[percy-l] A Walker Percy piece written for the NY Times 30 years ago

Charles Lowry lowry.charles at gmail.com
Tue Feb 8 11:43:03 EST 2011

Wade has, perhaps inadvertently, drawn into focus what is the heart of the
matter:  "Disliking, even denouncing, abortion may be appealing for
Christians, but drawing on the law to prohibit it during an ambiguous period
of human development is impractical."  The point that many pro-life
advocates argue, and it is a point that has noticeable impact on the
ideological equilibrium of pro-choice advocates, is that every scientific
advance in embryology takes us further and further from regarding life in
the womb as "an ambiguous period of human development."  I wonder if the
increasing queasiness of larger and larger numbers of Americans about the
moral and legal status of abortion is connected not to false science, but to
the advance of science and the more precise knowledge we have of the stages
of fetal development.

There is near universal revulsion over the practices of the Philadelphia
doctor who concluded many of his "abortions" by using scissors to sever the
spinal cord of living infants.  But is it just a matter of timing?  What we
are also finding, I submit, is that more and more of our neighbors slogging
their way through what the ancient hymn calls this vale of tears are
reluctant to engage what we may refer to as the backwards clock, to come to
the conclusion at a definite point, "yes, not human today, okay to fix the
'problem,' but probably human tomorrow."  It is ironic for both sides in
this debate that the advance of science has not liberated us, but has
offered us knowledge of the stages of human fetal development that, on the
contrary, constrict us.

Chuck Lowry
Brooklyn, NY
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