Nearly four decades later, the argument rages on -- and so does the carnage. The national abortion rate is over 20 percent. Just last week it was reported that the abortion rate in New York City is over 40 percent, and among African-Americans in that city, nearly 60 percent. In other words, an abortion industrial complex now claims over a million unborn lives each year. The carnage just continues.
In recent days, two horrifying accounts of abortion have gripped the human conscience. From Australia, news came of a couple who had aborted twin boys, just because they wanted a baby girl. Having three sons already, the couple aborted the twins because they want a daughter after the death of a previous baby girl who died shortly after birth.
The couple is now appealing to a legal tribunal, demanding the right to use gender selection in the course of an IVF procedure. Australia, unlike the United States, has laws against gender selection. The couple is pressing for an exception.
The abortion of the twin boys precipitated an international outcry, with headlines carrying the news around the world. But, even as millions were morally troubled by the account, many were unable to muster a moral argument against the abortions. Why? Because the logic of abortion has been so widely accepted in the larger society.
The very idea of gender-selection abortions is abhorrent, and most people would almost surely argue that such abortions should not be allowed. But the logic of abortion rights demands that a woman be recognized as having a right to an abortion at any time for any reason or for no reason. Once you accept abortion as a moral option, it is virtually impossible to preclude any abortion for any reason. The Culture of Death is built upon the logic of abortion on demand. Once the floodgates were opened, it became almost impossible to stem the tide.
On Jan. 19, the Associated Press reported that a Pennsylvania doctor had been charged with eight counts of murder in the deaths of one woman and seven babies, "who were born alive and then killed with scissors."
The description of Gosnell's Women's Medical Society sounds like something out of a Stephen King novel. Investigators found bags and bottles containing aborted babies and parts of babies. District Attorney Seth Williams said that Dr. Kermit Gosnell "induced labor, forced the live birth of viable babies in sixth, seventh, eighth month of pregnancy, and then killed those babies by cutting into the back of the neck with scissors and severing their spinal cord."
Williams described Gosnell's clinic as a "house of horrors." Gosnell, it turns out, made millions of dollars by performing thousands of abortions, including late-term abortions. According to the prosecutors, Gosnell performed "as many illegal late-term abortions as he could."
Dr. Gosnell has been charged with multiple counts of murder, and for this fact, we should be thankful. But the reality is that what Dr. Gosnell did is just a more graphic display of the horror inside every abortionist's chamber.
These two cases illustrate the pattern of moral confusion found among the public. News of the "house of horrors" in Pennsylvania brings prompt moral outrage, and understandably so. But is the abortion clinic on the corner, established for the purpose of killing unborn children, any less a house of horrors?
The couple in Australia openly admitted aborting their twin boys because they want a daughter. Millions around the world seem outraged by their decision, but having accepted the basic logic of abortion, they are hard-pressed to define when any abortion demanded by a woman might be unjustified and thus illegal.
The Christian revulsion over abortion and the destruction of human life is based in the knowledge that God is the Author of all life and of every life, without exception. Abortion is the business of death, and it is the great wound that runs through the nation's conscience. These shocking accounts may sear their way into the nation's collective conscience, but unless the basic logic of abortion rights is overturned, such accounts will erupt again and again.
Once we buy into the logic of abortion, there is no end to the trail of tears. In the case of the Australian couple, a professor of medicine commented that they should be able to select the gender of their baby after aborting the twin boys. "I can't see how it could possibly hurt anyone," he said.
What about the twins?
R. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. This column first appeared at AlbertMohler.com.
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