Our life ethic and our desire to stand for the most vulnerable in our society will determine the course of our future. I do not wish to over-dramatize our current societal norms, but I do believe we have reached a precipice.
One would not have to venture too far into a history book to see why our life ethic matters. We could look back to the 16, 17, and 1800s at slavery in the United States, the 1930s and 40s at the Holocaust in Europe, or 1973 until present day at the abortion epidemic. These atrocities span centuries, but their commonalities are clear and are directly linked to a societal view of life and personhood.
We reflect back today on a battered country that faced off in civil war and rightly proclaim the days of slavery as some of America’s darkest. We can easily read a historical account of Adolph Hitler’s slaughtering of Jews and recognize the barbaric acts of the Nazis. These views are no longer refuted by mainstream society or academia.
We can all agree that targeting and ultimately voiding a segment of the population of their personhood due to one’s race or ethnicity is wrong and should be widely condemned. This is true in every case, it seems, except when it involves the unborn.
It is here where our society continues to struggle with the truth. The ruling and subsequent legalizing of abortion in 1973 codified the dehumanization of a segment of our population.
We need to marinate in that thought for a moment…
This may be difficult for some to hear, but we must come to grips with this simple fact. Black lives, blue lives, white lives, and every life in between will not truly matter until life in the womb matters.
This is not a political statement. This is a life-ethic statement. Value will never be properly bestowed on a population if we fail to recognize where that population actually began.
Many were silent during the time of slavery because they didn’t believe in the personhood of a black man or woman. We saw this same silence during the Holocaust. Many refused to see a Jewish person as a human deserving of respect and dignity.
I look back on these historical truths in complete astonishment. How could we have been so naive? How could we have allowed for fellow citizens to be targeted, demonized, and extinguished? Sure, fear drove some of this, but denial drove most of it.
Yet, here we are in 2017 looking back over 43 years to almost 60 million lives lost to abortion. We have, again, allowed a segment of our population, although this time not based on race or ethnicity, to be voided of personhood.
We have masked our silence in platitudes about “clumps of cells” or “women’s health,” but the truth is quite clear. Regardless of what medical journals, scientific analyses, or religious texts say, we are comfortable with limiting personhood to those of us who make it out of the womb alive.
Voiding personhood from a segment of the populous does not negate their true value. We tried that in the 16, 17, and 1800s and in the 1930s and 40s and now we look back in horror at the damage we caused.
I do not write to provoke outrage or to dangle “red meat” into the highly volatile political discourse of today. Instead, I simply want us to be willing to recognize the commonalities in our behavior and the hypocrisy in our rhetoric.
I believe that history will prove that our laws and court decisions on abortion were misguided and obtuse to reality. Millions of lives have been lost and millions more affected by the false sense of reality that somehow a baby in the womb is not a person.
We have come a long way since 1973, but there is still yet much to do. I pray we would grapple with this very real issue, notice the blind spots in our own lives, and recognize that lives literally depend on our reaction and our steps forward.
posted by Andrew Wood, Executive Director of Hope Resource Center