There is a dark thread that runs through the lives of Steve Jobs, Cher, and Justin Bieber. At one point, each of these people came close to extinction. In tough circumstances, abortion seemed not only a live option, but a good one for their embattled mothers. If there is no hope for someone, after all, better to snuff them out rather than bring them into suffering.
Each person named above, and many others -- NFL quarterback Colin Kapernick, Celine Dion, and rapper The Game -- faced a lifetime of struggle. It is hard to provide for a child. It is devastating to have a father abandon his child. All the factors point to a straightforward conclusion: terminate the baby. But in the midst of terrible circumstances, the mothers of the celebrities named above did what thousands of anonymous mothers have done over the years: they chose life. In truth, they chose hope.
Abortion is the practical negation of hope. We have seen the manifestation of hopelessness in the recent videos of Planned Parenthood. In the latest video, we hear that getting “intact fetuses” is “just a matter of line items.” The body is just a vehicle for profit. We watch as a person picks body parts of a recently aborted baby out of a bloody, soupy mass. There are eyeballs. There is the scapula. Most indelibly, there is a tiny arm, an arm that would have raised the world’s most feeble protest against its death, trying in vain to stave off its destruction. But that little arm failed.
We have now seen unspeakable things. Sitting behind computer screens, sipping a midday Cappuccino and cycling through our Spotify playlist, we have observed the fruits of the clinical extinguishing of the unborn. For some of us, this has caused cognitive dissonance. This is just a procedure, after all. This is just surgery. Those are merely cells. But the video betrays our training. Our nerves are jangled. We cannot unsee this.
Every instinct in the human body strains toward hope. If we saw that little child on the street, we would help it. If we heard cries in the next room of an abandoned baby, we would answer. If we saw someone take forceps and slowly crush the head of a tiny kid at the playground, we would scream. Why is this? It is because we are hard-wired to rescue the weak. Though flawed, we root for the underdog. We extend a hand to the stumbling. This people on all sides of partisan politics wish to do.
But abortion is hopelessness made tangible. It is a sickness, a cancer that grows in our stomach, undiagnosed and untouched. It has dulled our emotions. It has seared our conscience. We have lost sight of redemption. Someone falls, and we instinctively think, There's no use picking them up. They're gone.
I pondered this sickness as I wrote a new book on Chuck Colson, former "hatchet man" for President Richard Nixon. Colson got caught up in the hubris and corruption of the Nixon administration. He lived for victories, often cynical victories, and though successful, he lost his way as he pursued the promotion of Nixon's agenda. After Watergate, the press came after him and his peers with a vengeance. He left government, but had no compass for his next stage. He became, in a word, hopeless.
In the summer of 1973, a friend named Tom Phillips told Colson about spiritual transformation. Phillips dared to say that God existed, and had offered mankind the possibility of redemption. Colson had never much cared for the concept. But in that conversation on the Massachusetts coast, Chuck Colson came to the end of himself. He called out to God, and testified until his dying breath that God heard him, and made him brand new.
It is easy to feel skepticism toward such "conversion accounts." Maybe this was just a public gambit, a way to save face by donning sackcloth. But something definitive happened to -- and in -- Colson. After serving a prison sentence in 1974, he was released in 1975 and went right back into jail. He did not return to serve time, but to sew hope. He wanted the jaded, the malformed, and the “irredeemable” to taste the same miracle he had.
In this story, we glimpse what America has lost: hope. Nothing more indicts our lack of hope than our cultural embrace of abortion. We have asked the abortionist to destroy our fears. We have allowed the practitioner to target the innocent. This is terribly, horribly, wrong. Only moral vocabulary will suffice for what the Planned Parenthood videos reveal. Yes, evil is banal, as Hannah Arendt famously said. But though committed by normal people who eat ordinary appetizers and wear ill-fitting glasses, it is no less gruesome. It is a living nightmare.
It is time that we respond to what we have seen. The well of our future has been poisoned, and we have been drinking diseased water. The child who has become a liquid mass in the video is crying out to us. We cannot be silent any longer.
Steve Jobs spoke toward the end of his life about his desire to meet his birth mother. "I wanted to meet her," he said, "mostly to see if she was okay and to thank her, because I’m glad I didn’t end up as an abortion." Steve Jobs, Cher, even Pope John Paul II--all these survived abortion. All these made a life for themselves. All these rise up and tell us to watch, and act, and find hope once more, hope that sees every person as redeemable, every life as valuable, and every evil as destroyable.