KLAVAN: Why I Changed My Mind About Abortion

"My natural sympathies are with the libertarians on this issue. But logic and moral truth are with the people who marched in Washington Wednesday."

Despite freezing temperatures and storm-battered travel, thousands of people marched on Washington D.C. Wednesday in the hope of protecting unborn babies from abortion. The demonstrators in the 41st annual March for Life didn’t receive the media adulation dishonest Democrat pol Wendy Davis got when she filibustered a Texas anti-abortion law last summer. But media or no media, the pro-life forces will continue the slow but relentless process of winning honest hearts and minds.

I feel sure they will, because mine is a heart they’ve already won.

Until quite recently, I was pro-abortion. I opposed Roe V. Wade — I thought it a dishonest decision that robbed the people of their right to settle the matter for themselves. But given the chance to vote on the issue, I would have voted for the greatest possible abortion access. While I myself live according to my conservative lights, I've never felt I have the right to impose those values on others.

I changed my mind about abortion, however, because after debating the issue with pro-lifers over many years, I found I consistently lost the argument.

I’ve changed many of my opinions as I’ve grown wiser with time, but this change was one of the hardest. Not only does it go against my libertarian nature, it also means opposing the passionately held beliefs of some of the people I love most. Several of the women in my circle feel that access to abortion is an essential right.

But why? How exactly does that argument go?

Whenever I hear abortion spokespeople defend their position — and I mean, whenever I hear them — they seem to me determined to obscure the real issue. They talk about being “pro-choice,” but who among their opponents is anti-choice? They talk about “women’s health,” but what sinister constituency demands that women be unhealthy? They talk about “protecting a woman’s body,” but it’s not the woman’s body under threat, it’s the body of the baby inside her.

During elections, our corrupt leftist journalists routinely play Gotcha with pro-life candidates by asking if they favor abortion in cases of rape and incest. But they never ask “pro-choice” candidates if they favor abortion when the mother wants a boy instead of a girl or a Sagittarius instead of a Virgo or, if it should become possible to determine, a straight son instead of a gay one. Those are all legal reasons for abortion now. Should they be? If not, why not?

Okay, aborting a baby might be liberating, empowering and convenient. It might even dramatically improve the future course of your life. But the same could be said about murdering your wife if she’s a big enough pain in the neck. That doesn’t give you the right to do it, and it doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

The only relevant question about abortion is whether an unborn child is or is not a human being. If she is, I do not see how you have the moral right to kill her except in extreme circumstances.

I know there are good people who say no, a fetus can not yet think or choose fully enough to be considered wholly human. But that viewpoint is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain as better technology reveals the complexity of life within the womb.

And even if a fetus’s humanity is not yet complete, it’s wise to consider this piece of wisdom from the Clint Eastwood western Unforgiven. When you kill a man, Clint’s character says, you “take away all he’s got and all he’s ever gonna have.” That’s right. We are creatures who exist in time. We are as much what we will be as who we are. A man who’s fast asleep can’t think or choose fully either, but he’ll be well able when morning comes. So it is with an unborn child.

My natural sympathies are with the libertarians on this issue. But logic and moral truth are with the people who marched in Washington Wednesday. And so now I’m with them too.