Defending the Preborn at Christmas
Christian witness to the truth matters in every season, but especially among those we love.
Sensible people don’t bring up abortion at the Christmas dinner table—it doesn’t fit with the mood of the holiday. Yet the national slaughter of innocents has a way of itching at consciences, and some are more upfront than others about what itches them.
It doesn’t have to be the Obama-era archetype of the blue-haired cousin who decides to derail the day. Sometimes, it’s the otherwise normal teenager whose freshman sociology textbook has exposed him to a new world of “lenses” and “worldviews.” On another occasion, it’s the aging aunt who fondly recalls learning, in the novelty of early professional life, the meaning of the Equal Rights Amendment as she holds a sign advocating for its ratification. Other times still, it’s a grown man.
There’s a certain degree of ignorance involved in each of these scenarios, some of which are more embarrassing than others. It’s good to instruct the ignorant. Yet—this is where lifestyle gurus have a point—some people would rather be ignorant of the truth than know the truth. Were we perfectly rational creatures, every American could recognize that every preborn person demands protection in the law. Even when the day that recognizes legal protections for preborn Americans at the federal level comes, we will always encounter fellow citizens who think it acceptable, even righteous, to kill children in the womb.
If the topic comes up at the dinner table, start by thanking God, in your own words, for being alive and for having been spared from the evil of abortion. According to his will, you were born to parents who thought it best, amid possible encouragement to the contrary, that you grow and mature according to his design.
Your interlocutors, you may remind them, have never spoken to a victim of abortion.
This point, however obvious, is difficult to respond to. Those who have been tricked by the monied abortion industry to think of abortion as a prerequisite for the liberation of women will often redirect the conversation—to the extent that word is appropriate—to an argumentative assault. “Why do you even care?” they ask. “How does this affect you?”
Abortion laws affect all of us because every just law instructs its followers to know what is good and right. Unjust laws, though, are not laws at all. They don’t exist. Roe v. Wade, when it was in force from 1973 to 2022, attempted to convince the American people that the killing of preborn innocents was permitted. But, in fact, it was never permitted. Before, during, and after Roe, preborn Americans have always had the protection of law.
However, many Americans were convinced that Roe changed laws around abortion. With Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, abortion became something laudable, something that, in the words of Justice Kennedy, was all part of liberty’s “right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”
But this was all a lie. The 49-year deception of nationwide permissive abortion convinced a great many Americans that the law permitted a preborn child to be killed in the womb of his mother. As Hadley Arkes said in his reflection on the one-year anniversary of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health,
Roe not merely created a right to abortion; it changed the culture. It converted abortion from a thing to be abhorred, discouraged, and forbidden, into something approved, celebrated, and encouraged. The conservative justices in Dobbs did nothing to start undoing those moral lessons.
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American culture, if anything because of the spiritual damage and psychological trauma inflicted on the nation after decades of Roe, is still largely formed by the deception of the Roe decision. As ballot initiatives across the country have proved, we do not live in a pro-life nation.
As more laws crop up on both the state and federal levels that recognize and protect the personhood of preborn Americans, the culture will slowly start to shift. To call this project an uphill battle would be an understatement: most culturally formative institutions either contribute to or profit from the abortion industry itself or corporations that fund the culture of death. This culture will continue to predominate so long as pro-life Americans are treated and think of themselves as second-class citizens.
During the Christmas season, it’s worth recalling that the miracle that is required for American law to recognize something as fundamental as preborn personhood is minor when compared to the miracle of the incarnation. The act of the logos taking on human flesh, God becoming man, is the mark of ultimate humility to which Americans owe constant gratitude. But because of our ignorance and wounded human nature, we know that this gratitude will be sporadic and irregular. To make up for those lapses, it’s worth bringing up at the dinner table.