A New View on the Abortion Debate
by Ralph Tobias
President Obama’s nomination of Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius has reopened the ever-simmering abortion kettle. Catholic League President Bill Donohue+ calls her an “enemy of the unborn”, while the liberal group “Catholics United” has come to her defense, saying Sebelius, a devout Catholic, has taken several steps to lower the abortion rate in her state. While involvement of religious organizations in the debate is to be expected, it’s unfortunate that we, as Americans, have allowed the discussion to gather moss in that quagmire. After all, regardless of an argument’s validity in that arena, the stalemate always becomes “Well, that’s what YOU believe.” And many people just dismiss religion outright. But is there an area where we can all find common ground? Is it possible to keep religion completely out of it and still come to a rational, concrete conclusion? I say it is, and this conclusion has everything to do with who we are and who we don’t want to become.
To my knowledge, of the tens of billions of opportunities throughout history no human being has ever given birth to anything but another human being. The scales of probability are heavily skewed in that direction: when a human pregnancy comes to term – avoiding any discussion whatsoever of when life actually begins – the offspring is always human. This is a 100% probability. No woman has ever given birth to an elephant, a palm tree, a cockroach, a chimpanzee, or anything else but one of her own kind. This being the irrefutable truth, I believe we should be able to agree that terminating pregnancy equates to destroying human potential. And if this is the case, when in this country has it been acceptable to destroy human potential? Not to be inflammatory, but is this a legacy we really want to share with Nazi Germany?
Now, you’ll notice that this position totally avoids any debate over when life begins. I like that. There are few things more paralyzing to a debate between two opposing sides than religion and politics. This position avoids both. There is no reason we as Americans can’t put aside our egos and party politics in order to see this thing for what it really is – preserving human potential. No doubt this position will not sit well with some, but that doesn’t change the facts. We had better shed our ostrich feathers and deal with a reality no one can refute. And while we’re at it, let’s discard the unfortunate labels we insist on using. Are pro-choice people really anti-life? Are pro-lifers opposed to freedom of choice? I don’t think so. These labels are foolish and unnecessary. And they just get in the way of healthy discussion.