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How President Obama can help America open its eyes

January 28, 2009
A Clash of Cultures
Whatever your thoughts are about President Bush, most will agree that he has been a faithful advocate for the unborn. As pro-lifers we can celebrate and appreciate this contribution. However, the danger in this arrangement is that it is easy to doze off when we trust the one at the wheel. No longer: a clash of cultures is on its way, and whatever the outcome, it will have the advantageous effect of forcing everyone to look. When this happens there are indications that we will have the advantage. No one can look directly at abortion and go unscathed. Either hearts will
harden, or they will break—most will break.
Conflicting Beliefs Cannot be Maintained
Analysis of current public opinion reveals a precarious balance of conflicting beliefs. More Americans consider themselves pro-choice than pro-life (51% v. 43%), and yet they also consider abortion morally wrong (51% v. 40%) and believe that live begins at conception. Most also believe that there should be more restrictions on abortion, and yet they are in favor of upholding Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. As Jeff Jacoby writes in his article “Roe and Doe, 36 Years Later,” these two positions are irreconcilable. “Taken together, Roe and Doe meant that abortion could not be barred at any stage of a pregnancy… the result has been 36 years of abortion on demand at any stage of pregnancy.”

How does one sustain beliefs that are at odds? In our society, issues such as the economy, terrorism, and health care have taken center stage. Polls show a widespread ambivalence and ignorance about abortion policy. It’s no wonder then that we hold these conflicting opinions regarding abortion, for it is easy to be incoherent about topics we don’t even think about. With the debates resurrected by Obama’s radical positions, Americans will be forced to think about the issue once again.

Trends Toward Life
The most encouraging trend we see today is that young people are significantly more pro-life than older Americans. This helps explain the trend of declining abortion rates (after all, aging feminists are not the ones getting pregnant). Currently, one if five pregnancies end in abortion. This number may seem astonishingly high, but is the lowest level seen since the 1970’s. There are several explanations for this, which can be explored later. Whatever the reason, I see it as a product of the grace of God, that instead of allowing our consciences to be seared, He has left in us the seed of conviction to hear His call for justice. As Reagan wrote in his 1986 proclamation, “[after the passing of Roe V. Wade] there were those who predicted confidently that in time Americans would come to accept the Court’s decision and the ‘new ethic’ that it reflects. History has proved them wrong. Each year the terrible toll of more than a million innocent human lives has weighed more heavily on the conscience of America.”

Already the election of President Obama has rallied pro-lifers to action. Despite most Americans still not knowing what “FOCA” is, the online petition to oppose it has already gathered over a 600,000 signatures in a few short months.The annual March for Life event at the capitol had a hugely successful turnout (estimates range from 100,000-300,000 in Washington D.C. alone) We would not be seeing this reaction had McCain been elected. This is not a justification for voting for pro-choice candidates, but it is an acknowledgement that our Lord has the divine prerogative of accomplishing His purpose through any leader.

The Work of Agitation
A beautiful thing about America is that we do not need to wait for our leaders to solve problems. Legal change is a necessary step, but it is only one step. Before we have any hope of getting laws changed, we need to awaken the sleeping conscience of a nation.

The emancipation proclamation was necessary for the ending of slavery, but it would not have been possible without the 86 years of stirring and agitation that preceded it. It was during the administration of Andrew Jackson, a southern slave owner, that the young editor William Lloyd Garrison sparked the fire of abolition across the nation. He understood the purifying work of agitation: “talking will create zeal—zeal, opposition—opposition will drive men to inquiry—inquiry will induce conviction—conviction will lead to action—action will demand union—and then will follow victory.” He did not wait for a political savior to fight his fight, and some argue that without Garrison, there would not have been Lincoln, at least not in the same ideological form that we recognize him today.

Looking at Abortion
We can go for days, months and years without remembering the missing 15-percent, but millions of Americans don’t have that luxury. They are the living memorials, the wounded souls, mothers and fathers struck with the realization of what they have done. We will not fully appreciate the destructive nature of the culture of death until we hear their story. I reached a new hatred of abortion this week as I listened to an interview with a brave woman named Angele. Her story is depicted in the new short film, 22 Weeks. After being raped, she was pressured by her family to terminate the resulting pregnancy. She made an appointment at a local clinic for a two-part abortion procedure. Although she took the medication and thought she received the shot, something went wrong: many hours past by, but she could still feel her baby kick. Angele returned to the clinic, alarmed and full of second thoughts. Instead of meeting with a doctor, she was ushered into a blood spattered waiting room. When the contractions got closer, she was told by a “nurse” to move to the restroom. There, alone, she gave birth to her five month old son in a toilet bowl. Without receiving any medical assistance, Baby Rowan died soon after the botched abortion. Telling the story after all these years still causes her to tremble.

Although I didn’t want to look, Angele helped give me a glimpse of what abortion truly is. Reverend Pavone writes, “America will not reject abortion until America sees abortion.” With the election of Barack Obama, this issue has a rising platform on which to be seen. Now is the time for America to open its eyes.

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