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Pro-Lifers and the Psalmist’s Curses

“By the Rivers of Babylon, There We Sat and Wept . . . ”

On one bright, cold January day in the early 80’s I stood with a group of college students from North Carolina after the annual March for Life in Washington as we were received by Sen. Jesse Helms.  He greeted us kindly and then regaled us with a few stories with that combination of gentility and peasant common sense that Southern politicians now no longer dare display, unless they are very old or reckless of their careers.  The senator told us of being accosted at the Republican Convention by a “lady” (which word he ironically emphasized, tripping slowly off the land shuffling across a long, wide a) who shouted, “Senator, why do you want to control my body?”  He replied, “Ma’am, there may be a man in this broad land who has less desire to control your body than I do, but I don’t know who he is.”  We all laughed merrily, as we imagined the confusion of the angry amazon.  We were all convinced that the “Our Bodies, Ourselves” slogan was patently false.  The innocent unborn child is, after all, a human person distinct from his mother, and his inalienable right to life is in no way dependent on her judgment or anyone else’s.

This is true as far as it goes, but, in fact, it goes too far.  Not that our conviction about the dignity of human nature was wrong, but, in the sic et non of a serious disputation, we should...

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