Sometimes, a foreign perspective helps us to see the domestic terrain more clearly. Such is the case with a recent article published in Der Spiegel, the leading German newsmagazine. Looking at the abortion debate in South Dakota, reporter Frank Hornig described the situation in that state as a “religious war in God’s own country.”
Last week, South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds signed into law a bill that would outlaw most abortions in his state — a law that directly challenges Roe v. Wade. As Hornig states, “A mouse has roared, as one of the most sparsely populated states in the US has put itself on a collision course with prevailing law.”
As Hornig sees it, the Supreme Court “is where the future course of U.S. society will be decided” — a frightening but accurate reflection of the Court’s new-found supremacy in our system of government.
The most interesting section of his article has to do with his interview with Thelma Underberg, a pro-abortion activist. Her comments are worth a closer look:
Thelma Underberg, director of the regional pro-choice movement, has been fighting to uphold abortion rights for more than 40 years. For Underberg, professional and economic equal opportunity and a woman’s right to choose are inextricably linked. When the Supreme Court passed Roe vs. Wade in 1973, enabling women to obtain abortions legally anywhere in America, Underberg celebrated. “We thought we had won,” she says.
But now, sitting in her windowless office, she says she doesn’t understand the world anymore. The 74-year-old has three children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, and she is active in her church. Yet while she outwardly resembles her opponents in the pro-life camp, she refuses to speak with them. “You might as well be talking to a wall,” she says.
Remember Thelma Underberg the next time you wonder how we came to be so divided over the issue of abortion. When the taking of unborn life is justified by a demand for “professional and economic equal opportunity,” we are looking across a very wide chasm of moral distance — one that cannot be bridged by any moral compromise.