This is the explanation I promised you when I commented on Facebook how “extremely disappointed” I was with your Delaware County Times column on Sunday, November 12 (republished Monday in Broad + Liberty).
I told you that while I agreed with some of what you said, I thought your column was “weak where it could have been strong, and wrong where it could have been right.” You commented that you were “actually exceptionally proud” of it. One commenter said that she “completely disagreed” with me. She said that it was “a strong and powerful article from beginning to end.” To her I replied that “the true test of the utility of the column is whether it accomplishes what she wants to accomplish. I don’t think it does. It is like preaching to the choir. To succeed in the ultimate objective she needs to resonate with more than the choir, and in my opinion this column doesn’t.”
You are a gifted writer. I envy your command of the language and facility with words. In that regard I will never achieve equality with you. But in this column I feel that you failed to use your gift.
You began with remorse over the defeat of Carolyn Carluccio to Daniel McCaffery to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. I, too, was displeased with that outcome. You then moved to the dreadful Ohio constitutional amendment essentially legalizing abortion at every stage of pregnancy. You stated that the “Ohio amendment will give Ohio women the right to abort their babies at any time up to and including the moment of birth . . . .” You are probably right in that assessment, and I find that a horrendous possibility.
In discussing that probability you related that “I once hosted a radio debate with a rabbi who argued that he would support abortion for a woman in the ninth month, moments before birth, if the woman said she was suicidal and would kill herself if the baby was born. He was dead serious, and said that all he would need for confirmation about her state of mind was a notarized affidavit, signed off by a therapist. When I asked him if a medical professional was required, he said that he’d be fine with anyone trained in counseling battered women.” And there you essentially left it.
This was the point at which you could have absolutely destroyed the totally absurd notion that abortion should be permitted up to the moment of birth.
No rational person could honestly defend that position. Here was your missed opportunity. You should have said, or at least written in your column: “Rabbi, are you serious? Do you really mean to tell me that a woman, after nine months of pregnancy, and after her fourth contraction, could demand an abortion on the grounds that if she gives birth to a healthy baby she is going to kill herself? And in an effort to prove her point, she tells you to look in her purse for the note from her therapist that will attest to that fact. Then, while he searches for some defensive comment, you ask if he won’t yield just a little bit on his point of defending the right of abortion up to the moment of birth. Would you be willing, Rabbi, to end her right to an abortion when her water breaks?”
Wouldn’t you agree that the pictures that would go through the minds of your readers if they read that paragraph prove the point of the absurdity of asserting a right to abortion “up to the moment of birth?”
The pro-abortion forces assert a right of abortion up to the moment of birth because they don’t want to allow any time limitation on the right. That is their Achilles heel. Destroy the “moment of birth” argument, and they are on the defensive.
I also criticized your column for being wrong when it could have been right. This assertion of mine was triggered by your comment that Nikki Haley lost your vote by saying in the debate that she would not judge a “pro-choice” woman. Nikki Haley is a realist. She recognizes that an extreme anti-abortion position isn’t popular. Your comments about why Carolyn Carluccio lost and the Ohio abortion amendment won prove Haley’s point. She recognizes that only a compromise or middle position can prevail. She knows she needs the votes of some who are “pro-choice”. She can’t get them if she takes your position. Even you appear to realize that.
That appears to be why you said “I might have to simply give up on politics altogether, and focus my efforts on getting my own soul ready for judgment day.” You followed that up with “what profit a man to win Ohio, but lose his soul?” Apparently, you have forgotten that elections do matter. Electing Donald Trump enabled us to seat enough US Supreme Court justices to overthrow Roe v. Wade. Now that we have succeeded in getting the abortion issue back to the states, you are lamenting that things aren’t going your way so you want to “simply give up on politics altogether.” How about writing stronger, more persuasive columns? You can’t win if you give up.
Let me conclude with a comment on getting your “own soul ready for judgment day.” I very much fear that your conversation with Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates might go something like this:
Saint Peter: So, Christine, how many babies’ lives did your abortion position save?
Christine: Probably, none.
Saint Peter: Is it possible that a more moderate abortion position could have saved some lives, even if not all?
Christine: Yes, but then I would have had to abandon my morally superior position. Do I get in?”
Saint Peter: Hmmm.
Christine, a true friend is one who will tell you when you are wrong. I am your friend.
Howard Lurie is Emeritus Professor of Law, Charles Widger School of Law, Villanova University