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The abortion rights movement has always had a problem with language. The average American still hears the world "abortion" with some degree of moral revulsion. Activists did not need sophisticated marketing analysis to understand that much. Early on, the abortion rights movement shifted its public argument to the language of choice -- a woman's "right to choose."
But to choose what? No legal revolution was necessary in order for a woman to have the right to carry her unborn child to birth. What was demanded was the right to choose to kill the unborn child. This is the moral reality that was clouded and camouflaged by the "pro-choice" language.
In recent weeks leaders of Planned Parenthood disclosed that they are moving away from the pro-choice language because it just isn't working. Mary Elizabeth Williams agrees, saying that the change is "long overdue." She argues that the pro-abortion movement has fallen prey to the "sneaky, dirty tricks" of the pro-life movement -- a movement she says has controlled the life issue for too long.
Then, in chilling candor, Williams proceeds to affirm that every single unborn child is a human life. But, her argument is not pro-life. Far from it.
In her words:
"When we on the pro-choice side get cagey around the life question, it makes us illogically contradictory. I have friends who have referred to their abortions in terms of "scraping out a bunch of cells" and then a few years later were exultant over the pregnancies that they unhesitatingly described in terms of "the baby" and "this kid." I know women who have been relieved at their abortions and grieved over their miscarriages. Why can't we agree that how they felt about their pregnancies was vastly different, but that it's pretty silly to pretend that what was growing inside of them wasn't the same? Fetuses aren't selective like that. They don't qualify as human life only if they're intended to be born."
Williams skewers the "pro-choice" evasion. The fetus is a human life, she asserts -- every fetus, wanted or unwanted by its mother, planned or unplanned as a pregnancy. She even affirms that life begins at conception. But, she quickly argues, the fact that the unborn child is a human life doesn't mean that it should not be aborted.
"Here's the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal. That's a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers. Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She's the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always."
So the mother and the child are both fully human, fully alive, and fully recognized as human life. But the mother can abort that human life within her for any reason or for no stated reason at all. Williams argues that the mother is an autonomous agent, whereas the unborn child is not.
In premeditated candor Mary Elizabeth Williams declares that the unborn child is a human life, but not a human life worthy of respect or protection. As Williams insists, "I would put the life of a mother over the life of a fetus every single time -- even if I still need to acknowledge my conviction that the fetus is indeed a life."
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary -- the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.