“Choice” and Moral Agency

DC 59.6 Thou shalt not killThe Planned Parenthood scandal has really gotten under my skin. I have tried to not comment on it, or engage with others who are commenting and posting about it, either. When I have heard or seen the undercover video clips, I have become physically ill, to the point of wanting to vomit, and I feel my spirit sorrowing in a way I cannot describe in words, and have only felt when we lost our two babies. The Spirit has been telling me too, time and time again, “Do not click that link. Do not read that story.”

Tonight however, a friend shared an article to her Facebook timeline, which then showed up on my newsfeed — I made the mistake of clicking thru to the article. I’m not going to link to it, but the author claimed to be a temple recommend holding, worthy member of the Church, who supports Planned Parenthood — she doubled down on her thesis a few times; by the end her tone was angry and judgmental of those who sustain the Church’s beliefs on abortion. Her arguments were also weak, and easily corrected with scripture and the words of the prophets as well, but I felt like it was no use trying to share them, as she was committed to her position. And really, why would she care what I, a total stranger, had to say? It does no good to argue with strangers online either.

In the end, the principle of “Thou shalt not kill,” transcends religious creeds, boundaries and the excuses societies parade as truths. I am struggling with why people, especially, Mormons are not getting that. Thou shalt not kill, or do anything like unto it (Doctrine & Covenants 59: 6).

A friend, who understands my sensitivities on this subject sent me a passage from an article titled, “Weightier Matters,” written for the January 2001 Ensign by Elder Dallin H. Oaks. Elder Oaks writes,

Oaks

“The slogan or sound bite “pro-choice” has had an almost magical effect in justifying abortion and in neutralizing opposition to it.

Pro-choice slogans have been particularly seductive to Latter-day Saints because we know that moral agency, which can be described as the power of choice, is a fundamental necessity in the gospel plan. All Latter-day Saints are pro-choice according to that theological definition. But being pro-choice on the need for moral agency does not end the matter for us. Choice is a method, not the ultimate goal. We are accountable for our choices, and only righteous choices will move us toward our eternal goals.

In this effort, Latter-day Saints follow the teachings of the prophets. On this subject our prophetic guidance is clear. The Lord commanded, “Thou shalt not … kill, nor do anything like unto it” (D&C 59:6). The Church opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience. Our members are taught that, subject only to some very rare exceptions, they must not submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for an abortion. That direction tells us what we need to do on the weightier matters of the law, the choices that will move us toward eternal life.

In today’s world we are not true to our teachings if we are merely pro-choice. We must stand up for the right choice. Those who persist in refusing to think beyond slogans and sound bites like pro-choice wander from the goals they pretend to espouse and wind up giving their support to results they might not support if those results were presented without disguise.

For example, consider the uses some have made of the possible exceptions to our firm teachings against abortion. Our leaders have taught that the only possible exceptions are when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, or when a competent physician has determined that the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy or that the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. But even these exceptions do not justify abortion automatically. Because abortion is a most serious matter, we are counseled that it should be considered only after the persons responsible have consulted with their bishops and received divine confirmation through prayer.

Some Latter-day Saints say they deplore abortion, but they give these exceptional circumstances as a basis for their pro-choice position that the law should allow abortion on demand in all circumstances. Such persons should face the reality that the circumstances described in these three exceptions are extremely rare. For example, conception by incest or rape—the circumstance most commonly cited by those who use exceptions to argue for abortion on demand—is involved in only a tiny minority of abortions. More than 95 percent of the millions of abortions performed each year extinguish the life of a fetus conceived by consensual relations. Thus the effect in over 95 percent of abortions is not to vindicate choice but to avoid its consequences. Using arguments of “choice” to try to justify altering the consequences of choice is a classic case of omitting what the Savior called “the weightier matters of the law.”

Mother with child 1There is a lot more I could say, more prophets and apostles I could quote. More scriptures I could share on this subject. I won’t though. As Latter-day Saints we should understand the value of life, all lives. We understand that the power to create life, allows us to partner with God, to bring His spirit children, our brothers and sisters, to earth for their mortal experience — an experience they are entitled to have. No one has the right to take that away from another person. Society needs to do better. We need to reach out and minister to these women who end up in a Planned Parenthood office. As a missionary I sat with many women who had been forced by the Bulgarian government, as a form of birth control, to have abortions. Their anguish and sorrow for their lost children was tangible and real. Even after having counseled with priesthood leaders and having been baptized, they still felt that anguish. As I mentioned, I understand the deepness of sorrow that the loss of one’s child brings.

We are taught and promised that as we obey God’s commandments we will be truly happy, prosper, and have the grace of God attend us. It’s very clear what our position should be on this issue — it’s not a secular choice, it is a matter of choosing to put the Lord and His laws first. As Latter-day Saints we need to share the truths of the gospel with everyone we come into contact with — so they know there are other options besides abortion. A return to the Lord’s standards of chastity, morality, and family structure would be the first step in saving these women from the awful “choice” of aborting their babies. Elevating our actions to reflect the love of our Savior for these women, will also help toward healing and saving lives.

For more words of the prophets on this subject, please see “The Mormon Perspective On Abortion and Human Life,” written by my friend Angela Fallentine for Mormon Women Stand.

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About Joyce Anderson

Joyce is a mother, wife, sister, school teacher, Bulgarian speaker, conservative, lover of good music, social media junky and a two time culinary arts Grand Champion bread baker. She and the family reside in a remote mountain community where great discoveries have been made. When not changing the world, she enjoys the occasional bowl of chips and salsa. She can be found at: http://pinterest.com/TheAtomicMom

34 thoughts on ““Choice” and Moral Agency

  1. Thank you so much for this, Joyce. I, too, have been deeply affected by all this. I am currently 20 weeks pregnant, and it feels so much more personal to know that what is being done to those babies could just as easily be done to *my* baby.

    The thing that has bothered me the most is how unwilling the “pro-choice” side has been to engage the actual issues brought up by the videos. These issues do not necessarily involve whether abortion is a public good or a public evil, but what Planned Parenthood does with the children they abort, the methods used, and the attitudes the staff have adopted.

    Cecile Richards has criticized the doctor in the first video for “lacking in compassion.” However, if that woman had compassion in the first place, would she be able to continue in her line of work? When you perform those kinds of procedures day in and day, it would seem that compassion is a luxury that you cannot afford. One commentator observed that to some extent, the evil of abortion is not just what is done to the children, but what it does to us. What does it say about our society when something as vile as this could come to light, and there still be people who think it’s acceptable behavior?

  2. I saw a comment on facebook which said that we could not compare the Holocaust of abortion to the Nazi Holocaust, because there was not racism involved, and that the number of abortions did not rise to the numbers lost in the Holocaust.

    Oh, oh, oh … ~50M+ lives lost to abortion in this country alone, most of them black and other minorities. Margaret Sanger the founder of PP, stated the reason for it was to cleanse the race, cleanse society of the poor, immigrants and races, other than whites. So, if PP’s actions don’t rise to the Nazi level, they are comparable to Stalin and Mao’s genocide on their own people. Blood indeed.

  3. Well said, Joyce. Another sign that our nation is growing further away from God. Members will have to make a stand. We can be kind and charitable in what we say (which you were in this post), but we must be firm in letting others know what is right and what is wrong.

  4. “The Spirit has been telling me too, time and time again, “Do not click that link. Do not read that story.””

    Funny how personal revelation from the spirit can be. The spirit has told me, time and again, “Click on that video. Watch it and also show the kids.” How can we fight evil if we don’t look it in the face?

  5. I loved your final conclusion that a return to the Lord’s standard of chastity and family structure would save women from the awful “choice” of abortion. Life really is not that complicated when we keep the commandments of the Lord.

  6. I recall the first time I read a description of a partial-birth abortion. I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach.

    I find it astonishing that anyone could feel otherwise. I find it infuriating that they could defend it in public. I find it deeply depressing that so many of them have been elected to political office.

  7. Tossman, I do have those kinds of personal revelations too. We’ve watched many things as a family, as learning experiences, lessons and so on.

    Kent, thank you for your comment. When I was still teaching high school, we were discussing current events and partial birth abortion came up. I explained what is was in very precise detail for my students, because they had no idea of what they were supporting. I could see their faces turn, their spirits react. They all knew it was wrong. Most of them changed their minds right then, on that day.

    Diane, yes, if we would love God by keeping His commandments most of the problems in the world would go away. There is a reason the Nephites were a Zion people for 200 years after Christ’s visit. They kept the commandments, and prospered.

  8. The US one of only 7 countries in the world that still allow late term abortions (abortions after 20 weeks). There is no logical reason for this. Pro-choice advocates in the US would probably be glad to follow Europe’s lead and ban late term abortions, if it didn’t so happen that they were also engaged in a terribly vitriolic culture war with pro-life advocates, who refer to them incessantly as murderers and compare them to Nazis.

    If you see yourself as a educated, empathetic liberal, and half of America thinks you are a Nazi murderer, then your emotions are going to take over. You are going to think that something is seriously wrong with America, and you are going to dig in your heels so that the “crazy” doesn’t take over. That is why we STILL have late-term abortions even after most of the world has outlawed them.

    If we could turn down the heat, I don’t think it would be very difficult to ban late-term abortions in America. But maybe that’s not what pro-life advocates really want. Why “civilise” abortion by outlawing late-term abortions, when you can continue to stoke the fires of the culture war with bloody photos and videos from late-term abortions?

  9. Nate, as is often the case with you (my favorite liberal commenter), you get it half right and half very, very wrong.

    The primary problem with abortion is the WAY it was legalized, i.e., by the Supreme Court creating a nationwide law and not allowing the state by state process to work its way through the way the Constitution intended. If Roe v. Wade had never happened, and each state had acted according to the desires of its residents, then the culture war would be minimal. You would have some states, presumably California and NY, where abortion is legal as it is now, and other states, Mississippi and the Dakotas, where abortion is mostly illegal, and many other states somewhere in between. And the majority of people would be satisfied with the laws in their states because they had participated in the democratic process.

    So, when you accuse pro-life advocates of stoking the fires of the culture war, you could not be more wrong. Their response is mostly defensive, i.e. a response to a nationwide imposition of a law that circumvents the democratic process and the will of the people. But when you point out that even socialist Europe has outlawed abortion after four of five months (which it has), you are correct. So, the obvious conclusion should be for liberals to realize that it is late-term abortions that are controversial. As a relatively conservative person, I am generally in favor or keeping early term abortion legal but am strongly opposed to abortion after four months (with some obvious exceptions). And I think that most people would be satisfied with such a solution.

    Please stop making the ridiculous claim that people trying to remind the world that babies are actually human beings are behind the culture war. It is the left-wing zealots and the immoral lawyers and judges who brought the culture war.

  10. “If we could turn down the heat, I don’t think it would be very difficult to ban late-term abortions in America. But maybe that’s not what pro-life advocates really want. ”

    Baloney. And Geoff nailed it up above.

  11. I removed a friend from my Facebook newsfeed because although she claims to oppose abortion and often posts links to LDS memes and talks, she is a ‘lock-step Liberal’, in the latest instance posting apologetics for PP and promoting the idea that they are the main provider for women’s health needs. The peculiar horror of the recent videos is the exposure of the cash motive in late term abortions. While our beliefs see abortion as less than murder, how can young men who take the disposal of their potential progeny for granted ever be expected to value other life?

  12. Nate, I assume that as a flaming progressive, you’re pro-abortion (non late-term). If that assumption is true I’d genuinely like to read your argument and perspective. Not so much because I want to pick it apart (I do), but more because I respect your honesty and am interested in your opinions in context of your faith in the gospel.

  13. I think abortion, as usually administered, is like many things: an example of the the evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of men in the last days.

  14. According to various sources identified in a quick internet search, somewhere between 1% to 1.5% of abortions performed in the United States are on unborn children past 20 weeks of gestation. The so-called “late term abortions” are a very minor percentage of the more than a million annual abortions in the US. I suspect that if such abortions were made illegal, most of these abortions would be performed earlier in the pregnancy, or would involve some fudging of the estimate of the gestation period. Since we can’t properly calculate the exact date of conception absent certain controlled conditions, it’s all educated guesswork.

    Given these facts, I personally have no motivation to allow the regulation of abortions to be “civilized” as I see the entire endeavor as abhorent. There is nothing civilized about abortion, no matter how much people pat themselves on the back about it. A 19 week old baby being aborted is just as abhorrent as the abortion of a 21 week old baby. I view “late term abortions” as a bit of a red herring as a result. If a nationwide ban on such abortions were imposed tomorrow, it would not make me less opposed to the other abortions being performed today. And, for every single story that you could raise in which an abortion could possibly be morally defensible, the statistics tell me that there are 99 others that absolutely are not.

  15. Michael Davidson, I agree with you that the vast majority of abortions are morally abhorrent. If you believe, however, that life begins at conception you have an issue with IUDs, the pill and day-after pills that needs to be resolved. In addition, it is not clear to me exactly when a spirit enters a fetus. But we need to deal with the issue that no temple ordinances are performed for miscarriages, so if a person has a miscarriage after, say, three months, are we absolutely sure that in God’s eyes the fetus has been given a spirit? If so, how and when are temple ordinances performed for this miscarriage?

    I would propose a compromise position, which is that life definitely begins somewhere after three or four months but that before then we are not exactly sure. It is not LDS doctrine that life definitely begins at conception (whereas it is Catholic doctrine, for example).

    Now having said all that, I think there is nothing wrong with pointing out the moral dimension of any abortion. If one of my daughters got pregnant, I would encourage her to have the baby and give it up for adoption simply as a moral issue. I also believe that abortion is horribly psychologically harmful for the men and women involved. And I see nothing at all wrong with pointing out the horrors of abortion being carried out every day by Planned Parenthood and other groups.

  16. Nate your comment was disgusting. No person wants to keep late term abortion legal to “fan the flames of hate”. I’m sure there are people that would condone indecent acts for their sick agenda, but pro-life people are not among those.

  17. Geoff, I didn’t mean to insinuate that pro-life advocates are responsible for the culture war. I agree with you that Roe v. Wade was a mistake, and I’m anti-abortion. Michael Davidson makes my point, which is that we are engaged in a winner-take-all culture war, with both sides fighting from the extremes. Numbers of abortions are declining, and they could continue to decline with greater advocacy of birth control and morning-after pills. But like late-term abortions, these things are off-limits for those who have a winner-take-all approach.

    Mormons could be good candidates to act as moderators in the culture war, but instead, we’re joining the firebrands. We could try and calm the outrage by assuring pro-choice advocates that we don’t believe abortion is murder. We think its OK to terminate the life of a foetus created by rape, but it’s not OK to kill a toddler created by rape, so obviously, we don’t see a foetus and a breathing baby having the same rights. Thousands of Mormon women routinely abandon viable embryos in IVF procedures. So no, Mormons don’t consider abortion to be on par with murder or the holocaust. We recognise that pro-choice people can be good people too, and we agree with them part-way. This leaves us worlds away from the vitriolic anti-abortion crowd that we are unfortunately always gravitating towards.

    There can be progress on the issue. But it won’t come from demonising well-meaning, if misguided people and insinuating that they are committing murder, or even something “like unto it.” Doctrinally, the LDS church puts the sin of abortion on par with the sin of fornication.

  18. Geoff, I do have issues with IUDs, the morning after pill and other abortifactient types of birth control. Whether use of such items are as bad as a surgical abortion, or something less, is not something I am competent to rank. That is, perhaps, a discussion for another day.

    Also, speaking as someone who has seen the lives of three of my (potential) children snuffed out by miscarriages between 15 and 20 weeks, I have spent many a day and night considering what this means. You are correct that we don’t do temple ordinances for these children, but we wouldn’t do baptisms or endowments for them if they lived a day, a week, a month or five years and then died. The only temple ordinance performed for such children would be a sealing to their parents. As my wife and I are sealed, those (potential) children are either not intended for us, or would (in my view) be treated as having been born in the covenant. I can imagine a millennial day in which we go back and do those sealings on behalf of miscarried children. But this is all speculation on my part and I don’t claim any knowledge or light on the subject, but for me it is comforting speculation

    Like you, I don’t know when a spirit enters a body, but it is precisely such uncertainty that leads me to look to biological facts. At conception, there is, in that moment, a unique human life. In the April 1985 General Conference, then-Elder Russell M. Nelson spoke about abortion, and said, among other things:

    It is not a question of when “meaningful life” begins or when the spirit “quickens” the body. In the biological sciences, it is known that life begins when two germ cells unite to become one cell, bringing together twenty-three chromosomes from both the father and from the mother. These chromosomes contain thousands of genes. In a marvelous process involving a combination of genetic coding by which all the basic human characteristics of the unborn person are established, a new DNA complex is formed. A continuum of growth results in a new human being. The onset of life is not a debatable issue, but a fact of science.

    He then went on:

    Approximately twenty-two days after the two cells have united, a little heart begins to beat. At twenty-six days the circulation of blood begins.

    Scripture declares that the “life of the flesh is in the blood.” (Lev. 17:11.) Abortion sheds that innocent blood.

    To me this is persuasive. If I had to draw a line, I would personally draw it at conception. The Church has not repudiated this position, to my knowledge, but I concede that it has not adopted a position similar to the Catholics either. If I had to pick some time after conception, I would draw it at before the circulation of blood for the reasons pointed out by Elder Nelson above, which would be at less than a month. I do not know of any other “line” that I would find persuasive given the current state of revealed or biological knowledge on the subject.

    Switching gears, I had a good friend in high school that had an abortion when she was in the seventh grade. Her father was in the US Army, and her mother was a German national and they were living in West Germany at the time. In order to get the abortion, they took her to East Germany at some expense and considerable risk to her father’s career. To this day she is haunted by the experience and has legitimate PTSD. Abortion is a violent act and process that I have seen haunt the lives of those involved.

  19. Well Geoff, it looks like you are regretting having allowed my to hijack the post. I was surprised myself that you let me get through moderation. Sorry for the intrusion. I know I’m a trouble maker here. Have a good day.

  20. I find the attempt to turn around the onus of guilt for the continuing practice of late-term abortions, and try to place it on those who have consistently opposed abortion, particularly vile.

  21. Nate, for clarification, yes Geoff did approve your first comment. However, I would not have, as I am the author of this post, and your comments have been, as I stated earlier, disgusting.

    I want to address one thing, because it needs to be addressed. I don’t know if you are LDS or not. If you are you should understand that each life created is meant to house the spirit of a child of our Heavenly Father. This is why abortion is murder. We are not being extreme with that view, nor can we, if we believe in The Plan of Salvation. I suggest you read Elder D. Todd Christofferson’s latest General Conference talked called, “Why Marriage, Why Family.” He explains things perfectly.

    Finally, as Latter-day Saints we are under covenant to stand as witness of God at all times and in all things and in all places. We should all be like Peter on the Day of Pentecost (see Acts 2-5), who boldly and without apology, taught the doctrines of the Gospel. These are actual lives on the line, here, so no, it has to be an all or nothing game. We teach the truth and then minister to the individual, just like the Savior did. No one wants a woman to have to choose abortion. Perhaps if we spent our time and energy seeking these women out to teach them and help them, they wouldn’t need Planned Parenthood.

  22. Well since I’m getting through, one last comment:

    Joyce,

    I’m sorry about my previous comment. You are right that it was disgusting of me to accuse pro-life people of capitalizing on late-term abortions for political gain. I was trying to argue that we should avoid vitriolic accusations of pro-choice-ers and then I turn around and hurl them at pro-lifers. It was pretty tone deaf of me. Sorry about that.

  23. Sorry Joyce. Usually I am accused of moderating too much, but I thought Nate’s view (which is pretty common) needed to be addressed.

  24. Nate, I don’t agree that we are in a winner takes all “culture war.” Abortion isn’t simply a matter of “culture,” and to refer to it as such downplays the severity of the topic. To counter your point, though, abortions would decline significantly if people could be persuaded to avoid doing the sorts of things that naturally result in these unwanted pregnancies, but the left views it as unconscionable to suggest that people can and should abstain from such activities if they don’t want the natural outcome.

    Mormons could not be good candidates to act as moderators in this arena, at least not good mormons. Go back and read everything that has been said about abortion and show me where the Church or any of the brethren have said it’s “OK to terminate the life of a foetus created by rape.” Even in such cases, the counsel is against abortions. As I said above, even though the Church has recognized that this could be a lesser of two evils kind of situation, aborting the child is still evil. Specifically, the Handbook says in the case of certain “possible exceptions” that “even these exceptions do not justify abortion automatically. Abortion is a most serious matter and should be considered only after the persons responsible have consulted with their bishops and received divine confirmation through prayer.”

    To say that the Church and the Lord is automatically A-OK with abortion, even in the case of rape, is either a misunderstanding or a misrepresentation of what the Church and the Apostles have regularly said.

  25. Meg was pregnant with a child that had a birth defect severe enough to mean it was unlikely to live after birth. She underwent a cesarean section to avoid stressing her child and he only lived a few days, even with the best of modern care. But those were days spent very close to heaven. My son and his wife were heavily advised to abort a child with Down’s Syndrome and after she was born a hospital pediatrician chided them for knowingly bringing such a child into the world. Other children have revealed serious handicaps only after months or even years of life. Some who call themselves medical ethicists, but more nearly resemble the noted Nazi Doctor Josef Mengele, who saw humans as nothing more than experimental animals, advocate extending the opportunity to dispose of ‘inconvenient’ offspring well beyond birth.
    Then there are the advocates for euthanasia, ending life before death naturally occurs. While I personally have no fear of death, I believe it is our peculiarly human duty to preserve life, no matter what the quality. The same people who are equivocal about abortion seem to dither about the value of life at the other extreme.

  26. Indeed.

    I find myself watching the “choice” debate with a large degree of cognitive dissonance. With some emotional detachment I could even call it intellectually stimulating. As it is, I dismay at some of the answers we have derived to inform our actions.

    Part of the controversy seems to stem from disagreement about when “life begins”.

    From a strict biology perspective, the question itself is a superficial pretense, based on gross and willful misunderstanding that makes little sense. As a biologist, my perspective is perhaps skewed, but my perception is that “life” per se is a continuum that HAS no discernible beginning. In the pattern of all known living things, life begats life. It flows from one generation to the next in a never-ending stream with a source that is lost in pre-history. It is currently impossible to discover how life actually began.

    I am instructed by the popular meme which posits, if future Mars explorers detected a minute simple single-cell bacteria on that planet, it would most certainly be heralded as discovery of “life”. How is it that we can entertain the fiction that legally defines a developing fetus on this planet as “not life”?

    As with so many other human technological advances, the real “choice” question we are always facing – now that we know we CAN do, we must decide if we SHOULD. Different interests find different answers.

  27. Personally, I am just tickled that [as far as I’m aware] there has never been a lethal attack on an abortion clinic in “Mormon” territory.

    Many Mormons may find abortion abhorrent, but we don’t go around killing the people who terminate pregnancies.

    Count me proud to be among such.

    [Here’s hoping my lack of omniscience doesn’t mean I’m wrong on my impression that Mormons don’t kill over abortion.]

  28. I think that even if there are millions of babies killed by abortions every year, it is hard for us to see, or accept, that we (or our society) could be similar to Nazis, or other horrible societies in history. Both as to our view of ourselves as individuals, and our reflections on how our society is doing morally, I think the default is to assume that, while we’ve made some mistakes, we are basically fine. In my opinion, that type of thinking is anti-Christian and is destructive, because we all need to be saved by Jesus.
    I am in favor of calling things what they are, even if people want their sins to be called something other than a sin.
    Whatever else could be said, to me it is perfectly clear that the child in the womb is innocent. I believe willfully shedding innocent blood is murder. When I heard about planned parenthood selling aborted babies body parts, I was sickened.
    I believe something I think I read from Spencer W. Kimball, where he spoke of the law of gravity. (Or the fact of gravity- the human understanding of the physical law and the precise formula not being really relevant to the discussion) He said it was a law, and it didn’t matter how many people didn’t believe it, it was still a law.
    That has shaped, or helped shape, my thinking about modern social issues, such as the pro-choice movement. People can gain political traction and think they are right in large numbers, and affect the lives of (or even kill) many others, but the principles that will last will last far beyond their political or social movement.

  29. Thanks Joyce.

    I’m glad you stand firm. I don’t know if others have this experience, but I feel like I can’t talk about abortion being wrong even at church. I wonder if this is because it’s become so politicized and controversial, or if it’s just so horrible I can’t trust myself to be ‘civilized’. But that’s part of the thing, abortion is fundamentally uncivilized. It’s a form of child-sacrifice to the idols of our time. (For saying such a thing, I’m apparently seen as a trouble-making extremist.) I didn’t watch the videos, but from what I hear, part of what would drive me crazy about them is the “reasonable” tone of those involved. So many people seem to think that as long as you are “being civil” then everything is okay, including barbaric social norms, and that what is wrong is for anyone to have any passion or heart-felt conviction. And that is a problem.

  30. I would also like to say that I think comparing the abortion question to the slave question is helpful. Not that the slave question had a particularly happy ending. Our country is still paying for its inability to resolve it, even after a very bloody and costly war with itself. But I find it inspiring that abolitionists refused to compromise for so many years, and their heroic efforts eventually led to slavery being viewed in a proper light. And there are so many parallels: the argument of the subhumanity of certain people, the apathy of the majority who were not directly involved, the various laws stretching out over years of political battle. One thing that was particularly an issue was the fugitive slave act, which compelled people in free states to recognize slavery by returning escaped slaves. This parallels various laws about whether people are allowed to save babies who survive abortion. This idea of forcing people to participate is a real situation happening with abortion right now, particularly in the medical field. For a while, employees could get conscience protection to avoid having to participate in abortion, but that’s not always reliable. (My husband had to leave a job to ensure he wasn’t in the position of helping abortion practitioners get insurance money.)

    I think it’s also helpful to compare it to the slavery question because I think we can learn where compromise actually leads. As someone pointed out, restricting late-term abortions will only shift the problem. The restriction on importation of slaves just led to slave owners ramping up their ‘breeding’ of slaves. Also from a morality perspective, the slave-owners at the time of the founding were merely trying to make a profit, but by the time of the civil war, a culture of the ‘righteousness’ of slavery had become the norm in the south, as they tried to mentally accommodate the evil. And I think the same thing has happened with abortion, what began as an evil necessity for people in certain situations has taken on a self-righteous fervor.
    Nate says it is the pro-lifers who have pushed the pro-abortion camp to the extreme, but really it is only their own consciences trying to accommodate the evil they have chosen, despite the reasonable arguments against them.

    Many well-intentioned centrists hope there can be some stable compromise with abortion, but we should learn from the situation with slavery, every compromise in the direction of abortion will just make things worse, and the longer we put off embracing true morality, the higher the stakes get.

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