Sunday, May 8, 2016

How Many Abortionists Does it Take to Play Catch with a Dead Child?

Among the slogans used by pro-life advocates, there is one that has particular relevance on this Mother’s Day. “Having an abortion doesn’t make you not a mother it makes you the mother of a dead child.” My goal isn’t to make you feel bad today, I just want to take a look back at how far we’ve come as a culture with respect to abortion.

34 years ago, my brother Dave Henderson and I were sued by two abortionists and the business where they worked. The case was Crist versus Henderson. In the era before Operation Rescue clinic blockades, we were something of an anomaly, conducting prayer vigils and picketing on public sidewalks spaces outside of an abortion business. We didn’t block doors. We didn’t trespass. We didn’t block driveways to keep cars from entering the business. We just prayed. We just marched with signs.

Even then, the right to engage in First Amendment free-speech was subjected to restrictions such as requirements to obtain a permit for demonstrations. While such restrictions are, in the view of First Amendment absolutists like me, always unconstitutional, we complied with the requirement and filled out dozens of permit applications over a two-year period. 

Unbeknownst to us, a police officer with the city police department was a niece of one of the abortionists. She made copies of our permit applications and provided them to her uncle. Her uncle contacted local attorneys here in Jacksonville North Carolina, and those attorneys instituted a defamation lawsuit against my brother and me on the ground that are referring to abortion as murder defamed them as murderers. The lawsuit sought $200,000 in damages and a permanent injunction against our picketing activity at the clinic.

While the outcome is not the point of the story let me just say that we were represented first by the North Carolina chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and later by a new legal organization known as the Rutherford Institute. The Rutherford Institute one a motion on our behalf for summary judgment. That victory was based on the court’s conclusion that the First Amendment protected our right to communicate our message about abortion. I’m thinking about that case today, however, because it is a sign of how things have changed over time.

Back then, in depositions of the abortionists, our attorneys from the Rutherford Institute found that these abortionists were familiar with the common, dehumanizing tactic of referring to a child within its mother by such to simulations as “gobbets of meat,” “products of conception,” and “conceptus.” Terms like these were common then as they are now because they disguise a reality which when recognized is too shocking for the normal mind to stand. That reality is that what an abortion does is kill a living human being.

That same abortionist once declined an invitation from our local community college to participate in a discussion and debate on the issue of abortion in which I would represent the pro-life view unless I agreed not to use photographic images of aborted babies as part of my presentation. Again, an obvious reason for doing so is to disguise a reality which the conscientious mind has difficulty accepting.

34 years later things are much different. Abortion advocates do not feel that the sacred right of abortion is much at risk when the reality of what it does is understood. Enough time has passed, enough conscience has been seared, enough exaltation of individual right has been established so that the capacity for sorrow and shame and horror approach nil.

For nearly 3 millennia in Western culture, the archetypes and mythology of ancient Greece have played against the conscience of the Western mind. Out of those archetypes and mythology two stories are particularly relevant.

Abortion isn’t new to this era. Where abortion was unavailable, infanticide was common, particularly in cultures not influenced by Judeo-Christian values. A common practice in Greek city states, known as exposure, involved parents of affected children babies being placed out of the cities on the sides of hills exposed to the weather and animals and allowed to die. Today, of course we know about the search and destroy methodology of abortionists who target, for example, babies with Down’s syndrome while still in the womb. Then, such sophisticated diagnostics were unavailable and a malformed baby would likely find itself exposed on a distant hillside. The story of one child left exposed on a hillside is told in a trio of plays by Sophocles. I refer here to the place of Oedipus

As you will recall, a prophecy was given to the parents of Oedipus that the child, not yet born, would kill its father and marry its mother. Patricide and incest wrapped in flash. Of course his parents place them on a hillside when he was born in hopes that he would die from exposure. As a side note, of course there is in the act of exposure at least that modicum of mercy which says to the gods will leave this child exposed on the hillside, you’ll decide whether he’s killed by animals dies in the heat of the cold or is spared by some intervention at your hand. In the case of Oedipus, he was found and rescued and raised rather than dying. Of course, ultimately, Oedipus does exactly as the prophecy says kills his father, marries his mother, father’s daughters and sons, and blinds himself when he discovers that he is that most loathsome creature about whom the long-ago prophecy foretold.

After the fall of Oedipus, rebellion arose in his house. A faction led by one son rose in rebellion against a faction led by another son. Both of Oedipus's sons were killed. Oedipus’s brother, Creon, was made king. Creon ordered that the one son be buried with honors for his role in defending the city. At the same time, he ordered that the other brother be left, his carcass exposed to the sun and to carrion fowl. In the Greek mind, being left exposed to the sun and carrion fowl, being denied burial, was a denial of humanity, and an obstruction to the afterlife.

In Antigone, Sophocles tells the story of Antigone, rejecting the king’s command, granting even handfuls of dirt for burial to her brother. It is a story in which Antigone recognizes the humanity of her shamed brother and demands for him a decent burial.

(If you did not read Antigone in school, I think you can still connect to the basic notion if you are a fan of the walking dead. As you recall, virtually every member of the faithful band was provided an honorable burial, while the walking dead enemies and strangers were left exposed on the ground. Those dozens of individual acts of burial of family and friends recognize the essential humanity of, and connection to, those lives.)

Another Greek myth tells the story of Tantalus.

Tantalus, like many of the chief figures of Greek mythology, was the son of Zeus. Granted a rare honor Tantalus was allowed to dine at the table of the Olympian gods but stole ambrosia from their table. Later, to appease the gods, he invited them to dine at his table. Whether he thought it was an honor, as some suggest, to do so, or whether he was testing the gods, Tantalus offered the body of his son for the gods to dine upon.

One of the gods, Demeter, consumed a portion of Pelops’ shoulder. The other gods immediately recognized, however, the blasphemy committed against them by Tantalus in offering human flesh to the gods. Zeus ordered Pelops restored to life and the missing portion of his shoulder was replaced by one made of ivory by Hephaestus.

In his afterlife, for punishment, Tantalus was required to stand immobile in a lake of freshwater that reeks to about his knees. Where he stood in the lake, he was just beneath the boughs of trees bearing fruit. To his eternal torment, however, each time he reached to scoop some of the cool water to slake his thirst the water receded away from him. Compounding the torment, each time he reached to satisfy his hunger to take a piece of fruit from the boughs above them, the branches pulled upward and away keeping the fruit tantalizingly out of reach. This was his eternal torment for blaspheming the gods and abusing the human corpse.

Tantalus abused a human corpse to tempt the gods. Creon blasphemed the God’s by prohibiting the burial of Antigone’s brother. In both cases the transgression was to fail to recognize the humanity of another.

William Brennan, professor of social work at St. Louis University, has researched and written extensively on the psychology of the Holocaust. In his work, he has demonstrated that Germans did not leap to the murderous rampage of Birkenau, Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, and other work and death camps. Rather those atrocities occurred at the long end of a trail of denial of humanity degradation of the humanity of another and then ultimately attacks on humanity. If you have not read Brennan’s work it is certainly worth reviewing.

The basics of the psychology make a lot of sense if you think about it. Few people could live with themselves if they believed and thought that they were murderers. So Jews become Unter mentioned, blacks become knickers, Asians become slopes, whites become honkies. We dehumanize then we kill.

I know these are dark thoughts on Mother’s Day.

Imagine discovering that the staff at local veterinary clinic was playing catch with the dead puppy that you had brought in.

Imagine discovering that the staff at the local mortuary was playing catch with the dead relative that you brought in.

There is a deep disorder in the mind which results from denial of humanity of the unborn child. To throw in aborted baby’s body back and forth in a game of catch tells us how far we have come from the days when abortionists use terms like conceptus, products of conception, or gobbet of meat to cover up the murder of children.

“You’ve come a long way, baby, to get where you’ve got to today.” That was the Virginia Slims theme when the cigarette for women was introduced nearly 50 years ago.

Well, as a Nation we have come a long way, a long way toward the inhumanity that turned a blind eye to Holocaust, to slavery, to the Trail of Tears. And part of that long journey is marked by the change from abortionists that use weasel words to hide child murder to abortionists that play catch with dead children.