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Abortion, First Principles, and “The Root of Confusion”

by | Jul 13, 2017

By Dave Andrusko

Paul Greenberg

Paul Greenberg

When you edit a pro-life publication for nearly 36 years, as I have National Right to Life News and now also National Right to Life News Today, you learn from an awful lot of people, beginning with readers kind enough to correspond with you. My thanks, as always, to them.

But the professional reporter/columnist/editor that I have learned from the most is Paul Greenberg, the Pulitzer Prize winning editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. I try to read all his columns, but the reason I am posting the following is because of a column he wrote last month I’d missed until this morning. It is headlined, “How to Think.”

That’s exactly what Greenberg, who has spoken at National Right to Life’s annual convention, helps not just me but all his readers, to accomplish. In my case Greenberg has heightened my ability both how to reason about abortion and how to cut through the pro-abortion fog.

For example he wrote a column a while back which carried the headline, “The root of confusion.” The heart of this opinion piece was to illustrate the pretzel-like shape defenders of sex-selection abortions are forced into when they justify taking a child’s life for one reason and one reason only: she (and it is always a “she”) is the “wrong” sex.

He used a fellow columnist who tried to have it both ways (be a good “liberal” (concerned for the weak and the powerless) but bow down to Planned Parenthood which strongly opposes a ban on sex-selection abortions. The columnist eventually weaseled out, expressing no opinion of his own and asking what his readers thought.

Greenberg observes

“It’s the besetting sin of American opinion writing. I’ve lost count of the number of opinion pieces I see that have no opinion. Instead they weave all around some controversial question — like abortion, for example — without ever taking a clear stand.

“Our conflicted columnist’s big problem, his ethical dilemma, was symptomatic of those who don’t go back to first principles and think the abortion issue through. They don’t make the connection between the right to life and all the others subsidiary to it, like the right to equal treatment under the law.”

Greenberg eloquently reinforces that foundational principle: if you “Deprive the most innocent of life”—if you abort them, regardless of reason—“they will never be able to exercise any of the others.”

With relentless logic he drives home what ought to be obvious, but is often overlooked:

“The right to life must come first or all the others can never take root, much less flourish. As in the Declaration of Independence’s order of certain unalienable rights, among them ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ Note which one is mentioned first. And for good, logical reason.”

Ronald Reagan once said something I will never forget: “There are no easy answers but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.”

Greenberg adds his own flourish to this insight in his final paragraph:

“Those who think of abortion as an oh-so-complicated question pitting many equal, competing rights against one another don’t see — or maybe just don’t want to see — that a society that can abrogate the right to life can abrogate any right. For if we don’t have a right to life, we have no rights whatsoever.”

Categories: Abortion