"Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend ... And I would have stayed up with you all night, Had I known how to save a life."
-- The Fray
Here's what happens when you align yourself in lock-step with one ideological/political set of beliefs: You open the door to very real charges of hypocrisy.
So it is, then, for many people who declare themselves unequivocally in the "Right to Life" camp. That's not to include, it must be noted, people who, for religious or deeply personal reasons, oppose abortion. They're convinced the act is wrong. Period. No questions asked. Life begins at conception and should at that point be protected.
I certainly have no problem with such sentiment -- in fact, I applaud it -- when it's genuine.
Unfortunately, many who call themselves right-to-lifers do so only because they are falling in line with the platform of one political party or are backing a particular political candidate. There's one major difference in these people and those who truly feel abortion violates their core beliefs.
These faux anti-abortion zealots have none. They are only following a party line. Then, when it turns out that the same political party or candidate they support is just as strongly opposed to programs that help the poor in this country, who are more than willing to leave the people in poverty to fend for themselves no matter the end results, it's hard to follow the logic in their so-called belief in right to life.
For some, who would use this issue only as a political tool, there is no concern for the sanctity of life. In essence, they say: "If you abort that fetus that you cannot by any stretch of the imagination afford to take care of, you are a killer. But once you bring that 'precious life' into this world, y'all are on your own. Just don't come sticking your grubby hands out here expecting help. You made this baby; you take care of it.
"Now go get a job."
Issues like abortion are very personal. When it comes to such matters that are absolutely of a life-or-death nature, it's not surprising that true believers -- one way or the other -- express their conviction with passion. It's sickening, then, to see political candidates who have no strong feelings about such issues try to inflame those passions as a political gambit.
When a man who would be vice president of the United States publicly declares that he would oppose abortion in any instance, even if it meant the mother of the child was likely to lose her life, you wonder about conviction. Would this man truly ask a husband to allow the sacrifice of his spouse so that an at-risk fetus might be born? Would he endorse such a sacrifice if it were his wife? And just what would his wife say to that?
Would this same staunch anti-abortion advocate be so adamant if a member of his family were raped and faced a lifetime of daily reminders of the act that led to her pregnancy?
(I find it amazing that many of these people who are so concerned about the sanctity of life would "solve" such an issue by declaring that all the rape victim has to do to overcome the horrors she has endured for nine months is simply give the baby up for adoption. Yep, that's going to solve any such lingering issue she might have. Just give the child away and you'll never even think of it again.)
I'm torn on the abortion issue, just as I am on many such large and personal ones. I can't imagine a woman ending a precious life on little more than a whim, determining that the lack of control and prevention that led to her pregnancy left her with an inconvenience. But I also cannot fathom how any person or group thinks it has the right to tell another person what she can or cannot do with her body.
Freedom, it seems, only goes as far as these self-proclaimed protectors of what's right see fit to allow.
Like any such personal issue, abortion is something that must be decided by individuals involved. Support or opposition should also be determined by personal conviction, not by some political party or politician. You don't want to be forced to pull a Mitch McConnell: Toe the party line on an issue (stem cell research) until you find out the issue you oppose can actually save the life of one of your relatives. Magically that conviction disappears.
In such personal cases, that's when you realize, hypocrisy or not, blood's thicker than any party line. And it becomes apparent such choices should be left to the individuals who face them.
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.