by Al Lemmo
Right to Life-Lifespan Meeting - 1/15/90
Dearborn Free Methodist Church
What I want to deal with this evening are the arguments for the right to abortion that are based on claims of religious freedom. I'm going to deal with this topic in the larger context of philosophy. I want to deal with this because I believe that these arguments are the ones that have caused the most confusion among the most people and are most responsible for the reluctance to act against abortion by law even though most people believe that abortion is wrong.
As Americans, I think we are reluctant to impose rules on all of society that may violate the religious values of some of us, especially so if the issues are not especially clear. There are basically two concepts or questions at issue. First, when does the biological existence of a new human being begin, often phrased as when does life begin, which isn't quite the same question, and second, when or by what criteria does a human life take on value or personhood such that it must be respected and protected by human society. Those who oppose us on the grounds of religious freedom strike at the very heart of our position which consists of first, the certainty that each individual human life begins biologically at conception based on all the scientific evidence, and second, the ethical position that all human life must be protected at every stage of its natural existence. They attack our position in basically three ways. First, by claiming that when life begins isn't a strictly biological, scientific question. Second, that even if it is, science doesn't provide a clear answer and thirdly, that even if there is a clear scientific answer the real question pertains to the value of life which is properly within the realm of religion. And that since religions disagree on the value of life before birth the right to abortion must be respected as a matter of religious freedom.
The last point, that is, the value of life not being agreed on, is probably the most difficult but I'm going to deal with all three. I considered two alternative approaches to this subject this evening and I'm going to incorporate elements of both, especially the second. The first alternative was to show that the principles supporting free access to abortion constituted the establishment of a new state religion replacing the old, unofficial state religion which embodied the ethic of the sanctity of human life. Had I pursued that I would have called the new religion "abortionism" the adherents of it "abortionites" and the principles of it would have been dogmas, the practices it justified "sacraments", and so forth. The methods of promotion would have been "evangelical techniques". That was one way I might have gone about this.
The second approach, and again I'm going to incorporate somewhat more of this, would have been to show that the principles supporting abortion are identical to those of Orwell's totalitarian party in the novel 1984, which saw power as an end and not a means. The party had three slogans which incorporated the principles of doublethink, principles of conscious contradiction. The slogans were: "War is Peace", "Freedom is Slavery", and "Ignorance is Strength". Had I pursued that I would have tried to show that all three of these slogans could be shown to be the slogans of our opponents. One of the points of that approach would have been to show that the current practice of abortion is very much a war on the unborn and bears some very striking similarities to the doctrines and strategies of war as they currently exist, and in fact exceeds them in brutality and inhumanity in a number of ways. In addition, the current practice of abortion violates the laws of war if you make certain analogies between the unborn child and prisoners of war, and in any case that it is a human being. If you don't accept the analogy the whole thing breaks down, obviously, and might not play that well with people who don't see that.
The point of that would have been to show that the pro-life movement is very much a peace movement in trying to put an end to this war on the unborn. But to our opponents, war is peace in this particular war.
Now let me get to the first of the three attacks on our position. Some of our opponents claim that when life begins is a theological question not a biological or scientific question. In my opinion, this is basically an instance of the Big Lie technique, which is to say that if you tell a lie often enough and with enough conviction it takes on a semblance of the truth. It's a very effective technique. Psychological research has shown that if you put a subject in a room with a lot of people who are "in on it" and will deny the facts, the data, of their own senses, you can get the person who is the test subject to deny the data of his own senses as well. The purpose of the Big Lie technique, in this particular instance to claim that when life begins is a theological question, is simply to introduce doubt through constant repetition. Enough doubt to produce inaction on this particular issue. One of the primary tactics of our opponents is to introduce confusion on the issue. Nowhere is this confusion more evident than in the Supreme Court decision itself where the Justices wrote the following:
There are any number of comments that could be made on that particular passage, such as, we could ask why the justices did not see a need to resolve that critical question and why a consensus was necessary which is seldom required by the court to render its decisions on difficult questions. And in addition, there was a consensus among the scientific authorities, I should mention. But the point I want to focus on is the point of confusion. By giving equal standing for medicine, philosophy and theology to answer a basically scientific question, they were able to evade the key question altogether. And thereby evaded acknowledging that they had struck down the ethic of sanctity of human life for life before birth because according to their analysis they weren't dealing with life in the first place.
The best argument I ever heard for life beginning at any time after conception, went something like this. It said why not use the same criterion for when life begins as when it ends. Since we are beginning to accept the cessation of brain waves as a criterion of death, why not use the onset of brain waves as a criterion for the beginning of life? Well, there is a problem with that. It used to be that we accepted the loss of a heartbeat as a criterion for death because we couldn't get that back--it wasn't reversible. When that no longer was true, when we had the technology to restart the heart, that was no longer a suitable criterion for death. Likewise, the reason that brain wave loss has become a useful criterion for death is not that the brain waves reflect in any way upon our humanity, our being higher than animals in our brain functions, or something like that, it's that it's an irreversible loss with current technology. The brain waves will be irreversibly present once conception has occurred and so it can be said that conception marks the beginning of irreversible life. So, the onset of brainwaves does not follow as a criterion of when life should begin.
If there is any question on any of this, I'll be glad go into greater detail during the question and answer period.
What if there were a religion in our midst that said that life begins at puberty? I'm posing this question for a reason. The reasoning behind this would go something like this. It would say that life is present only when all the necessary functions for any living thing to be considered to exist are present, including the capability to reproduce. By this type of reasoning pre-pubescent children would not be alive and presumably could be destroyed at will. So I would ask, would freedom of religion protect this particular theology? I'm going to phrase that question in a little broader terms and ask, are we obliged to accept and tolerate any and all ideas and the practices they justify, simply because they are presented to us as religious beliefs? Well, I don't believe we are, and in fact we don't. Our courts have consistently ordered such things as medical care for children of parents who don't believe in that based on their religious beliefs. The belief that puberty would be an indication of the onset of life has no more basis in the biological facts than beliefs that life begins at any other time other than conception. All the essential life processes, reproduction in particular, need not be present at any given stage of a species' life cycle for life to be present. To claim that puberty, birth, onset of brain waves or heartbeat, capability to breath air, or anything else other than conception marks the beginning of an individual human life is to take a scientifically observable phenomenon and use it as a religious criterion based on faith and faith alone. There is as much scientific basis for religious beliefs that individual human lives begin anytime other than conception as there is to believe that the earth is at the center of the universe with other celestial bodies revolving around it. In other words, there's none at all.
I want to move on to the second attack on our position that science doesn't provide a clear answer to the question, assuming that it is conceded that it is a scientific question. Here again we have confusion of the issue. Our opponents argue, for example (and there are a number of ways that they would confuse this), that life is a continuum. The sperm and egg cells are life also, so you can't say when life begins because it's always present. Well, first we have to rephrase the question. The question is when does each individual of our species have its beginning. Gametes are not individuals, they are isolated cells, and their destiny is only death if they do not fuse in the fertilization event. They do not proceed through the life cycle of our species. They do not generate new forms, including other gametes. We can lose cells from our bodies in any number of ways which may remain alive apart from our bodies for some period of time. But these are not reproductive events.
Only when the full human genotype is reconstituted at conception or fertilization with the immediate onset of the process of cell division, cell differentiation, and subsequent growth, can a new individual be said to exist. And that is why it is an accepted scientific fact that members of any species which reproduces by sexual means have their beginning at fertilization.
I want to move on to the third attack, and again I think it is probably the most difficult, especially for me since I'm hardly a theologian or anything of that nature. This is the question about the value of life. I first want to deal with the concept of doublethink as it is set forth in Orwell's 1984. It's a fairly complex concept but he defined it succinctly with these words: "Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously and accepting both of them." Doublethink is evident in the abortion issue in a number of ways. First, there are the two approaches to the unborn. We have the unborn as the patient on whose behalf heroic efforts may be made and we have the unborn as the non-entity that may be disposed of at will. All that makes the difference is whether you want it or not.
The second way doublethink is evident is seen especially in the literature of the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights or RCAR, some of which I have here, in which they claim to believe in the ethic of sanctity of life, but also believe in the conditional value of some life, in particular life before birth. Well, if the value of life is conditional then there is no sanctity of life. But they are able to hold these two contradictory ideas at the same time. That's doublethink. In addition, in their literature we see the existence of life before birth alternately acknowledged and denied. Sometimes they write about it quite clearly and seem to understand it and then they'll lapse into such language as the phrase "potential life" which is absolutely meaningless.
So what is abortionthink? Well, this is a term I've coined. It may not be original. Abortionthink is doublethink with respect to the question of the value of life. But I use the term also to refer to the rationalizing process of arriving at the second contradictory belief. Abortionthink is the mental process of devaluing the life of another sufficiently to justify destroying that life with little or no remorse.
In this sense it can also be applied after birth and in fact has been throughout history. It has been a key to waging war and committing atrocities of every kind, even individual criminal acts. Dostoevski showed us abortionthink at work in his novel, Crime_and_Punishment, wherein the protagonist went through a contorted thought process in which he equated the life of his intended victim with that of a louse, a nuisance insect. Having done so he was able to go ahead and commit murder.
If you can deny personhood, the value of life, you can do anything to your target. You can turn the inhabitants of the Holy Land, for example, into the infidel in order to destroy them and possess their land; you can turn the American Indians into savages for the same reason; you can turn the minorities of Europe into subhuman forms of life and march them into gas chambers and ovens; or you can turn the unborn babies of the nation into non-persons and destroy them for whatever reasons you may have.
Our opponents seem to be willing to go to any lengths to deny the personhood of the unborn. They have even resisted attempts to require anesthesia for the child to be aborted even in the second trimester when it definitely feels pain. They do this because to acknowledge the capacity to feel pain would be to acknowledge the personhood and humanity of the unborn child and thereby expose the operating pro-abortion lie. It would be to expose the contradiction of abortionthink.
Our opponents claim that we must respect the right to abortion as a matter of respecting individual conscience. Well, in my opinion, abortionthink short-circuits conscience. Conscience is effectively removed from the picture if abortionthink has run its course. If unborn human life has little or no value, its destruction is just another choice among many. Once the rationalizing process of abortionthink has been carried far enough by individuals or even whole nations, virtually anything can be justified and accomplished in good conscience. The operators of Buchenwald and Auschwitz could be said to have conscientiously gone about their duties of racially purifying Europe. They could do this because in their minds their victims did not exist as human beings. Through abortionthink, the prohibition against taking human life had been rendered meaningless and conscience had ceased to function.
I think this is why we need ideals and standards such as the embodiment in the law of the ethic of the sanctity of human life. We need an image of what a just and compassionate society ought to look like if we ever hope to even move in that direction. The great tragedy of the abortion decisions of the Supreme Court is that they cut the nation off from its moral moorings in the ethic of the sanctity of human life such that we are now adrift on a dangerous moral sea.
I want to make a couple of comments with respect to the Constitution since there has been so much said the last couple of years with it's 200th anniversary. I want to say that our Constitution has not lasted 200 years because it is written down on paper or even because of what it says. It has been copied many times with much less satisfactory results in other nations. Our Constitution has lasted 200 years because it is written in the hearts of Americans such that we will live it and defend it unlike any other people on earth. The only law that really matters is the law that is written in our hearts. And it is this law that abortionthink has been rewriting. The law has a teaching function and ultimately, we enforce the law on ourselves. We have taught our young people that abortion is acceptable because it is legal. We have taught a generation that it's ok to deny the most basic of human rights to the unborn and to other classes of helpless human beings. The denial will therefore continue long after abortion is once again prohibited. Just as slavery was the root cause of many of today's problems, more than a century after abolition, abortion will be the cause of tomorrow's. There will be Abortionite Klansmen who will violate the rights of the unborn because they have been taught it is their right.
I want to digress for a few minutes on the subject of language. If you've been in Right to Life for any length of time, you're familiar with some of the more blatant distortions of language that the other side engages in, such as that most repulsive of modern euphemisms, "pro-choice", and among others, "pregnancy tissue", "products of conception" and so forth. I could say, for example, that you're a fine looking group of products of conception here tonight since we all are that.
I want to talk about a couple of the more subtle problems with language. For example, you're all familiar with the expression "to have a child". It's usually mentioned to imply a future event--the birth of a child. But all of us really know that a woman really has a child long before birth. It's these innocent anachronisms of language that are a real problem for us, I think. We can't even talk about this subject without communicating in language that is a problem.
Our opposition has deliberately exploited these quirks of our language and fashioned a lexicon of lies that I call abortionspeak. It is a dialect of Orwell's newspeak, a language of denial and confusion. It's based on the same principle to a large extent: that it is impossible to think an heretical thought without the vocabulary in which to think it. Let's take for example the phrase I mentioned earlier, "potential life." Potential refers to something that could happen if certain conditions are met. Well after conception a new individual life certainly exists. It is something that is happening. The conditions have been met. And while it's true that the word potential can be used in another sense, to say for example that a zygote is a potential infant just as an infant is a potential adult, with only the passage of time being required in the normal course of events for that to take place, it is still something that will happen, not that could happen. There is nothing potential about life in the earliest stages of the life cycle of any species. An organism is alive at every stage of its life even if it is not recognizable as the same individual or even the same species as it proceeds through the various stages. Some examples that might be familiar to all of us would be the tadpole and the frog, the caterpillar and the butterfly, and the aquatic nymph and the adult of the dragonfly.
Many creatures such as those I just mentioned even change environments during this process. Who would argue that a tadpole is not a living creature because it cannot survive in the same environment as the adult of its kind? Have you ever heard an argument that it has not achieved full froghood yet? Then there is the concept of viability, which I think has been very misleading as it has been used in the abortion debate. Even our own people make claims such as that viability is a function of technology. Well I don't agree. I claim that viability is a function of environment, which technology may affect. My point is this: the unborn baby is perfectly viable in the interior of its mother's womb, which is the only environment in which it is adapted to live at the early stages of our species' life cycle. The word viable means able to live. To say that an unborn baby is not viable is to imply that it is not alive. It is to communicate in abortionspeak, the language of denial, the language of the Big Lie. We would do better to speak of intrauterine and extrauterine viability or the intrauterine viable child. Even the word abortion is a euphemism and part of the vocabulary of abortionspeak. It has been noted, for example, that both the doctor and the mother when they're going through the pre-natal care stage refer to the unborn child as the baby when they want to keep it. But can you imagine for a minute what the debate on this issue would be like if the correct and accepted term for what we call abortion were "babyectomy"? "I'm going into the hospital to have my baby removed". I think it would be a completely different situation.
Abortion is not medical care. It should not be referred to as such. Medical care heals unhealthy conditions. An abortion destroys a human life. It is pre-natal human vivisection. Abortions are not "performed" as we are accustomed to saying. They are committed. We're not talking about tonsillectomies. We're talking about the shredding of tiny human beings. Abortions are not morally inconsequential surgery but temporarily legal crimes against humanity due to an act of tyranny by the United States Supreme Court. Like slavery before it in this country, or apartheid today in South Africa, abortion is a legal crime and should be spoken of in terms that reflect the truth. To do less is to communicate in abortionspeak, the language of denial.
To return to the subject now of determining the value of life, I want to report a summary of one of the RCAR (Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights) authors of his position in his pamphlet, A_Theological_ Response_To_Fundamentalism_on_the_Abortion_Issue. It says this: "At stake in the political struggle is no less than the type of society we understand ourselves to be. Are we an oppressive society that denies the personal rights of women or a society that respects and protects various religious, moral, and personal points of view?" Well, I agree with the first part of that, what is at stake is the type of society we understand ourselves to be. But I would continue this way. The rules by which we value human life determine the kind of society we will have and the kind of people we ourselves will be. The killing of other human beings is always of concern to the entire community. Whether it's by military activity, penal activity, police activity, criminal activity, or the pseudomedical activity we call abortion. In every case there is investigation into the circumstances in which human life is taken to determine whether or not it is justified, with one glaring exception that must be corrected.
Ask yourself for a moment, what determines the value of your own life or anyone else's life? Is it related in some way to your size or appearance or your income or potential for productivity? How about your intelligence or the state of your health? Is the value of your life related to your responsibilities or your self-awareness or perhaps your relationships with others? If you think about this for a while I think and I hope you will come to the conclusion that there's only one characteristic that determines your right to life because it is the only quality that all of us share on an exactly equal basis. And that is the quality of simply being alive. As such, it is the only basis for conditioning a right to life because we are different in every other way. To use any other quality as a criterion for a right to life means that someone, somewhere, sometime is going to come up short on the yardstick. I think the founders of this country understood this when they described the right to life as an inalienable right. The term means not transferrable. It comes with the territory. It is part and parcel of being a living human being.
Let's examine now some of the principles and definitions of personhood that our opponents think we should respect as matters of religious freedom. I'm going to quote here from a pamphlet, Personhood,_the_Bible_and_the_Abortion_Debate. "The genetic definition of personhood confuses potentialities with actualities. Potentialities are certainly important but they do not have the same value as actualities." Then he quotes another author, "An embryo is not a person but the possibility or the probability of there being a person many months or even years in the future." These comments are confused on several points. I mentioned the word potential earlier. The genetic definition that he refers to is part, not all, of the definition of when an individual human life begins. It is not the definition of personhood. It is true that it is assumed by Right to Life that personhood, that is the value of life, comes with life. That is, we are endowed by our Creator with our inalienable right to life from the time we are created. The definition of life, however, includes the start of the growth and development process. The RCAR definition of person rests, as you have seen already and will continue to see in the next few quotes, on already present capacities and abilities. I quote here again from the same pamphlet, "A person or human being has capacities of reflective choice, relational responses, social experience, moral perception, and self-awareness. Both the person and the zygote have 'life' and both are 'human' since they belong to homo sapiens. But a zygote or blastocyst do not fully embody the qualities that pertain to personhood. A great deal more complex development and growth are necessary before the attributes of 'person' are acquired." A little farther on in that pamphlet, "To be a person is to be a choice maker, reflecting God's own ability to distinguish good from evil, right from wrong." And again, a little beyond that, "The Biblical portrait of person, therefore is that of a complex many-sided creature with God-like abilities and the moral responsibility to make choices. The fetus hardly meets those characteristics." And again just beyond that, "The one who unquestionably fits this portrayal", that is of person, "is the woman or mother in question. Because the pregnancy is hers, so the decision is uniquely hers". Note here the dehumanizing usage of the word pregnancy and the reduction of life before birth to property. These definitions may be fine for distinguishing humans from other animals when we're talking about healthy adults but what are their implications for the very young, even those already born, or adults with certain physical or mental disabilities? And finally, our RCAR author says this about wanted or unwanted pregnancies, "The essential difference is the value of the fetus to those involved in the pregnancy. It is not vitality but the acceptance, affirmation, recognition, and love of the fetus that grants personhood and assures that it will become a person." And so we see in this quote that the value of life is extrinsic, that it is granted by others, by those who have power, based on qualities they choose to recognize.
So what is this philosophy that we are being asked to respect under the guise of religious freedom? It is the philosophy of oppression, the philosophy of totalitarian states, the philosophy by which fundamental human rights have always been denied. It is might makes right. It is divine right of kings revisited. Only the source of sovereign power has changed from the monarch to the individual. But it is no less a claim of divinely ordained rights to control the lives of other human beings even unto death.
The incredible hubris it takes to pre-judge an entire human lifetime based on anticipation of difficult circumstances at birth, itself usually months away, is perfectly consistent with the philosophy of divine right of abortionites. Under this philosophy, the source of fundamental human rights has reverted to the discretion of others. It is regressive, historically rejected, and repudiated philosophy. It is philosophy that has been found to be incompatible with societies dedicated to the protection of inalienable human rights. It is philosophy that is alien to our national heritage and purpose and philosophy that must be rejected as dangerous and destructive. Given the history of its application in this country in recent years, with some 25 million American children having already been destroyed by legal abortion and the nearly immediate extension of the philosophy to include infanticide and the reinvigoration of the euthanasia movement, it is philosophy we can no longer and never could afford to accept. Let us not delude ourselves, this philosophy is not restricted to applications to life before birth. It is a philosophy of control, a philosophy of power.
In the afterword to Orwell's 1984, Erich Fromm says this, "In a successful manipulation of the mind, the person is no longer saying the opposite of what he thinks but he thinks the opposite of what is true." Our opponents truly believe that they are defending basic American freedoms when they are in fact defending the destruction of the most basic freedom of all, the freedom to continue to live. And also defending the destruction of the very basis of our national commitment to human rights. They can do this because through abortionthink, in their minds the victims do not exist.
If there is to be any resolution of this issue I believe it will depend in large measure on how the issue is framed and what questions are asked. Shall the issue be framed in terms of "who lives" or as presidential candidate Michael Dukakis framed it, "who decides"? Let us ask, does human society have a right to protect its own or are we obliged to respect religious beliefs that justify the destruction of human life regardless of how flagrantly they fly in the face of the scientific facts and the time tested values of Western civilization? Let us ask, are human beings personal property at any time in their natural existence, property that can be disposed of at will, or are they part of the human community from the start? And let us ask, do those who have the power to oppress others have the right to do so by virtue of simply denying the equivalent humanity of those others as has been done throughout history by abortionthink?
Viewed from the perspective of social and political philosophy, abortion is not a religious issue but a human rights issue. But abortion is a religious practice. It is living human sacrifice to the idols this society has come to worship. Only the idols have changed from those in ages past. In ancient times they were carved of stone. In Germany in more recent times they were racial purity and utility. In America today the idols that we worship are money, power, image, sex, convenience, human intellect, physical and mental perfection. These are the reasons that most abortions are committed in this country.
The human sacrifice of today is not protected by the First Amendment any more than it would be after birth. And for society to be required to tolerate the obviously intolerable is a painful and morally crippling form of cruel and unusual punishment. This is not true for all of us, of course. It is especially not true in the opinion shaping institutions of this country where acceptance of abortion is regarded as somehow sophisticated, modern, and intellectually enlightened. We have come to live in an abortion culture in which it is taken for granted by many that abortion is the way we are going to go. Abortion is subtley promoted in countless ways all around us. Ending a pregnancy is spoken of casually, just as easily as pulling a plug on someone. One of my co-workers even referred to the process by which we "commission a child". We are immersed in abortionthink. We even communicate an abortionspeak ourselves. How did our cultural environment get so thoroughly polluted? Well, it has been due to a deliberate strategy carefully orchestrated over many years which saw the enthusiastic cooperation of the national information media. Some of the most recent examples are the election results from this last November in which the media assumed in advance that abortion is a losing issue for a pro-life candidate and interpreted events accordingly. The Virginia gubernatorial election provides an excellent example in which the Democratic candidate, who was pro-abortion and happened to be black, was pitted against a Republican candidate, who was pro-life and white. The Republican candidate was lagging behind by some 10 percentage points in the polls going up to election day. In the election, the result was nearly dead even. I remember watching the news that night and the anchorman asked the correspondent why the polls were so horribly wrong. They didn't call it very well at all. The correspondent went into an instant news dialysis, as I recall, about the unexpected result. It had to be racial. This was the reason for the sudden upsurge in the standing of the Republican candidate. He went through a history of Virginia as the capital of the Confederacy, mentioned recent busing problems and so forth. It was not possible in the minds of the people covering the story for the abortion issue to have helped the Republican candidate. But in fact, this was the case. It was simply a matter of too little and too late. Virtually the entire ten percentage point difference that was made up was due to the Republican candidate finally fighting back in the last week or so of the campaign.
You're going to hear a consistent message from the media as we go along in the elections this year that opposition to abortion is a losing position. The message, in case you haven't gotten it by now is that contributions to strong pro-life candidates are a waste of money. Don't bother. Abortion is a freedom whose time has come. Give up. Your cause is hopeless, even reactionary. You can also be expected to hear continued references to such things as America's pro-choice majority. It is essential to successful use of the Big Lie to keep repeating these mantras.
The force behind the strategy to promote abortion was initially a small group of people who saw the abortion issue as strictly a power issue. For them, life before birth had no significance at all. And for them I reserve the term "abortionmongers". They are today found in many places, but particularly in the leadership of the so-called women's movement. And I say so-called because the original, genuine feminists opposed abortion, seeing it is exploitation of women and evasion of male responsibilities. The original feminists insisted that the male-dominated society change to meet the real and different needs of women, whereas today's so-called feminists say that women must change to meet the demands of the male dominated society. They must become the killers of their own children in order to make it in the world. Today's bogus feminists despise womanhood and regard the procreative function of women as a defect to be overcome in an attempt to be like the desirable sex, the sex that has power. It is a totally negative and degrading view of women. The ersatz feminists of the so-called women's movement are seriously afflicted with what psychologist John Bradshaw calls toxic shame: the belief that women are seriously flawed and inadequate.
The abortionmongers angrily claim that abortion is a women's issue. They try to exclude everyone else but women, even all but child-bearing women--women of child-bearing age, from having anything to say about it. That's been an effective ploy in intimidating many into silence. Its senselessness, however, makes perfect sense with abortionthink, wherein the victim does not exist. Similarly one might claim, I suppose, that apartheid is an Afrikaaner's issue, slavery was a slave owner's issue, the Nazi holocaust was a German issue, and so on. The list of such foolishness could go on indefinitely. The Right to Life movement, however, is very much a women's movement. I'd like to show this. I'm not sure this is a large enough sample to show this but I've yet to attend a pro-life meeting of any kind in which the men outnumber the women. I'd like to ask the members of Lifespan to stand up for a minute, of those who are here tonight. This is a small sample but I'm going to tell you from my own experience - I'm not counting people - but what I wanted you to notice was the relative numbers of women and men here. I'd say it looks about even but typically there's usually a few more women. I want you to know that, first of all, the people who just stood up are my heroes. I want to say that based on my experience, in every Right to Life meeting of every kind, whether it's a membership meeting, such as this one, a board meeting, a rally, or a planning session - the women have outnumbered the men. In fact, the ratio is even more lopsided in the other half of the movement which runs the crisis pregnancy centers that offer women real, life-affirming choices. My point in this is to say that the pro-life movement is the real women's movement in a number of ways - in terms of our view of women, in terms of what we offer women as well as in terms of the composition of our membership. The myth that the Right to Life movement consists of men trying to control women is one of several of what John Noonan calls the "legends of the abortion liberty", in his book, A_Private_Choice. I call these "legends" lies. They are a series of deliberate fabrications, attempts to re-write history and distort language, fact and principle in every conceivable way to cast abortion in a favorable light. For more detail I have to refer you to Noonan's book. I'm going to go through this rather quickly. Perhaps the most pernicious and effective lie that they came up with was the deliberate campaign to portray opposition to abortion as Catholic theology being forced upon the nation. There was a deliberate appeal to existing bigotry and it saw the active and enthusiastic cooperation of the national media over a period of many years. It is quite likely that this lie is the one that is still most responsible for our reluctance to restrict abortion by law. It is clear from some of the early RCAR literature that the authors believed this lie, at least until other abortion opponents became more vocal. How all this Catholic theology got into the nation's abortion laws in the first place, they never explain. Presumably they believed still another lie, the lie that the nation's abortion laws were enacted to protect women. The last time I heard this particular lie was in the TV movie, Roe_ versus_Wade, in which the actress portraying the lawyer who brought the case before the Supreme Court was engaged in an argument with a pro-life opponent who was an older and bald male - all we pro-life people are old, bald men, in case you didn't notice in that movie - and she blurted out that the nation's abortion laws had been enacted to protect women. Of course, there was no response to that. As a result, that lie became truth to millions of people who watched that movie. It wasn't even a very good lie, but then, it doesn't have to be. It needs only to sow doubt, for the purpose of it is to undermine public understanding of precedent, original intent and tradition. It is an example of classical Orwellian reality control. The pertinent quotation from Orwell's 1984, is another party slogan which went like this: "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past". It is a process of making lies become truth. And it has also been applied to the history of Christian church attitudes on abortion. By their substantial control of the present through their allies in the national media, the abortionmongers can control public understanding of the past. And they hope thereby to control the future. They have done so with great effect so far. We could cite other lies such as the statistics on abortion which were total fabrications with regard to maternal deaths when abortion was still illegal. And that's been acknowledged by a former insider in the National Abortion Rights Action League, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who wrote this book, Aborting_America. But that lie is still useful even though it has been acknowledged to have been a lie. We still hear claims that if we outlaw abortion again we're going to go back to the days of the back-alley and only the butchers will be doing them and so forth. The fact is that abortion is safer today for the women involved due to a change in the technology of abortion, not because of its legality. The abortionmongers have shown no reluctance to invent statistics to suit their needs.
I'm going to start to wrap this up here. In Orwell's 1984 there were four ministries of government. The Ministry of Peace-which dealt with war, the Ministry of Truth-which dealt with lies and reality control, the Ministry of Plenty, which dealt with starvation, and the Ministry of Love, which concerned itself with torture. The names of these ministries were deliberate exercises in doublethink. Consider America of 1990, in which government, which exists according to our national ideals to secure our inalienable right to life, has become the guarantor of its destruction; in which medicine, which is supposed to heal illness, has prostituted itself to become the agent of death; and in which ethics, which is entrusted with delineating standards of behavior, has become the black art of justifying the unconscionable. We have indeed come a long way--the wrong way. We have come this far, this fast, because the abortionmongers have done violence to the fabric of our culture in every possible respect. They have done violence to the truth in re-writing the history of the laws of abortion and church attitudes, in fabricating statistics and confusing the biology of the matter. They have done violence to language, violence to values, and violence to the principles of human rights. They have done violence to the law in fabricating a right to abortion which exists nowhere in the Constitution or anywhere else in American law. They have done violence to medicine, turning it into a cult of death. And they do violence on a continuing basis, every single day over 4,000 times, to the most vulnerable members of the human community. The abortionmongers have been violent to the core from start to finish. Yet when the public thinks of violence on this issue, it thinks of the handful of the abortionmongers' fellow anarchists who have bombed some of the nation's abortuaries. The manipulation of the national consciousness through the tactics of abortionthink has been nothing short of masterful.
To conclude, I want to first read a quotation from a pro-life activist who was asked why he wanted so much to do pro-life work. He said this, "Abortion is antithetical to everything I believe. It rests on despair, lies, and terrible ignorance. It destroys love. It violates women. It betrays the dependent child and brutally abuses the most vulnerable of all. It subverts medicine, law and government. It is applied atheism. How could I not do pro-life work?"
If you remained seated earlier and you're not already involved in pro-life work of some kind (and I suspect that most of you are, though) you might want to ask yourself that same question: "how could I not do pro-life work?" And if you are so inclined, you are invited to join us this evening, to join the real women's movement, the peace movement, the human rights movement, and the cultural environmental movement all rolled into one. We call it the Right to Life movement or, more simply, the Pro-Life movement, and we need you. Your country needs you. And above all, the generations yet to come, who may still have a chance, need you very badly. Please don't let this opportunity pass you by. Thank you for hearing me this evening.