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By Jennifer Hartline

1/18/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (

The line is very simple, very absolute: the child in the womb is a human person from the moment of conception and has the right to live.

For too many people, outlawing abortion from conception onward is just too demanding a position to take. They don't really like abortion, but they want more flexibility than "no abortion, ever."  So they find a more comfortable line to draw. Some destruction of human life has to be allowed, just not too much. That's where some political conservatives want to take the pro-life effort, and we have to refuse to go there.


By Jennifer Hartline

Catholic Online (

1/18/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Chicks on the Right, abortion, contraception, conservatives, Jennifer Hartline

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - If the Chicks on the Right had their way, people like me would leave the conservative tent because any position on abortion that doesn't allow some room for some abortions under some circumstances is too extreme, too unrealistic, too whatever. 

They contend that Conservatism needs a makeover and I need to step aside and let the modern, moderate conservatives take over the message and the mechanics.

They want to draw a more reasonable line.  And sad to say, judging from the truckload of affirmative comments to their recent post, they're not alone.  My husband calls it politics for politics' sake. 

The Chicks will be happy to hear that I'll be glad to shed the conservative label.  It's pretty meaningless now.  I suppose it makes some distinction between me and a hard-left abortion-on-demand, nanny-government liberal, but that's about all it does.  It doesn't encompass what I really believe, or what is really right. (I'm simply Catholic; a la Christ and His Church, not a la Pelosi and Biden.)

One of the Chicks, Mockarena, says that while she doesn't dispute the science of when life begins, she has drawn her abortion line at a beating heart, or about 21 days past conception.  From that point on, she says abortion is wrong.  Before then, it's not a problem and should be allowed, and in fact, encouraged through the use of Plan B/Morning After pills and widespread contraception.  This would be a victory for conservatives, she claims, and would achieve the goal of reducing abortions in America.  This is realistic, and that's where we should be putting our efforts, says she.  Those who disagree with her are unreasonable, extreme, and hurting the conservative cause.

To Mockarena, I have to ask one question:  What makes your line any less arbitrary than the line the pro-abortionists have drawn?  Their line is the moment after delivery when the cord is cut.  Why is your line any better?

It's really all about finding the line that makes us most comfortable.  The line we feel lets us have the best of both sides of the thing we're debating.  (As if abortion has a good side...)  The line where a desirable-enough outcome is achieved, even if it isn't the truly moral or just outcome.

How much killing can we get away with without getting bloody?  How much killing can we stomach and still sleep at night?  How much power can we assert over another one who is powerless without seeming like a big bully, or tyrant, or heartless abuser ourselves? 

How can we cheat a little and still be reputable?  How can we have what we want without making the difficult sacrifice?  How far can we push that line before we actually have to do the right thing?

Abortion is wrong.  Period.  Full stop.

Many conservatives will say they agree with me.  But like Mockarena, then they'll want to continue... "but we have to face reality.  Abortion is legal, after all, and we're not going to turn back the clock. So shouldn't we concentrate our efforts on making abortion as rare and undesirable as possible?  Shouldn't we focus on reducing the number of abortions by championing contraception, including the Morning After pill?  After all, women who've been raped or had unprotected sex should get emergency contraception immediately.  Then they won't need a real abortion later."

(Allow me to introduce you to Kathleen Sebelius, Cecile Richards, and Sandra Fluke.  I think you'll all get along swimmingly.)

If more contraception was the key to fewer abortions, then more bars ought to be the solution to drunk-driving.

I'm not sure conservatives who make this argument are interested in justice or in what's genuinely right or even factual. (First they need to stop getting their information from the Guttmacher Institute.)  Perhaps they're more interested in comfort, compromise, and popularity.  They're interested in politics. 

But abortion is not a political issue.  It's the ultimate human rights issue; the true test of society's morality and justice.  People who can utter the word "need" in relation to abortion have not yet grasped what it's all about.  When is there ever a need to kill a child??

It's about only one thing: the humanity of the child in the womb.  It's about recognizing that humanity even when it's inconvenient to us and cramps our style; even when it alters our plans.

But admittedly, that's a demanding position to take.  That's an all-or-nothing hill to die on, pardon the pun, and for too many people, that's asking too much.  They don't really like abortion, and they don't want to be lumped in with radical pro-abortionists, but they also want more flexibility than "no abortion, ever, period."

So they draw their comfortable lines at their acceptable limit of destruction. They'll tolerate this much, but no more, because after that it becomes wrong somehow that it wasn't wrong before.  Why?  Well, just because they said so. On this side of the line, it feels okay.  On the other side of the line, it seems wrong, so that's the end of it. To hell with logic, science, and even morality if it disagrees with the line they've drawn. To hell with you if your line is different from theirs.

Trouble is, the line means nothing to the human souls being snuffed out.  It's of little comfort to the human person being flushed away. 

We might be able to live with the line we've drawn, but it's still killing them.

But since their faces can't haunt us; their unformed bodies aren't buried; since they didn't suffer pain; since they were never aware of themselves and we were barely aware of them; their names were never known to us; their futures not even imagined... we think their loss doesn't matter.  We think their absence is meaningless and the responsibility for their deaths won't be laid at our feet for eternity.

We are wrong to think so.  We are no better than punk bullies picking on someone who is a bother to us in the present moment.  We are self-anointed gods who believe we have authority over life and death, including someone else's life and death.  We are slave owners once again and the child in the womb is our property, so we think.

The line is actually very simple, yet very absolute. 

The line is here: the child in the womb is a human person from the moment of conception, and has the right to live.

Any other line is purely an arbitrary one based on emotion, drawn in our own favor, while the child pays the price. 

The Abolitionists in the 1800's didn't settle for partially-freed slaves who were almost always recognized as persons, except under certain conditions at certain times. 

Neither should we who claim to be pro-life ever settle for any line that denies the humanity of the child in the womb in the early days and weeks of pregnancy, or at any time. To hell with politics.

Either we have the guts and the conviction to say the child is a human being at all times or we don't.

That's the line.  It's the only line that everyone can live with.


Jennifer Hartline is a grateful Catholic, a proud Army wife and homeschooling mother of three children, with another in the womb.  She is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.  Visit her online at Wake Up, Deborah!


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