Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pro-Life or Pro-Choice?

First, let's make one thing clear:  of all the people I know, who fall in every spectrum of this debate, not a single person I have ever spoken to thinks that abortions are a good thing.  No one really wants them to happen in the first place.  The real question isn't whether purposefully ending an unborn life is moral.  I think most people agree that it is not...it's a messy, ugly, nasty topic at best.  (I won't say that ALL people find it immoral, because there really are all types out there, but I think saying "most" people consider it immoral is safe enough.)  It can be argued that abortion is, in rare cases, the lesser of two evils.  The real question ends up being whether or not the government can make the decision for you, and if they can, to what extent and in which circumstances.

Personally, I feel like life is precious and that murder is wrong.  I am a Christian, and the Bible is pretty clear on the whole "don't kill people" thing.  On top of the Bible saying so, my conscience finds the idea really abhorrent.  I consider my conscience to be one way the Holy Spirit speaks to me, so that is practically as important to me as seeing it in scripture.  The fact that those two agree only confirms for me the truth of it.  Killing people, even the unborn, is not good.  On every level, killing people screams to me "THIS IS A TERRIBLE THING!".  I cannot see ever bringing myself to have an abortion.  I couldn't bring myself to end a feeble life that was conceived out of the love I bear for my husband, even if it were at the worst of times.  Even before we were married, I would have said the same...I could not kill a child conceived through love.  We're resilient folk, we'd find a way to make it work.  If it came down to my life or the life of my unborn child...if the child had a good chance to survive even if it killed me, I think I would choose their life over my own.  I would only regret that I'd be leaving my husband to cope with the aftermath alone.  I hope I never have to find out whether I have the guts for that choice (I am certain that my husband also fervently hopes that we never face such a terrible situation!).  In this sense, I consider myself very Pro-Life.  When it comes down to me, no matter what else is going on, abortion just isn't an option considered.  If someone were to ask me if they should have an abortion, I would certainly urge them not to do it and try to help them find another solution.  Abortions are something to be avoided if possible.  (The best way to do that, I think, is better reproductive education, encouraging and educating parents on how to provide great but realistic examples of moral and responsible adulthood for their children, and easy access to contraceptive methods without stigmatizing their use...fewer unwanted pregnancies = fewer abortions)

If I were raped...well, that may be another story.  I've never really come to a conclusion on that extreme instance, so I actively avoid situations that would increase my risk for having to face that choice in my life.  I'd rather not find out how I really feel about this.  What I do know is that as hard a time as I have even imagining making that choice in the event of rape...if I can't make that decision in my own mind and heart - then as a voter, I have zero business making that choice for the thousands of women who are faced with that choice in real life every year.  At that point...it is a matter that is between them and God that I have no place in, except to pray that God gives them wisdom that I don't have, and abundant mercy and compassion.

Which brings me to my legal view.  My personal decision is one that I made after a lot of thought and prayer - and I would resent my government telling me what to believe about this.  I celebrate the fact that my country grants me the freedom to reach that conclusion on my own, without the government forcing my actions regardless of my beliefs.  Of all the parties in this world that have a say in whether an unborn child may be born...the government just isn't on that list to me.  And there are very extreme circumstances out there, where you have to weigh the value of one life against another because you cannot always save everyone.

From a legal standpoint, Pro-Life says to me "We, the government (and a host of total strangers), know what is best for everyone in every situation".  I don't think most Americans feel that the government knows best for everyone in every situation about...well, ANYTHING.  I know that I don't feel like my government knows best about much of anything.  There are a few things they manage to get right, and from what I can tell, I am privileged enough to have a government that gets it right more often than a lot of others out there - things could be a great deal worse, I'm sure.  Anyway...Let's face it, we Americans a contentious and stubborn lot of people as a culture, and we like to have the freedoms to make our own mistakes if we must.  As a people, we're really terrible when it comes down to authorities telling us what we must do.  Most of us will end up making good choices most of the time, but we have an instinctive cultural reaction to rebel against others telling us how to think and how to act.  On the whole, I think this is a good thing.  Independent thought breeds wisdom eventually, even if it is a hard road of bad experiences along the way at times.  So it seems weird to me that this debate even got off the ground here in America - and weirder still that the political party that has taken Pro-Life as a banner issue...is the party that claims to also champion smaller government and greater personal liberties?  (I love the idea of smaller federal government and greater personal liberties - that's something I can get behind!  But how does Pro-Life fit into that platform?  I just don't understand that at all.)  Because...

Pro-Choice, legally speaking, is saying that the government cannot and should not make that call for every woman in every situation.  Pro-Choice is the legal stance that some things should be tightly regulated to minimize the harm it will cause anyway if it is made entirely illegal.  Pro-Choice is recognizing that for the evils we cannot eliminate by banning it entirely - we can minimize by providing better education, counseling, and popularizing less traumatic options whenever possible, but leaving some types of abortion legal for the circumstances that necessitate such a terrible deed.  Pro-Choice is legally respecting that some issues are best determined between a family and their faith and their relationship with God...and that we are not so wise as to know what is best for everyone all the time, that they must make their own peace if they go down that road without the interference of the law.

I don't want to stand in the seat of judgment for someone else on an issue so personal - I don't feel like I have either wisdom or the legal right to do so.  I am willing for my government to spend some of my tax money on programs that minimize the problem through preventive programs, and to minimize the myriad pains caused by the remaining abortions that could not be prevented by allowing them to be medically supervised (not paying for them, mind you, just letting it happen legally in a hospital at their own expense) and providing counseling afterwards with the hope of preventing the same mother from going through it all again and paving the way for positive mental health after the trauma.

I am Pro-Choice because I believe that legally, the associated policies and legislation protect more lives in the long run, and because I refuse to make a choice for others that I would not want others to make for me.

Thoughts, anyone?


  1. And beyond that, the government making abortion illegal doesn't stop abortion. A determined woman will not be stopped, and instead of attending a safe medical facility, she will seek other options. The research shows the number of deaths due to abortion decrease after Roe v Wade - before that women seeking abortions were often dying in the process as well as the unborn child in unsafe practices. The government being pro-life doesn't change a woman's choice in her mind, it just limits her (safe) options. If you want to change someone's mind about having an abortion, you are going to have to reach out and personally witness to that person with love and compassion. I'm sorry but some statement on a government piece of paper just won't do it.

  2. I have very strong opinions about this particular issue, and I think in many ways they are similar to what you've said here. The biggest thing we need in America is not a banning of abortion, but better education on ways to prevent pregnancy. The taboo of sex really needs to be removed, and the taboo of rape too. I know far too many women who are afraid that being a victim of rape is somehow their fault.

    The only thing I truly have a problem with on the stance of abortion is that being an acceptable method of "birth control" for some. I honestly feel that these procedures should only be allowed in specific circumstances... With birth control pills now being free with insurance there is no reason that every woman - whether sexually active or not because birth control has so many other positive impacts - should not be on some form of birth control.

    I have more experience with abortion than I care to share publicly. In the instance of rape I understand not wanting to carry the child to term, but if everyone was on birth control that wouldn't be as much of a problem. In the life of the mother vs the life of the child that is a moral decision that can be difficult no matter what you decide. A friend of mine was faced with that; it came to the doctors were unsure of being able to save the baby but they were positive that she would not survive the pregnancy. She chose to end the pregnancy and try again, now she has three beautiful healthy children but her parents have never forgiven her for the one she gave up... God works in mysterious ways.

  3. I guess I'll be the first to disagree...

    I believe that all human life is precious. The moment a child is conceived, they become a human life. No person or goverment should have the right to decide for that human life whether they live or die.

    I can (only begin to) understand the horror a woman would face if she was raped and conceived a child as the result. My heart breaks for the emotional and psychological issues they would face for the rest of their life. However... the child that was conceived had no choice who their parents were. They, a helpless babe, can only depend on their mother to let them be born and make their own way in life.

    The argument typically then becomes something along the lines of "it would be so horrific and damaging to carry that child to term for the mother" or "the child would be forever scarred." The opposite is also true though - "it would be a decision the mother made to murder another human that they would have to bear the rest of their lives, one day facing their maker about their choice to end of His creations" and "the child would be raised by a loving couple who were unable to have children and so sought to give their love to a child that they did not themselves conceive."

    I personally know a couple who have been waiting for a child to adopt. The truth of the matter is that so many women choose to kill their unborn children that they have been on a waiting list for close to two years. This loving couple cannot conceive their own child, and would gladly love and raise someone else's - no matter the circumstances behind their conception.

    For our country, we enjoy much freedom. Much of this is freedom to choose. That freedom ends when we start to impend the freedom of another human. I shouldn't be able to force you to stop smoking in your own home, quit drinking soda at lunch time, or to worship the same God that I think is the only god. By extension, the taxes taken from me should not be used to force you to make these choices. At the same time, laws are based on morals, which many would agree have to themselves come from somewhere.

    Why punish a thief if not for the moral belief that property is owned and should not be taken? Since so many are prone to wanting the goods of others, why shouldn't the government take some of the taxes it collects and pre-compensate business owners for the goods they will surely lose due to the decisions of a few individuals? We as a society choose not to do this (at this time) because we morally belive that taking the property of others is wrong. It should not be encouraged in any way... So much stronger is my belief that killing an unborn child is wrong that I would never support a government that uses my tax money to fund businesses that profit in the killing of unborn children.

    Law-wise - I will vote to outlaw abortion. Don't want your child? Fine. That child wants a chance at life. Can we stop people from killing children? probably not. However, I refuse to believe that we should make it easy, encouraged, or someone feign ignorance of our own moral beings and believe that it is acceptable and up to the only person tasked with protecting a life to decide to snatch it away as if it had no value.

  4. Did you guys read about the Woman in Ireland.... http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/11/14/ireland-abortion-death.html

    Where is the line drawn?

  5. Good to hear from both of you - littlerat and Jon!

    littlerat - I definitely agree that using abortion as a form of birth control the same way that responsible women use condoms and pills is completely abominable and should be restricted or outlawed. I guess my take is that it really ought to be medically advised...if you doctor doesn't tell you that you need to do it, then there really aren't very good reasons to choose to have an abortion except in cases of rape...and that's a tough call, as I mentioned before.

    Jon - as usual, you present me with a well thought and well worded counter argument that makes me think! Sorry for the slow response, but your comment required some reflection on my part. From the research I did before writing this post, I am glad to say that thankfully, our government does not fund abortions in any way I could find. The federal money that goes to Planned Parenthood, for example, has to be documented in how it is spent in the same way that Title 1 education funds are...and they are strictly forbidden from using those funds to facilitate abortions. So that is good to know, and comforting.

    The line that really got me thinking was "we should not make it easy, encouraged, or ... acceptable" And to a point I think I agree. Just not totally. It should definitely be in no way encouraged. It shouldn't be particularly easy. But I don't think we should socially shun a rape victim who chooses to have an abortion...the woman is already a victim of terrible violence, and we gain nothing by condemning her - and neither does she. Also, if all abortions are completely illegal...then what penalty do you enforce on those who violate it anyway? Do you throw them in jail? How do you prove that the pregnancy terminated by choice and that it wasn't a miscarriage? We can't go around throwing women in jail because of miscarriages...which are a completely natural and common occurrence (and I hear a completely traumatizing one as well). I want to know the details of how criminalization would be enforced before even thinking of supporting such legislation.

    Perhaps the real answer isn't a black and white thing...regardless of which policy path we're taking...we all seem to have the same goal: to prevent as many abortions as possible. SO...better education and more of it, and easy availability for other forms of birth control? Do we have a consensus on that part?