Orthodox Church in America-OCA -
The disconnect, in other words, lies in the
irrational and immoral way we have allowed the principle of the
mother's rights to take absolute precedence over the reality of
the child's very life.
According to my dictionary, disconnect is a verb.
Its noun form is disconnection. The idea behind both is the severing
of a connection or relationship. More generally, the terms can imply
a break in logic, as in to disconnect from reality through false
A few years ago people started using the verb
form as a noun, to express this last idea. A disconnect doesn't
hang together. It can imply a fractured relationship: Jim and his
wife a total disconnect! It can signify detachment from reality,
as when a teenager remarks about parents, They're on disconnect!
Or it can suggest mental incompetency, an inability to reason coherently:
Alzheimer's creates a massive disconnect.
The noun disconnect possesses its own special
energy. Substitute disconnection for it in the examples above, and
you'll see what I mean.
There's a profound disconnect, it seems to me,
in the surprisingly articulate and substantive acceptance speech
the Democratic presidential candidate (to avoid naming names)
made not long ago. Whatever your political inclinations, you could
hardly fault him on specifics and the way he spelled out his party's
and his own vision for the future. What troubles me is the lack
of logic the total disconnect in his treatment of life issues.
First we heard an impressive litany of proposals
for supporting and defending everything from affirmative action
to universal medical care, particularly for children. Children,
in fact, were a major focus of the proposals, as the candidate homed
in on problems of health, education and general welfare. He is a
family man who takes obvious pride in his own children, just as
he reflects family values that in recent years have been trampled
into the dust. His proposed programs would offer extraordinary benefits
and safeguards to America's children, without concern for their
gender, class or race.
As long as they have made it out of the womb.
This disconnect came when he affirmed in strident
terms his support for a woman's right to choose. We have heard so
much on both sides of the abortion issue that to raise it once again
risks annoying, if not infuriating, pro-choice as well as pro-life
people. Without going into the details of abortion procedures, as
pro-life groups want to do, it's worth giving a moment's thought
to the implications of that August speech and to the pro-choice
agenda in general.
How is it that a sincere and well-meaning person
argues so eloquently and compassionately for education, universal
medical care and other benefits for the young yet supports abortion
on demand, including the inhumane procedure of infanticide known
as partial-birth abortion? How can someone defend with such conviction
and passion the rights and needs of our children, yet draw an absolute
line at (total) emergence from the womb?
Were my children any less human persons than they
are now when they were still in their mother's body, or when all
but one small portion of their anatomies was born? Were yours?
I look at my now grown boys long since become
young men and I marvel at the life that is theirs. Not just biological
existence, but life in the biblical sense. Not only distinct and
distinctive personalities, but persons, unique and inexpressibly
precious. Each of them sees the world and relates to it in a special
way. Day by day each one contributes something to it, through laughter,
humor, sympathy, reflective observations, music, creative energy,
and acts of kindness.
All children do this, insofar as we offer them
space and encouragement to do so. There's nothing unusual in that.
The Columbines of our society are demonic aberrations, not the norm.
Our children like ourselves, though that is harder
to admit and maybe to recognize are creatures of infinite value.
They have the capacity to offer the gift that
transforms any soul from simple individual into fully mature person
: the gift of selfless love. And we can only love them in return.
There are reasons, sometimes very good if inevitably
tragic reasons, why a woman feels compelled to resort to an abortion.
In all of those times she needs our support, understanding and love
rather than our condemnation. This is not where the disconnect lies,
whatever the circumstances that lead to her decision.
The disconnect lies in public policy that rightly
defends the newly born yet allows the almost born to be destroyed.
The disconnect, in other words, lies in the irrational
and immoral way we have allowed the principle of the mother's
rights to take absolute precedence over the reality of the child's
Human life does not begin at birth, any more
than it begins with adolescence or with the first Social Security
check. It begins as the ancient Fathers of the Church knew, long
before embryologists came on the scene at conception.
Until that truth is acknowledged, public policy
will continue to operate in a mode of profound disconnect. And we
will continue, with legal sanction and social approval, to engage
in a massacre of the innocents.
The Very Rev. John Breck was professor of New Testament
and Ethics at St. Vladimir's Seminary from 1984-1996. He is presently
professor of Biblical Interpretation and Ethics at St. Sergius Theological
Institute, Paris, France, and with his wife Lyn directs the St.
Silouan Retreat near Charleston, SC. His published works include
The Sacred Gift of Life, The Power of the Word, and The Shape of
Biblical Language (St Vladimir's Press).
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.