Sometimes, compromise stains the hands with blood.
Imagine it’s 1943; Nazi Germany has already terminated several millions Jews, and Hitler has no plans to slow down his genocide. However, the United States somehow convinces Hitler to consider a meeting. After much discussion, the United States and the dictator reach a compromise: Hitler will be allowed to continue killing Jews, but only Jews with last names that begin with the letters A through M.
No, it sounds ludicrous. Who would make such an arbitrary distinction, separating who can and cannot be murdered?
Some might say, “Well, at least thousands of Jews will be saved by such a deal; compromise is better than nothing at all,” but how can one compromise with lives? How does one decide that one life is worth more than another by virtue of its last name?
We’re running the same track with abortion. Pro-life conservatives always seem to rattle off the same sentence when talking about restricting abortion: “…with obvious exceptions for rape and incest.”
Up until a year ago, I was just like them. I was a pro-life conservative who never thought about the outrageous nature of such exceptions. Then, because of my sister’s advocacy, the pieces clicked into place. Why am I making arbitrary distinctions regarding the value of life based not on the life itself, but on the actions of its father? An infant is an infant no matter its origin, and to say “with obvious exceptions for rape and incest” is telling those who have been conceived in such ways that their lives don’t matter.
Could you tell someone who was the child of rape or incest that you believe their mother should have had the right to terminate them? Probably not. At the same time, however, you can sit comfortably in your home, send a once-a-year donation to Right to Life, and mindlessly rattle off the “rape and incest” line as if lives aren’t at stake. You can do this because it’s not personal. As long as it stays at arm’s length, it’s just a clinical distinction.
Sometimes it’s difficult to stand up for life. When a woman has been the victim of a brutal crime, no one wants to be the person who advocates against the “rape and incest” exception. But life isn’t designed to be easy; life is filled with incredible challenges–many of which can feel unbearable. But savagery cannot be repaid with savagery. To execute a child for its father’s crime is indeed savage. It’s as arbitrary as executing Jews based on their last name.
One South Carolina State Senator stood up for the lives of those conceived in rape and incest on Thursday when he filibustered a 20-week abortion bill. State Senator Lee Bright did this because rape and incest exceptions were added to the bill in an effort to appease liberals.
“I’m going to stand in the gap for that child that you don’t think deserves a right because his father is a criminal…Baby Doe, that child who we’ll never meet, is going to have a trial today. And we’re going to decide if it’s guilty of a capital offense because its father was a criminal.”
Bright had the courage to adhere to logic and principle, despite being in the minority. Bright is the living embodiment of what Marcus Aurelius wrote in “Meditations.”
“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”
We don’t execute rapists, we execute their children instead. Is that not the definition of insanity?
Logic and compassion call out to us—we who consider ourselves pro-life—not to dismiss those who are conceived as a result of rape or incest. It may make us feel uncomfortable, it may make us feel cruel, but the right thing isn’t the right thing because it feels good.
If you are truly pro-life, you cannot advocate for these exceptions. Lee Bright knows this. We should aspire to have such integrity and courage.
“Do the right thing. The rest doesn’t matter. Cold or warm. Tired or well-rested. Despised or honored.” – Marcus Aurelius