Gloucester Daily Times Debate on Abortion (98), October 4, 1989

Smith’s Response Ignores Reality

Two recent letter in favor of human abortion deserve comment.

On Sept. 1, Barbara Smith responded to my response to Caril Yenawine. She stated that Ms. Yenawine didn’t “force anything on anyone.” Ms. Smith’s response ignores two realities. First, I heartedly commended Ms. Yenawine’s wide-ranging concerns for human welfare, cognizant of their stated intent to minimize human abortion. And second, I challenged Ms. Yenawine’s repeated use of “must.” She said that if opponents of human abortion are truly pro-life, then they “must” adopt certain other positions too. I disagreed, relating that we “must” address the underlying issues at hand, but that we are not required to adopt Ms. Yenawine’s social philosophy on how to do it.

Also, relative to Ms. Smith’s objections, my position on church and state is to affirm all religious freedom, and to impose any one position, and to impose any one position (including my own) over another is false. My objection to the ABC child care bill and cognate legislation is that it demonstrably excludes Christians from freedom of religion in public spheres, while enshrining a forum of secular humanism which the 1961 Torcaso and 1964 Seeger U.S. Supreme Court decisions label a “religion.” I do not want Ms. Smith’s children to be forced to learn “my” religious values. But I do want history textbooks to be honest in recounting the religious history (as well as all other historical aspects) of this nation. And, by the way, I am eager and delighted for my children not only to learn biblical Christianity, but to know every other religious tradition in the world. I want them to have the fullest liberal arts education and knowledge upon which to make informed choices in all arenas of their lives. That is how confident I am in the historical and intellectual integrity of my own faith and worldview.

Alas, abortion advocates do now wish such informed choice. Abortion is dependent on a deliberate ignorance of the humanity of the unborn, and the devastation upon women which it inflicts.

On Sept. 7, Peg Leeco wrote a letter against Rep. Nick Mavroules for his pro-life stand. Mavroules has been unwavering and public in this position ever since his first congressional candidacy. He sees it as utterly consistent with his other positions Ms. Leeco commends him for.

In terms of his constituency being 60-70% “pro-choice,” then it should be easy to unseat him. Do it. But such shoddy definitions of “pro-choice” will not hold water. The Boston Globe revealed that 78% of citizens oppose abortion unless the life of the mother, rape or incest are involved. That is Mavroules’ position exactly (not that I fully agree with it either [excepting when the mother’s life is in danger]). Good luck.

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

[Note: This ad hoc debate series ended here, as I moved my office to Boston …]