Life, Gateway to Free Expression

Wikipedia has become a fixture of online communication. Want to familiarize yourself with the various members of the Tudor dynasty? Find it here. Or maybe you need a recording of a cow’s “moo.” Find that here.On January 18th, you might have been annoyed, frustrated or perplexed by the above screen result that prevented access to any Wikipedia page. (Maybe it was the first you’d heard of the SOPA/PIPA bills.) If you searched for an explanation, you might have found articles like this one,  or this, or this. Opinions about the blackout (and its efficacy) varied widely.

In the days following the blackout, my reflections veered in an unexpected direction. With the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade occurring on January 22nd, I contemplated what the impact might have been if all those organizations defending freedom of expression (our First Amendment) had instead devoted a scant 24 hours toward defending Human Life.I have high regard for freedom of expression and the significance of the First Amendment, but in order to enjoy freedom of expression, one must first be blessed with Life. Is it ever extreme to err on the side of Life?

I know I’m grabbing hold of a hornet’s nest, because people have such strong (and divergent) views about abortion. For many years, abortion activists advocated keeping abortion “safe, legal and rare.” [The word “rare” was deleted from the 2008 Democrat party platform, but the phrase remains part of political discourse.]

Bill Clinton staked this position as his moral high ground. When Hillary Clinton sought elective office, she upheld the safe/legal/rare stance while admitting in 2005 abortion was ” … a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women.”

But why rare? The argument goes like this:  Is it rational to be concerned about the number of abortions that take place, if abortion is safe and legal?

Writer Jefferson Morley in a 2002 column at Slate identified the dilemma, explaining voters are “… uncomfortable with the inescapable reality that abortion involves ending a potential human life.”

Did you get that? The debate has shifted away from the old days when people referred to the unborn as “products of conception” and “globs of tissue.”

Writing in the Guttmacher Institute’s Guttmacher Policy Review, Susan A. Cohen offers this stunning admission:  ” … even many of those who support legal abortion also have moral qualms about it.”

The electorate is generally “uncomfortable” about “ending potential human life.” Abortion remains legal, but even its supporters “have moral qualms.” Indeed. It’s 39 years and counting since the Supreme Court instituted abortion, resulting in some 50 million lives extinguished. (Politifact Texas provides a reasoned discussion about this total.)

Almost weekly, we hear stories about babies weighing less than a pound who survive and grow into healthy children! Those stories don’t just serve as testimony to magnificent medical advances; the stories underscore our society’s incomprehensible schizophrenia.

So, in keeping with the spirit of defending free expression, we mourn today (and everyday) all those whose quest for knowledge and free expression ended in the womb. In his poem No Man Is An Island, John Donne says:  ” … any man’s death diminishes me ….” How much more the deaths of 50 million innocents?