Is it possible to be liberal and pro-life?
Not according to most pro-choice advocates.
They argue that no liberal is a good liberal unless she or he supports the "woman's right to choose."
The truth is, there are thousands - perhaps even millions - of liberals who oppose abortion. Good liberals.
I'm one of them. From the time I supported John F. Kennedy for president, I have steadfastly promoted liberal causes: civil rights, the school lunch program, equal pay for women, day care, guaranteed health care for all Americans, and empowerment programs for the homeless, the unemployed, the poor. I have also supported the cause of the unborn. Like the homeless, the unemployed and the poor, they are disenfranchised, powerless, unable to speak for themselves.
But are the unborn really human?
There are two possibilities: Either the fetus developing in the womb is a human being, or it is a blob of protoplasm. There can be no in-between. There can be no half-humans.
If pro-choice advocates can prove that a fetus at any stage of development is not human, then their position becomes the correct one. But if they cannot furnish such proof, then the pro-life position becomes correct one.
Consider the following analogy.
A hunter in the woods spots a moving object in heavy brush. Although he's almost certain it's a deer, he realizes there's a one in a thousand chance it could be a human being. Nevertheless, he fires a round at the object, not wanting to miss an opportunity. Has he committed a wrong?
Moral theologians of any religion - Moslem, Jewish, Christian, Hindu - would answer yes. The hunter was not certain, after all, that his target was not human. If there was a 1 in 1,000 chance that the target was human - or a 1 in 1 billion chance that it was human - the hunter could not fire under humankind's prevailing moral law. He could not even fire if there was a 1 in 1 trillion chance that the target was human.
Why is it, then, that a fetus - which even many pro-choicers believe could be human - does not receive the same respect? Why is that a fetus is so often reduced to the status of "blob"
The reason, I believe, is that the leaders of our society have arrogated unto themselves a kind of "benign moral pragmatism" that bases decisions not on what is right or wrong but on how the decisions affect individuals negatively or positively. Thus:
If abortion rescues a poor woman from the struggle of child-rearing - or a rich woman from social embarrassment - it must be good. Likewise, if abortion prevents the birth of a deformed child - or helps prevent overpopulation - it is the right thing to do.
Sadly thousands of our legislators embrace such specious arguments, some of them for political gain, and many of our judges follow their example.
Because no one has ever come forward with conclusive proof that a fetus is not a human being, I believe abortion is wrong in every instance. There can be no justifying it, just as there can be no justifying the action of the hunter in the woods.
America would do better to abandon pro-choice legislation in favor of pro-people legislation that strengthens child-care and adoptions programs that seek to improve the lot of the medically, socially and educationally deprived and underprivileged.
That is the real mission of liberalism: to provide for and protect the least and most defenseless of God's creatures, not eliminate them.
Mike Cummings can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org