Who is ArcoJedi? A life-journeying Christian, ecstatic husband, proud father of four, web guru, all-around geek and Star Wars fanatic. Read these thoughts that he felt were worthwhile. Then wonder why he thought that way.

2012/11/15

Life vs. Choice: The Abortion Question

I've identified as Pro-Choice for most of my life, at least since I understood the concepts. But I've come to have a wider understanding of the debate and now I would identify myself as neither pro-choice nor pro-life. I'm sure I sound like I'm reinforcing my own confirmation bias here. But I do feel that I have looked at both sides of the argument and can understand them a bit. Unfortunately, I reject them both. Let me explain.

On the one hand, you have the pro-life belief that life is sacred, something on it's surface that every living thing would want to agree with. All life is sacred, we are alive and therefore should work to save lives, even those of the unborn. The rights of mothers to terminate pregnancy should be impinged upon severely to prevent as many abortions as possible.

On the other hand, you have the pro-choice believe that the rights of women should not be restricted, including their wombs. Whereas abortion is a terrible alternative, making it illegal will only force the practice underground. Making abortions illegal is sexist at best and a dangerous aggravation of human rights at worst.

I'm oversimplifying for brevity, but the base debate extends from here. Pro-life sees the rights and life of the unborn child as most important. Pro-choice sees the rights and life of the mother as most important. Neither point of view is taking in enough of the big picture for me. Stick with me as I'm gonna hit you a bit about the face.

How does everyone feel about dead babies? Yes, I'm being serious. I think no matter what, everyone can agree that the concept of dead babies is bad. If you know me, you know how I'd feel about dead babies. It doesn't matter whether we are talking about miscarriage, abortion, SIDS, abuse and neglect, starvation or disease.

So we can all agree that it is bad. By that logic, abortion for any reason is also bad. BUT (and here's a big one) what do we DO about it? Well, if we want it to not happen, we could make it illegal. We tried that once though and it didn't work. Abortion became a crime, but it didn't really stop. It happened in back rooms and terrible places unfit for surgery and women died. The sanctity of life means that option won't work. How do we prevent abortions?

My simple answer is that we have to stop looking abortion as the problem. Abortion is the symptom of a larger problem, and perhaps several larger problems.

Abortions happen for two main reasons. In some cases, a pregnancy will be progressing in such a way that the fetus' continued growth could endanger the life and health of the mother. Perhaps she did want to have a child, but is not willing to risk her life. Women are dying today of health complications in countries that don't allow abortions. After consulting with her doctors and examining every option, she should be legally allowed to terminate her pregnancy.

More often, the reason someone seeks to terminate a pregnancy is that the baby was unplanned and unwanted. Perhaps the parents' economic situation would not support a child. Perhaps they are not married and didn't plan on staying together. Perhaps they are too young to raise children. Perhaps this seems like the only option.

This are not new concepts, but prior to abortion procedures the mother would carry the unwanted child to term and then give that baby up for adoption. Sounds great, problem solved, right?

Unfortunately, the adoption and foster parent situation in this country is not great. It's complicated, full of bureaucracy and is prohibitively expensive for those considering it. Since overseas adoptions are sometimes cheaper and easier, many would-be parents opt for this route. Meanwhile, American children languish in foster care or get lost in homelessness. To be clear, I highly respect anyone who adopts no matter where the child comes from, but I wish the hurdles for local adoption were lowered so that the choice simply became one of preference rather than necessity.

In a perfect utopian world, every single child born would be wanted and loved. Every single child would be well fed, warm and surrounded by family life. But we don't live there (yet). The world is cold. There are people starving everywhere, including right here in our country of plenty. To legislate and restrict abortion without addressing any of these other problems strikes me as vaguely naive. I've quoted this before, but my friend Nikomas summed it up well in his blog back during the last election.

Why do millions of people ask one man to make a difference?

There are 159 million Christians in America. There are 1.3 million abortions performed every year. That means there are 12,000% more Christians than abortions!! Imagine what could happen if Christians decided to get involved in the girls life instead of just electing a politician to change a law! Too many people only vote, and never do.

What if the law is changed, and all abortions become illegal?

There will probably still be thousands of abortions, albeit illegally. Will Christians rise up then? Or will their service be done since a law is passed? Again, I think interaction, conversation, and the promise of adoption could be more effective than changing laws.

Nik was once the youth minister at our church and is now working at Harvester. So I like to listen to him. In this same post, he explained that these concepts have helped redefine what being "Pro-Life" means to him. After reading, thinking and praying about this myself, I've redefined what it means to be "Pro-Choice". Except perhaps now I'm neither, at least not in the classic sense.

Is the right of the unborn child important? Yes. Is the right of the mother important? Yes. We have to solve the problems of both or we end of solving neither. I don't have the answers for these problems, at least at this moment. But we need to stop the fighting, sit down and discuss it and put our resources towards improving life for everyone. Take steps towards a better life and abortions will decrease. Everyone wins.

That's all I've got time for right now. More later.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

1. Back in the 1960s and early 1970s, Protestant Christians were among the most active people in the pro-choice movement. The Roe v Wade case was taken up to the Supreme Court by a lawyer who was a Methodist minister's daughter.

2. Even Catholic priests have paid attention to the fact that, in spite of propaganda against abortion, many girls and women think it is a better alternative than giving up a child for adoption. See: http://www.heartbeatinternational.org/pdf/abortion-least_of_three.pdf
In that context, being pro-life would mean helping girls and women so that they could economically afford to keep the children and would thus have that as a viable choice.

3. Pro-choice people have favored consistently those policies which reduce unwanted pregnancy (decent sex education, affordable and easily accessible contraceptive and family planning services, etc.), improve the economics for women who want to keep the children they conceive, etc.

4. In contrast, anti-choice people have thwarted these policies and have concentrated on trying to use human law to punish women with unwanted pregnancies.

5. If we are truly equal under God, that means it is impossible for God to impose on one person a punishment that other persons are not inherently liable to. On that basis, every act of sex should be punishable by unwanted physical pregnancy for men as well as women. On that basis, every act of sex should be punishable by pregnancy with fetuses so disabled that their internal organs are growing on the outside of their fetal forms. Etc.

No one in their right mind wants to punish anyone else with serious health problems, deformed fetuses, rape pregnancies, or even just unwanted pregnancies. And those who can never be made pregnant really should ask themselves if they are qualified to be the judges of those that are.

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