It is likely that many of us have been in a situation similar to the one described by Ellen Wilson Fielding in our lead article ("Guilt, Hard Cases, and the Urge to Knock on Wood," p.7). We have been asked a wildly inappropriate question about abortion, or reproduction, at a social occasion - in her case, a "would you have considered an abortion" question about the unborn child who was "there with us in the same room, wriggling and pushing'and making his presence felt beneath my skin's surface." Though Fielding was at the time "rendered speechless by a kind of inarticulate fury at having my unborn child served up as a political debate topic," she could not be more articulate here, writing about what she wished she had said - and much more - in perhaps her most moving essay to date. With gritty honesty, Fielding refuses to gloss over the harrowing maze of feelings the "hard cases" engender; she steers us through them to the shining heart of the matter, that "in a very intensely personal way, as well as philosophically, you can't say no to life."
Fielding points to a pervasive problem in our culture: the sublimation of logic in favor of feelings, sometimes accompanied by the accusation that one can't speak authentically about something without having experienced it. I was recently asked, after I expressed to a friend my belief that abortion was wrong as a simple matter of human rights, whether I'd had experience with the foster-care system. My friend had been a foster parent, and was understandably emotional about the sad cases she had seen, but her implication was that I couldn't judge abortion because I hadn't been willing to take a foster child into my home. It was a nonsensical position, which I tried to point out, but as Fielding so accurately writes, "deploying logic can seem cold and emotionally disengaged" in such situations, and so we sometimes feel inadequate in "moving hearts and minds" for life.
Moving hearts and minds - our mission here at the Review for over three-and-ahalf decades - was emphasized by Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty in a speech he gave at a gala dinner honoring the Susan B. Anthony List - the organization founded to counter the pro-abortion Emily's List and help get pro-life women elected to Congress. In "The Right Thing to Do" (p. 17), adapted from the governor's speech, Pawlenty praised the leadership of the organization and their legislative efforts, yet "in the end," he says, "the laws and the court decisions and the like will change when hearts and minds are changed." And we must persevere, because:
We are on the right side of history when it comes to protecting and defending life. We're on the right side of the Constitution. We're on the right side of the Declaration of Independence. We're on the right side of the issue in all respects, and in the end, ideas matter, energy matters, persistence matters, determination matters.
There is certainly a great amount of energy and determination in the Tea Party movement; the question is, is it on the right side of the social issues? Reporter John Burger investigates the matter in "The Tea Party and the Pro-Life Cause" (p. 24). "Like its Colonial-era namesake," Burger writes, the Tea Party movement "is about being over-taxed, underrepresented, and subject to the overbearing policies of a distant government." It is a conservative movement, and therefore many members are also pro-life, but as you will see from the varied responses Mr. Burger receives from those he interviewed, the jury is out on how much the two movements will influence each other, for good or even ill; much remains to be seen.
As modern movements go, it's safe to say that the ferocious nature of the presentday animal-rights movement is unprecedented. Frequent Review contributor and bioethicist Wesley J. Smith's new book, A Rat Is a Pig Is a Dog Is a Boy: The Human Cost of the Animal Rights Movement, received a startlingly scathing critique in National Review (to which Smith also contributes). …