America's Averted Gaze

Half a century before the American Civil War freed the slaves in the United States, William Wilberforce had already spent much of his life working to end the slave trade in Great Britain. First elected as a Member of Parliament in his early twenties, Wilberforce struggled with balancing his evangelical Christianity with his political career — until he found the issue that ultimately would define his earthly life.

The issue of abortion has often been likened to the issue of slavery. A powerful scene from “Amazing Grace,” the film that tells the story of Wilberforce’s efforts, invites comparisons between abolition and today’s debate over the sanctity of human life.

The scene depicts a young William Wilberforce, standing on the deck of a slave ship, addressing a group of wealthy men and women on an adjacent vessel as they enjoy classical music and culinary delicacies. He tells them of the horrors of a voyage from Africa to the West Indies. He describes for them how men, women and children are forced to make the month-long journey while chained in a space four feet long by eighteen inches wide, with no sanitation and very little food. He tells them how a cargo of 600 human beings is reduced to 200 before the voyage is complete.

“Remove your handkerchiefs from your noses,” he tells them as they recoil from the stench of the slave ship. “That is the smell of death.” Men are disgusted. Women weep. It is obvious that most of them have never contemplated the realities of the slave trade.

Similarly, far too many Americans have averted their gaze from the loss of one-third of an entire generation, destroyed by abortion. After three-plus decades of propaganda and outright lies from those on the so-called "pro-choice" side of this issue, they now find themselves defending the indefensible. They have even defended infanticide, in the form of partial birth abortion.

Their latest fight is with the state of South Carolina, whose state legislature is considering a bill requiring abortionists to show women seeking to terminate their pregnancies an ultrasound image of their fetus before the abortion can be performed.

Of course, opponents of the legislation say lawmakers are trying to “intimidate” women, and that they are making the issue “political.” Planned Parenthood spokesperson Lindsay Siler said: “Women are intelligent and thoughtful human beings who would not go forward if they did not think this was in their best interest. This bill is nothing more than politically driven. It’s unnecessary and an attempt to restrict abortion by scaring and intimidating women.”

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, opined, “The women of South Carolina would rather talk to their doctor about information they need to make private, personal medical decisions. This is not the place for interference by politicians.”

So, these purveyors of “choice” believe a woman should not be informed of all the ramifications of her decision before destroying the living human life within her womb. This law requires that she have at least one hour to think about the information she has just received before obtaining an abortion. We certainly can’t have that, now can we? These people act as though every woman in America is affluent and able to discuss her every health care decision with a specialist. The only specialist many pregnant women ever see is the one who wants to charge her a hefty fee for removing her little “problem.”

Proponents of this first-in-the-nation legislation say they believe that women would change their minds after seeing an ultrasound, choosing instead to keep the baby or give it up for adoption.

Currently, seven states have laws pertaining to abortion and ultrasounds. Women in Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin must be told an ultrasound is available. In Michigan and Arkansas, women must be given the opportunity to view an ultrasound if it has been performed. Ten other states are considering similar legislation.

William Wilberforce dedicated most of his life to prohibiting the unconscionable practice of trading in human beings for profit. The American people need to breath deeply “the smell of death,” just as he invited the upper crust of England to do.