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JP Grace: Abortion shouldn't be a 'political football'

Jan. 29, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

As we close out the "respect-life" month of January, I have this overriding thought: It is time for both the left and the right to stop treating the abortion question like a political football. It is time to get serious about working together to curtail the slaughter of some 4,000 innocent human lives in our country each day.

Yes, there is plenty of blame to pass around to both sides: Rightwing Republicans too often use abortion like a club to bash Democratic opponents and win elections while voting for budgetary cuts that will harm the least fortunate. Such cuts boost the odds that needy pregnant women will opt for abortion.

Don't tell me you are "pro-life" unless you are committed to providing the resources to aid women with "unwanted pregnancies" to decide to carry their child to term and choose either to raise that child or put the child up for adoption.

German women, I understand, have the same opportunities to choose to abort an unwanted pregnancy as do American women. Yet Germany's abortion rate is only one third that of ours.

The reason? Pure and simple, German social structures undergird a woman's choice to give birth and either keep or adopt out the child. Our social structures do far less.

On the left, office-seekers claim they are "protecting women's rights" or "women's reproductive health" (a misnomer if ever there was one) or "keeping the federal government out of your bedroom."

At best this is politically correct doubletalk; at worst it is pure nonsense.

"Rights," as our Declaration of Independence makes plain, come from God -- not from man.

I do not give you the "right to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness," God does. And I see no evidence at all that God has decided to allow women with unwanted pregnancies the "right" to be complicit in the killing of an independent life, a separate human being -- even though that life is dependent upon their bodily resources.

"I have a right to do what I want with my own body," a woman may assert. Yes, but there's just one problem, M'am: that other human being is not you, is not your body, and has rights of its own.

Indeed, I personally find it much more logical to make a case against abortion from progressive principles than I do from the conservative side Whose rights do progressives typically say they champion? Those of the poor, the marginalized, the voiceless.

Who among us is more voiceless than the child in the womb? And more in need of staunch defense?

Pro-life advocates frequently speak of the 55 million "silent screams" of unborn children aborted in the Unite States since the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade in 1973.

We all need to tune in and hear those screams. We all need to realize that these are real human beings, not prototypes or "would-be" humans.

What we cannot see because it is kept inside a woman's body is nonetheless real, nonetheless human, flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone, with a heart, a brain, thought processes and feelings.

When then we will have the courage to declare that this is not a left-right issue? Not a matter of "women's rights" but a matter of "human rights," and that human beings inside the womb come from a process designed by God for reproducing our kind.

The process is not casual but sacred. And all of us -- left, right and center -- need to engage in a national conversation TOGETHER to reduce abortion. And put the political football on a shelf.

John Patrick Grace formerly covered the Vatican for The Associated Press and later was religion and healthcare editor for The Greensboro (N.C.) News and Record. He lives in eastern Cabell County, edits books and teaches The Life Writing Class.

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