It was hard to love some of them today. Two young American women let irrational tirades at us praying in front of the clinic. “I’m a lawyer,” one spat out, “and what you are doing is probably illegal and certainly hateful.” The other accused us, with barely contained fury, of “abusing children.” But then a shiny new Mercedes pulled up. A father and two children, with their mother, got out. They were Chinese, and the mother entered the abortuary while Dad took care of the kids. Unlike the American women, the Chinese woman was polite, calm, and as unconcerned as if she were making a hair appointment.
I’ve heard that the Japanese make cemeteries for their aborted children, at which they leave flowers and cry quietly. They leave signs like “My little one, I wish we could’ve kept you.” They don’t pretend the unborn child is not human, but neither are they deeply conflicted about killing him. They were not raised in a Christian or even post-Christian culture. The Romans, before Christ, practiced abortion and infanticide, burying the bones of their small children under the floors of their homes. Killing unwanted children was just part of life, because the novel idea of “human rights” had not been revealed yet.
The vituperation of our two American women today seemed an expression of fear to me. They were terrified of their own consciences, which were formed in a Christian culture. The effects of that culture are still present, though waning rapidly (the very young in America have significantly less sense of human dignity and the inviolability of the human person than their parents). The Chinese woman, by contrast, was probably raised in a non-Christian culture, and so does not have to fight her inbred sense of the human person. Notice that America and Europe wrestle with abortion while in non-Christian cultures it is not much of an issue.
It helps, I think, to understand this: that the irrational reactions to prolife advocacy are vestiges of a Christian conscience. It is not impossible to reawaken these consciences, such as has happened with, for example, Bernard Nathanson and Norma McCorvey. We cannot rationalize on this issue with most post-Christians, but there must be a way to appeal to their dormant consciences in some way.