On Roe and Motives

Roe v. Wade has now been overturned by the Supreme Court, and predictably, there are people who are thankful and happy that this has happened–I am among that number–and others who decry the decision. We knew this was coming, and so it’s no surprise to anyone. Some who support the decision have reacted inappropriately; I have zero desire to “in your face” my response, and any sense of gloating is completely out of place. Further, anyone supporting the decision who thinks that this is the end needs to rethink things; in many respects, it’s just the beginning, because the onus is on us to demonstrate love to those affected by this decision (more on that later).

Here’s the thing that I find annoying from some on the left: the idea that those of us who are pro-life “don’t really care about the unborn babies”, but (for many, at least) it’s “all about control”. Let’s break this down a bit, shall we?

First, it’s presumptuous to say this, because while I can judge what you do, I have no ability to say definitively what motivated you to do it: period.

Second, it’s unfair. Imagine a pro-lifer saying, “I know why you are pro-choice; you just really relish the idea of a 6-month-old fetus feeling the pain of getting torn limb from limb in a suction abortion.” That would be a grotesque, unfair, preposterous assertion to make…but why is that any different from your assuming you understand MY motives in being pro-life?

Third, about the “control” thing. This is a talking point invented by some pro-choice person decades ago to attempt to explain what they can’t (or don’t want to) understand. It conveniently ignores the fact that a significant portion of pro-lifers (and a higher percentage of pro-life leaders) are themselves women. No explanation is offered, of course, for this inconvenient truth. For my part, I’ve been involved in the pro-life movement, in various ways, for decades. Wouldn’t you think that, if it were about “controlling women”, I’d have actually had that thought (I never have). Wouldn’t you think that there’d be some discussion among us pro-lifers of that desire to control? I’ve never heard anything approaching that…not even ONCE. Sure seems to be a pretty disorganized “conspiracy” to me, based on those things.

Fourth, the idea is suggested that “if it really were about the sanctity of life, pro-lifers would…and then a list of things is given (and denied that these things take place). Except that the evidence runs completely counter to this assertion. Pro-lifers spend time, money, and effort to support crisis pregnancy centers (and now, courageous people–mainly women–man these centers, despite threats of fire-bombing from the terrorist fringe of the pro-choice movement). Pro-lifers adopt. Pro-lifers foster. Pro-lifers do many things within their power to support children, and it’s simply a canard to suggest otherwise.

When it comes down to it, though, what we are currently seeing from the left is exactly the same bad-faith thing we sometimes see from the right: it’s the idea that “if you don’t agree with me, your motives must be wrong, and/or you are a bad person.” Think about this with me…first, as I said above, it’s presumptuous; when you say things like this, you make the tacit assumption that you can read minds and know the motives of others, and that your opponents are absolutely wrong (and your side is absolutely right). Which of course makes such thinking, second, really pretty arrogant: “me and my team are right on this, and we won’t even consider the idea that we might be wrong, or even that the truth might be more complicated than as to fit neatly within my thinking”. When you think about it, it’s a bit Trumpian; “everyone who disagrees with me, or doesn’t do as I desire, is a bad or weak or worthless person.” Third, it’s lazy; it’s a lot easier to think of your opponent as a bad person than to respectfully seek to understand what he/she thinks, and then debate from a position of honesty and integrity both your opponent’s points and your own. We are awash in lazy thinking, crossing political and ideological boundaries, and this is just one example.

It’s this type of thinking that is killing decent discourse, and it’s no more acceptable when it comes from the left than when it comes from the right.

What do I, as a pro-lifer, think of pro-choice people? I think that, by-and-large (and I use that qualifier nearly every time I offer an opinion such as this), pro-choice people genuinely care about women facing problem pregnancies. I believe that pro-choice people genuinely want to help. I believe that they are capable of showing great compassion and sacrificial concern. In other words, it’s not their motives I question.

Where we differ is our understanding of what it means to really help, and particularly, of what abortion entails. And if I believed that the issue only involved women’s bodies, as pro-choicers do, I would agree with them. But the fact that I believe that there are two lives involved (not counting the father) changes the equation for me–and no amount of “choicesplaining” can deny the fact that the pro-life movement exists because we share this belief.

I promised “more on that later” regarding the importance of demonstrating love. One of my (assumedly pro-choice) friends posted that if we weren’t going to have Roe as the law of the land, we needed to hold the men who impregnate women responsible for the lives they helped create. THIS SHOULD ABSOLUTELY BE THE CASE, and it provides at least one area of common ground (if we will choose to seize it). My friend appreciated me saying it, by the way. Those initiatives that Christians have been involved in for a long time (mentioned above) should be increased. And since it has been shown that one thing that clearly encourages young ladies away from abortion is the assurance that they’ll be able to have the funds to support their children. As such, I’m willing–and this is hard for me as a fiscal conservative–to consider Mitt Romney’s idea of providing payments to parents of children. If it’ll keep precious children alive, it’s worthy of strong consideration. For goodness’ sake, if we can find common ground as Americans, let’s do it.

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