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Human lives are on the line Print
Guest column
Written by Steven Karlen   
Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008 -- 12:00 AM

During his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, presidential nominee Barack Obama made a comment in which he attempted to appeal to both pro-life and pro-abortion voters.

Guest Column

“We may not agree on abortion,” Obama said. “But surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country.”

While this sound byte may sound like a good faith effort to unite Americans, it revealed a fundamental flaw in the candidate’s understanding of the sanctity of life. We can agree on reducing the number of malaria cases in Africa or the number of car accidents on our highways because malaria and car accidents are by their very nature bad. But human beings are created in the image and likeness of God — whether they are wanted or unwanted.

Imagine a proposal to reduce the number of unwanted elderly people or unwanted orphans. Sounds morbid, doesn’t it? Reducing the number of unwanted infants is no better.

Any attempt to reduce unwanted pregnancies begins and ends with abstinence. However, once a child is conceived, how should “unwanted pregnancies” be dealt with? The pro-abortion slogan “Every child a wanted child” is almost right. Every child should be loved and wanted, but it’s not the child’s responsibility. It’s our duty to love and to want each and every child conceived.

If American simply accepted this responsibility, there would be no “unwanted” pregnancies. We don’t deal with unwanted orphans by eliminating them but by making sure they are loved and wanted. Neither should we eliminate our pre-born brothers and sisters.

Until we, as a nation, make the conscious decision to cease assigning value to a human life based on whether or not that life is “wanted,” we will remain a nation without hope.

Furthermore, Obama’s remark implied that we can simply agree to disagree on abortion — a belief that betrays a complete lack of understanding of the pro-life movement. Perhaps we can agree to disagree on taxes or energy policy or campaign finance reform. But when issues like slavery, apartheid, genocide, or other intrinsic evils rear their ugly heads as they so often have in the course of human history, there is simply no room for middle ground. Like abortion, all of these evil acts seek to justify discrimination and violence by making arbitrary judgments as to which classes of people are indeed people.

When human lives are on the line, compromise is the ultimate act of cowardice. Any man lacking the integrity to stand up for this truth is unworthy of holding public office, much less the presidency of the United States. In fact, anyone who claims to personally dislike abortion while supporting the so-called “right to choose” for others is naive at best and a liar at worst.

If abortion is not a moral evil, there is no reason to oppose it nor to seek to reduce its frequency. Indeed this claim is tantamount to saying, “I recognize that abortion ends the life of a unique human being, but I lack the moral courage to take a stand.”

Jesus said, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me.” It’s difficult to imagine a group of people more aptly described as the least of His people than the voiceless, defenseless, vulnerable children in the womb. Until Americans, from the humblest civilian to the president, take a stand in defense of these children, there can never be justice.


Steven Karlen, a member of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Madison, is helping coordinate this fall’s 40 Days for Life prayer vigil.