An Inflammatory Issue: Abortion
Words have the power to kill. You are responsible for what you say, and also how you say it. I say this now, to make clear something that I hope you already recognize; I choose my words thoughtfully. So when I choose to write on an issue such as this, I hope you will trust me to present it without malice or self-righteousness. With that being said, let’s proceed.
Abortion is an inflammatory issue. For those strictly opposed, it is government sanctioned murder. For those who support it as a policy, it meets a tragic need for women in tragic circumstances, and to support it is to have compassion for their plight and to defend their freedom as individuals with reproductive rights. People on both sides will show their fangs when challenged. They will speak so passionately that they spit on your face. Their conviction for the cause is undeniable. To challenge them takes a good deal of courage or a good deal of ignorance. Maybe this is why I don’t hear it discussed very often. And when it is discussed, it explodes into a momentary firestorm leaving the room charred and the people gasping for air. Maybe we should think about why that is.
My challenge today is not for the legal system. It is not aimed at politicians. It is not even aimed at a group of people. My challenge is for you. I challenge you to consider the reasons for your position. And I challenge your moral foundations.
(Most of my information comes from the Guttmacher Institute website, which one could safely label as pro-choice. I have also compared these statistics with other seemingly reliable internet sources. I’m not trying to fool anyone with faulty statistics. If anything, these numbers are conservative since most come from 2005 or before.)
“The number of legal abortions performed between 1973 and 2005 is over 45,000,000”
“In 2005, 1, 210,000 abortions were performed.”
“Women in their twenties account for more than half of all abortions; women aged 20–24 obtain 33% of all abortions, and women aged 25-29 obtain 24%”
“Thirty-seven percent of women obtaining abortions identify as Protestant and 28% as Catholic.”
“About 61% of abortions are obtained by women who have one or more children.”
“The reasons women give for having an abortion underscore their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life. Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.”
Let me now state the obvious. I’m a twenty-four year old man who will never give birth. I don’t face the same challenges as pregnant women in undesirable situations. But, and oh boy is there a lot riding on this, I am a citizen of this country, and the human race. This means that it matters to me and to the rest of society where I stand on this issue. In case you disagree, or don’t see where I’m coming from, let me elaborate in my defense. The decisions each of us make affect those close to us. Our choices influence others. When you expand this to encompass an entire society, you have to see that each individual plays a role in shaping how that society functions. So, because my life influences the people I care about, and because all of our lives influence society as a whole, it really does matter what we base our morality on. Each individual shares in this. It matters where I stand on the issue of abortion. It matters where you stand. Our moral decisions directly affect us as individuals, and they also impact the larger body. Remember, people were the reason abortion was once illegal in this country. And people are the reason it is now legal. It matters what the people think. Your moral foundation matters. (But what if you believe in the ultimate freedom of the individual and stand firmly against any kind of imposed morality? My answer is, you are ultimately responsible for yourself, but you are fooling yourself if you think that you can exist alongside other people without being influenced by them. My point is that your moral foundation matters because it shapes you, and since society is made up of moral individuals, each individual must recognize their own shaping influence within the larger body.) This is the connection between the issue of abortion and you and me.
When I take a stand on this issue, it really does matter. When I look at the statistics that show nearly fifty million abortions in three decades, I can’t help but get emotional. Before I consider the reasons, I consider the massive loss of life. Wherever you stand on the start of life issue, you must at least accept that the thing that is aborted, if left untouched, would have been born a human. It would have had a chance at life. It’s interesting that so many who are passionately pro- choice are also passionately against the death penalty. And so many who are passionately pro-life are also passionately for the death penalty. They must be standing on different moral foundations.
A chance at life. How far does society go to give people a chance at life? How precious is this life that we share? Look at how nuts everyone went over this health care issue. People want to live, and they want to live long and well. So when I read that a significant percentage of abortions occur due to inconvenient circumstances, I have to ask if you believe it to be justified? If you are taking the potential life of another human being, you absolutely need to have a good reason. If two climbers were hanging by one rope, and it suddenly became clear that it could not support both of them, it would be an impossibly difficult, yet entirely justified decision to sacrifice one so that the other could live. What percentage of abortions come as a result of the mother’s health needs? What percentage do you think is high enough to justify the country’s current policy which provides for abortions in less noble situations?
I have heard it said more than once that if abortions were made illegal, women would still have them, and in those circumstances it would be much less safe. Undoubtedly, both points are true. And this presents a problem for the one who is against the policy. Do you remain true to your pro-life position even in the face of this harsh reality? Honestly, yes. Let me explain. If you believe that abortion is killing in the first place, you have difficulties supporting it under any circumstances. Supporting a policy that makes it more culturally acceptable and more readily available is condoning the spilling of innocent blood. When the cost is weighed, it is more desirable to preserve the lives of the unborn by opposing the policy, than sacrifice them for the benefits of its preservation.
Abortion results in deep trauma for many women. It follows them the rest of their lives. The choice, no matter how apparently justified, was theirs. They live with that choice. I don’t understand this reality of pain. How could I? So please, don’t turn aside from what I’m saying because I don’t understand. I admit it, I don’t understand. But I do understand the value of life. And I do understand my own heart. And I understand my moral foundation. I do not support this right to abort because I view the choice as morally untenable. That demands an explanation.
The decision in Roe V Wade found that the Constitution allowed for the right to privacy in the case of women choosing to have an abortion. The court decided that a fetus was not a person under the Constitution. This made it legal nationwide for women to have abortions. The court decided that unborn children did not have the same right to life as protected in the fourteenth amendment. This means, women have the right to choose because unborn children do not have the rights of those who are born. If fetuses were recognized as living people, women would not have this right because it would infringe upon the other’s right to life. So, you can see why I oppose this decision, and why I believe the basis of this free choice is false. The unborn child has a right to life. Perhaps you could boil it all down to this. The unborn human has a right to life.
What I will leave you with is this thought. If you are a supporter of this nation’s abortion policy, I hope you believe in your position wholeheartedly. The population of Boston is about 650,000. Even if you multiply it 60 times, it still falls short of the number of legal abortions performed in the last three decades. That is a very high number. It would take a strong foundation of reason and morality to support such a number.