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Our moral duty to protect innocent life is the bedrock of civilization and the founding principle of this Great American Experiment…

holy innocents pro-choiceThe root of the despotism of this age is clearly the corruption and abuse of language. The mind-molders in the ivory towers falsely insist that language is man-made and so invented for personal and subjective use. George Orwell suggests in his essay “Politics and the English Language” that “any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism,” at least in the eyes of the literati. Language is said to “evolve” and adapt to the changing times. The misuse of speech of today becomes the orthodoxy of tomorrow.

It has become commonplace to make a false distinction between the euphemism “pro-choice” and its obvious antecedent “pro-abortion.” The sophistry is fairly well illustrated by this slick but dishonest example. While there are real and important distinctions to be made, we will discover if we have intellectual and moral honesty, that “pro-choice” is a euphemism for “pro-abortion”; and worse still, that “pro-abortion” is a euphemism for one of the greatest moral crimes a human can commit.

A Vital Distinction

There is an objective moral difference between the toleration of and the promotion of a vice. St. Thomas Aquinas said, “Many things are permissible to men not perfect in virtue, which would be intolerable in a virtuous man.” Thomas elucidates the principle that the state ought not to legislate against all viciousness and must be prudential in its law-making. He clarifies the point in Article 2 of Question 96 of his Summa Theologica when he states: “Now human law is framed for a number of human beings, the majority of whom are not perfect in virtue. Wherefore human laws do not forbid all vices, from which the virtuous abstain, but only the more grievous vices, from which it is possible for the majority to abstain; and chiefly those that are to the hurt of others, without the prohibition of which human society could not be maintained: thus human law prohibits murder, theft and such like.” It is legitimate to bring up this principle in discussions about whether or not there ought to be laws concerning alcohol usage or even such serious things as prostitution, but as Thomas mentioned, a thing like the murder of innocents is inappropriate to tolerate, as well as promote.

What Is Abortion?

Modern speech codes designed to protect the hyper-sensibilities of a debilitated and soft intelligentsia prohibit plain and honest speech, especially on matters of human sexuality. Those who favor the legality of abortion argue that it is not the termination of “human life” but the excision of some type of bio-material. No other generation in human history was confused about what grows in a woman’s womb after conception, but today’s deceivers pretend that it is a real question.

When a sperm fertilizes an egg, conception produces an individuated being with his own unique DNA sequence. This separate being is either a human being, or it is not. There is no scientific reason to suggest that it is not. There is even less ground in the philosophical anthropology to assert that it is not. By Aristotle’s four causes, we can clearly demonstrate that a newly-conceived life has a material cause, a formal cause, an efficient cause, and a final cause whose substantial form is clearly a human soul.

Let us be reasonable and assume that the newly-conceived child in the womb is indeed a human person endowed by the Creator with the inalienable right to life. Human personhood begins at conception. This conclusion is not only in right relationship to the proper use of the intellect, but would be fairly obvious, even to the dim-witted, just by the observation of a newborn baby. How many people have witnessed the birth of a baby? Is it not self-evident that what is born is exactly what had been in the womb for nine months? And yet still, the anti-human sophists invent objections based on viability, or the first breath, or the heartbeat, or the parasitic nature of a “fetus.”

“Pro-choice” is merely a euphemism, a corrupt and dishonest way of suggesting that a mother has a right to terminate the life of her unborn child. There is nothing healthy about an abortion which kills one patient and emotionally, physically and spiritually scars the other for life. “Pro-choice” is a rewording whose de facto antecedent is pro-abortion, whose legal antecedent is the termination of life in the womb, whose moral antecedent is murder in the womb, whose ontological antecedent is the killing of an innocent, whose Biblical antecedent is spilling the blood of Abel.

If a fertilized egg is a human person, which clearly it is, and that human person is innocent, which surely he is, then to terminate the life of that child in the womb is the murder of an innocent human being, which absolutely it is. The Catholic Church calls it one of the five sins that cry out to heaven for vengeance. In the realm of natural law, which flows out of the eternal and divine law, it is a most unnatural act for a mother to participate in the killing of her own child. The murder of an innocent child in the womb is clearly what an abortion is, but the clarity of the act begins to become obscured when it is referred to merely as an “abortion,” or “women’s health,” or “pro-choice,” or “reproductive rights,” or any other euphemism used to confuse the public.

Why Such Confusion?

It is true that we are steeped in so much pathological ideology on this dreadful topic that most are numb to the fact that the woman who has undergone an abortion suffers mentally and emotionally in a profound way. It is a most unmanly and unvirtuous thing to tell a woman that you would stand behind her if she chose to murder her children. The sin of toleration alone is grave in this matter and of course to promote this moral crime is much worse.

To claim that one supports the right of a woman to choose to terminate the life of her unborn child is analogous to the absurd statement that one supports the right of a woman to kill her neighbor; only the abortion is worse because the unborn child is bound to be more innocent than the neighbor. It is absurd in every reasonable and moral sense. In even more disturbing terms, imagine for a moment that “pro-choice” was meant to denote a man’s “choice” to choose whether or not he was going to rape a woman. One might say “I don’t support rape itself, and I would never rape someone, but I do support the right of a man to choose to rape a woman; it is his body, and he can do with it what he chooses, and I know he doesn’t make this decision lightly.” Moral outrage ought to follow this absurd and immoral line of reasoning, but still, even this vile example is not as grave as an abortion.

The Criminal Euphemism

The primary problem with the term “pro-choice” is that it equivocates the word “choice” and implies a false notion of freedom. All human persons have free will and can make free-will choices to do whatever they want, de facto. There is a great difference between this free-will ability to choose to do something, which can be either moral or immoral, and saying someone is free to choose to commit a crime. The first is an allusion to the true freedom of the will, and the second is a reference to license. All reasonable and morally mature humans deny that others have a “freedom” to choose to commit objectively moral crimes; this is simply a misuse of the word “freedom.”

All humans have the choice to lie, murder, or steal, but we are morally confused if we say something like “I support the right of the liar to lie to whom he will, or the thief to steal what he wants, or the murderer to kill whomever he pleases.” The decent human would never condone such behaviors nor say that he tolerates anyone’s right to choose to commit these crimes, not just because they are objectively wrong, but because they damage the fabric of society. Again, abortion is a moral crime worse than those mentioned above. So, although a woman would certainly have a free-will choice to terminate the life of her own child, this is not morally free to choose this action, and the person who insists a woman has this “right to choose” is committing a grave moral mistake as well.

Innocent Life and the Great American Experiment

In the most profound sense, encouraging women to terminate the lives of their unborn children always has devastating effects on them, even if they don’t appear to manifest these in an outward way. We must begin by asking what kind of person can encourage such an evil on women and children? Clearly, it is first a moral derangement. Our former president would encourage his own daughter to procure an abortion if she were to become pregnant: a good man? a good father? I can hardly imagine a more public or devastating disavowal of manly virtue than that.

Surely the above line of reasoning will be considered “radical extremism” and “mean” and “bigoted,” and goodness knows what else by the intellectually and morally bankrupt. Our moral duty to protect innocent life is the bedrock of civilization and the founding principle of this Great American Experiment. To first legalize and justify, and now to praise the murder of innocents and to denigrate calls to protect innocent human life is the beginning of the end of both. Though we ought to be gentle with our “pro-choice”/”pro-abortion” brethren, it is not an act of charity to let the good citizens of this land live the delusion that one can be “pro-choice” and anti-abortion.

Let us recover the true nature of speech ordered to truth.

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Published: Apr 12, 2017
Steven Jonathan Rummelsburg
Steven Jonathan Rummelsburg holds a degree in History from the University of California, Santa Barbara. A school teacher, he is also a writer and speaker on matters of faith, culture, and education. Mr. Rummelsburg is a member of the Teacher Advisory Board and writer of curriculum at the Sophia Institute for Teachers, a contributor to the Integrated Catholic Life, Crisis Magazine, The Civilized Reader, The Standard Bearers, Catholic Exchange, and a founding member of the Brinklings Literary Club.
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7 replies to this post
  1. I agree with everything this author say’s, which is why I will always use the term “pro-abortion” any time the subject might come up. This often get’s a less than cordial response, which affords me the opportunity to explain my position. A woman obviously has the “choice” of becoming pregnant or not, but once she is, what then exactly is the “choice” that must be made. However, one point I do agree with “pro-abortionists” is that abortion need not be made Illegal. Abortion is already “illegal” if you are Christian, but should Christians be imposing their morals onto non-Christians? I believe that the debate on abortion is, at the moment, mired in the “legality”. Christians might do better to concede the legal aspect so that they force the debate into the moral aspect. After all, is how the faithless dispose of their unwanted offspring a most pressing concern for Christians? Abortion, no doubt, is the most in-human crime a human can commit. A debate focused on this aspect would have a better effect on curtailing legal abortions, thusly protecting more innocent lives.

  2. George,

    What other forms of murder would you like see legalized? No, since abortion is murder, it must be illegal. It’s in the realm of legal punishment that we can make finer distinctions.

    Women who have an abortion should be treated with compassion and mercy, at least the first time. Abortionists should be treated no differently than Charles Manson or any other depraved mass murderer. We can sort out culpability among the various abortion mill employees, friends who abetted, etc. Nüremberg might be a model.

    Since I try to be pro-life consistently, I think life in prison is sufficient for the abortionists.

  3. I think that there is little doubt amongst thoughtful people that abortion is immoral. The problem arises in two aspects which are connected: the legal and the medical. Since the goal is the protection of human life, discretion may be necessary in cases where two human lives are at stake or where other medical or ethical concerns enter the picture. In a sense, this is where a concept often alluded to by Pope Francis is helpful: pastoral care. I instead of the “pro-life” vs “pro-choice” debate which constantly pits people against one another while abortion becomes common in the culture, I wonder whether there is some way to replicate the concept of pastoral care in law and through medical professionals? I remember reading Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan’s old essay on abortion. They wrote to defend Roe v. Wade as a conservative decision because it drew a line in terms of where legally defended life begins. By simply acknowledging that there is a possibility that the being in the womb at some point prior to birth is a human being with rights, Roe v Wade admits that restrictions on abortion are Constitutional and can be based on a reasonable assesmemt of where life begins. The real problem with the debate is that it has become all yelling and no caring. To talk about penalizing rather than care is problematic.

    Also: why should a woman who gets an abortion be subject to punishment but not the man? Women are more often than not the victims of men.

    I think the Pope’s line of thought on this subject – his desire to fortify the individual conscience and appreciation for life in the culture while being careful not to tread into questions of punishment is wise. Abortion is unfortunately a far more complex matter than a simple case of murder. We should of course work against it – but never at the expense of women compelled to confront it. Mercy and empathy should guide us in each case.

    • Peter I always appreciate your intelligent and thoughtful comments- in this case I have a slight disagreement with you on what I perceive to be a difference of emphasis- Of course my call in this article is for an intellectual and moral clarification and the issue of punishment is only mentioned by a few astute readers, but nonetheless, if I understood you correctly I believe your emphasis is on mercy and empathy perhaps tempered by truth and charity and my emphasis would be on truth and charity tempered by mercy and if one must add empathy for some modern reason, it may not be totally out of place. There is a dire urgency considering the true nature of what has been proliferating by the contraceptive and abortive mentalities that have been giving way to false empathy over far too many generations- by eternal, divine and natural law, if we are men of virtue, we can no longer stand idly by while so many women and children are butchered physically and spiritually. We do need to be pastoral, but we must lead with truth, not empathy.

    • Carl Sagan was a very smart man – when it came to science. On matters of morals and ethics, he was no smarter than anyone else, dumber perhaps, after all, he had a big ego and probably thought if he was brilliant at one thing then he must be brilliant at everything.

  4. Stephen, you put your finger on the key issue. Not only do physicians perform abortions, there is a wave of “sex change” operations in the US that is creating social and legal chaos. Roe v. Wade must be overturned, and the sophism of finding a “right” to an abortion under the US Constitution should be exposed as the fraud it is. Overturning Roe v. Wade will return control of abortions to the states, where it belongs. The physicians who practice this awful procedure plainly are forsworn as to their oath to do no harm. Once Roe v. Wade is thrown out the states will be free to pass or reinstate laws which should (1) permanently deprive any doctor guilty of this crime of his or her medical license and (2) send the perpetrator to prison. Feminism would have us believe that women have a “right” to an abortion, an utter fabrication. But more to the point, what “right” has a physician who has taken an oath to do no harm to PERFORM an abortion? There is none. Doctors have run amok killing unborn babies and changing boys into girls. They are making MILLIONS of dollars, profiting hugely from violations of life and nature. Such lunacy is made possible in part by the sheer power of the American Medical Association. After Roe v. Wade is overturned and state laws re-enacted, the AMA should be investigated as a promoter of such illegal and immoral conduct.

  5. It should be noted that I didn’t say the woman should be punished – I explicitly said she shouldn’t, unless she willingly repeats the act. Rather, providers should face consequences first, followed by those who aid and abet, including the father.

    Yes, I appreciate that there are levels of culpability, and I certainly would prefer to see abortion providers converted, for example, rather than punished. I believe in mercy. But a government must place a sanction on this abomination, and it has to have teeth. We’re not talking about smoking pot – this is homicide.

    Ok, I admit to being intemperate in some of my first comments. I really do want conversion and healing for all involved. But contrary to modern thought, I no longer see how a government can permit evil in the name of plurality. A society is going to force values on people of one kind or another – neutrality is a fiction. Might as well advocate for a Christian government.

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