Consider the issue, not the language
Much has been made of the graphic displays being used by Bama Students for Life. As an undergraduate, I was president of a pro-life student group at another institution. Our group chose not to use the same images. However, I am fairly ambivalent to the message-spreading tactics of specific student groups, so long as their methods are legal. That’s because it isn’t the method that matters most. These pictures are disturbing because the procedure is disturbing. It is the procedure itself that matters. The conversation needs to shift back to abortion itself.
The Editorial Board has asked Bama Students for Life to “commit to accuracy in their rhetoric.” The Board must do the same. The Board’s assessment of the nature of abortion is fundamentally wrong. In their editorial of April 10, “Consider Language,” they refer to abortion repeatedly as a “medical procedure.” Abortion is not medicine. Medicine deals with alleviating diseases and injuries. Abortion ends a pregnancy, but a pregnancy is neither a disease nor an injury. Pregnancy is a normal bodily process for the purpose of nourishing nascent human life, and a foreseeable consequence of sexual activity. Calling abortion medicine ignores these crucial facts about pregnancy.
If abortion is not medicine, then what is it? Abortion is the intentional ending of an as-yet-unborn human life. This definition is justified. The pregnancy had a beginning, and this is its termination. Such termination is certainly not accidental. The subject of the pregnancy must be human, since the child in the womb has, from the moment of conception, unique human DNA. Finally, it must be a life. The child is certainly not dead, and in fact has developing organ systems independent of its mother.
Thus, abortion is wrong because of what it is. Intentionally ending a human life in any situation other than self-defense is wrong regardless of where it happens. Knowing that, the only compassionate response is to care for women and children in terrible situations where abortion is tempting, and to work to end the practice of legal abortion.
Why do the members of Bama Students for Life feel that abortion is genocide? Because the only reason we can end these lives is because they exist in the womb rather than outside it. This geographical exception to society’s typical view of intentional deaths is terribly unjust. Additionally, the deaths of the unborn are by no means rare. According to the Guttmaccher Institute (previously affiliated with Planned Parenthood), approximately one in four pregnancies in the U.S. ends in abortion. That is an unfathomable number of lives lost, and is the primary driver for pro-life work across the country, including that of Bama Students for Life.
The same statistic says something equally terrible about the plight of women in this nation. Overwhelmingly, women choose abortion because they feel they cannot take care of the child. Abortion has been hailed as an answer and a blessing. It is no answer. It is the curse of women who feel they have no choice, and who are so often pressured by parents or boyfriends to end an unintended pregnancy. Women should be given real answers and real support. Real support comes from pregnancy centers, churches, individuals and agencies that provide meaningful social services. Women deserve to have their dignity honored, but abortion provides no such honor.
Define this issue not by the methods being used to spread the message, but by the abortion procedure itself. Focus on the nature of the procedure and the effects of abortion on women, children and society at large. That focus proves abortion too devastating to be ignored.
Mark Harris is a law student and MBA student. He was formerly the president of Eagles for Life at the University of Southern Mississippi.