Does life really begin on the say-so of a single person -- even the mother? Does her position or mental state change what a fetus is or is not? That kind of elastic calculation grinds against reason. Even our intuitive reaction to motherhood agrees. As Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who is an ob-gyn, once explained, "people ask an expectant mother how her baby is doing. They do not ask how her fetus is doing, or her blob of tissue, or her parasite."
Most people, not very ideological to begin with, are probably too squeamish to reach decisive conclusions on abortion. They balance their views somewhere in the middle as they weigh societal costs and realities. Most, though, oppose late-term abortion.
There are consequences to the pro-life position, of course. Certainly an unwanted baby, a mentally anguished mother, illegal abortions and fewer choices are all terrible and real problems -- but none of them changes the reality of the procedure. Especially late-term abortions.
Other abortions are pretty safe, but they are not rare, either. We recently learned that 87,273 pregnancies were terminated in the New York metro area in 2009. The local ABC affiliate there reported that 60 percent of "non-Hispanic black" pregnancies ended in abortion. Hispanics had a 41.3 percent abortion rate. Overall, 41 percent of pregnancies in New York City were terminated with the destruction of the nascent human being, despite the widespread availability of birth control for both adults and children.
Now, if hearing that so many pregnant women choose to abort their children is alarming, surely the continued acceptance of third-trimester abortions is downright despicable.
Then again, I'm under no illusion that the debate is going to change in my lifetime. The Roe v. Wade decision -- made without considering evolving science or new facts -- ensures that the debate is purely academic for now. I'm certainly not under the delusion that every problem has an answer. But if the pro-life movement is going to win the hearts and minds of the rest of the nation, it's not going to need more God. It's going to need more reason.