MANN TALK: Who Isn't Pro-Life?

by Perry Mann
Everyone is pro-life, except sadists, sociopaths, and psychotics. Everyone is happier working to save and enhance life rather than working to  take and degrade it.  Nature has built into the genes of man empathy, the  moral ingredient that inhibits man’s homicidal tendencies and furnishes the cohesion that makes him a success as a social animal. Some moral eccentrics go so far as to avoid stepping on an ant.  


Yet man lives on death. He cannot ingest a mouthful without killing what he eats or eating what he has killed. There is no life without  killing and death. Man has killed caught and butchered for his table daily  herds and flocks and schools of animal life and vast acres of  vegetation from the fields and hills of the whole earth. And he wars with his fellowman tooth and claw  and he spends billions to  prepare for wars and for high-tech  slaughter of men, women and children of other nations.  

Nature is prodigal with sperm and egg. Women produce hundreds of eggs  during their fertile years and men ejaculate millions of sperms per orgasm. Yet, women cannot have more than ten to twenty children so hundreds of potential lives per female by nature mandates never see the sun.   And in modern society, even the most fanatical anti-abortionists manage to limit their offsprings to way less than they could have if they did not in some manner prevent the union of sperm and egg and thus preclude  potential life from flowering. Who in this society has ten children anymore, a number that  when children could work in the fields was par for the female’s fertile period? Where have all those children gone? Who moans that they have been denied life and the prospect of their eternal souls gaining heaven?  

Once, we had a president lying awake at night weighing the moral and political consequences of advocating or not  the funding of stem-cell research. On the one hand, there are the scientists that say  that stem cells --- an embryo or fertilized  human egg that has divided a few times --- can be helpful in the treatment of diseases that afflict mankind. On the other hand, there are those who claim that a fertilized egg is a human being with a soul and   that  to destroy the embryo in research is murder and an abomination in the eyes of God.  

How do the theologians reconcile nature’s prodigality and God’s concern for an embryo? How do the anti-abortionist reconcile nature’s prodigality, as well as  their own contraception of life, and God’s concern for an embryo or a fetus? And how do they, or does anyone else,  know that God  takes the side of the anti-abortionists, except upon faith, which  may be nothing more than a psychological security blanket  to clutch  in passage   of  this eternal and infinite mystery and which is certainly a tenuous  premise from  which to impose the dictates of one’s  morality upon another, particularly when the issue is as intimate as reproduction.  

The immediate inducement for  this piece is a letter to the editor written by a minister I once corresponded with. He has read some recent statistics and is elated to conclude that America is leaning toward pro-life and that “Americans strongly believe that the lives of unborn children should be protected and not taken as a matter of elective birth-control.”  

I am certain that the minister believes that he is on the side of the angels on this issue and that God smiles upon his voicing his opinion on behalf  of the unborn. He has had a call from God and has the responsibility of being God’s surrogate on earth. And advocating life is an act that without doubt makes him or anyone else for that matter, feel good.  But I wonder how good he would feel if he had to implement his belief that a woman should not by law have the option of elective birth-control and that that  law should be enforced by criminal penalties, including the penalty for murder.  

An anecdotal point is pertinent here. My grandmother nearly every Saturday went to the barnyard with a bucket of grain, called the chickens and scattered the grain near her feet. When the hen or rooster she had chosen to be Sunday meal’s meat came within reach, she would grab the chicken by the leg, get both legs and wing tips firmly in her grip and walk to the woodshed chopping block. In spite of all the chicken’s struggling  and squawking, she would lay its neck on  the block and chop its head off with an ax. She would hold the chicken at arm’s length until its blood and  life left it. Then she would scald it  to facilitate plucking the feathers, she would singe it to burn the hair feathers, eviscerate it  and cook it.  

Today many families have chicken on Sunday but no member of any  family I know of puts a chicken on the table in the way  that my grandmother did. More often than not the chicken is already cooked or, if not cooked, packaged and ready for the pot or  skillet. If women or men had to  kill and prepare all the meat that they consumed, I guess that there would be much  less meat eaten.    

And so it is with abortion. If an anti-abortionist had to support all the children he saved through his advocacy, or if he had to be judge, jury and jailer of the women  or doctors who violated the anti-abortionist laws that he would have legislated or adjudicated, he would not be so strident in his pro-life position. To vote for war is much easier than  to fight in the trenches.

  I am pro-life. I don’t carry a gun. I don’t hunt or fish. I am a pacifist at heart. I am a vegetarian mostly. I am an environmentalist. And  I wish this were the best of all possible worlds where every  human conception was a joy   and every child  was wanted, needed and treated with loving and caring responsibility. But there is no such world, never has been and never will be.  

I cannot, in spite of my love of life, all life, bring myself to advocate that the law of the land shall be that a woman who elects to abort her child has committed murder and whoever assists her is an accomplice to murder and that they are subject to imprisonment or even to execution.  

Nature has built an inhibition to killing into the genes but she has also built in them an indifference to life. All life lives off other life; and man is no different. He too lives off other lives. He is in no moral position to tell women that they can’t do likewise.        

                                        * * * Perry Mann is a former teacher, a lawyer, a former prosecuting attorney of Summers County and a columnist for Huntington News Network. He lives in Hinton, WV. He was born in Charleston, WV in 1921.
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