COLUMN: Abortion should be seen as human rights issue
Human rights discussions are everywhere these days, from the local coffee shop trumpeting its fair trade beans to demonstrations on various campuses regarding atrocities in Darfur and weekly debates on Palestinian/Israeli relations.
History is brought into the matter, as the events on campus this week will have shown by the time this prints. We discuss all these things, labeling some right and some inherently wrong.
But we miss something big in the midst of the ruminations. Rather, someone very small.
Perhaps the most often cited and remembered example of flagrant abuse in history has been the Holocaust in Europe in the 1930s and ‘40s by the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler.
The mass extermination of over six million Jews, both in amount and in manner, has justifiably horrified many in the last eight decades. Monday marked the 71st anniversary of “Kristallnacht,” which the OU Hillel Web site states was “the un-official start of the extermination of German Jewry.”
As such, the anniversary was marked with a lecture by OU professor of Judaic Studies Dr. Carsten Schapkow, and the title of the talk was “Shedding Light on Human Rights in the Shadow of the Holocaust.”
The awful and regrettable history of the brutal extermination of a group of people truly is great, and remembering it will hopefully remind us of what humans can and often will do to each other in the name of perceived “progress” or “advancement of civilization.”
Discussions also abound in a more contemporary context concerning the living situation and conditions in the situation of Palestine and Israel. Ironically brought about at least to some degree by compassion from the world for a Jewish national state following the Holocaust, many now allege that violations are made on the part of Israel in its dealings with its Arab neighbors.
Obviously, the situation is complicated, and when I visited the area it was fascinating to hear the rhetoric and passionate opinions of many, both Jew and Arab.
The stateside example which comes to mind for many Americans, one which still brings up strong emotion at times, was and is the civil rights movement.
Great work was done by Martin Luther King Jr. and many others in the attempt to eradicate not only the presence and influence of slavery in the U.S., but also discrimination and inequality in this country on the basis of skin color.
One of the watershed moments in the movement was the brutal kidnapping and murder of Emmett Till, of which a powerful documentary was made and shown during my undergraduate program in several of my classes.
The decision by Till’s mother to open the casket at his funeral was strongly opposed, due to his unrecognizable features and the horrific actions of his killers. But his mother remained convinced that the world needed to see the brutality of racism.
Even though the men responsible for his death got off with light sentences, the event was recounted and discussed throughout the U.S., shedding light on the reality of the situation.
While discrimination on the basis of skin color has, I hope, been reduced in the last 50 years, the conversation is recounted on a daily basis throughout academia.
What is often kept under wraps today is different, packaged under another name and kept from sight by those who would oppress for the perceived economic and social benefits. Popular culture has bought it in a very different sense, one which revolves around the popular terms “choice” and “women’s rights.” That issue is, of course, the act of abortion.
But it has gone far too long under the mantle of a political issue or a political rights issue. This is equally a human rights issue.
If it really is true that a fetus is alive at the point of conception (read a biology textbook, and you’ll find out that’s when the cells begin splitting and reproducing), there is no fundamental difference between destroying a person on the basis of his or her nationality or religion or skin color and destroying a person on the basis of his or her age or physical level of development.
Although some may disagree, I would assume that most reading this column would be disgusted at infanticide, when parents choose to kill their child on the basis of convenience or seeming usefulness to the family or society. But what’s the difference? An unborn person is still a person.
It’s time to stop pretending that this is an issue of the empowerment of women. The cries of millions of women which have been legally silenced in the last 36 years cannot be avoided. It’s time to open the casket.
If you call yourself a promoter of human rights, there cannot be a double standard.
Abort73.com has information and videos which, in a disturbing way, open that very casket. I urge you to examine them and decide whether this is a political issue or something deeper. As the Web site champions on a t-shirt, and as this week’s events on campus urge, we are to “speak for the weak.”
This is true whether the weak are in sub-Saharan Africa or right here in Norman.