Charles Gray | The tragedy of aborted potential
The Gray Area | You have an opportunity to take up the pro-life cause on campus
November 1, 2011, 12:56 am·
The Gray Area
Last Saturday morning, I left the confines of Penn with two other people to participate in an important expression of political activism that rises above simple politics.
For almost two hours, we stood out in the rain in front of a Planned Parenthood at 8th and Appletree streets in Center City. It was part of a movement called 40 Days for Life, where Americans stand silently and constantly for 40 days in front of abortion centers in remembrance of those who have lost their lives in these buildings.
There aren’t enough people involved in the pro-life movement at Penn. When talking about the pro-life cause on campus, I hear a very common refrain from students. When they see sonograms, they feel that there is something wrong about abortion, but they are intimidated to act on their inner feelings.
Whenever I hear that, I think about a saying often attributed to the great political philosopher Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
One of the reasons I became passionate about this issue is my belief in the uniqueness of the American project. Most nations unite around common ethnic identities. But in our founding documents, it became clear that America would be united in the idea that there needed to be a place in the world where people could achieve “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” That’s the only way that humans could be able to reach their full potential.
Implicitly, these documents are saying that it’s wrong for the talents of any American to go to waste. We’ll never know what could have been achieved by those individuals who aren’t able to participate in this great opportunity called life. How many Einsteins or Lincolns have we lost?
President Ronald Reagan once cleverly pointed out that it’s convenient how everyone who is for abortion has already been born. They’ve already been given the opportunity of life that, according to them, others should not necessarily have.
At the same time, it is also important for us to recognize that the people who are actually involved in abortion are not evil. It is the practice itself that is wrong.
It is very common to hear the other side try to paint the pro-life movement as “anti-woman.” This is a political tactic devised by the message lobbyists in Washington. It’s a common strategy in our superficial modern-day politics — depicting a certain political view as being filled with hatred to convince undecideds that it is the wrong course. It usually indicates that the other side doesn’t think it can win on the facts.
The pro-life movement in general understands the complexities of this decision in a woman’s life. It’s impossible for me to know or understand the fear that a woman feels in potentially having to be responsible for another human being, perhaps without any help at all.
But I remain convinced that abortion is simply the wrong answer. There are other options — for example, Steve Jobs was adopted.
As part of the effort to create a respectful but real pro-life dialogue on campus, Penn for Life will host the new Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, in Houston Hall’s Hall of Flags next Monday at 7:30 p.m.
He’s an ideal speaker to unite and energize the pro-life community in Southeastern Pennsylvania because he’s not afraid to explain why it’s important for our faiths and our morals to inform the public policies we support.
But he won’t speak solely from a Catholic perspective. Chaput is interested in how living a faith-filled life in America is linked to involvement in politics.
As Chaput said in his book Render Unto Caesar, which handles this topic, “Abortion is not mainly a religious issue but a matter of human rights.”
In this book, it becomes clear that Chaput does not approach the issue solely from an archbishop’s perspective; he is also an historical thinker who understands that there are some values that America must stand for.
Whenever I’ve visited the Planned Parenthood on 8th and Appletree, I’ve always left feeling disappointed that only four blocks from Independence Hall, where the Founders attested to the value of human life, we are still so far from achieving their vision.
It’s up to us, the future of America, to determine whether we can get closer to this vision. Next week’s discussion is going to be a good start in advancing the pro-life cause on campus.
Let us be shy no longer.
Charles Gray, a board member of Penn for Life, is a College and Wharton senior from Casper, Wyo. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The Gray Area appears every Tuesday.