Source: Arkansas Democrat Gazette; May 8, 2001
Greenberg: The Calloused Conscience
Infonet Note: Paul Greenberg is a Pulitzer-prize winning
syndicated columnist who writes for the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. He
won numerous awards from pro-life groups for his eloquent defense of
the U. S. House of Representatives passed an Unborn Victims Act
making it a crime to harm an unborn child in the course of an assault
the mother, it was big news, the stuff of front-page headlines. ("House
OKs fetus bill/Passage stirs outcry from abortion-rights advocates"
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Page 1, April 27, 2001.)
There is nothing so new as the old. A total of 24 states already
recognize that crimes can be committed against the unborn. Just last
February, Eric Bullock, 31, was convicted here in Arkansas under the
state's Fetal Protection Act. He was sentenced to life in prison without
parole for hiring three guys to beat up a pregnant ex-girlfriend; the
was stillborn hours after the attack.
year, the state legislature defined the fetus as a person within the
meaning of civil law - in order to include the unborn in wrongful death
actions. Which would seem only just - and common sense. Of course people
who lose a child still in the womb have suffered a great loss.
short, American law in A.D. 2001 may be catching up with an advanced
piece of jurisprudence like Exodus 21:22: "If men struggle, and
pregnant woman so that her fruit be expelled, but no harm befall her,
shall he be fined as her husband shall assess, and the matter placed
before the judges."
would deny that an awful crime is committed when the unborn are
victims of criminal acts_ Well, 172 congressmen voted against the Unborn
Victims Act. One would like to think that those votes had little to
with the merits of the bill, but were cast in the swirling context of
abortion politics, which will obscure common sense every time.
bill explicitly states that nothing in its language "shall be
construed to permit the prosecution of any person for conduct relating
an abortion for which the consent of the pregnant woman ... has been
obtained." It also exempts from prosecution any action by the woman,
or illegal, that harms her unborn child, including any form of medical
all of that was not enough for defenders of abortion rights, which
have become a kind of political sacrament. The bill's opponents depicted
it as an attack on abortion. And they're right. Because any defense
unborn is an attack on abortion. Grant the unborn their humanity,
recognize that a crime against the unborn is a crime, and the whole
structure of legal, moral and medical arguments for abortion begins
unravel. For abortion to be defended, the unborn must be treated as
long-running debate over abortion irresistibly brings to mind another
long-running controversy in American history: the one over slavery.
matter how many times opponents of slavery explained that they were
abolish it only in the territories, or just in the District of Columbia,
or in international trade, and that they had no designs on the Peculiar
Institution where it already existed, their opponents knew better.
of slavery knew that, if the slaves' humanity were recognized in
just some parts of the Union, or some parts of law, that recognition
spread and undermine the whole institution.
it is with abortion. Begin to recognize that the unborn can be victims,
and who knows where the contagion might spread_ Soon the dogma of abortion
itself might be questioned.
opponents of this bill had it right: It does indeed represent a step
down a slippery slope. For abortion to remain unquestionable, it is
imperative that not just a law protecting Unborn Victims be defeated.
very thought of the unborn as victims, as persons, must be denied. Deny
their humanity, and we can do as we will with them. See the history
slavery. Or of the European holocaust.
why this is a dispute not just over law and morals, but words.
That's why defenders of abortion will call the unborn anything but the
unborn; the word implies too much, like the possibility that they might
human. Euphemism has become their refuge and their sanctuary.
Conyers, a congressman from Michigan, understood what was at stake
here. Note the lengths to which he went to avoid using any word that
hint at the human identity of what is destroyed in an abortion:
would be the first time in the federal legal system," the
congressman warned his colleagues, "that we would begin to recognize
fertilized egg, a zygote, an embryo or a fetus. That's what this bill
trying to do."
congressman seemed to use every word except baby. And never, never
call them the unborn. For we might then recognize in them our brothers
sisters, our children, even ourselves at one point in eternity. That
why verbicide must precede feticide. If these victims are just fertilized
eggs, embryos, Untermenschen, we can do with them as we will. Conscience
need not enter into it.
doctor who no longer does abortions, David Brewer, once explained that
"we have to be trained to be against life." He recalled going
to a clinic
"to learn about abortion. After all, abortion was just applying
technique of a D&C to a woman who was in a little different stage
so the young resident did as he was told: He watched the material come
down the plastic tube and emptied the reddish contents of the little
onto a blue towel - to make sure the doctor had got it all:
opened the sock up and I put it on the towel and there were parts in
there of a person. I'd taken anatomy; I was a medical student. I knew
I was looking at. There was a little scapula and there was an arm,
and I saw some ribs and a chest, and I saw a little tiny head, and I
piece of a leg, and I saw a tiny hand. ... I checked it out and there
two arms and two legs and one head, etc., and I turned and said, I guess
you got it all ... ."
was pretty awful that first time, he said - "it was like somebody
hot poker into me." But there was a second, a third time, and each
got easier. It's the way we become accustomed to evil - a little at
is seldom the result of some one, single, conscious decision. We grow
into it. Until the conscience is nicely calloused, and no impediment
all. So long as we don't call things by their right names, we're safe.
It's only when we do - a baby, the unborn, a human life - that we are
danger of awaking.