“You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.”
I think most everyone has heard or used this expression. Like most old sayings, it endures because it links a philosophical truth with an everyday experience. Simply stated, that truth says that a thing cannot be and not be at the same time. Aristotle and Plato will be long forgotten before a hungry man, clutching his last piece of bread, forgets this self-evident truth; it is, as they say, common sense.
While it has often been said that common sense is not entirely common, there is one subject where I have found it to be virtually extinct. People may understand ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it too’ but when confronted with the reality of abortion they invariably try to ‘Have their minds and lose them too.’ I submit the following recent conversation, among hundreds I have had, to illustrate this phenomenon:
“Oh, I’m not here for an abortion.”
“Honestly, I didn’t think you were. Actually, most of the people I talk to aren’t here for an abortion. But they are performing abortions right now.”
“Yah, I’m against abortion. I’m pro-life.”
Extending my hand, I said, “I’m David, what’s your name?”
“Christina, why would you be against abortion? What’s wrong with it?”
“Well, it takes a human life.”
I have had a nearly identical conversation so many times it almost seems scripted when it occurs. What’s astounding is that everyone gives the same answer, in one form or another.
Namely, abortion is wrong because: it kills a baby; it takes a human life; it’s murder. I asked Christina if she was a Christian. She said she was. I went on to gently, but firmly, challenge her. She admitted that abortion was murder but that she, while personally opposed to it, couldn’t judge others. Using several examples I explained to her the absurdity of that reasoning. She agreed that what I was saying made sense. She then brought up the case of rape. I asked her if healing and justice were realized by responding to one of the most evil and violent acts imaginable (rape), by encouraging the victim to commit the only act that is worse (murder). She agreed that they were not. I then asked her why she would willingly patronize a business that, in her own words, “takes human lives.” She gave me no answer but thanked me, smiled, and went into Planned Parenthood.
This kind of thinking (or rather unthinking) is not limited only to people who are heading into an abortion facility. This same double-mindedness is often displayed in sincere and well meaning “pro-life” people. Many, who would never dream of patronizing a place like Planned Parenthood and who oppose abortion, mistakenly insist there should be exceptions in cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother. The error in advocating these exceptions can be countered in many ways, but the most obvious and fundamental reason they are wrong is the only reason to oppose any elective abortion – it takes a human life.
To ‘abort’ anything, by definition, means to stop something that is in progress; in the case of human abortion that something is life. This is not a disputed scientific fact; all the textbooks agree – human life begins at conception. Even those that are open advocates for abortion are trying to have their cake and eat it too. I have been scolded by “pro-choice” people for making, what they claim is, a difficult decision more difficult by heaping shame and guilt on women. The obvious question is, “What is so difficult about the decision?” Is it simply a pragmatic medical decision or a serious moral dilemma?
A modern, educated person might call this condition of holding two contradictory ideas ‘cognitive dissonance’. I prefer the older and more descriptive term – double-minded. I can sympathize with someone who is deceived; being deceived involves ignorance – you wouldn’t be deceived if you knew you were deceived. But, if we willfully deny truth, we are lying, or bearing false witness against ourselves and have, in a very real sense, lost our minds. What is more, if we will not humble ourselves and acknowledge truth, we will inevitably continue to bear false witness against our neighbor as well; indeed, against our weakest and most vulnerable pre-born neighbors. When we do so, innocent children continue to lose their lives. And we, as a nation, have lost not only our mind, but our soul.