Can You Handle the Truth?

Any guess as to the leading cause of death?

Heart disease… cancer… smoking… obesity?

Not even close. At over 56 million deaths annually, the worldwide loss of life from abortion exceeds that of the top ten leading causes of death combined. Half of those—roughly 28 million deaths—are from legal abortions.

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Twenty-eight million people. That exceeds the population of Australia. Imagine, a whole country, no, continent, exterminated each year, legally. It is genocide of an unprecedented scale.

Just over the last forty years, abortion has claimed the lives of nearly two billion unborn children—the world population only a century ago. That this has proceeded for so long with little sign of abating is a testimony to our ability to close our eyes to the truth. (The blindness of U.S. legislators in the recent blockage of a pro-life Senate bill that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks is a case in point.)

When groups like the World Health Organization report abortion deaths they only include those of women tabulated according to “safe” (read: legal) and “unsafe” procedures. That’s because their stated goal is not the reduction of abortion, but its expanded legalization, to make it, safer.

But legal or not, abortion is never safe for the central party involved. Instead, our abortive culture has made the mother’s womb, nature’s incubator for new life, the most dangerous place on earth. Liberal reaction to this reality, reminds me of one of the most memorable lines in film: “You can’t handle the truth!”

Colonel Nathan R. Jessep’s fulmination in A Few Good Men (1992) could be fittingly directed at the lifestyle left. For when confronted with scientific and moral truths, it responds with suppression, denial, and Orwellian reasoning.

What Is It?
Initially, the pro-choice movement was able to suppress the true nature of abortion by branding the embryo/fetus “a mass of tissue,” “clump of cells,” even “a disease.” It was the woman’s body and the woman’s, and only the woman’s, choice. The strategy was successful, swaying popular sentiments for decades. Then the science got out.

Advances in prenatal sonography showed visually what had been known medically all along: the uterine object was not “the mother’s body,” or a part of the mother’s body, but a distinct and unique human being in the mother’s body (made possible, of course, by a third party, the father, whose parental contribution had no legal standing in the mother’s right to choose).

Once it became public that every abortion ends a human life, the choice lobby pulled a rhetorical finesse: “Sure, the embryo/fetus is human; but it is not a person. And only persons are entitled to universal human rights.”

As to when “personhood” is so endowed, the answer, given a woman’s inviolable right of choice, is, and can only be, “When the mother says it is,” as one advocate candidly offered. Princeton ethicist Peter Singer would heartily agree, and push that “when” out to the fuzzy “whenever.”

Singer knows that once society sanctions the killing of human beings, any restriction related to stage of development or decline is strictly arbitrary. It’s a point he makes persuasively at college campuses across the country arguing for infanticide and euthanasia.

While Singer carries the logic of abortion to its natural, if repulsive, end, the party of choice avoids it, pooh-poohing social conservatives for overwrought concerns based on slippery slope scenarios. And that, despite our already breathtaking progress down the moral mudslide.

Indeed, who would have believed it possible, forty years ago, that a woman could legally abort her child not because of its health or her health, but because of the child’s sex? Stunningly, a bill banning such abortions was rejected by the U.S. House of Representatives just a few years ago. More on that in a moment.

A Rule Without Exception
As initially argued, legalized abortion was for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, or that presented a significant health risk to the mother—in other words, for a very limited set of conditions. For example, according to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, less than 1 percent of abortions involve rape and incest, and only 4 percent involve concerns over maternal health.

When you consider that prior to Roe v. Wade most states allowed abortion to save a mother’s life, legalization would have extended to a few percent of cases, at most.

Despite that, or because of it, the definition of “health” handed down in the companion decision, Doe v. Bolton, became so broad that abortion could be justified for any reason that inconvenienced the mother.

Consequently, today over 95 percent of abortions are performed for reasons unrelated to those original, highly exceptional cases—such as, not wanting children, wanting to postpone children, concerns over finances, unmarried, strained relationship with partner, disruption to career/education, or avoiding social stigma.

Blaise Pascal, once said, “[You] make a rule of exception … from this exception you make a rule without exception, so that you do not even want the rule to be exceptional.” In the same way, legalized abortion, which was intended for exceptional cases, quickly became a rule for which no exception would be excluded.

Consider the 2012 dust-up over sex-selective abortions.

Buck Up
The Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act, which would have banned gender-based abortions, created a split among choicers. Some leaned in favor of the ban. Morally-conflicted with sex-selective abortion, they reasoned that the ban wouldn’t adversely affect the Cause since the practice was rare, at least in the U.S. Others feared that if the movement blinks on this issue, it will soon find itself in full retreat.

Over at Slate, managing editor Allison Benedikt realized what was at stake. Any hesitation over sex-selective abortion, she warned “makes it that much easier for so many of those other reasons (money, timing, work) to seem a little not-OK too.” Then, cutting to the chase, Benedikt asked, “If [we] object to aborting because of the sex of the fetus, aren’t we then saying that abortion is ‘murdering’ girls?”

To those in her readership feeling a touch queasy over this, Benedikt advised, “Gulp for a second if you must, then get over it.” Because the only thing relevant in the sacred right of choice “is that it’s entirely irrelevant why a woman wants an abortion.”

Are we clear on that? Crystal.

War On Whom?
For Benedikt and her ilk, anything restricting abortion or requiring mandatory waiting periods, parental notification, or ultrasounds are “anti-women.” It is part of a narrative that they are fond to frame as the “War on Women.” That gets several things wrong.

First, women make up one-half of the pro-life movement, and tend to have stronger pro-life views than men. For instance, according to Gallup, 44 percent of women self-identify as pro-life with 24 percent believing that abortion should be “illegal in all circumstances.” That compares to 46 percent and 19 percent, respectively, for men. So, nearly half of the nation’s women are waging a war against themselves. Seriously?

Second, girls are preferentially aborted over boys. The U.N. estimates that up to 200 million girls have been victims of sex-selective abortion. Thus, it is pro-abortion, rather than anti-abortion, policies that are “anti-women.”

Last, and most important, the real war here is the War on Children who have suffered two billion casualties and counting. That is a difficult truth to handle, especially for people whose lives have been devoted to waging that war. When the truth comes knocking, they can admit it, ignore it, or, like Melaney Linton, “exchange it for a lie.”

A Sacred Duty
When Melaney Linton took over as head of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, she called her work, “a sacred duty.” Considering that Linton oversees 12,000 abortions a year, her work, contrary to her exalted description, is an evil worthy of Joseph Goebbels. Nevertheless, Linton is not alone in sacramentalizing mass-scale pedicide.

In 1992, feminist author Ginette Paris made the argument for “The Sacrament of Abortion,” in a book by that same name. As Paris sees it, “Our culture needs new rituals as well as laws to restore abortion to its sacred dimension, which is both terrible and necessary … a sacrifice to Artemis … a sacrament for the gift of life to remain pure.”

A sacrifice to Artemis? A sacrifice to Molech is how it strikes me.

I’m sure the enlightened caste, of which Melaney Linton and Ginette Paris are proud members, would roundly condemn the ritualized murder of children by ancient civilizations. That they would call “sacred” the same done by the hands of modern physicians is chillingly Orwellian.

Yet, for those fleeing the truth, the dystopian shores of Oceania are always ready to greet them.

Editor’s note: Pictured above is a still from the iconic scene in A Few Good Men (1992) starring Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, and Jack Nicholson as Colonel Nathan R. Jessep.


  • Regis Nicoll

    Regis Nicoll is a retired nuclear engineer and a fellow of the Colson Center who writes commentary on faith and culture. He is the author of Why There Is a God: And Why It Matters.

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