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FIRST-PERSON: Sounds of life, long after Roe

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (BP)–For 33 years now, abortion has been the great “elephant in the room” of American politics.

So, it is perhaps peculiarly appropriate that one of the best explanations of the pro-life position was made almost 20 years before Roe v. Wade, by an elephant.

The elephant had a name, Horton, and a philosophy which he beautifully, succinctly and repeatedly expressed to anyone who would listen:

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

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Children get that message, so charmingly couched in the contents of Dr. Seuss’s classic “Horton Hears a Who.” What’s more, a growing number of them are remembering it as they move into adulthood.

A recent CBS poll showed that 53 percent of American adults now consider themselves pro-life. Which means more than half of this country knows a “who” when they hear it.

Actually, those numbers really haven’t changed much over the last three decades. A recent study by the National Catholic Register showed that, “In the mid-1970s, 54-55 percent of Americans believed abortion ‘should be legal only under certain circumstances’…. [O]ver the years, support for that view has fluctuated between 48 and 61 percent, with no overall trend.”

But the good news today is that the hearing of young people, at least, seems to be improving. A 2003 nationwide poll of college freshman showed that only 53 percent thought abortion should be legal — 33 percent fewer than wanted it legalized at the time of the Roe v. Wade decision. And a majority of college-age women now say they don’t support unrestricted abortion.

Today’s college students may not always know much about what’s what or where’s where, but more of them know who’s a who.

Still, after all these years — all the studies and sermons and documentaries and debates — too many older adults somehow remain deaf. They look at four-dimensional sonograms, listen to the heartbeats … and never hear the who.

Perhaps because they are listening to other things.

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Some, like the far-Left members on the Senate Judiciary Committee, are listening for the sound of applause from feminist leaders, American Civil Liberties Union attorneys, Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion activists who control purse strings and votes. For these, the sound of The New York Times clapping will always be louder than the quiet chidings of their own long-muted consciences.

Advocates of embryonic stem cell research are listening for even more distant applause … from the future. These activists and their political agents are willing to sanction the slaughter of even more unborn babies, if it will augment medical “research” — gambling that ensuing generations will quietly overlook 40 or 50 million murders if they get a cure for something (regardless of the lack of any significant progress to date).

Of course, the most diligent proponents of abortion are listening for the “ka-ching” of the cash register. Planned Parenthood abortionists made an estimated $104 million last year by ridding often frightened, lonely and confused young mothers of a burden they don’t care to bear. They, in turn, fill the coffers of the eugenicists, who believe the world could be a wonderful place if weren’t for all these “extra” people.

But then, in today’s America, many people in many industries nurture a vested interest in promoting a hedonistic, youth-obsessed culture, and find babies a drag on the economic line. It’s hard to party hearty when you’ve got to be home and sober for the 2 o’clock feeding.

Sadly, the people most complicit in the cruel destruction of America’s unborn children are their own mothers and fathers. What do you suppose, in those moments of fateful, fatal decision, a young mother not-to-be is listening for?

A word of truth, perhaps. Spoken in love.

Amidst the din of an increasingly hardened, self-absorbed society, Christians have a sacred duty to proclaim lovingly and courageously the truth so many would deny: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Many believe that, stand by that and fight for that, provided the person is an adult drug addict on the skids, a terrorist in training, a convicted cop killer on his 15th appeal. But friends like Horton are harder to find when the person is an innocent, growing in a womb.

After three decades, even a passionate issue can become passé. The danger for America is not that the abortionists will neglect their agenda — it’s that, even as our nation’s youth are turning to life, Christians will turn a deaf ear to the ongoing holocaust around them.

We can’t. We must pray, write, vote, protest and speak truth in love. “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

That’s something God’s people — like His elephants — must never forget.
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Alan Sears, a former federal prosecutor who held various posts in the departments of Justice and Interior during the Reagan Administration, is president and CEO of the Alliance Defense Fund, a legal alliance defending religious liberty through strategy, training, funding and litigation, online at www.telladf.org. He is co-author with Craig Osten of “The ACLU vs. America: Exposing the Agenda to Redefine Moral Values” (Broadman & Holman, www.acluvsamerica.com).