Gloucester Daily Times Debate on Abortion (64), October 30, 1986

Affirming Women and the Unborn

(invitational My View column)

(John Rankin lives in Rockport with his wife and three sons, and serves as executive director of the New England Christian Action Council)

In reflecting on Ballot Questions No. 1, I will vote “yes” because it serves as a legislative check of balances to call the Judiciary to account. At both the state and federal levels, legislatures  are comprised of elected representatives who write and amend the laws, and the courts are designed to assure that legislatures are acting properly.

However, and crucially, the courts were never meant to write new law, as they have in Roe and Moe and in many other federal and state level instances. Legal scholars across the spectrum agree that Roe v. Wade is a poor legal decision, regardless of the matter of abortion. It is elected citizens who are meant to write our laws (“government by the people for the people”), and not appointed judges who are nearly impervious to public account. It is a matter of giving the citizens a choice. The Roe v. Wade style of legalized abortion was never voted on as a nation.

I also favor the amendment because abortion, which is the purposed destruction of unborn life in the human womb, has no positive dimensions (excepting once again the case where it is necessary to save the mother’s life). I have argued this in philosophical, medical, legal, sociological, historical and theological terms at colleges across New England. And I have yet to see a positive rationale for how abortion helps women and society, not to mention the unborn.

Abortion does not lift up the esteem of self-worth of women; rather, it damages both. It is “the degradation of women,” as the founder of American feminism, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, so aptly put it.

As a Christian accountable to the democratic process in a pluralistic society, I will always lobby for the nurture of human life (and in the face of painful situations), and never its willful destruction.

Finally, the success of such an amendment, and indeed of the whole effort to restore legal protection to the unborn, depends on the ethics and attitudes displayed by pro-lifers. We must 1) always be open, honest and accountable to public scrutiny; 2) motivate people with an appeal to hope; and 3) affirm the dignity of women as image-bearers of God.

I believe that the affirmation of both women and their unborn children must be equal, and accordingly there is no reason to harm either.