Skip to comments.Choosing Life: How pro-lifers become pro-lifers
Posted on 09/01/2006 4:47:00 AM PDT by Caleb1411
HOW DO PEOPLE BECOME PRO-LIFERS? What turns people into passionate foes of abortion and related issues like euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research? I'm not referring to those who supported the pro-life position because of their family upbringing or religious faith or because of a political requirement as, say, a Republican candidate in a red state. I'm talking about people who, as adults or mature teenagers, were either pro-abortion or basically indifferent to the issue. Then something changed their mind, prompting them to take up the anti-abortion cause. Perhaps they began defending the pro-life position without realizing they'd flipped. In any case, what caused the change? What happened?
The answer can be found in the experiences of five people: Ronald Reagan, Henry Hyde, Ramesh Ponnuru, Wesley Smith, and myself. And their stories, I think, are roughly representative of what a multitude of others went through as they came to embrace the cause of saving unborn children. The five experienced two things in common that should be easy to spot as we look at their five cases.
Let's begin with Reagan. In his first year as California governor in 1967, the legislature passed a bill to legalize "therapeutic" abortions. It was an issue Reagan hadn't thought much about and he was torn over whether to veto the measure. Many Republicans in legislature strongly urged him to sign the bill. And so did aides on his staff, including conservatives Ed Meese and Lyn Nofziger, who later followed Reagan to Washington. Reagan was assured it would result in only a handful of abortions.
His instinct was to veto the bill and the Catholic archbishop of Los Angeles urged him to follow that course. But he signed it into law. Reagan was disturbed by his decision, however, and continued to think long and hard about abortion. The bill, according to Lou Cannon in Governor Reagan, "permitted more legal abortions in California than occurred in any other state before the advent of Roe v. Wade." Reagan's worst fear was realized.
By 1980, Reagan had changed his mind and become a firm opponent of abortion. He insisted on a pro-life plank in the Republican platform for the first time. In 1983, he published a passionate pro-life essay, Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation. It turned out that signing the abortion bill in 1967 was the only political mistake that Reagan ever admitted.
HENRY HYDE had been a member of the Illinois legislature for five years when he first was confronted by the abortion issue. It was the early 1970s--before the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion-on-demand nationwide. Hyde was asked by another legislator to co-sponsor a bill easing the state's ban on abortion. And he was receptive.
When he read the proposed legislation, however, his thinking changed. Hyde, too, had never given much thought to abortion. But suddenly he had to. And the result was he wound up rejecting, rather than sponsoring, the pro-abortion bill and leading the successful opposition to it on the floor of the Illinois assembly.
Hyde was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1974 and quickly became a leading pro-life voice. In 1976, he won enactment of legislation barring the use of federal funds to pay for abortions. Thirty years later, the Hyde Amendment is still the law of the land.
RAMESH PONNURU, a writer for National Review who grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, remembers as a teenager "not wanting to be a pro-lifer." In America, he told me, "it's just easier to be pro-choice. You're running with the tide."
In 1991, people he knew in Kansas City joined the Summer of Mercy anti-abortion protest in Wichita. The demonstration drew enormous media attention and the protesters were reported to have created a tense standoff, a near-crisis. Ponnuru followed the event closely enough to know that the protesters were "about as tense as a church picnic." In fact, his friends who took part "were the kind of people who go to church picnics."
The effect of the Wichita demonstration on Ponnuru, miles away in Kansas City, was profound. That summer, he thought about the morality of abortion. And by the time he entered Princeton at the end of the summer, he was a full-blown pro-lifer. Since then, his opposition to abortion "has deepened every year." And this year, he published Party of Death, a compelling account of the Democratic party's emergence as a strongly pro-abortion party.
AS A LAWYER and colleague of Ralph Nader, Wesley Smith was an unlikely prospect to become a pro-lifer. He got there in an unusual way that led him to become America's leading critic of euthanasia, cloning, and embryonic stem cell research.
A little over a decade ago, a friend of Smith, a 76-year-woman named Virginia, committed suicide. She had often talked about killing herself, telling Smith and other friends how painless, gentle even, it would be. They had tried to talk her out of it, but to no avail.
After her death, Smith went to her home in California and found stacks of literature by advocates of euthanasia, particularly the Hemlock Society. And he recognized some of things Virginia had said in the literature, such as tales of people supposedly enjoying death. Smith was appalled and it altered his thinking and his career.
Soon he was devoting more and more time to writing and speaking against euthanasia--until it became a crusade and his full-time work. Nader asked him at one point why he was "doing so much on euthanasia." Smith explained the issue to him. This led to a controversial statement by Nader during his presidential campaign in 2000. While in Oregon, he denounced the state's assisted suicide law as "Oregon's shame."
FINALLY, THERE'S MY OWN EXPERIENCE. For years, I rarely gave abortion a passing thought. That an unborn child was killed often as a matter of convenience--well, I just never thought about that. As a reporter for the Evening Star newspaper in Washington in 1973 covering the Roe v. Wade ruling, I considered the issue a legal matter, not a moral one.
The rise of the anti-abortion movement in the late 1970s and Reagan's stand on abortion caught my eye, but only a political matters. Then my wife Barbara's obstetrician recommended she have amniocentesis when she was pregnant with our third child. This involves injecting a fluid into the womb so the unborn child can be examined for problems or defects.
We'd heard amniocentesis referred to as a "search and destroy mission" that often led to abortion in the case of a child with birth defects or Down's Syndrome. This caused us to think about what we would do in such a case--really to think seriously about abortion for the first time. As it happened, our child was fine. But as we left the doctor's office, my wife and I agreed she'd never do amniocentesis again. And she didn't when she became pregnant again three years later. Without recognizing it immediately, we had become pro-lifers.
So think for a moment about these five experiences: Reagan's deciding on signing an abortion bill, Hyde's mulling whether to co-sponsor a pro-abortion measure, Ponnuru's watching as the Summer of Mercy unfold, Smith's reading pro-euthanasia tracts as his dead friend's home, and our--my wife and I--adverse reaction to amniocentesis. One common thread is obvious. All of us, because of the circumstances we found ourselves in, were forced to think about the taking of a life and what that means in both practical and moral terms. Most people avoid thinking about troubling moral issues like abortion or euthanasia. We couldn't.
And the other common thread is that something happened to make us choose life and choose it firmly and reject death. I think it was our conscience that intervened or, if you prefer, the basic human instinct that favors life over death. Or it you are a Christian, as I am, it was God.
Now I'm sure there are many exceptions to our experience. Not everyone who contemplates abortion or euthanasia is bound to take the intellectual path that five of us--six, including my wife--did on the way to becoming pro-lifers. But I suspect there are many more than like us than not. And many more to come.
I don't think most of us "become" pro-life, I believe that God makes us this way. Unfortunately, many eventually disavow their need for God and fall prey to the Culture of Death.
I like what the Prez said.....Have you ever noticed that all the people that support abortion, have already been born?
I saw an ultrasound where the baby appeared that she was aware of being observed and was waving to us, I had to question the entire premise of abortion...
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NEW SLOGAN FOR US: "Keep Away from DOCTOR Linda" EXCERPT: Just thought you'd like to know that most, if not all, medical personnel here in Miami are endorsing and voting for Charlie Crist for governor. I'm a physician in Miami and my colleagues, both doctors and nurses, have been strong advocates against any public official who had the audacity to interfere in what should have been a family medical decision. Yes, that's right. Our hospital had a poll two weeks ago which showed that 96 percent of us are voting for Crist, and we hold politicians accountable.
FV ASKS: Should DR. LINDA BE BROUGHT UP ON ETHICS CHARGES OR WORSE????? I believe Representative Bob Marshall of Virginia is on the committee that funds hospitals. SOMEONE who has a minute, PLEASE contact Bob Marshall of Virginia. He can launch an investigation into DR. LINDA'S POLITICS while accepting Medicare money from the taxpayer or she may be bumping off patients if she's bold enough to do to a post on line in favor of euthanasia which is ILLEGAL in the State of Florida (but can be done thru judge shopping, doc shopping, bad hospices or nursing homes, big Florida hospitals).
KEEP AWAY FROM DR. LINDA. SHE THINKS THAT MURDER IS A MEDICAL DECISION.
Call to Action. Find and contact Rep. Bob Marshal or Marshall from Virginia and report DOCTOR LINDA. THIS IS AN EMERGENCY- STAT.
Thank you. I'll be back later. FV
Maybe she saw the Stayskal cartoon with a man pointing skyward saying,
"God, why haven't you sent us people with cures for cancer, and aids, and answers to world hunger and all our social problems?".
God replies: "I did!"
Man: "But...but where are they?!"
God: "You aborted them!"
The current pro-abortion strategy has two main arguments. One, slightly similar to the outdated one, substitutes the nebulous concept of 'personhood' or a 'soul' instead of 'life.' They say that an unborn child does (or might) not have 'full personhood' -- whatever that means -- so their rights are inferior to adults. What's interesting is the shift from a measurable, concrete standard (the existence of human life) to a spiritual/metaphysical one (the existence of a soul). And they say we're the ones trying to legislate our morality.
The other stance is more starkly honest. These pro-abortion types will freely acknowledge that abortion is the voluntary killing of a human being. Some will even use the word "murder." But they argue that circumstances make this choice a preferable or even noble one.
Neither of these are winning arguments in the long run.
To me, that is a whole person change. To go from "I can't judge others" to "It's murder and it's wrong." was a significant change in my heart, mind, and soul.
It is, however, my opinion that we are made pro-life, some of us become "pro-choice", and then we may become pro-life again.
The "personhood" argument is self-defeating, if you strip it to its essence.
If the argument is simply: "rights accrue to persons and the unborn are not persons" then it is not an argument, it is so-called begging the question: a restatement of the premise that needs defending in a way that looks like a rpoof of the premise.
If you attempt to analyze the argument and inspect what is there in the word "person" that an embryo lacks, you discover that it is personality. Indeed, an unborn cannot exhibit any personality traits, -- he cannot be funny, or earnest, or kind, or what have you. Accordingly, we, adults, do not develop attachment to them like we do to more developed babies. Let us concede that, at least for the sake of the further argument.
Each time we link a right to a stage in development, we do so because there is an ability to do something, that was previously lacking. Now that the child has the ability, we can consider whether it is also a right. For example, children are not mentally or physically able to drive cars, so they cannot possibly have a right to drive a car on a public road. Some adults have no ability to explain calculus, so they have no right to teach college math (even if the college wants to hire them for that purpose). Learn to drive, and you get a right to drive; earn a PhD and you get a right to teach advanced stuff.
Well, what is the ability needed to live? Answer: be a fertilized egg. If an embryo lives, he is old enough to live. If he is a human embryo, killing him is murder.
All anecdotal evidence I have points to children being naturally playful and not hostile to other children. Sure, a child can put another child in danger, but not out of a hostile intent. Form this we can extrapolate that the natural human is pro-life.
Two factors, I think, make people pro-abort. One is selfishness, that comes with sexual activity. Adolescents often have sex or aspire to have sex with someone who is available, rather than someone who they want to marry. As the culture becomes more paganized, scenarios of premarital sex become more common and less oriented toward future marriage. A pregnancy then is a serious problem, something that ruins plans for college, etc. so abortion is seen as a backup contraception, something that is an enabling technology of premarital sex. This is the selfish motivation, that some people carry through to adulthood (perhaps, because they never become fully adult).
The second is a misconception of freedom. It would indeed be an ugly thing if, say, women were subject to periodic preganancy checks in order to ensure they did not commit an abortion, or if they were searched for possession of abortifacients. Since the proaborts skillfully extrapolate just that, and since we see a rapidly expanding state, there is a genuine fear that is prolife politics succeed, the state will be empowered once more.
It is important to distinguish between these two motivations. For example, it would be unfair to accuse the second group of selfishness or immaturuty. It would be pointless to engage in a lengthy discussion about social theory and the role of the state with the first group.
Another factor one might mention is hostility to religion. Since people correctly realize that all seriously religious people are pro-life, they see a threat to their secularism. Their argument is that pro-life is a church dogma. Therefore, they argue, the irreligious are free to be proabort. However, I don't think it is a fundamental reason people become pro-abort; it becomes a rationalization for either of the above-mentioned two.
Please understand that this is in no way a criticism of you, but I think the entire "I wouldn't do it, but I also wouldn't try to stop somebody else from doing it" attitude is bullsh*t. As you said, you eventually came to see that it was murder and it was wrong. However, it was ALWAYS murder. Many have succumbed to the moral relativism/libertarian nonsense that "it's none of my business what somebody else does." However, if you saw somebody aiming a gun at somebody else and they were about to kill them, to pretend it's none of your business is morally wrong.
Seeing the reality...
...is also pretty persuasive--- although I must say that though I could watch-- my heart sagging --- the 2 1/2 minutes of "Choice Blues, Chapter 1," I couldn't stand more than a few moment of "Chapter 2."
That was a factor in my prolife conversion, by the way. I was a strongly anti-war high school kid, back in the Vietnam era. Eventually, after a couple of years of firmly and obstinately closing my eyes, I couldn't avoid the similarity between the pictures from My Lai, and abortion.
The logic of "rights" and so forth had seemed to be endlessly debatable, a contest of verbal cleverness. (It's not really, but that's how my debate-cynical adolescent mind had perceived it.) It was the obvious suffering and torment of the mangled bodies that moved me to take it beyond verbal volleying and realize the bloody horror of it all.
Through conversations with the girls grandmother, it turns out that when the girl's mother found out she was pregnant, she threw her in the car and drove her to the local clinic.
Turns out she was on week past the latest date that an abortion could be performed, so the clinic "apologized" and sent them away.
Hard to believe that my beautiful now 7 year-old daughter was 1 week away from being called medical waste.
Thank God for saving your precious child. He must have important plans for her.
I agree with the author's premise that many people become pro-life when they are faced with having to actually think about what abortion is. I think many folks adopt a "None of my business" attitude because they don't want to actually think about abortion. I can say that at the time, I thought it was a wrong thing to do, but I didn't think it was murder. Clearly, if I had thought it was murder I would not have had the "it's not my business" attitude!
Actually, I must say it is fascinating being a former Liberal. It's an out-of-body experience to look back on what I was like back then. I don't even recognize the me that was most of the time. I do remember being angry, depressed, unhappy. I always felt persecuted and down-trodden and I had so much hate in my heart. I look back on the me that was and use that person to explain the Liberal ideology to other conservatives sometimes. And I use it to try and understand (or at least predict) my folks when I talk to them.
It is despicable to lump libertarians into this in order to further your obsession against freedom loving people.
I am a pro life libertarian and there are millions of us. It's clear that you are a moral relativist, willing to purposely bear false witness to enjoy the cheap shot.
I used to be pro-choice in my views.
I guess there must have been a point where I started to think about some of the moral implications of abortion, although I don't remember the magic point when that happened. I guess I just got to the point where I regarded the practice as evil and wanted nothing to do with it.
I also think my Catholic friends had some influence on me. That was also a major factor in my choosing a church when I finally found enough sense to open my mind and heart to His grace. I just noticed over time that the people I liked and cared about were almost always Catholics and pro-life. Once I finally got around to reading some of the underlying pro-life arguments, they made logical sense to me.
We like to think so...
Is it or is it not true that the attitude of many libertarians on the subject of abortion is:
"it's none of my business what somebody else does"
Depends on the libertarian. Much the same way as it depends on the conservative or liberal. I've noticed that people of all political stripes have this amazing ability to rationalize their views and (mis)behavior as they see necessary. Including conservatives.
I sense that you're looking for witches amongst the libertarian population to exorciate in much the same way that many look for witches amongst the democrat population to exorciate. I think that's self-defeating and counterproductive. Different people see things differently regardless of the political label they may be wearing.
Many? How many is many?
You took an off topic cheap shot.
People who believe in the rights of individuals differ about what an individual human being is. As do others.
God fearing people of whatever political outlook know that an individual's life on this world begins at conception. That individual has rights, and murdering them violates that right.
There are people on this site who claim they are conservatives, but really aren't. There are people who claim they are libertarians, but really aren't.
You would do well to debate real libertarians on real differences you have with them instead of picking a pro life thread to spread misconceptions about others.
I have two grandchildren, one of them will be born in about eight months. I pray they grow up to embrace freedom, individual liberty, personal responsibility and oppose balonyism like that which has been posted here.
What you say is true; however, I believe that the established Libertarian Party platform has been pro-abortion for some time.
There are people with agendas who look for openings all day everyday on this site to insert it into topics no matter how far fetched or off topic. This person has made another huge reach to introduce the hatred of freedom loving people into a thread about how people came to their senses about precious children sent to this earth by God.
Freedom scares the hell out authoritarians.
But you have succeeded in your first goal, changing the subject from the thread to your personal obsession.
Like I said in my first post,,despicable.
Fine, we'll just take some of the Libertarian Party's views on abortion:
despicable off topic lies=despicable off topic lies
And ad hominem attacks are still a method to avoid answering a question when you realize that the answer is not the one you're looking for.
Normal people can figure out the difference.
Now, go chase your tail with someone else.
The only way you have to "become" a pro lifer is if you have never applied one of the greatest gifts God has bestowed upon his children..... that being reason.. to the issue.
There is no way a rational thinking person can conclude that terminating an innocent human life, for reasons of pure selfishness or convience is a defensible position.
I actually remember what made me pro-life. I read Anais Nin's diaries. I was repulsed by her attitude towards her stillborn child (whose abortion was drug-induced). It was chilling. My mind reacted violently against it.
The libertarian view on abortion shows the absolute absurdity and hypocrisy of the Libertarian party.
Liberty by its very definition is "freedom from oppression".. for someone to claim their liberty gives them the right to opress... not only opress, but opress in such a heinous way as to deny the innocent its inalienable right to life.. is a bastardization and perversion of the very concept of liberty.
You cannot argue your liberty gives you the right to engage in the most heinous act of oppression there can be, that of denying the inalienable right to life to an innocent human being. That is utter hypocrisy, and intellectionally dishonest and it shows just one more time that the modern "libertarian" party does not know or care about liberty.
"Libertarians" are nothing more than spoiled children trying to codify their selfishness behing some greater ideology, sadly.
You'd better watch out, that is a "despicable off topic lie." (And don't start thinking that the FACTS as laid out in the Libertarian Party platform have anything to do with it!)
I considered myself pro-choice up until my early twenties. I became a pro-lifer the day my wife miscarried what would have been our first baby. It was a few weeks into her pregnancy. Not once did we ever refer to "losing the fetus". We lost a baby.
Nice try. I have yet to meet a Libertarian that defends the shooting of another on the grounds that it's "none of my business". In fact, just the opposite. So, in your attempt to make a point, you distort the truth. It is true that some(/most) Libertarians hold a pro-choice position. But it's also true that some don't. The latter you have turned a blind eye to.
I am a card-carrying member of the Libertarian party and I am Pro-Life. I can be both because I believe that life starts at conception. For that reason, I believe that an abortion is an assault on the life of another human being. Such acts of aggression I am vehemently against. More to the point, I believe that defending one man from the aggression of another falls squarely within the realm of "my business." That said man has not yet traversed a birth canal is irrelevant.
That is why the vast majority of libertarians never do that. But that won't keep people from lying about it and trying to high-jack the thread from it's real topic to their favorite obsession,,,hating liberty.
The thread is about people in error coming to their senses, not about personal agendas of obsessed posters.
hahah... Sorry, but if there is one topic that torpedos the "Libertarian" party claim that they stand for something other than selfishness its their stand on Abortion.
You cannot use Liberty to justify oppression, yet that is EXACTLY where the "party" stands on this issue... there is no gray area for them to hide in on this one.
I have challenged "Libertarians" many times to try to explain this obvious hypocrisy and blatant bastardization of the very concept of Liberty here and elsewhere, and none can do it. There is just no way..
There are certain inalienable rights, and among these are Life, Liberty and the Persuit of Happiness.... They are in that order for a reason, you must have life to even care about liberty, you must have liberty to PURSUE, not to achieve but to PURSUE happiness... "Libertarians" are about nothing more than their own selfish "PERSUIT" of happiness and to hell with the prior two rights if they get in the way.
You cannot scream you are a proponent of liberty and say that liberty allows you the right to deny the innocent the inalienable right to life.
The "Libertarian" party cannot be taken seriously in its claims of higher purpose, and not simply attempting to justify spoiled childish behavior until it resolves this complete hypocisy in its platform.
You cannot intellectually defend the horrific opressive act of abortion and use liberty as your crutch to do so. That's a complete afront to the very concept of liberty.