If It Feels Bad, Do It

At first glance it seemed like a prolifer's dream come true: A doctrinaire feminist is telling her prochoice comrades to drop their "self-delusions, fibs and evasions" and admit that abortion really does kill an innocent baby. "The death of a fetus is a real death, [and] . . . a terrible social evil," Naomi Wolf wrote in a recent issue of the New Republic. But don't start celebrating yet. It turns out that Wolf is calling abortion "evil" in order to protect abortion rights. And there are ominous signs that her ploy is working. According to Wolf, the prochoice movement has lost the moral high ground because it denies what most people know to be true: that the so-called "clump of tissue" is really a human baby. Did her recognition of this fact change Wolf's mind about abortion? No, it merely led to a change in strategy. Instead of defending a woman's "right to choose," Wolf says, feminists must place abortion within a moral framework—one that acknowledges good and evil, sin and redemption. Otherwise, Wolf warns, "we lose . . . millions of Americans who want to support abortion as a legal right but still need to condemn it as a moral iniquity." That sounds hypocritical, and it is. But unfortunately, it's a strategy that appears to work. Wolf cites a Newsweek poll in which 72 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, "[abortion is] a matter between a woman . . . her family, her conscience and her God." That's an astonishing increase of 30 points in favor of abortion rights over polls that don't use the words God or conscience, Wolf notes. Strangely enough, women who undergo abortions need to condemn the procedure, too, Wolf says. But how can these women reconcile their belief that abortion is evil and still have one? Wolf advises women who feel guilty following their abortions to perform acts of atonement, such as providing contraception to poor women or treating their already-born children better. It's the perfect theology for the postmodern era: Sin is defined as anything that makes you feed bad, and can be "fixed" not through God's grace, but through human gestures. It's a perversion of what the Gospel teaches—that sin is an offense against God that requires not just repentance but a willingness to change our lives. Sad to say, politicians have already begun exploiting Wolf's twisted moral framework. President Clinton recently announced that he planned to veto the partial-birth abortion bill because, he said, abortion should be a matter "between a woman, her conscience, her doctor and her God"—exactly the phrasing that Wolf recommends. Thanks to the controversy over the budget, virtually every other issue in Washington has been almost forgotten. But we Christians can’t let our leaders sweep the partial-birth abortion ban act under the rug. The House of Representatives is expected to vote this month on final amendments to this bill. Then it lands on the president's desk. And then you and I ought to start jamming the White House phone lines, protesting a presidential veto. We can't let Bill Clinton, or anyone else for that matter, hide behind pious, high-sounding language about God and conscience. Language that hides the killing of full-term babies behind a phony moral framework.


Chuck Colson



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