By John D. Pierce

Here’s a new game: Whenever someone posts a sensible political affirmation, guess how many responses it will take before an incredulous person drops the “baby killer” line into the comment stream.

It has happened a lot recently following the special election in Alabama, by those lamenting that their favored law-defying, racially-insensitive, credibly-accused child molesting, religious zealot who would have qualified for the crucifixion committee suffered a narrow defeat.

It takes little historical awareness to know that the single-issue (or, more recently, one of two issues with the latter being opposition to equal rights for LGBT persons) voter — often defined as evangelical — is a relative new phenomenon.

It grew out of the Religious Right/Moral Majority/Fundamentalist engagement in politics of the 1980s — that started with a defense of using government funding for a school that racially discriminated. Soon opposition to abortion became a rallying point with its high emotion cementing a defining role in this political/religious movement.

I am not being dismissive of this issue. Abortion is a valid ethical concern, but it is much too often addressed with high emotion and low thinking — evidenced in the “baby killer” responses that proponents seem to think trumps all morality.

However, if the goal is indeed to reduce (or, unrealistically, to eliminate) abortions, it is worth giving the subject more thoughtful consideration — including the political realities.

Responsibly addressing this issue is not as simple as stacking the Supreme Court (at any cost) with those who might overturn Roe v. Wade and, supposedly, bring abortion to an end. That approach is naïve at every level.

Even if this unlikely court decision occurred, the matter would be sent to the states, with some voting to make abortions legal and others not.

Massachusetts would likely permit legal abortion services while Mississippi would not. The result would be that a pregnant coed at Ole Miss could be flown to Boston for a safe medical procedure that is not available to a poor woman in the delta or depressed city.

The result would not be the end of abortion but the unequal access to safe procedures. And there would be great debate — primarily among a bunch of men with political power — about exceptions and other personal matters that should be discussed between women and their physicians, families and ministers.

Therefore, the moral/political argument for tossing aside all decency and ignoring abusive political operatives in an effort to “save the babies” is as irrational as one can be.

It is much easier to call oneself “pro-life” (in a very narrow way) or to call others who don’t share such blinders awful names like “baby killers” than to dig into the ways abortions have been reduced in recent years and to take steps toward addressing the social concerns at play. Responsible persons deal with the reality that the decline in abortions in recent years has resulted from education, adoption and the availability of contraceptives.

Many Christians (and others) are being genuinely constructive by providing educational resources and services that make adoption an easier option — while acknowledging the medical aspects that make the issue more complex than bumper sticker renderings and ugly accusations tossed into a comment stream.

Last night I interviewed a family — for an upcoming feature story — and the topic of abortion, or politics in general, was not raised. Instead the young couple shared of how after parenting a special needs child for a few years, they decided to use their experience and compassion more widely.

In more recent years they fostered and then adopted two more children from a drug-addicted mother unable to care for them. This whole rambunctious, loving household is pro-life in the very best sense of the word.

It is admirable that people are passionately concerned about abortion. Yet many have reduced their concern to an emotional, unhelpful response that ignores the most intelligent and compassionate ways to do something positive with their concern.

Throwing “baby killer” accusations at those who won’t join their narrow, misguided political agenda — while willingly ignoring egregious ethical wrongdoings in many who share their claims — is of no help to the very cause they embrace. Or to the wider sense of what it means to value life.

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