Thursday, September 03, 2009

Thriller a reminder of evils of abortion

Note: this will be the last blog post at this site. By Monday, September 13th I should be moved into a new website home at I'm looking forward to seeing all of you there.

Publication:Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date:Sep 3, 2009; Section:Opinion; Page Number:8A

Thriller a reminder of evils of abortion

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

Tick, tick, tick ... The time for your summer reading just ran out. Those books you didn’t read will just have to wait until next year.

Local author Michael Caughill completed my summer reading list this year with, “The Abortionist.” It’s the story of a serial killer who simulates different abortion methods on his adult victims. Dr. Hannibal Lecter meets Planned Parenthood. It is definitely not a story for the squeamish.

Aside from being a great thriller, what makes “The Abortionist” an interesting read is the deft way Caughill handles the abortion topic. Caughill avoids a heavy-handed, lecturing approach to the topic. Instead, his characters discuss both sides of the abortion issue in much the conversational way so many of us discuss it with friends and family.

Caughill does not distract us with long Ayn Rand-like diatribes, and the action proceeds at a crisp pace throughout the book. Where Caughill makes his point is in the gruesome way the murders are conducted, reminding us that abortion is a bloody business.

The methods of abortion vary. The most common method in the first trimester is called suction aspiration. It involves a powerful suction tube with a sharp cutting edge which is inserted into the womb. The blade is used to cut the fetus into pieces and the tube then sucks the parts out.

Caughill’s challenge as a writer is to bring that reality of abortion to the audience without succumbing to writing political pornography. It’s a tightrope that he manages to navigate.

Nobody should be under the illusion that the decision behind most abortions is easy. Caughill reminds us of the social and economic pressures that drive women to consider such a step, and he does so in a sympathetic way. The women are victims twice in the novel, first of the culture that compels them to have abortions, and then at the hands of a serial killer.

But as the declining numbers of abortions would seem to indicate, the culture is changing. More women are choosing life for their baby.

The number of abortions annually in the United States peaked in 1990 at 1.6 million, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute – an abortion-friendly organization. The number has dropped since to 1.2 million in 2005. Since Roe v. Wade in 1973 legalized abortion in all 50 states, over 49 million children have been aborted.

For the first time this year, a Gallup poll indicated that more people consider themselves prolife than pro-choice when it comes to abortion.

Pro-abortion politicians, largely in the Democratic Party, find themselves on the defensive. Following the lead of former President Clinton, they’ve adopted the formula of “safe, legal and rare.” But wishing abortion is “rare” is a recognition that there is something intrinsically wrong with the act of abortion.

President Obama, perhaps the most radically pro-abortion president this country has had, also had to concede that there was a moral argument against abortion when he told the audience at Notre Dame the decision whether to have an abortion, “has both moral and spiritual dimensions.” He said he wanted to reduce the number of abortions, too.

These concessions to the public’s growing prolife sentiment come with very little change to the abortion laws themselves. Fortunately, that is a sign that we can reduce the number of abortions through education and a change in the culture. Unfortunately, it looks like the law is about to lurch the other way.

The president is demonizing abortion opponents by claiming that they are lying about how “health care reform” will lead to publicly funded abortions. Among the “liars” are many of the U.S. Catholic bishops, including New York’s (and formerly Milwaukee’s) Archbishop Timothy Dolan.

Health care reform will include abortion coverage as part of “the public option” and Democrats have stopped any amendments in Congress to prevent it. Worse, private insurers will probably be forced to provide abortion services to have their policies approved by the government.

Despite President Obama’s rhetoric, his actions speak to a different agenda than reducing the number of abortions. Perhaps the president would have been better off adding Caughill’s book to his summer reading at Martha’s Vineyard to remind him what it is that he is defending.