Not long ago I met a man who has dedicated much of his time and energy to a pro-life group. He was discouraged at the results of that work. The acceptance of abortion in American society has grown since his pro-life activity began, about 10 years ago. He was puzzled by this downward trend in Americans' attitude toward the taking of human life. In the course of our conversation, I learned what my friend's job is: He is a nuclear weapons technician at a military facility.
I share my friend's concern about the taking of human life through abortion. But his puzzlement at its acceptance in America puzzles me. As long as we prepare each day in our research institutes, corporations, and military bases to incinerate millions of children and adults abroad, why should we be surprised at an acceptance of the killing of unborn children in America? Abortion is the domestic side of the nuclear arms race.
The people who believe in nuclear weapons as a necessary evil and the people who believe in abortion as a necessary evil are often very different politically. But what we all seem to hold in common in America, from pro-life weapons technicians to pacifist abortionists, is a willingness to take human life on a massive scale for the sake of a particular freedom. Human life is not held sacred in this country. Regardless of political differences, our overall attitudes as a people have a deadly consistency.
As Adrienne Rich points out in her book, Of Woman Born, abortion is a final, desperate act of violence for women who can see no other choice: "No free woman, with 100 per cent effective, non-harmful birth control readily available, would 'choose' abortion....In a society where women entered sexual intercourse willingly, where adequate contraception was a genuine social priority, there would be no 'abortion issue.' "