Gloucester Daily Times Debate on Abortion (88), February 13, 1989

We Must Reconcile Choice with Life

In Regina Cole’s recent series of articles, she has attempted, in her own terms, to bring “sanity” to the abortion controversy. I, too, wish for sanity.

Yet, Ms. Cole employs the rhetoric of “anti-choice” to describe those who oppose abortion, those who call themselves “pro-life.” We all favor choices in our lives, and such polarizing language does not serve sanity. Terms must be defined, and listening to the “other side” is necessary before sanity will come to pass.

In defining terms, each individual human life begins exactly at the moment of conception. And all human beings are genetically “programmed” to mature, with nurture, to their exercise of life choices, too. But none of us can make any choices except that our parents, in some fashion, chose to let us live.

In defining terms, much of the feminist concerns about abortion rights are a reaction to millennia of male chauvinism. It is a power struggle over who controls reproduction, and a striving for women’s dignity.

If the human life of the unborn is ignored, and if the dignity of women is ignored, there will be no sanity. It cuts both ways. This is one reason why, in studying for my second master’s degree, in ethics at Harvard, I have made feminist ethics a high priority — being taught by feminists and listening well. How often to pro-choice partisans truly listen to pro-life partisans? Many pro-lifers do not listen, either, but I endeavor to be an exception.

If pro-choicers listened to pro-lifers, then they would learn that RU-486 (the “abortion pill”) will not bring any sanity to this controversy. I believe that Ms. Cole is engaged in wishful thinking at this point. Since abortion deals with life as well as choice, there will be no sanity until women’s choices and the lives of their unborn are reconciled — with the degradation nor destruction of neither. Perhaps, to engage in my own wishful thinking, we could hope for the actual joy of both.

John C. Rankin, New England Christian Action Council, 11 Pleasant St.