The Great Human Rights Issue of Our Time

Jaroslav Pelikan, distinguished Christian scholar and longtime professor at Yale University, also a member of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship advisory board, speaks of abortion as “the great human rights issue of our time.” Sadly, many do not see it that way. Even in some parts of the Christian community, traditional opposition to abortion has slowly been transformed to toleration or even abortion advocacy.

No less surprising, those active in peace organizations — people who might be found protesting at military bases or at prisons where executions are about to occur — are rarely found engaging in efforts to make abortions less common. (On the other hand, it must be noted that many who campaign for the right to life of the unborn child often seem much less disturbed by war and executions.)

For the vast majority of feminist groups, endorsement of abortion has been a litmus test. Anyone troubled by abortion, who speaks of an “unborn child” in the womb rather than using Latin terms with a dehumanizing effect — embryo or fetus — is someone to be denounced. At all costs, the unborn must not be recognized as human beings with as much claim on social respect and protection as their parents. (Yet how readily an unborn child is recognized and celebrated as human by those who look forward to any child’s birth.)

May this special issue help make us more responsive to “the great human rights issue of our time” and further our efforts to build a pro-life culture.

Jim and Nancy Forest

posted January 28, 2000 / text revised January 9, 2001