Lesson 18: Abortion in the Pandemic

Abortion in the pandemicIt is amazing how the abortion battle has surfaced during the pandemic. In my area of the country, people who refuse to wear masks use it to defend themselves against accusations about not caring for other people. They argue their strong stand against abortion proves they protect lives. Too often, that claim is followed by charges that their critics are hypocrites, because they support killing babies.

Ironically, they often employ the argument used by many pro-choice women to support their case. They maintain the constitution gives them the freedom to do what they want with their own bodies.

That same confusion was evident on the national scene in the public disagreement between two prominent pro-life conservatives in the First Things journal. R.R. Reno had been vehemently arguing in his “COVID-19: New York Diary” that celebrating mass was more important than preventing physical death. He claimed shutting down churches was part of America’s obsession with health that affirms life in this world is the only thing that matters. His friend, Ron Dreher, accused him of abandoning the pro-life position that obligates preserving life at any cost. It was all right to close churches, because physical death is the greatest evil and saving or preventing death the highest good.

Perhaps discussing abortion while facing the reality of death during the pandemic will open a creative conversation again. I am reminded of a joke we told way back at the beginning of the public debate when people were still listening to each other. It went like this: Three pastors walk into a bar. The Lutheran says abortion can be acceptable, because the Bible allows it. The Catholic says abortion is never acceptable because the Pope says it is wrong. The Baptist says abortion better be acceptable, because his teenage daughter is pregnant.

We did not tell the story to legitimize abortion. None of us were for abortion on demand. Our point was the discussion remained pretty irrelevant if if was confined to abstract arguments. When technology provided the means to perform safe procedures, real-life personal situations had to be addressed.

That kind of honest searching pretty much disappeared in recent years. The discussion deteriorated into two belligerent parties that no longer talk to one another. Instead, people from each side, usually male, declared their position was the only righteousness one.

The pandemic has enabled a number in our society to get real about critical issues. Of course, as noted above with those refusing to wear masks, it has also led others to defy reality.

When I imagine what returning to a creative conversation might entail, I think there would be far more women speaking out. We could stand a break from men using abortion for political advantage. Most of the few women who have spoken up challenge us to adopt a complete pro-life agenda. If we claim to stand against abortion, we should also oppose capital punishment and war. If we truly speak for the innocent, we should also provide food for hungry children and support for single mothers. Discussing that thesis would go a long way in restoring a respectful debate.

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