The personhood crisis

Commentary by Judie Brown

Not long ago, Maureen Downey wrote an article for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the subject of the Georgia pro-life movement's new political goal: A proposed legislative resolution that defined a human being's life as beginning at the moment of fertilization. The resolution would restore personhood to each innocent human being from his beginning.

Downey was appalled by this change in direction for the pro-life movement in Georgia and quipped, "The groups are trading their hammer and chisel for a nuclear warhead." Well, to that comment I can only add that I wish the entire pro-life movement was equipping itself with precisely the same tools.

In case nobody has noticed, the ongoing focus on "reproductive health" is all about killing preborn babies, banking women's eggs, testing embryos in laboratories in order to weed out the imperfect and developing better birth control methods that kill prior to implantation. Such practices reject nature's plan for marriage and contribute to the disintegration of the family. The only way to reverse this dreadful course upon which America is traveling at breakneck speed is for those of us who truly believe in the sanctity of human life to do something meaningful about it rather than continuing to "chip away" at abortion.

Georgia pro-lifers are adopting a standard, as are pro-lifers in several other states. What we all need to do is make that strategy a national plan of action-sooner rather than later. I say this after having read another article, this one from editorial writer Dan Neil, who wrote of what it means to exercise the "freedom of choice" that pro-abortion forces claim protects their "right" to abort innocent children.

Dan Neil and his wife wanted desperately to have children. They had undergone a couple of in vitro fertilization procedures that failed. But finally, on the third treatment cycle, in vitro fertilization rendered them pregnant with four little ones. As it turns out, the doctor reported that they were expecting two boys and two girls.

Sadly, however, the same doctor also informed them that multiple pregnancies can be dangerous for the mother and sometimes for the babies as well. The doctor had asked them in advance if they would be open to "reduction." The Neils knew that word meant selective abortion, but had no idea that they might actually have to practice what that means.

At 15 weeks into her pregnancy, the Neils agreed upon the physician's recommendation that the doctor should use a sodium chloride injection directly into the hearts of both of their sons, thus rendering them the parents of two living daughters and two dead sons. They made this decision and then watched the killings take place via ultrasound. And as Neil points out in his article, "We don't feel guilty. We don't feel ashamed. We're not even really sad, because terminating these fetuses ? at 15 weeks' gestation ? was a medical imperative."

The sadness that gripped my heart when I read this article is nearly beyond imagination. It was as though I had encountered an obituary written by a couple of parents who were actually pleased with the deaths of their children. How in the name of God, I asked myself, has this happened? To what level of hell have we as a society descended? How could it be that I could read such a commentary ? written, I suppose, to confirm the need to keep abortion "safe and legal?"

The real problem with the "hammer and chisel" versus "nuclear warhead" critics is that in the wee small areas of their thought process, I think they are afraid. They are gripped with this unbelievable sense of dread at the very thought that pro-life people might actually get serious, restore total legal protection to every single innocent person from the instant his life begins and thus eradicate all forms of abortion from the social landscape.

Neil calls abortion a matter that should never be taken lightly, yet he would fight to the death for his right to agree with his wife that their two sons are better off dead.

Downey, on the other hand, surmises that women will never want to see the "right" they have taken for granted legislated; every woman, she says, should have the opportunity to decide when "to end a pregnancy."

That is precisely why pro-lifers, particularly those in leadership positions, must get serious about our struggle to end abortion. The act of abortion directly takes the life of one of us, a human being who is no less valuable to the social fabric of this once great nation than you or me. Whether that abortion is performed in the womb or in the Petri dish, or occurs because of the way a chosen method of birth control "worked," the result is always the same: a dead child.

This is indeed a personhood crisis. The situation really isn't going to get a whole lot better unless drastic changes are made.

For each of us, there is a time in life when circumstances coalesce and tough decisions have to be made. Perhaps it is because of illness or a death in the family. In the case of pro-life leaders, perhaps it is a sense of foreboding derived from the realization that our nation has slipped so far down into the culture of death that only a miracle will save it. As far as I am concerned, I would like to be part of that phenomenon. But I realize that it will only occur if every one of us agrees that personhood is worth the risk of losing elections and accepting what in human terms could be considered a setback.

That's the way miracles work-you must leave your comfort zone if you really want change to happen. The question is: Who is willing to take the risk?

Release issued: 17 May 07