Two tidal waves: tsunami and abortion

Posted: Jan 13, 2005 12:00 AM

Two tidal waves of death: the tsunami late in December and 32 years of massive abortion since the Roe vs. Wade decision on Jan. 22, 1973.

 Television images and Internet blogs have brought home to Americans the reality of one disaster. Ultrasound images have shown many young women and their boyfriends the reality of lives that can be saved. We have fewer excuses than we once had for not loving our neighbors as ourselves, no matter how far away or how small they are.

 But what happens when we still lack vision? We have a license to kill unborn children (and young born ones) because they lack "higher mental capacities," according to Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer. Hmmm. Maybe T-ball players are useless because they lack higher baseball capacities. Maybe acorns are worthless because we can't make oak furniture from them.

 Let's widen our vision of how abortions occur. In Havana last year, I met with two pro-life physicians who fight for life against huge opposition. Cuban officials do not force anyone to abort, they say, but the government applies "great psychological and economic pressure so the woman will choose abortion of her own 'free will.'" The physicians used the words "free will" ironically.

 For a lonely view of abortion in America, read the blog of leftist comedienne Margaret Cho. She writes: "I had an abortion, and you know what? It (expletive) hurts like hell." She describes how she hated being in that situation "because the rubber broke, and I didn't even (expletive) like that guy in the first place."

 She sounds as miserable as the six-month-pregnant Cuban woman who wanted to have an abortion two years ago because "I don't have anyone to help me" -- but when one of the pro-life doctors within two hours found a nun who pledged to stick by the woman, the woman stuck by her unborn child.

 Margaret Cho did not stick by hers. She writes, "Pregnancy feels like there is somebody in there," and she's right: Somebody is there. But Ms. Cho continues: "For whatever reason, and every reason is the right reason, you can't have a tenant. So you gotta evict. Nothing personal."

 Does that sound like a pro-choice statement? "Can't" and "gotta" suggest the absence of free will. Funny, but another of the pro-life doctors in Havana counsels 100 women a year with far fewer resources than Cho has, and they don't go with "can't" or "gotta."

 Cho sounds very bitter about the results of her abortion: "And then you see that the tenant has checked out, leaving you hollowed out and alone." She takes out her frustration on others, saying to pro-life protesters, "(Expletive) you. Seriously. (Expletive expletive) you."

 With better communication, people where the tsunami first hit could have warned others where it arrived later. It's similar with abortion: Millions of women who have had abortions could warn those planning to have them this year of the sadness they will find. Our major communication channels, though, do not transmit those stories.

 Here's what I've learned from 20 years in the pro-life movement: Almost no women choose abortion. Almost all women naturally want to produce life, and they only "choose" abortion when they feel they have no choice. Since the Cuban government takes away choice, to be pro-choice in Cuba is to be pro-life. The pressures are not official in the United States, but with vision we can see that the bottom line is the same.

 What to do? Another intense Asian tsunami may be a century away, but the abortion tsunami occurs every year. An overall constitutional amendment would be great, but in this meantime many lives can be saved through a compassionate conservative approach that features ultrasound machines, waiting periods, involvement of boyfriend or husband and both sets of parents, information about post-abortion syndrome and pro-adoption counseling.

 All of those means can counteract the pressures that make real choice unlikely.