Abortion: Conscience, Crisis & the Church

By Bissonnette, Joe | The Human Life Review, Fall 2009 | Go to article overview

Abortion: Conscience, Crisis & the Church


Bissonnette, Joe, The Human Life Review


While being held in remand in Glenwood Springs, Colo., awaiting trial for rape and murder, serial killer Ted Bundy inquired about which states were most likely to execute for such crimes. Shortly thereafter, Bundy escaped and went to Florida, where he undertook another killing spree; it was there that he was again caught and finally executed.

Many commentators speculated about possible underlying motives. Perhaps Bundy sought a heightened sense of thrill in committing his crimes where the stakes were higher. But more interestingly, perhaps Bundy knowingly or otherwise wished to be stopped; perhaps he also wished to pay for his crimes.

Criminal-investigation dramas and true-crime shows remain a staple of TV. A recurrent premise in many of these shows, and a theory widely embraced by criminologists, holds that at some level criminals want to get caught and want to pay for their crimes. They often subconsciously leave clues that will lead to their apprehension. Perhaps they are seeking to resolve the cognitive dissonance of leading deeply conflicted lives. On one hand, the most mundane aspects of their lives, from the breath they draw and the food they eat to stopping at a red and going at a green, are ordered to the good. On the other hand, they secretly, furtively, choose to do great evil, and over time this becomes less of a choice, more of a compulsion: a second nature, but a second nature very much at war with their true nature. This cognitive dissonance begs for a resolution they themselves cannot achieve, and so they leave clues, fail to cover their tracks, do something to somehow bring it all to a close.

I like this theory; it rings true. And yet there is little evidence of this cognitive dissonance which begs for resolution in the millions of mothers and fathers who have aborted their babies or in the culture at large which obethently pays for abortion. I'm sure that post-abortion syndrome is real, but studies show that only 10 to 20 percent of women suffer severe longterm psychological effects. Given fhe gravity and scale of abortion, one would expect that it would be of an order and a magnitude that would overwhelm. It is not. Millions of mothers and fathers have aborted their children and then continued on with their lives.

Is the guilt-seeking-resolution theory ultimately untrue? Is it too eagerly embraced by ethicists who appeal to natural-law theory and psychologists who idolize the notion of the psyche seeking integration? Or is conscience as much the product of nurture as nature, a cultivated awareness that augments the innate sense of right and wrong? Is a well-developed conscience necessarily informed by a morally enlightened culture? If the culture is not morally enlightened, will most individual consciences also be dark and underdeveloped?

This seems to have been the case throughout America's period of slavery. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington notwithstanding, there are comparatively few accounts of slave owners existentially riven by their participation in the constant and visible evil of persons reduced to property. While it's true that Washington and Jefferson were both in their ways singularly great Americans, the founding generation as a whole were also great. At the time of the founding and throughout the fragile first 100 years, Americans were arguably the best, the most literate, and the most principled people in the world - and yet many of them owned slaves, and thus had to live with, amid, and through the most glaring moral blindness.

And then it changed. Not all of a sudden, of course, but it changed. A hundred and fifty years later, no one is morally indifferent to, let alone in favor of, slavery. That 600,000 were killed in the Civil War many believe to have been the necessary price for the overcoming of slavery.

In his "House Divided" speech of June 1858, Abraham Lincoln set forth the framework for overcoming slavery:

If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it ___ We are now far into the fifth year, since a policy was initiated, with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to slavery agitation. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Abortion: Conscience, Crisis & the Church
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.