What Can Pro-Lifers Learn from Vegetarians?

veggiesCan pro-lifers learn something from vegetarians—perhaps a means of swaying public opinion? According to the results of a recent NPR Intelligence Squared Debate, the answer seems to be a resounding yes. In the two-on-two competition, Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, argued for the elimination of meat from global diets, stating, “When the animals are seen as commodities, and as edibles, they are not treated with respect. That is bad for the animals, and I would also suggest it is bad for us.” After beginning with half of the audience against him, Gene and his co-debater managed to sway an additional fifth of the crowd to their side. If wantonly killing animals can change the minds of so many people so quickly, could it have the same impact coming from a pro-life speaker? Imagine Gene standing in front of a group of American voters, testifying to a similar notion, but with slightly different words: “When children—born or unborn—are seen as commodities, and as annoyances, they are not treated with respect. That is bad for the children, and I would suggest it is bad for us.” Is this mere sentiment, or something more scientific? In the words of one study involving 237 low-income women from Baltimore, “Women who had an abortion history reported more frequent slapping, hitting, kicking or biting, beating, and use of physical punishment compared to women without an abortion history.” Outside the United States, a government-sponsored study from Finland found that women who had a history of induced abortion had a rate of suicide nearly three times that of the general population. Should these reports or similar studies surprise us? It doesn’t take a genius to see that those who practice violence of one sort will more readily engage in other types—both against others and against themselves. The point, then, is that abortion is not a one-time procedure that affects one woman alone. Just as the torture of an animal may make a person more beast-like than before, the taking of an innocent human life may well play a role in changing peaceful parents into abusive ones and turn life-loving women into victims of suicide. If the killing of cows makes us cruel, surely the killing of unborn children makes us something much, much worse. And that notion—the idea that abortion is not just a moral crime against another, but a degradation of ourselves—could be very persuasive.

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