David Harsanyi on abortion, religion and reason:
It had me wondering: How many Americans avoid an honest look at the abortion issue because of the cultural dimensions of the debate. How many Americans instinctively turn to the pro-choice camp because pro-life proponents aggravate their secular sensibilities?
As Nat Hentoff, the noted civil libertarian journalist, once remarked, when he turned pro-life, his cohorts at the Village Voice wondered when he had "converted to Catholicism — the only explanation they could think of for my apostasy."
It's unfortunate that abortion is a social issue, because it is science and reason that can turn the debate.
When a pregnant woman in my Denver neighborhood was recently struck by a hit-and-run driver, she tragically lost her child. Throughout the area, there was an outpouring of support and sadness. Some wondered if the assailant should be charged with manslaughter. Or would it be murder?
A few commented — in appropriate company — that had it been a few weeks younger, a doctor could have performed a surgical procedure on that fetus and terminated the life and there would be no grieving.
Fact is, if the mother had displayed sufficient mental anguish, she could have taken the drive up to Boulder that day and visited Warren Hern, a late-term abortionist, who could have called that "baby" a "fetus" — a linguistic substitution with profound consequences for at least one human being — and put an end to the entire arrangement.
Does life really begin on the say-so of a single person — even the mother? Does her position or mental state change what a fetus is or is not? That kind of elastic calculation grinds against reason. Even our intuitive reaction to motherhood agrees. As OB/GYN and Texas Congressman Ron Paul once explained, "People ask an expectant mother how her baby is doing. They do not ask how her fetus is doing, or her blob of tissue, or her parasite."
In the past, religious groups and individuals have been the primary drivers behind the pro-life cause. As Harsanyi notes, those of a more secular bent have often been uncomfortable dealing with a central paradox of abortion: somethimes you call it a fetus and kill it and sometimes you call it a baby and afford it the protections you would a child. While they may continue to reject the religious arguments for being pro-life, if these secular folks are truly open to reason and science (as most would claim) they're going to have a harder and harder time continuing to support the logical house of cards that abortion on demand is presently based on.