By BRIAN CLOWES
(Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of session 6 of The Pro-Life Basic Training Program, “Winning Pro-Life Debates,” which shows how to debunk the 40 most common pro-abortion slogans, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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“Abortion is the greatest destroyer of peace today. Because if a mother can kill her own child, what is left for me to kill you and you to kill me? There is nothing between!” — Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.
Pro-abortionists sometimes allege that pro-lifers are concerned only about preborn children but are perfectly willing to send other people’s sons and daughters to far distant nations to die in order to support “United States aggression and imperialism.” This is a subset of the general charge that we are only interested in protecting children until they are born, but don’t care about them afterward.
These statements are the most scarlet of pro-abortion “red herrings.” During any discussion or debate on abortion, a pro-abortionist will attempt to change the subject over and over again in his attempts to distract attention away from the bloody and brutal nature of abortion.
War is one of the more popular distractions they use, and this can be an advantage.
To begin with, we can say that war and abortion are first cousins, similar in many ways. War kills thousands of people in a short time. Abortion kills thousands of people one at a time — every day. War destroys economies. So does abortion. War wounds many people. So does abortion.
The primary difference between the two is this: Abortion is always an unjust and immoral act of aggression against the helpless, but war can be conducted in a way that is either just or unjust.
Pro-lifers tend to think of abortion as a steady and efficient extermination of the unwanted. It is carried out behind closed doors, and few notice the carnage. There are no aircraft roaring overhead. There are no grim-faced soldiers rushing up hillsides. There are no devastated cities and blasted forests.
But abortion is a war that dwarfs any other war that has gone before. Abortion is far more devastating than any armed conflict. Surgical and medical abortions have claimed more than two billion lives worldwide in the last half-century. This is equivalent to one out of every four people on Earth, more fatalities than all of the world’s wars, all of its hunger, all of its diseases, and all of its accidents have killed. By comparison, all wars fought and all campaigns of genocide in the world during the same time have killed only one-thirtieth as many people.
Europe, which has survived and flourished after a dozen major wars, is now dying due to uncontrolled abortion and universal contraception, which has led to a birthrate that is far below replacement. Here in the United States, abortion is killing Black preborn babies at a rate two and one-half times higher than that of white babies.
In summary, abortion is the most devastating plague to strike mankind since the beginning of time. And the bitter irony of it all is that it is an entirely self-inflicted epidemic.
The Terrible Cost of War. Most people oppose war because of its hideous cost in lives, mangled bodies and minds, and money.
Sometimes it does seem as if our country has been continuously at war since its founding. The United States has lost about 1.14 million soldiers in all of its wars since the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. Another 1.63 million have been seriously wounded, and we have spent a staggering $21.4 trillion (adjusted for inflation) on defense since 1973.
During the same time span, we have killed 55.7 million preborn children by abortion, or 50 times as many people as have been killed in all of our wars since 1776. Since 7,292 military personnel have been killed in wars since 1973, this means that, for every soldier who has died, abortion has killed 7,600 other human beings!
Additionally, in terms of lost productivity and taxes, abortion currently costs the United States more than four times what our national defense budget does.
The direct loss of life caused by 55.7 million abortions far exceeds that of all of America’s wars combined — from the Revolutionary War to the current conflicts — not only in preborn baby deaths and injuries to women, but in lost wages, consumed services and goods, and taxes, totaling approximately 208 trillion dollars ($208,000,000,000,000).
This means that anyone who opposes the huge bite national defense takes out of our national budget must also oppose the crippling economic effects of abortion in order to be consistent.
In their eternal search for hypocrisy in everyone but themselves, some pro-abortionists seem to think that it is their business to define what a pro-lifer is. They sometimes allege that a person simply cannot be “truly pro-life” if he or she in any way supports a strong national defense. But they deliberately obscure the central points of the comparison.
Most important, the intentions behind abortion and justly conducted warfare are fundamentally different. Abortion is a pure act of aggression that seeks to kill innocent and helpless human beings primarily for social and economic reasons. In a just war, a legitimate authority seeks to destroy purely military targets, including troops who are trained to defend themselves.
Second, the intention of a just war is to defend one’s fellow countrymen, or those who cannot defend themselves, and only when all other measures have broken down. Abortion is usually chosen to preserve one’s lifestyle, and abortion is always an offensive, not a defensive act.
We can imagine a rejoinder to those who equate war and abortion: “We’re not pro-war. Nobody is ‘pro-war.’ We’re pro-choice. We realize that war is a tragic situation, and sometimes nations get into tough situations and have no other option. You shouldn’t condemn those nations that exercise their right to defend themselves in a difficult situation. That is being judgmental and uncompassionate. The issue here is not war — it is whether or not countries will have the right to choose that option or have that right taken away from them by legislation. If you are against war, well then, don’t be a soldier and don’t participate in them.”
Some will say that, if a defensive war is just, then abortion for self-defense is also just. Frances Kissling of Catholics for [a Free] Choice said:
“For example, the just war theory accepts the taking of human life if one’s own life or that of another is directly threatened. A just abortion theory would therefore permit a woman whose life was in danger to have an abortion — an act now prohibited by church law. Just war theory has also accepted that war can be warranted to protect a nation’s integrity…could not a just abortion theory admit that threats to a woman’s physical and emotional health are a violation of bodily integrity comparable to national integrity?”
This is a typical example of deliberate pro-abortion misrepresentation of the principle of “double effect,” whereby a surgical procedure may be performed in order to save a woman’s life if all other lifesaving measures have been exhausted, even if it can be foreseen that the preborn baby will mostly likely die as a result. This is not an abortion, whose purpose is to kill the child; a surgical removal of a Fallopian tube in the case of an ectopic pregnancy, for example, has as its purpose the saving of the life of the mother.
Kissling seems not to have read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states that a nation may legitimately defend itself if the damage caused by an aggressor is expected to be “lasting, grave and certain,” and if all other means of dealing with the situation have been exhausted. This is certainly not the case with 97 percent of abortions carried out in the United States, as we have previously seen. The Catechism also states that “the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.”
In the case of abortion, the death of a child is certainly a greater evil than the evils to be eliminated, i.e., economic hardship, embarrassment, etc.
Not “Just Another Issue”
Some groups try to make the case that abortion is “just another issue,” co-equal with many others, including war, environmental concerns, women’s rights, and so on. But this is not true; if we are deprived of the right to life, no other rights matter.
When he was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger wrote that “not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. . . . There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”
Make no mistake: War is horrible, but abortion is worse. We cringe when an innocent bystander dies during war; but all of the preborn children who die at the hands of abortionists are innocent.