Monday, October 20, 2008


By Judie Brown

I am frequently reminded by my fellow pro-lifers that the position taken by American Life League, which does not approve of a single exception, is unrealistic and purist, and that we are actually the enemy of the good. In fact, a reader named Nicole recently took me to task over my commentary on the South Dakota bill. She wrote, in part, 

Please don't get on your righteous soap box thinking you are better than the rest of us because you can hold out for the "perfect bill." Believe me, I would love that perfect bill but my main concern is saving a life. I don't see that as compromise.

I learn a great deal from pro-life Americans each and every day. One of the things I learn is that whenever some of us look at a political loss, we tell ourselves that we have to do something different to win next time, even if it means weakening our moral position. When we do this, we feel good if we do win, but we don't take the time to examine the problematic nature of what we have chosen to do in light of our ultimate goal.

As I told Nicole,

All of us who would sincerely love to see a bill pass that will indeed end the killing without leaving a single child behind should be striving for personhood bills instead of attempting to regulate the killing while suggesting that some human beings are expendable. . .

[At American Life League,] we are morally obligated to decry those measures which permit abortion for certain cases. Why? Because God is the author of life, and until He gives us permission to permit killing, we may not do so.

When I wrote this, I wish I had remembered to quote one of the finest pro-lifers I have ever known. His name was Robert McFadden, and though he died much too young, he was wise beyond his years. His sister Maria found the following quote on his computer after his death some time around 1985: 

Currently, to the dismay of many, pro-lifers are being perceived as angry, violent radicals who will hurt you if you don't agree with them. This perception is unfair when applied to the anti-abortion movement in toto but it accurately defines an increasing minority.

. . .The answer to all this is a Chestertonian paradox. In order to win this struggle we must avoid trying to win it. We must do what we do against abortion not because this or that action will secure us a victory but because it is right to perform that action. We can fight endlessly for good, [m]oral legislation to save unborn children, but with the willingness to lose a fight rather than sacrificing principles to win. We can try to remember Christian charity and compassion for those among us who are risking their chances of eternal happiness by fighting against God. Instead of hating these people, and trying to hurt or terrify them, we should be praying for them, and treating them with the basic civility Christians used to be know[n] for. The children they are complicit in killing go to God. The real victims are those people who, either by their own volition or the persuasion of another are through their actions repeatedly driving a knife through their own souls. We must continue to educate, to provide the calm voice of reason and logic to counter the often hysterical rantings of the other side.

We must try to "play this game" as if we were on God's team, trying to follow His coaching and not as if we were coaching God.

I wish these profound insights were posted somewhere on the internet, but Robert died before the internet became a household word. However, his words are worth pondering. And in light of those words, I am led to share another story with you which is on the internet, thanks to a wonderful woman who simply is not satisfied to sit by and witness exceptions to abortion being advanced because doing so is all that is "possible" in today's political climate.

She writes under the name Veronica Diego, and her web site is called "Consecrated Children."

The web site's subtitle tells the visitor, "This site was created as a forum for posting and sharing the stories of the amazing persons who were conceived as a result of a rape."

And let me assure you, once you visit that web site, if you believed that an exception for rape is necessary because, supposedly, it is politically expedient, your perspective will forever be changed. From those stories, I learned that Angelina Jolie's adopted daughter was conceived because of rape – a fact that somehow evades the mainstream media, at least as far as I know.

Another of those beautiful people featured on Veronica's web site is Rebecca Kiessling, who hosts her own web site, for precisely the same reason: She was conceived when her mother was raped. Rebecca travels the nation speaking to politicians and others about the human dignity of every preborn child.

Among my dearest "purist" friends was a very wise lady named Marie Dietz. Marie wrote a pamphlet many years ago entitled When it comes to abortion bans, exceptions break the rule.

In her short essay, she explained,

In The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis tells us that if we throw away the yardstick we no longer have anything by which to measure. If the pro-life movement throws away its moral yardstick by admitting, however tacitly, a "right" to abortion, by what standard will we measure the right to life of anyone?

I submit that ours is not a political movement. It is a moral movement brought into the political arena through no fault of our own. But if we are not a political movement, then politics cannot save us – or the babies.

One thing every pro-life American can agree on is the goal: Not a single abortion should be protected under cover of law. That means personhood and the pursuit of personhood is a worthy, justifiable and consistent objective. Pursuing personhood negates the discussion of exceptions and focuses on who we are defending.

At American Life League, we have been pressing for personhood for decades, and the effort is finally bearing fruit. We do not view it as a purist position, but as the only one that embraces the human beings we are so blessed to be striving to protect.

Is the pursuit of personhood merely a purist position that has no reasonable chance of succeeding?

: a person who adheres strictly and often excessively to a tradition.

In the context of this discussion, this definition raises the following questions:

  • Can one adhere excessively to truth?
  • Can one be too strict in defending the dignity of the human person?
  • Can one be extreme by believing that, in God and through Him, all things are possible?

Well, if you answer those three questions in the affirmative, then indeed, Judie Brown is a purist.

Judie Brown is president of American Life League and a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

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