Gloucester Daily Times Debate on Abortion (9), December, 11, 1985

We Disagree, But Graciously

In Sandy Parsons’ letter to the Times (Dec. 3), she asked why groups such as the Christian Action Council “are so wildly against legalized abortion.” This language seems rhetorical, along with the successive sentence.

She may recall last spring, when following her letter to the the Times in support of legalized abortion, she received many unkind letters. And when she received my gracious letter offering simply to talk, she responded graciously, and gladly, and we sat down in her living room for 1 1/2 hours, without rhetoric, and we lefty disagreeing, but having respect for one another as human beings.

What was “wild” about that process, or about anything the New England Christian Action Council has ever done? Or what was wild about my explanation in the Nov. 25 Times? She knows that I have articulated ethics of behavior in my protagonist position that radically oppose intimidation and harassment of opposing views.

In public debate with such virulent abortion advocates as Bill Baird, I always maintain graciousness in communication, with studious avoidance of hyperbole or rhetoric (as this word is pejoratively applied). I do so out of a conviction that truth can afford understatement, and never has need for harassment.

I believe the real issue is not how I oppose abortion, but that I do oppose it. Sandy Parsons’ concern for the plight of exploited women is admirable, and in our talk I addressed that head on, explaining how abortion is anti-women. I answered queries in this matter (though clearly from different world views, and she could not accept my presuppositions) but she never answered my query: What is the definition of conception and abortion? Conception is the point of fertilization when the haploid sperm and egg (with no future in and of themselves) unite to form a one-celled zygote, and are genetically identical to this day — we have only matured as the genes demand. Abortion is the deliberate cutting off of life in the human womb. It is the taking of human life. And we all came into the world this way.

Conception and birth are to be the property of men and women, with men respecting and serving women in their nurture of embryonic and fetal life. It is when a man gets a woman pregnant and take off (over 80 percent of all abortions fit into this category) or refuse responsibility, that the problem ensues.

Do differing beliefs have validity when one such view destroys human life? And how can one separate one’s personal opposition to abortion from public belief — why does one oppose it for one’s self unless one recognizes it destroys human life? My opposition to abortion is based on theology, history, science, law and other disciplines subject to rigorous scrutiny. It is not out of fear to acknowledge another person’s views. In fact, I actively seek legalized abortion advocates to publicly or privately discuss this issue with me. Most refuse. And if anyone feels my advocacy is tendentious or unfair, then join with me in a public forum and expose it. I am always willing, I will be gracious.

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