Dwight Writes


A response to an article by Anna Quindlen

Ms. Quinlen, when I read articles such as yours ("Now Available: Middle Ground"), I become profoundly puzzled. Either you really don't understand the viewpoints of those who proudly call themselves pro-life, or you do understand but prefer to be polemical. I don't think that you are so stupid that the first is true, yet it saddens me to think that you are so dishonest that the second is true.

First of all, there is no "middle ground" when it comes to life. You either oppose the taking of innocent life, or you don't. The question, of course, then becomes, when does life begin. Certainly there can be honest disagreement about this. For my part, it seems clear that human life begins when "his" DNA and "her" DNA do their dance, resulting in a new, genetically unique individual, genetically distinct from both parents. Everything from that point is about development, not creation. And while some are capable (I don't understand how) of judging some more worthy than others of exercising the right to live, I am not.

The fact that a new life arises from the horrible action of rape does not make that life less worthy of being alive. Isn't it more human to see beyond the horror of the evil act to the miracle of new life than to compound the original evil with the taking of innocent life? Shouldn't we expend all our energy trying to show that good can come even from the worst kind of evil? Isn't that the more human course of action, "human" in the sense of the great strength that our humanity makes us capable of in the face of evil?

Motherhood, as you know, is a great and mysterious gift. There is certainly great cost in choosing to be a mother, for it demands daily suffering and self-abnegation. Don't you know that to refuse to exercise the gift of being a co-creator with God of new life also has its cost? Ask any of your friends who have dedicated their lives to the service of God by choosing to be celibate.

A woman who becomes pregnant as a result of rape is not thereby "forced" to become a mother, anymore than a person who suffers from cancer is forced to become heroic. In both cases they are forced to deal with circumstances beyond their control. That they each can fail to be heroic in their choices is a sad truth of our fragile humanity. But is it best for all that we enable the path to self-destruction? In both cases our role is to offer our deepest compassion for their suffering, but lead them with our own courage to discover their own greater, truer selves.


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