No middle ground

Interfaith Choose Life Rally

Anti-abortion activists on South McCarran Boulevard protest <i>Roe v. Wade</i>.

Anti-abortion activists on South McCarran Boulevard protest Roe v. Wade.

Photo By D. Brian Burghart

Jan. 22 is the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized on-demand abortion in this country. Across the nation, people gathered this past weekend to protest the decision or to rally in favor of a woman’s right to choose to terminate a pregnancy. Both groups will gather in larger cities this weekend in numbers difficult to count.

People far smarter than I have debated the issue. The one thing I have learned is that there is no middle ground, and I sympathize on a cerebral level with both sides. If a person believes that the protoplasm becomes a human being at the moment of conception, then no number of court decisions will convince that person that the termination of said protoplasm is anything but murder—no exceptions for rape or incest, it’s still murder. The other side is that protoplasm does not become a human being until that point when the woman carrying it decides it is a human being—within the limits set by the Court. The Supreme Court defined the moment of viability outside the womb as the moment of humanity, and further defined viability as 24-28 weeks, with exceptions. My presumption, and that of reasonable people, is that pregnant women who have abortions are not psychopaths who believe they are murdering a human being.

The sun was warm through the overcast skies on Saturday at a pro-life rally in front of South Reno Baptist Church. Dozens of people stood within feet of busy South McCarran Boulevard as sign holders shook their signs at passing cars. The drivers of passing automobiles responded in kind with horns and the occasional middle finger (or so I’m told). The congregation is surprisingly young on average, although it spans all age groups. Even anti-abortion stalwarts like Janine Hansen have made the scene.

“Abortion Kills Children,” “Abortion is not healthcare,” and “Stop the Obama abortion agenda” are among the sentiments expressed by the sign carriers. The crowd is relatively quiet, and it’s a cheery atmosphere. Off the road, higher in the church parking lot, a separate crew serves food. One jovial guy offers me a hot dog on a bun in lieu of pro-life pamphlets, which I never did find.

The people are friendly and willing to talk without blaming me for the entire media’s pro-choice, liberal agenda. I’ve been to anti-abortion protests where the zealots scare me with their aborted baby photos and their crazy eyes, but this isn’t that. It’s that group of principled people who believe human life begins at conception. “The Constitution says we have the right to life,” says Dennis Gomez. “Women do have that choice, but it’s not right.” His wife, Connie, continues, “I think abortion is murder; you’re killing a baby.” Dennis picks up the thread, saying, “It’s in the Bible: People have a right to life.”

Pastor Joe Taylor encourages the troops, walking along behind the line along the road. “We do it every year,” he says. “A lot of these folks will get on a bus and go on to the march in San Francisco and to D.C.”

The group has grown for the annual protest year after year, although it’s hard to beat the crowd that showed up for Norma McOrvey (Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade) who spoke here in 2008. McOrvey “gave her life to Christ” a few years ago, the pastor says, and regrets her part in the legalization of abortion on demand.

“We purposely tell them this is a silent witness,” he says, adding that there’s no value in arguing with the people who drive by who possess different opinions. “We will never change anyone’s mind with a sign, but sometimes someone gets it. … Life is precious from natural conception to natural death.”