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The Abortion Divide in America
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See the debate on abortion from a new perspective as a young conservative discusses the effects that modern culture and politics have had on both sides of the argument.Danielle D'Souza Gill, in a pathbreaking new book, blows the lid off the abortion debate, which is radically different than it was when the Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling of Roe v. Wade in 1973. Technology has transformed the landscape and allowed people to see development in the womb. Ultrasound has rendered many old assumptions about abortion obsolete.
The Democratic Left has become radicalized on abortion. It is no longer a necessary evil, but a positive good. Consequently, the Left has legitimized a form of mass killing in this country that dwarfs the deaths caused by cancer, smoking, homicide, terrorism, and war.
Writing with freshness, intelligence, and insight, Danielle explores the contours of the debate, taking into account new ideas, new technology, and new laws and putting forth a new vision for a life-affirming society.
In Socratic style, Danielle builds her case in response to the strongest contentions of the pro-choice camp. She engages their most powerful arguments head-on, carefully examines them, and then dismantles them. The result is a pro-life argument so persuasive that it will reach into the heart of the most hardened opponent.
While it is a heartbreaking book, it is in the end inspiring. No matter what you believe about abortion, this book will educate, astonish, and deeply move you. It may move you to a position different from what you now hold.
If you read one book about abortion, make it this one, The Choice: The Abortion Divide in America.
“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.”
Abortion is the great, unexamined issue of our time. When we look at the controversies swirling in America, we see that underneath them lurks this issue of abortion, which is the driving force of what is going on, even when it is not mentioned.
In the Trump presidency, we have seen a succession of controversies from the Mueller Report to Ukraine to Kavanaugh to impeachment to coronavirus. Trump, himself, has been under constant siege since he won in 2016. Most of these controversies had a subtext that went largely unnoticed. On the face of it, the Kavanaugh hearings were about the Me Too movement—women accusing Kavanaugh of having assaulted them or taken advantage of them. There was a fake element to this. One of the women admitted that she was lying and made it up because she wanted to get rid of Kavanaugh. She claimed she was “angry” because of what he represented and wanted her sexual assault allegation to “grab attention.”1
But why did she want to get rid of Kavanaugh? Because Kavanaugh represented a very real threat to something very important to her, namely, abortion. Many pro-choicers realized that if confirmed, Kavanaugh might be the swing vote in overturning Roe v. Wade. When you begin to look under the surface you find that this accuser was motivated by the same thing his other accusers were motivated by. Debra Katz, the lawyer for Kavanaugh’s primary accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, said in a speech that Roe v. Wade “is part of what motivated Christine.”2 Katz said, “We were going to have a conservative [justice]… Elections have consequences, but he will always have an asterisk next to his name. When he takes a scalpel to Roe v. Wade, we will know who he is.”3 The Kavanaugh confirmation that became a show trial was ultimately about abortion.
When we turn to immigration, impeachment, even coronavirus, we see that the Left’s focus is on blasting Trump. So what is it about Trump that causes so much apoplexy? Trump was instrumental in bringing about some of the lowest unemployment rates the country has seen in decades. And when coronavirus hit, very early on, Trump was prescient in restricting travel from China, saving innumerable American lives. The same goes for bringing jobs back to America. People quickly realized in the wake of coronavirus that relying so heavily on China has negative effects, especially during a pandemic. Under President Trump, we have even seen ISIS weakened in the Middle East and the death of one of the most powerful terrorists, Qasem Soleimani. So one would think that Trump would receive some credit for this. But, no. Why?
One of the most, if the not the most, threatening things about him is the fact that he is transforming the courts. Not only is he populating the appellate courts with one constitutionalist justice after another, a systematic overhaul of the judiciary, but he is also reshaping the Supreme Court with the Gorsuch and Kavanaugh confirmations. If Trump is reelected, then over the next four years there is a very good chance that the Supreme Court could move to a 6–3 majority, even a 7–2 majority. It was a 7–2 majority that decided Roe v. Wade, so it may take a 7–2 majority to overturn it. Supreme Court justices are appointed for life, which is to say that this would be a majority that would long outlast Trump’s time in office.
So, from the point of view of the pro-choice Left, Trump signifies a reconstructed Supreme Court—and even a reconstructed America. The Supreme Court can produce lasting changes in American society. Of course, court decisions affect a range of areas, but the single most important issue that the Left is concerned about, the single issue on which the court can have a decisive and momentous impact, is abortion. At the end of the day, the Left’s vehement hatred of Trump is rooted in his ability to move the courts in a pro-life direction.
But why does the Left care so much about abortion? Because abortion is at the center of the values the Left has been trying to impose on the culture for the last fifty years. This is the central issue, now at risk, that is driving the Left berserk. Abortion is also a key issue for the Right. Pro-life activists have been fighting since before 1973, and they are not giving up anytime soon.
What makes this phenomenon so interesting is that abortion, while being at the center of American politics, is at the same time rarely openly debated in a fundamental way. This is not to say that there aren’t skirmishes about abortion when a heartbeat bill is introduced or that there isn’t an ongoing Twitter battle about it. These are episodic instances in which people talk about abortion, take a stance on abortion, and speak about the extremities of abortion, but those on the Left are almost never willing to debate a pro-life person. They won’t do it, you’ll notice. Almost anyone prominent on the Left, even when this is their “main issue,” will almost always decline. They imply that there’s not a whole lot else to say about this issue. The Supreme Court settled the abortion issue in 1973, and it has remained that way for the last fifty years. Therefore, the debate is today pretty much the same as it was then, so there’s nothing new to say.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The world today is completely different than it was fifty years ago. We are not living in the atmosphere of Roe v. Wade. Even the key terms of the debate have changed dramatically. One of the crucial concepts used by the Supreme Court in discussing abortion was the issue of viability, which refers to the ability of the unborn fetus to live outside the womb. For the court, viability determined the point at which states could, in theory, restrict abortion, even though in practice, Roe v. Wade permitted very little such regulation. Before viability, states were permitted no restriction whatsoever. The concept of viability was a critical criterion for the court that decided Roe.
Yet, if we look at viability, we see that the moment that an unborn fetus can exist outside the womb has moved earlier and earlier. Viability will likely continue to move earlier as technology advances, and no one can predict how early it will become. The basis of the Supreme Court’s decision has been swept away by advancements in technology.
The Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade also insisted that there was a great cloud of uncertainty over whether the fetus is a human life, a person. In fact, the court excavated details from history, including ancient history, that suggest there was a great deal of confusion about the process of coming into being. And the court even affirmed the notion that it might ultimately be a dogmatic or religious question as to when life begins. This was a philosophical matter, the court implied, that ultimately reasonable people could disagree upon and perhaps each person could take their own position on. Once again, this agnostic view has been seriously called into question if not completely invalidated by modern science. I explain this in detail in the first section of the book.
And in the case of fetal development, we are not just referring to medical opinion, we’re referring to modern science, which enables us to observe life with the naked eye. The development of the fetus itself can now be directly observed inside the womb thanks to the technology of ultrasound. One can see the development of the unborn. Very early on, we easily see a recognizable human being in the process of growing, moving, and responding. This is not merely a supposition. It is a direct observation.
Rarely do we see an abortion debate, a genuine discussion, an engagement with the arguments, so that is what I am going to do in this book. Far from being settled, the abortion debate is coming back to life in full force as both sides muster their forces. There’s a new generation of young people who are looking at it with fresh eyes. And I am a member of this generation. I am a young woman in my twenties who can see that this is the crucial moral issue of our time, very much in the way that slavery was the crucial moral issue of the nineteenth century. I explore this in detail in several chapters but will only touch on it here.
As with slavery, the anxiety that surrounded Abraham Lincoln, in the critical year of 1860, focused on that one issue. There were other issues swirling about—including tariffs and the relative economic power of the North and the South—and some think that it was those issues that actually drove the war. But, no. What drove the war was Lincoln’s election. And why was Lincoln’s election so frightening?
Alexander Stephens, a Democrat who later became the vice president of the Confederacy, did not initially want to secede from the Union. Prior to secession, he gave a speech at a secession convention in Georgia. Stephens urged his fellow Georgians not to break from the Union. His argument was simple. Abraham Lincoln can’t do very much. Sure, he has been elected, but the Democrats still control the Senate. Lincoln does not have a decisive majority in the House. And so Stephens’s point is: we can block him. We can prevent him from doing any harm to the institution of slavery. We can have slavery and Lincoln at the same time.4
But, of course, the South didn’t go along with Stephens on this. Why? The South was terrified that Lincoln’s election represented a tipping point. If new territories and new states came into the Union as free states, not slave states, the population and number of free states would continue to increase, while the number of slave states remained the same. This meant that the free states would become a permanent majority, and at some future time, they could even be so numerous, and their power in the electoral college so strong, that they could amend the Constitution to end slavery. The South knew that prospect might be somewhat distant. But Southerners saw themselves as stronger at that point than they would be in the future, and they knew their position would erode further and further. Now was the time, they resolved, to strike a blow, or else all would be lost.
Something very similar is going on with the pro-choice Left today. There is a deep anxiety that Trump’s election and reelection represent a threat to abortion “rights,” and to the Court, that might prove irreversible, at least for the foreseeable future. The pro-choice Left doesn’t even hesitate to threaten the Supreme Court. In a remarkable statement without precedent, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) issued a warning. On March 3, 2020, the eve of a Supreme Court decision relating to abortion, he stood in front of a crowd on the steps outside the court and declared, “I want to tell you, Gorsuch. I want to tell you, Kavanaugh: You have unleashed the whirlwind, and you will pay the price.”5 Schumer warned, “You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”6
In a rare rebuke, Chief Justice John Roberts replied, “Threatening statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous. All members of the Court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.”7
In 2019, New York passed a bill stating that a woman can get an abortion at nine months, removing any meaningful restrictions on late-term abortions. The Democrats in New York couldn’t wait to pass this bill; meanwhile every Republican in New York’s State Senate voted against it. Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law, stating the bill was an “historic victory for New Yorkers and our progressive values.”8 On January 22, 2019, New York City lit up the Freedom Tower pink to celebrate this momentous occasion. Cuomo said that the pink light would “celebrate this achievement, and shine a bright light forward for the rest of the nation to follow.”9
It is not a statement of insult, but merely of fact, to note that the pro-abortion Left has become a champion of mass killing. Abortion is a form of mass killing. It is going on in America and in other countries in the twenty-first century.
Mass killing used to be a part of life for humans, but the world has developed and progressed since then, on every level. We have developed an aversion to holocaust and to genocide. Individual cases of suffering are abhorrent. There are environmental tragedies that cause chaos. But in general, as a species, we try to eliminate human suffering that occurs on a mass scale, particularly suffering that is inflicted on humans by other humans. And yet there is precisely such a form of suffering, in fact of killing, going on—the killing of the unborn. But normal people in society, for the most part, are blind to it. Many people are indifferent to it, seem not to care, and instead worry more about other things, trivial things in comparison with this important thing.
Abortion is the greatest form of mass killing in the world by far. Abortion kills more people than war, famine, and genocide combined. In 2018, HIV/AIDS took 1.7 million lives, cancer took 8.2 million, and abortion took 41.9 million lives.10 And that’s in 2018 alone. This is a worldwide tragedy. But we happen to be the worst offenders in the United States. We have an abortion industry, one might almost say a factory of mass killing. Its name is Planned Parenthood.
Incredibly, in many people’s minds this is a reputable organization, worthy of one’s charitable donations. This is an organization perceived to be doing good in the world. One could almost think of the concentration camps in Germany and in the occupied territories constructing themselves as nonprofit institutions, running ads on TV, portraying themselves in a benign light, and asking the German people to contribute money for the operations of death occurring within those institutions. It’s creepy, and it demands investigation and explanation.
How in modern America, a society with so much wealth, a society that proclaims loudly the virtue of compassion, can we support the killing of the disadvantaged and the voiceless in our midst? Abortion is the dark side of America. It is so dark that it is enough to call into question the American dream, the American experiment, the goodness of America. It is enough to shake one’s patriotism and force us to reexamine our country, the principles it’s based on, our consciences, and what we believe in. The reason is not merely the widespread practice of abortion in America but also the fact that America has the most radical pro-abortion policies in the world. Abortion in our country is legalized by the Supreme Court. It is affirmed by governmental institutions. It is practiced and publicized by nonprofit institutions. It is ingrained in the medical profession. It is normalized in practice in society. Many people do it. Many people think it’s acceptable. Some people even think it’s a positive good.
In this respect, one could compare abortion to the practice of slavery in the American South. Slavery was a practice that was at the root of the Southern economy, a practice that was sustained in laws, supported by the states, and then routinized in the practice of plantations not merely the cotton plantations, but also rice plantations, tobacco plantations and then even in urban areas, where domestic slaves worked as apprentices for carpenters, masons, and other professionals. Here, too, abortion is sustained by an elaborate legal infrastructure and an abortion industry that operates very profitably across the country. In America, abortion is “on demand.”
In not just New York but seven states, it is legal to get an abortion throughout your nine months of pregnancy, even when you are dilating and about to go into labor. According to Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia, it should be possible to continue an abortion even after a baby is born. In other words, if you attempt an abortion, it fails, the baby turns up on the doctor’s table, it could then be made comfortable and left to die. To me, this is infanticide and by itself represents a disturbing shift in the abortion debate. It was only a couple of decades ago under Bill Clinton that we heard that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” We don’t even hear that language coming from the Left anymore. It’s almost as if abortion now is promoted as something that should be safe, legal, celebrated, and commonplace.
Most of the industrialized world permits abortion in some fashion but keeps it regulated. In many European countries, as well as Australia and Canada, abortion is permitted in the early stages of pregnancy, restricted in the middle stages of pregnancy, and outlawed in the late stages of pregnancy, except in extreme circumstances, such as when the mother’s life or health is seriously endangered.
In America, however, this approach to abortion does not exist. Not only has abortion been allowed, but even attempted restrictions on abortion that are very minor, often aimed not at protecting unborn life but at protecting just the woman’s health, are struck down. The pro-choice Left wants abortion to be available everywhere, at any time, and to be free, which is to say they want the government to subsidize abortion for people who can’t afford one. There are many organizations promoting abortion, and Shout Your Abortion is one of them. Celebrities like Oprah have promoted this effort, which encourages women to own and embrace abortion as a form of feminine identity.11
Here, again, the analogy to slavery is illuminating. Initially, during the time of the American founding, slavery was seen as a bad thing. Even Thomas Jefferson, for example, who owned two hundred slaves, denounced slavery, sometimes in the cadence of a biblical prophet. Jefferson spoke of the elimination of slavery as the shared moral aspiration of the American colonies. Never once did he defend it as a good thing. He didn’t know what to do about it. In a letter to John Holmes, Jefferson wrote of slavery, “We have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go.”12 And that was, in general, the attitude toward abortion in the late part of the twentieth century. Abortion was seen as a necessary evil but not as a positive good.
In the nineteenth century, an aggressive pro-slavery campaign developed in the American South, with some supporters in the North, that affirmed slavery. They said that slavery was good not only for the slave owner but also for the slave. This is called the positive good school of slavery, and this is exactly what we’ve seen emerging with abortion—abortion as a positive good. Abortion is good not only for the mother but also for the unborn. You’ll hear proponents say: Some people are better off dead. Some people will have better lives if they don’t have lives at all than if they have lives that are seen as not worth living. I discuss these utilitarian arguments in the latter part of the book.
Let’s remember that abortion as a form of mass killing is avoidable. This is a mass killing that we have accepted and even adopted in this country. Meanwhile, there are deaths that occur around the world due to circumstances that seem outside human control. Children in other countries die due to famine, malnutrition, and disease because their families and communities don’t have the resources to save them. There are not enough doctors around, and the governments are helpless. But that is completely different than what’s happening in America, where we have enough resources, we have enough doctors to birth babies, and the unborn are purposefully and intentionally killed, even though there is the infrastructure, there is modern medicine, there are the hospitals, and there are families on long waiting lists to adopt. This is a country with a high life expectancy, perhaps the richest country in the world, and yet mass killing is going on here.
How can it be going on? Why is it going on? How can America, a country devoted to the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, let this go on? How can we allow the normalization of mass killing? In Nazi Germany, the Jews and other war captives were considered “the other.” They were portrayed as the stranger, the outsider, or the alien. In the case of abortion, however, the tragedy doesn’t involve a mother killing any child but a mother killing her own child. The child shares half of her DNA. How can this happen in modern society?
Historically, if we look back at the ancient world, we do find cases of parents killing their own children. In some cases, in ancient Sparta, for example, families would leave their baby in the cold on a hillside to find it dead in the morning. In Sparta, the justification for this practice was the belief that the child was weak and unfit for the harsh routines of Spartan society. Today, we look upon that practice, correctly, as a form of barbarism. In other societies where we find infants murdered by their parents, it is typically only in desperate circumstances, as when the smothering of a baby was intended to save the lives of the other children because the family would otherwise be discovered and killed or when the parents did not have enough food to feed the children they already had, and a new one coming along would be sure to die from starvation.
In very dire circumstances, this does happen. But normally, it is very hard for parents to kill their offspring. Mothers instinctively throw themselves in front of a car or a bus to push their child out of the way. Parents, especially mothers, are biologically programmed to love their children. In many ways the child in the womb is more attached to the mother at that point than any point in the future, with the mother able to feel the child kick and move and with both sharing food and nutrients.
So we have to ask, in an honest way, how did mass killing become normalized? The answer is twofold. First, there is a denial that killing is going on. Abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood know the power of denial, and they exploit it. Planned Parenthood, for example, doesn’t like to show the sonogram to a woman seeking an abortion. Why? Because they know that if the woman sees her child in the womb, she will likely walk out of the clinic.
Abortionists routinely operate by using deception. While the abortionist can hear the baby’s heartbeat go from a beating pulse to silence, the woman does not; the woman is left in the dark. The abortionist can see the baby’s gender, but the woman does not. The abortionist can see the baby in the womb literally move away from the lethal injection and try to get away from it, trying to save its life, but the woman doesn’t see those movements. Women are purposely led through the abortion process so that they remain in denial, and only later in life, after the procedure and upon reflection, do many women realize the loss of the child that would have been their own son or daughter.
Even a woman’s decision to have an abortion, when she could put the baby up for adoption, shows the power of denial. Why? Because aborting the child somehow makes you believe that the child has gone away. Then you can go on with your life as if it never existed. Alternatively, once the child is born, you see it. It’s harder to ignore. Even if you give it up for adoption immediately, and it remains a closed adoption where identities are not disclosed, the child is still somewhere out there in this world. There’s a child walking around who looks like you, has 50 percent of your genes, is related to you, and was birthed by you. Somebody else who loves the child is raising that child, but this can still be a disturbing thought to a mother. But I ask, if this is disturbing, why is killing the child any less disturbing?
Many horrific things go on in the world, and we often don’t do anything about them because we can’t see them. In some cases, we don’t want to see them. For example, we know in the abstract that there are underage children working in factories in China. They’re making some of our clothes and our iPhones, which we happily use. Our shoes are made in sweatshops, and we still buy them. It is a fact that we don’t like to see people suffer, and don’t like to think about it either, so we would rather look the other way and act like it’s not happening.
This is the same reason that the Nazis put the death camps outside Germany. The death camps were all in occupied territory, with most of them in Poland. The Nazis wanted to shield the German public from the gruesome reality of the Final Solution. Even if people in Germany knew that there were terrible things going on, the Nazis didn’t want them to see those things because then their consciences might revolt. And so the Nazis relied, one may say, on mass denial, and until the end of the war, they got away with it.
In the case of abortion, the level of denial is similar and is accomplished by the dehumanization of the persons being killed. If you ask the question “Why are you killing those people?” one way to answer that question is “Those people are not really people.” Those people are the moral equivalent of animals, or those people are people in the making but they haven’t arrived at the point that they can be called “a person.” Those are people who don’t have the right to life or any other constitutional rights. Those people are uninvited guests. Those people are illicitly occupying someone else’s body. Those people are in the way. Those people can, and in some cases should, be eliminated. In all these cases, we have a simple denial of the fact that the unborn human life is life worthy of protection, by the force not merely of public opinion but of law.
Second, we have an affirmation that even if the unborn are human beings, nevertheless, it is good for their mothers, their parents, and society to have the right and the choice, prior to birth, to be able to kill them. This is not a denial of the fact of what is going on, the fact that there is mass killing; this is an affirmation of the value of mass killing. Mass killing is a necessary thing. It is a justified thing. And it is even, in some ways, a good thing.
This is a debate that affects the deepest strains of our culture, and our world, with the highest of stakes. And yet it is a debate that has to be examined from all different sides and from the ground level. That is what I seek to do in this book. I frame the book around all the key arguments made by the pro-choice Left. I state them not as I would characterize them or as a pro-lifer would characterize them but in fact how the pro-choice Left frequently states their view. Then I examine the view in a balanced way and mount a critique of the view.
The truth is that we live in a society that prefers convenience, in which some women don’t want to have their child. Men don’t want to be responsible for being fathers. And other people don’t want to deal with the societal burden. The child is in the way, and therefore it becomes targeted for assassination. This is the grim face of abortion. In this book, I face the reality of what is going on in this country, and I do not sugarcoat it. After examining and exposing it, countering rationalizations for abortion, I lay out how we as individuals can rise above this terrible evil and how society can abolish this plague from its midst. We did it in the case of slavery, and we are better for it. We can do it again.
A CLUSTER OF CELLS
“To be, or not to be, that is the question.”13
—WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Hamlet
- "In a time when the pressure from Hollywood, the mainstream media and peers is to conform to leftist ideals, Danielle continues to stand up and speak out on behalf of freedom-loving patriots and for those who cannot speak for themselves. She is a remarkable young woman who inspires and reminds us all to boldly fight for what we know is right."
- On Sale
- Oct 5, 2021
- Page Count
- 320 pages
- Center Street