The killing of our children is not a new phenomena. For millennia there have been remedies, some brutal, for ending a pregnancy. In many cultures, it was not considered illegal or even immoral to leave a child after their birth to be exposed to the elements until they died.
Some would argue that abortion should not be stopped. Those who believe in a strict Darwinian worldview would see abortion as a way of eliminating undesirable members of the population–children destined to pass on bad genes, become criminal elements or swell the ranks of the poor.
An unwanted pregnancy is no doubt the most emotional and consequential event a person can experience. On the one hand there is the life of the woman. She will be physically altered for 9 months, experience a host of health risks, have to deal with body changes after the pregnancy, perhaps have her career or education disrupted, perhaps have her reputation tarnished and relationships threatened, It is a big deal that can just go away with an abortion. I would consider a person’s right to the control of their body as one of our foremost rights. There would be no question as to a woman’s right to choose if this right wasn’t in conflict with the one right that is higher–the right of another to simply live.
When we end a life at the beginning we are not just changing a person, we are changing the future. None of that person’s accomplishments will come to be. Those who would be that person’s descendants and their accomplishments will not happen either. We can reflect on our own existence. If we had been aborted or a parent or grandparent, then our life would not exist.
It is true that children die in the womb or in childhood all the time. Miscarriage, stillbirth are a part of life. But they are not our choice. We are ill equipped to see the future that is lost., so how can we make a truly informed choice?
Choosing to not allow abortion as an option, is not shifting the decision of life and death into the hands of the government. It is shifting the choice into the hands of God. Who else can discern these things?
Because abortion is possible and the costs are high, stopping abortion is a truly difficult thing. That should be the goal, however. Stopping abortion is not necessarily the same thing as making it illegal. Laws are not always an effective tool of change.
In the early 1900’s the U.S. had a big problem with alcoholism and domestic abuse. Seemingly, the way to stop this problem was to prohibit alcohol. But because the demand remained strong and the ability to supply didn’t go away, Prohibition actually made the problem worse. It only added the problem of organized crime.
Some things need a change of heart more than a change of law. With abortion, criminalizing the behavior only forces it underground. While I think it is criminal, convicting a woman of murder is unproductive and unkind. We need many things to happen, one being a very public and pervasive discussion of what it means to be human–specifically, when do we start to be a distinct human. Neither birth, nor viability, nor a heartbeat, nor the ability to feel pain make us human. We struggle with this question because we do not even understand what we are. Most people understand we are a body and a soul, and a human exists where the human soul exists. A materialistic viewpoint denies the existence of a soul, but will support the idea that the presence of distinct human DNA makes you more than a simple part of your mother’s body.
A imagined construct, personhood, has been put forward in the place of protecting the rights of humans. What makes a being a “person” deserving rights of his or her own is variously and subjectively defined. Some standards would grant rights to a chimpanzee but not the unborn. Such a strategy has been used to deny rights to other groups who lacked the power to resist: blacks, Chinese, even women. We have a beautiful and noble sounding constitution that considers “self-evident that all men are created equal”. It somehow defines our country, but we have never lived it nor have many truly believed it. The unborn are only equal when they are wanted. How many great and productive people have begun their lives unwanted.
The thing is, with people delaying the start of a family and the rise of infertility, all children are wanted; just not always by the parent who bore them. Ending abortion can’t be accomplished through laws. It will take many things, including laws to make it happen. Here is my list of what we need:
- People, especially Christians, need to accept that people are sinners and make mistakes. Their sons and daughters need to be encouraged to remain sexually pure, but at the same time know that they will always be loved and supported even in the case of an unplanned pregnancy. This is a difficult, but necessary, concept to convey.
- Real options need to exist for a person who is not ready or able to be the parent of the child they are carrying. Support, both public and private, needs to exist for pre-natal care, possibly housing, counseling that helps a person consider the ethical considerations, and adoptive services.
- Abortion as a for profit industry has to be made illegal.
- Discussions about the ethics of human life need to happen in public, in the family and in the schools.
- God has to change minds, and sometimes that is only possible through great loss.
My purpose in this article was to make us all think about what is at stake and to think beyond laws and lobbying. The battle for the protection of the unborn and for the actual realization of the ideal in our constitution won’t happen in the courts or in the Congress. It won’t be advanced by leaders who say one thing and then leave an example that more than nullifies his or her words. It will have to be done person by person.