Downton Abbey and Abortion ‘Rights’

The lead for this post is this: The Popular TV Series provides a lesson in how people deal with a “crisis pregnancy.”

It is written by Michael Stokes Paulsen, who is University Chair and Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas, in Minneapolis, and co-director of its Pro-Life Advocacy Center (“PLACE”).

Here are three excerpts:

Spoiler alert: This essay is based on a series of episodes of the fabulously popular Downton Abbey, and it reveals some elements of the plot. If you’re a fan of the show and haven’t watched the latest season, stop reading now. My title, while cryptic, is spoiler enough—please do accept my apologies. If you’re a fan and all caught up, you’ve seen this one by now and understand my title: Read on.

For the uninitiated: Downton Abbey chronicles the goings-on of the Crawley family: Lord Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham; his wife, Lady Cora Crawley, a wealthy American whose fortune helped save the estate; their daughters, Mary, Edith, and Sybil; Lord Grantham’s irrepressible old mother, the Dowager Countess; and, most interestingly of all, the downstairs staff of butlers, valets, footmen, ladies’ maids, and kitchen workers. The story begins in 1912, with a report of the sinking of the Titanic reaching Lord Grantham by telegram and newspapers, and it proceeds through the Great War into the Roaring Twenties. Almost against my will, I too—like so many common, vulgar Americans—have become hooked on this strangely compelling drama about the English landed aristocracy.

Here comes the spoiler: Lady Edith, the sometimes nasty, irritatingly selfish, and hard-luck pathetic middle sister, finally has a true lover, Michael. Michael, however, is married to a mental invalid who no longer even knows who he is. He cannot legally get a divorce in England, though he loves Edith and wants to marry her. (Sound a bit like Jane Eyre?) Michael’s a decent enough chap, even if distressingly middle class—a journalist, of all things! We all feel some sympathy for his plight. He eventually travels to Germany to become a citizen of England’s recent war enemy, so he can divorce his wife and marry Edith, whom he loves dearly—and in whom he brings out the best. Mostly.

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Here is the second:

Abortion appears to be a quick fix for an immediate emotional crisis, but it is a long-term emotional and physical disaster for the woman who kills her child. The emotional and moral crisis does not vanish when the unborn child is killed; it is compounded and made permanent. The most intensely ideological defenders of abortion (and abortion providers) vigorously deny this, seeking to lessen the cognitive dissonance by denying the facts of what abortion is and does. They sanitize reality and cloak it in euphemisms.

And the last:

In the end, this Downton Abbey story line is neither overtly pro-life nor pro-choice but merely paradigmatic and illustrative. Crisis pregnancies are real, but abortion kills a baby. Social and personal pressures may conspire to make such killing seem a tolerable option for vulnerable and confused young women. Responsible men are often absent. Families are often clueless. Women in such situations might not, because of the same social and personal circumstances, evaluate the moral stakes properly, even when they are mature and seem fully to understand what they are doing.

Abortion may initially seem to be a convenient way out, but seeing and hearing makes a difference, as it did to Edith. Abortion is not painless. It not only kills the child; it causes great and inconsolable grief to the woman who has chosen to kill her baby. Women in crisis pregnancies need help and support.

In the end, the story of Lady Edith’s pregnancy lays bare what abortion really is. It illustrates not only the inadequate reasons that motivate many abortions, but also the very real difficulties of crisis pregnancy, the ways in which such crisis can obscure reason and moral sense, and the indispensability of good-hearted people coming to the rescue.

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The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

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