Gloucester Daily Times Debate on Abortion (35)
Answering My Critics
[The Times titled it “All of Us Need the Word of God”]
In the past several months, this editorial page has seen many letters and columns dealing with the question of abortion, pro and con. And, to a large degree, my initiatives have been responsible.
I have sought to thoroughly explain my position, and to answer any and all challenges in a conscientious and gracious manner. However, I have not sought to to use the Times as the principal forum for in depth communications, rather I have written personal letters to the most acerbic of my critics, as well as to others. In these letters, I have detailed my position in response to specific points, and have simply requested the opportunity to sit down, face to face, and honestly discuss the issues as hand.
It is disappointing that several of these critics have chosen not to respond after more than one month. And unless they do, I believe it is fair to say that they disqualify themselves as constructive participants in this dialogue and debate.
To Loring and Ann Mears, I say: Your definition of secular is false; that your own support for legalized abortion stems from your own world view, your own religious presuppositions. Your objection to my constitutional freedom of speech and religion only reveals your intolerance. I have rammed nothing down your throat, nor will I ever. Nobody has forced you to read my opinions. If my ideas are so abhorrent and false, then have no fear, they will not endure. If truth is truth, there is nothing either you nor I can do to alter it. So relax — I have no ability nor desire to overthrown legalized abortion by individual fiat. I can only have the prerogative to seek to influence the legislative process of democracy, and can only succeed if the majority agrees. And you have exactly the same freedom. So please don’t be so foolish to challenge my constitutional freedoms — they are the same freedoms you exercise in challenging me.
To William F. Taylor, I say: I have articulated for you the definitions of nitwits and extremist crackpots, and I have demonstrated for you my convictions for balance and compassion, for both justice and mercy. I fear that your letter and your silence in responding to me only serves to bring those accusations of “whining and bleating” back on your own head. If you judge yourself to be a man of reasonableness, and myself as a crackpot, then why do you refuse my offer, which is so utterly reasonable?
To Alex Kronstadt, I say: I have answered your question about the definition of liberal arts inquiry, and I have offered you the opportunity to explore it with me. Until you do, how can you claim to be “liberal” in your search for knowledge? Allow me again, for public perusal, to quote the view of a pro-abortion editorial as it discusses scientific fact:
“Since the old ethic has not yet been fully displaced it has been necessary to separate the idea of abortion from the idea of killing, which continues to be socially abhorrent. The result has been a curious avoidance of the scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception and is continuous whether intra- or extra-uterine until death. The very considerable semantic gymnastics which are required to rationalize abortion as anything but taking a human life would be ludicrous if they were not put forth under socially impeccable auspices. It is suggested that this schizophrenic sort of subterfuge is necessary because while a new ethic is being accepted the old one had not yet been rejected” (“California Medicine,” 113, September 1970, 67. Emphasis added).
Finally, allow me to submit this question to the Cape Ann community at large: If abortion is truly a necessary part of the overall good of the social order, why does hardly anyone seek to positively defend it as such? All I see is hyperbole. And also, if abortion is something other than the taking of a human life, what is it then? Nobody, across the nation has supplied the answer to this question. All they do is state, in negation, that it is not human, or something less than human. And they supply no biological data, only a credal assertion of disbelief. And that is the bottom line — do our beliefs line up with the evidence,or against it? I have demonstrated, and will demonstrate, that the Christian world view honors empirical truth. It is other world views that close their eyes when they choose not to see. And only the Gospel of Jesus Christ offers forgiveness for those who seek it. And we all need it, no more or no less than our neighbors.
John C. Rankin, New England Christian Action Council, 11 Pleasant St.