Do you remember the days when you weren’t supposed to bring
up religion or politics in polite company? They are long gone, perhaps because
there is almost nothing that affects our lives these days (including the weather)
that doesn’t fall into one of those categories. Most meaningful matters seem to
fall into both.
As we near the 40th anniversary of the Roe v.
Wade Supreme Court ruling, raising the topic of abortion is particularly
divisive. There are many people for whom either the ‘Right to Life’ or the
‘Right to Choose’ constitutes the sole criteria on which to evaluate a
politician. We are passionate about our views of abortion, no matter on which
side our hearts and minds lie.
The opportunities that exist today to save the lives of babies
who are months away from sustaining life on their own (see this
heart-tugging story) can’t be ignored. The widespread availability of 3D pictures
that early on show an active baby with a beating heart refutes the concept of a
fetus as ‘just a clump of cells”. Testimonials from women who, despite being
told that abortion is ‘no big deal,’ are tortured by the memory of their
abortions—including Roe v. Wade defendant Norma McCorvey—belie the underlying
assumption that this legislation would be only a positive step forward. Points made in the 1973 case are
anachronistic, yet emotions on this subject are so easily inflamed that few
people are able to sustain a reasonable discussion.
Rather than abating, the divisiveness is becoming more
aggravated. Contentiousness about abortion is not going away. The ability to
talk to each other with empathy and sensitivity is. Forty years later, Roe v.
Wade hasn’t settled into the history books. Since it deals with human life, it
shouldn’t. Competing views on slavery eventually could not be ignored, though
generations pushed the issue down the road until it exploded. Competing views on the
sanctity of life, or even life potential , cannot be ignored either. If the
Justices had the foresight to see into the future, would they still have voted
as they did?