Wednesday, July 07, 2004

A chance to frame the debate

For a fleeting instant, John Kerry seemed to be having a moment of intellectual honesty. He said he believes life begins at conception. Wow! Now this may be obvious to most of us "little people", but for a Democratic presidential candidate such an admission is nothing less than earth-shattering.

But — there is always the but — "I can't take my Catholic belief, my article of faith, and legislate it on a Protestant or a Jew or an atheist. We have separation of church and state in the United States of America", quotes the Washington Post.

Now, I happen to believe that life continues beyond conception. So, if a parent decides to terminate a child's life at say, six months, is that protected religious practice? Stupid question. Nevertheless, this basic acknowledgement of human life by a prominent national Democrat cracks open the door on the abortion debate in a way the abortion advocates never wanted. The last thing they want to acknowledge is that life begins at conception. Some interesting chemical process, maybe. But we must not call it "life".

So there we have it. Hand-wringing, eyebrow-lurching concern that his fading Botox cannot hide. We say lots of things about abortion — that it ought to be safe, rare and legal. That it is simply a matter of choice. We say all sorts of things about abortion, but can't quite bring ourselves to say what it is. Let's seize this opportunity and put a stake in the ground right now.

If life begins at conception, then the termination of that life is just that — killing. If we accomplish nothing else in the abortion debate this political season, let's at least get the "it's only a choice" side to admit one thing: that abortion is indeed the taking of human life.

If a woman, in her conscience, can go against the very fiber of her being and take the life of her child — in the name of health, safety, choice, convenience, whatever — then I guess we all have to live with the consequences of that decision. But we ought to, at the very least, acknowledge that a life has been taken. Don't dishonor life by denying its existence.

So the law permits abortion. It may be safe, it may be legal. Certainly it's not rare. But if life begins at conception, then what abortion really is, boils down to one word. Check the dictionary.

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