This Thanksgiving, as many as half of Americans are unlikely to share at dinner what makes them most thankful this year.
Of the many practices of Thanksgiving, I most enjoy the sharing during dinner of the reasons that my family, my friends, and I are thankful for our lives and the goodness we find in living them. This ritual of humility shared by so many families and communities transcends the troubling origins of this uniquely American holiday and transforms it into an unassuming celebration that is meaningful to many, no matter their beliefs and no matter their heritage.
Over the years, whether my family has been hosts or guests, hearing the expressions of thankfulness has filled us with the special closeness that comes from sharing honest, and often intimate, moments of reflection. But like me, many Americans whose hearts soared with the Dobbs decision restoring the legislative power to protect the unborn will most likely not mumble a word about their thankfulness for it at the Thanksgiving Day table.
For the most part, abortion has always been unmentionable at Thanksgiving. The irony this year is that even though the Dobbs ruling evoked a cacophony of abortion talk in the media and among politicians, Americans are now even less inclined to talk with one another, in person, about it. Even I’m not sure I will share my thankfulness in my own home this Thanksgiving.
The many polls reported in the media telling us how we and others think about abortion give the misimpression that Americans are actively discussing abortion. But most of us do not know how even our closest friends and family members feel about it, because we don’t talk about it with each other. But we need to start talking about it, and this post-Dobbs Thanksgiving is an ideal time to start.
My home is an African American home with male members and female members, with family who are straight and family who are members of the LGTBQ community, and with different degrees of religious faith. And so, as for many Thanksgiving meals before, our conversation will have its chronic thread of thankfulness for another year of survival of the challenges of being Black, female, or LGTBQ in America. Given this character of our family celebration, we should also be talking about abortion. But we don’t, because pro-abortion American politicians vilify the pro-life movement, and even preborn children, as enemies of the constitutional rights of Black people, LGTBQ people, and women. In truth, my American family and aborted babies are one and the same. They are also oppressed human beings, but unable to defend themselves like us.
In the middle of a festive meal, no one wants to consider that they are agreeing with killing innocent babies. Hearing expressions of thankfulness for Dobbs could cause many people that dissonance. The invalid license given by Roe v. Wade to conveniently equivocate over the humanity of little unborn babies has been exposed and revoked. So, if Americans were not talking about abortion at Thanksgiving during the previous 50 years, when this psychosocial defense mechanism was available, then they certainly are not going to be talking about it this year when the hidden truth is now established law.
Being told by the media and politicians what we think instead of talking about what we think and why among ourselves, in person, is the mistake that Americans are now making about abortion and other issues. Surely a nation of such remarkable resources and ingenuity can find a way to stop the one-way enmity against pre-born children, no matter the circumstances of their conception. But we are not going to get to a fair and humane solution without talking more about it and other difficult issues among ourselves.
Perhaps I will begin myself by sharing what I am most thankful for this year, which is what Dobbs can mean for protecting and improving the lives of all oppressed human beings in our great nation.
Dr. James L. Sherley, M.D., Ph.D., is President & CEO of Asymmetrex, LLC and an associate scholar at Charlotte Lozier Institute. He was a co-plaintiff in Sherley vs. Sebelius, a lawsuit filed to enjoin the National Institutes of Health from using federal funds for human embryonic stem cell research.