Monday, July 19, 2010

You can take abortion out of the back alley, but you can't take the back alley out of abortion

Albert Mohler and Mary Rose Somarriba offer extensive reflections on a recent New York Times Magazine feature on "The New Abortion Providers." As support for abortion is declining in the United States, so is the number of medical professionals offering abortion "services." Conscientious younger OB-GYNs are not following in the footsteps of their older predecessors. The trend has thrown abortion advocates into full damage control mode, forcing them to start a campaign for new recruits. Writing for the Times, reporter Emily Bazelon tries to put a smiley face on an increasingly moribund industry that, nearly forty years after Roe v. Wade, has still not been fully welcomed into the mainstream of the American medical profession.
This abortion-rights campaign, led by physicians themselves, is trying to recast doctors, changing them from a weak link of abortion to a strong one. Its leaders have built residency programs and fellowships at university hospitals, with the hope that, eventually, more and more doctors will use their training to bring abortion into their practices. The bold idea at the heart of this effort is to integrate abortion so that it’s a seamless part of health care for women — embraced rather than shunned.
Mohler finds this new push disturbing.
Emily Bazelon’s report offers a fascinating and important look at abortion in American today — past, present, and future. She points sympathetically to this new movement and its aims, but she seems to sense that the medical profession is still resistant to abortion, and may remain so.

She writes with great skill and insight, but she lets her own disposition slip when she refers to the aborted contents of a womb as “pregnancy tissue.”

This new movement, fueled by fervent abortion advocates and financed, in part, by Warren Buffett’s billions, may make real headway. We must pray that it does not. The normalization of abortion within the practice of medicine would be a tragedy beyond words — the embrace of death within a profession dedicated to life.

The front cover of the magazine asks the question: “Is this the new front in the abortion wars?” If the magazine’s editors did not believe that indeed this is the next front in this long war, they would never have asked the question. Now, thanks to Emily Bazelon and this report, we all know the answer to that question.
But Somarriba sees it as an act of desperation.
With the facts as they are, the article’s optimism for increased abortion acceptance in mainstream America is at best wishful thinking, at worst willful delusion. The publication of the piece can’t help but seem a part of a pro-abortion agenda: trying to prop it up to be a successful, growing industry, supported by most of the public—despite the fact that it isn’t.

America and abortion have always been an uneasy match. Unlike in Europe, where abortion was legislated slowly over time democratically and with regulations built in from the start, abortion on demand in America was legalized overnight by a Supreme Court decision, which in part explains why it’s still such a volatile, unresolved issue in America today. Legalized abortion was rushed and forced from the start, and it’s been a hard, rocky road since. After a while the abortion supporters in this article start to sound like the infatuated person who’s in denial that her partner really isn’t right for her. She keeps thinking he’ll change, or somehow the road will smooth out and things will work, even though things have never gone smoothly with him. When it comes to widely accepted abortion, the shoe never quite fit for mainstream America, and, more than thirty years later, it doesn’t look like it ever will. Still, as this article reports, abortion providers are determined to keep trying desperately to make this relationship work.

But this is unfair, right? How can I say this? Well, really, because the abortion supporters say it themselves. They embody the single biggest indicator of delusion, which is this: In order to see things working out their way, they have to imagine the world different than it is. Bazelon describes one Planned Parenthood director who “looked out the window, at all the people who she wished could feel the urgency she does, and pointed out that change in medicine comes slowly.”
While we should certainly heed Mohler's call to pray for the failure of this well-funded campaign, there is a great degree of wisdom in Somarriba's observations about the uneasy conscience that haunts even the most fervent of abortion advocates. In the end, she says, "abortion will always be in the back alley of public life."

Despite the disingenuous (and anachronistic) spin of abortion advocates, support for abortion in America has declined slowly but steadily over the past few decades, resulting now in a tenuous but consistent pro-life majority. I remain convinced that it will ultimately go the way of slavery, and for much the same reason: The conscience of the nation simply will not be able to bear the burden forever.