VIEWSrnFighting WordsrnAbortion and Civilityrnby Harold O.J. BrownrnAustrian sociologist Hans Millendorfer claims to have discovered,rnat least in his native Austria, a perplexing correspondence:rnhis statistics show a rise in abortions paralleled by arnrise in civility. To those of us who consider abortion a violentrnand evil act, it seems strange that such violence should be accompaniedrnby an increase in courtesy and politeness. But thatrnis exactly what happens, at least from the pro-life side, in thernabortion debate. While there are outspoken and quarrelsomernopponents of abortion, most of those who oppose it are willingrnto tieat its advocates with a courtesy bordering on complicity.rnEven the worst and most gruesome form of abortion, the partialrnbirth abortion, cannot move many pro-lifers to call their opponentsrnanything worse than “pro-choice.”rnWhat does abortion have in common with civility? Thernvirtue that abortion lacks is honesty. Civility is not per se dishonest,rnbut sometimes the convention of civility in effect establishesrndishonesty. Abortion is based partly on misimderstandingsrnand faulty information, but largely on deliberate deceptionrnby its advocates and providers. Abortion involves a high degreernof institutionalized and generalized hypocrisy, a hypocrisy thatrnhas become so normative that now it is hardly noticed. Thernhypocrisy inherent in the abortion situation in the UnitedrnStates begins with the language, as in the substitution of thernneutral word “choice” for abortion: “Of course we are personallyrnopposed to abortion, but we favor freedom of choice.” “Werndo not know when life begins, or when the fetus becomes human.”rn”Before abortion was legalized, tens of thousands or perhapsrnhundreds of thousands of women were killed or mutilatedrnin illegal ‘back alley’ abortions, which numbered in the hun-rnHarold O.]. Brown is religion editor for Chronicles and arnprofessor of theology and philosophy at Reformed TheologicalrnSeminary in Charlotte, North Carolina.rndreds of thousands or even more than one million each year.”rn”Intact dilatation and extraction, or so-called partial birth abortion,rnis medically necessary to prevent women from beingrn’ripped up,”‘ despite testimony by former Surgeon General C.rnEverett Koop that there is no condition for which partial birthrnabortion is the appropriate therapy (except for the conditionrnknown as unwanted pregnancy). “Partial birth abortions arernrare, few in number, and only performed in desperate cases,” orrnso we are assured, despite contrary testimony from Ron Eitzsimmons,rnthe head of the National Association of AbortionrnProviders. And of course the media regularly repeat the falsehoodrnthat Roe v. Wade legalized abortion only “early in pregnancy.”rnPresident Clinton continues to mutter his slogan,rn”Safe, legal, and rare,” despite the fact that from his first day inrnoffice in 1993 he has taken steps to make abortion ever more accessiblernand frequent. And needless to say he appointed a SurgeonrnGeneral who is willing to go along with every abortion,rneven the partial birth variety that Senator Daniel Moynihanrncalled “close to infanticide.”rnThe hypocrisy inherent in abortion is found in the UnitedrnStates Senate. The Senate has a large anti-abortion majority,rnjust a bit smaller than necessary to make it veto-proof, and hasrnvoted twice to ban partial birth abortion—only to have the banrnvetoed by the President. Although one might think that decisionsrnabout the life and death of unborn children involve highrnmoral principles and convictions, the Senate has not only failedrnto try to overturn the presidential veto but has yielded to presidentialrnblandishments and perhaps to AAD (affirmative actionrndementia) in confirming Dr. David Satcher as Surgeon General,rnalthough the doctor endorses partial birth abortion, unlikernhis more eminent predecessor Dr. Koop. It was bruited aboutrnthat the Republican majority approved Satcher in exchange forrnhaving Washington National Airport renamed after Ronaldrn14/CHRONICLESrnrnrn