silence is no less than tacit approval.

Finally, Mr. Griffith decries the separation of religion and government that he feels is turning America into a “Godless” nation. He should know that this separation was devised to protect religion, not government, and is the reason why different religions (including non-Christian) flourish in the United States today. A state religion, which appears to be Mr. Griffith’s ultimate goal, would almost certainly (witness Iran) lead to intolerance and religious persecution. Those who seek to impose a state religion have no interest in religious freedom, but in a religious dictatorship. To use Mr. Griffith’s words, the “eternal soul” of our nation is imperiled not by those who demand the freedom to choose, but by those who wish to choose our freedoms.

Fred Thompson, 52R Raymond St., Manchester