“Pride goeth before a fall,” as the Good Book tells us. But prior to the fall, there is often a leap. The proud person believes he can do things that are far beyond his ability. Being ignorant, incompetent, or unqualified are not factors that deter him from attempting to do what he cannot do.
A case in point is a book entitled What Is an Abortion Anyway? put together by two trendy young women who believe that simply riding the Zeitgeist is sufficient to bring a brave new message to a benighted world. The book aims at propagandizing children (ages 8+) into accepting abortion. Since 59 percent of women who have had abortions, according to the book’s author Carly Manes, also have children, these parents need to explain to their children why they are no longer pregnant.
Manes describes herself as “white, queer, and Jewish.” The book’s illustrator goes by the singular name of Mar. She describes herself as a “brown, genderqueer, cultural worker.” Despite her abbreviated name, she requires people to refer to her as they/them. They (respecting her pronoun of preference) create art under the name Emulsify. Manes intends to send a free copy of the book to every abortion clinic in the United States. In this way, the author has stated in an interview, there will be a copy in every waiting room so that “kids hanging out waiting for their parent [sic] they can take a look at that book.”
Carly confesses that she “emailed probably 300 to 400 book agents and 15 to 20 presses and no one wanted to take the book.” This was a little confusing to her since, as she states, abortion is simply “another outcome of pregnancy.” Nonetheless, she received enough money in donations to launch the book herself. She appears, however, oblivious as to why her project was consistently rejected.
Manes claims that her book is “a medically accurate, nonjudgmental, and gender inclusive resource for young folks about abortion care.” Her claim to medical accuracy is hard to justify given the fact that she states that “anyone can get pregnant regardless of gender” and refers to pregnant women as “people who are pregnant.” Therefore, abortion is not the killing of a preborn human being, but rather it is “when someone decides to stop growing their pregnancy” or “going to the doctor to get the pregnancy removed,” or “taking medicine to stop the pregnancy from growing bigger.” So much for medical accuracy.
In her book The Ambivalence of Abortion, Linda Bird Francke records a conversation she had with her twelve-year-old son, Andrew. Not wanting to reveal that she aborted his sibling, she broached the problem hypothetically: “Suppose I had an abortion?” She was not prepared for the vehemence of his response: “How could you kill something—no matter how little it is—that’s going to grow and have legs and wiggle its fingers? I would be furious with you if you had an abortion. I’d lose all respect for you for being so selfish. I’d make you suffer and remind you of it all the time.” Mrs. Francke decided to return to the issue when her son was “more mature.” Manes’ book purports to disabuse Andrew and his like of their misconceptions about abortion.
Manes concludes her book by stating that no woman should be questioned about her decision to abort her preborn child since we do not know what it means to be someone else. Her advice appears on the surface to be respectful, non-interfering, and nonjudgmental. In truth, however, it exemplifies the fine art of deception. And this deception is the most sinister part of the book.
The fact that no person can know exactly what it means to be another person is precisely why one person can help another. Knowing and feeling exactly the way another knows and feels would not be helpful. We can help another person only when we are free of the areas of ignorance and confusion that are part of that other person’s mindset.
What we want to know, whenever we make a decision, is whether that decision is right or wrong. We often make wrong decisions that we later regret. We are not infallible. Wrong decisions are part of our life. We make wrong decisions for many reasons: inadequate information, poor judgment, social pressure, selfishness, emotional upset, convenience, and so on. It is precisely because of our fallibility that we need the counsel of others. People can and do help each other in making good decisions. Even if we could know exactly what it means to be someone else, all that amounts to is that we would make the same decision that the other person made. A woman should not be abandoned to herself when it comes to so important a decision as aborting or not aborting her child.
We seek advice before we buy a car or purchase a house. There is counselling available for people who are thinking about marriage, divorce, or suicide. We should not alienate ourselves from another person simply because we cannot be that other person. Love breaks down the barrier that separates people from each other. Manes’ book is attempting to teach children not to love.
Manes’ tactic brings to mind the predicament of Socrates, who eventually would be put to death. In his Apology, Plato likens the trial of the Gadfly of Athens to a doctor being prosecuted by a cook before a jury of children. The doctor represents healing, though sometimes with painful remedies. The cook represents pleasure, treating the children with sweet things. The children represent ignorance. Pro-lifers are the doctors who advise a course of action that may be difficult but ultimately good. Manes is the cook serving delicious treats in order to propagandize children into taking the easy way, the thoughtless way, and the way of apathy.
The “I-Thou” relationship specifies the essential dynamic of human beings as caring for one another. “No man is an island” speaks to the truth of the human being who is created to love. For Martin Buber, we are called by our nature to “meet” each other on the horizon of an “I-Thou relationship. Conversely, we are obliged not to abandon the other to the misery of self-isolation. “Insanity,” in the words of Ferdinand Ebner, a close associate of Martin Buber, is “the complete closedness of the I to the Thou. It is a spiritual condition in which neither the word nor love is any longer able to reach the individual.” We are made for dialogue, not neglect.
The fact that women who chose abortion, in their own judgment, made wrong decisions is evident in groups such as Victims of Choice, Women Exploited by Abortion, and Silent No More.
To advise children to disregard any obligation to care for others and remain morally isolated from them is an intent to disable the caring capacities of their minds. Andrew’s reaction to even the possibility of his mother having an abortion represents more wisdom than anything contained in Manes’ book. Christ was most severe on this point: “But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).
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