John Snell and August Burns both suggest that, because I am male, my opinion in opposition to abortion has no validity. Both Snell and Burns say that men must shut up about abortion unless, of course, they endorse abortion. Does my gender really deprive me of my right to voice my opinion on proposed public policy? Certainly not. August Burns puts additional prerequisites to a valid opinion. Burns says unless you have been a prosecutor, worked to protect abused, abandoned or poor children or are personally caring for a disabled child, your opinion is not valid. I think all Vermonters can weigh in on Vermont public policy.
In any case, the ad hominem arguments presented by Snell and Burns suggest they are unable to craft a cogent response to my position — that is, (1) the proposed statute is an unnecessary codification of Vermont’s current lack of any restriction on abortion from conception to birth and (2) the proposed constitutional amendment is an unnecessary and particularly diabolical effort to enshrine the right to kill innocent human beings without any limits.
Abortion is currently unrestricted in Vermont. The overturning of Roe v. Wade won’t change that fact, with or without Vermont legislation. What do you say about this? Why are these questions ignored?
To be fair to Snell and Burns, I have found the same reaction from legislators to these points — complete silence; crickets. I don’t expect to necessarily sway anyone’s opinion. All I can do is speak the truth as I know it. As Mother Teresa said, “God does not require us to be successful only that we be faithful.”
Burns says if abortions are illegal, abortions won’t stop. This is certainly true; burglary is illegal and we still have burglaries. Most important, what about the underlying issue — what about the unborn human life that is ended in each and every so-called “safe” and effective abortion? A successful abortion is never safe for the unborn human, male or female. Can we agree it is wrong to end an innocent, defenseless human life? Can we agree abortion ends an innocent human life? If the unborn child is not an innocent human life, what is it? What about the unborn child one minute before birth? Should the law permit the killing of that unborn child?
Abby Johnson, a former abortion clinic director, says even after first trimester surgical abortions, the staff at the clinic must “reassemble” the “product of conception” (or “parts of children”) to make sure the abortionist removed all the parts to prevent infection in the mother. Unlike most places on the planet, Vermont currently has no legal restrictions on even late-term “procedures.” Is this the appropriate policy? To respond that such abortions rarely or even never occur in Vermont is not an answer to the question: What is the appropriate public policy?
Both Burns and Snell say pregnant women face a difficult decision when they are faced with an unplanned pregnancy. True. It, no doubt, is a difficult decision for women who contemplate abortion. So, does the fact the decision is difficult end the debate about the public policy? Nonsense. I say the state and the nation would be better off if we promoted life, not death.
Both say the answer is effective contraception and seem to suggest abortion is an appropriate backup plan. I commend a new book by Jennifer Roback Morse, “The Sexual State” (2018), where the author addressed The Contraceptive Ideology and its impact. Pope Paul VI was correct when he predicted in Humanae Vitae the widespread adverse impact of contraception and the Sexual Revolution.
We cannot ignore underlying real moral questions. As Pope Benedict XVI has said, “There are those who argue — paradoxically with the intention of eliminating discrimination — that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience. (Religion) is a vital contributor to the national conversation.” And, “If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident — herein lies the real challenge for democracy.”
One thing I know for sure, the passage of Vermont legislation or a constitutional amendment won’t make abortion right. And, the issue won’t go away. Witness legislation in other states, the hundreds of thousands attending the March for Life and the growing “40 Days for Life” movement. The legal and spiritual fight will continue. It must.
Tom Kelly lives in Barre.