Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

It's time for an honest argument on abortion

Pope Francis, in a historic address before a joint meeting of Congress last Thursday, cited the Golden Rule in order to remind us of our “responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.” It was to this thinly veiled allusion to abortion that our elected officials clapped enthusiastically, many of them only two days removed from voting against a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

One of those in attendance was Vice President Joe Biden, a devout Catholic who adheres to Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life–kind of. During the 2012 Vice Presidential debate, he notably said, “I accept my Church’s position on abortion…Life begins at conception…I accept that position in my personal life. But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians, and Muslims and Jews…I do not believe we have a right to tell women they can’t control their body.”

It’s exactly this kind of rhetoric that has become increasingly popular in America as truth becomes relativized and religious beliefs are encouraged to remain at home. The result? Tip-toeing around issues, taking great care to avoid committing the newest unpardonable sin: imposing your beliefs on others.

This “sin”, of imposing beliefs on others, has quickly surpassed that of taking away a life. But the very statement is inherently self-defeating. The statement, “It is wrong to impose beliefs on others,” is itself a belief being imposed upon the intended recipient. The belief that it’s wrong to impose beliefs on others by its own logic proscribes you from trying to convince anyone of it. So the question then ultimately boils down to not, will a belief be imposed, but whose belief will be imposed.

And to divorce personal belief from political action is not only intellectually dishonest but also increasingly costly when considering whether or not unborn children deserve to be protected.

And that’s why it’s time for those of us who believe that life begins at conception to make an honest argument. Because if life does begin at conception, then by our very own standards life in the womb deserves and demands the same level of defense that we would provide lives outside the womb. To believe that life begins at conception (or at any other point inside the womb), and then to say, “I believe that abortion is wrong, but it’s not my place to impose that belief on others,” is the moral equivalent of saying, “I believe that murder is wrong, but it’s not my place to tell others they shouldn’t.”

Indeed to claim to care about life while turning a blind eye to abortion is to ignore an ongoing and celebrated mass murder that has taken 55 million lives in the United States alone in the past 42 years. 55 million–roughly the modern day equivalent of wiping out the entire populations of California and New York.

Recognizing the futility of arguing against life, the abortion rights adherents on the left have attempted to rephrase abortion as exclusively a women’s choice issue. Women, the argument goes, have a right to their bodies and have the right to make choices regarding their reproductive health. I wholeheartedly agree.

But the equation changes with the introduction of another life. We as a society have a rich history of appropriately recognizing the limitations of choices when those choices infringe upon the rights of others. Similarly, we must recognize that this is not exclusively a “women’s reproductive rights” issue; this is a right to life issue. We must unequivocally and categorically deny and reject the notion that any right that a woman or man has (except their own right to life) trumps a child’s right to life. A woman’s right to make choices concerning her body does not extend to the ability to choose to destroy the body of a child.

So for those of us who do believe that life begins at conception and yet recoil at the notion of “imposing” that belief upon others, consider at least that those who disagree with us are already imposing their beliefs on others, only upon those who don’t have a chance to fight back, those who need an advocate to fight on their behalf.

For how long can we stand idly by and hold our hands up in innocence while continuing to live down the street from clinics that kill 1.2 million unborn children a year, where unborn human beings are being dismembered before we look at our own hands and realize them to be blood-stained as well.

Will Leathers is a sophomore majoring in management information systems. His column runs biweekly. 

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