Not a Lighthearted Post

Monday, October 29, 2012

It seems like I alternate between decorating posts and heavy posts. Since my last post was about my little bathroom reno, I guess you know what you're in for. :)

I've been thinking a lot about abortion lately. Probably because I've been thinking a lot about the 2012 Presidential election, and that's a hot-button issue. Also because, coming from conservative Christian circles, the majority of people I know are pro-life without question. But there's always been something unsettled in me about the pro-life agenda. I've never been able to jump totally on board.

Senate candidate Richard Mourdock recently made headlines for clumsily stating what a lot of people believe -- that life comes from God. And that life is valuable, no matter the {potentially horrible} circumstance out of which it rises. While situations like rape or incest make the thought of carrying a baby to term unimaginable for many women, I've always understood the defense of the unborn, because life is life, and who are we to deny it based on its situational origin?

But one thing that has always unsettled me about the pro-life movement is that I feel it often devalues the way in which a woman is affected by pregnancy. No matter the circumstance in which a woman becomes pregnant, be it good or bad -- she will never again be the same after having a baby. I recognize that, and I understand why so many women fight for the right to choose.

My husband is pro-life because of a pretty simple scientific belief -- that a person's whole identity is present at conception. Everything they'll ever be is present in their DNA even before they've developed. He eloquently argues that stages of development doesn't change what it means to be essentially human. I understand his point, and I do agree with him in that respect.

But it just seems too hard... too personal and too varied and too hard to legislate. A friend of mine recently said (as we emailed back and forth about this issue): "I can't imagine a situation where we would be able to draft laws that would adequately anticipate the host of situations women find themselves in. I don't think we can adequately legislate such a nuanced issue to distinguish between ethical and unethical abortion, so I'm forced to vote pro-choice."

In her email (which was much longer than that), she managed to put into words what I've been thinking lately. That I, personally, would be uncomfortable with having an abortion. I would want to give my child, from day one, a chance at life. But at the same time, I can't come up with legislation that is broad or balanced or fair or nuanced enough to speak into another woman's situation.

"I do wish as a country we would talk about how to make abortion less frequent," my friend also said. "I believe it was Maya Angelou who, when asked if she was pro-life or pro-choice, said that we needed to shift the paradigm to discuss what we can do to create a world where women would not feel like having abortions was something they needed to do.  I'm pretty fed up with people on both sides of the debate, as I find the discourse flippant and oversimplified."

Amen, sister.

This is a tough issue. I don't have all the answers. I'm not writing here to convince anyone of anything, and I'm certainly not asking to be convinced -- although I'm certainly open to thoughtfully-shared and peaceably-argued comments. Ultimately, I'm just trying to sort out what I'm thinking and feeling right now.

If God is the author of life, I don't necessarily want to be one to take it away. I know that's sadly oversimplified, and life is far more complicated than that. But I also have to believe that God understands this fragile, confusing, broken world we live in, and that he cares about all of us, not just the unborn. I have to believe there's forgiveness and hope no matter where we stand on this issue. Life is complicated, and we could all use a little more compassion, don't you think?


Kari said...

I appreciate your transparency and honesty and I think if we all admit it, we realize that no single party or piece of legislation can answer all of the mess that this world brings. Thankfully that mess will one day...not be messy anymore.

I also love the Maya Angelou quote and think it is the right direction to take this conversation. It is hard to imagine a world where laws could be written that would ensure a safe environment for both women and for the unborn, but I have confidence it is in our future. At one point imagining a world where people, no matter their gender or color, would have the same and equal rights seemed impossible too. I have hope that we, as a progressive people, can continue to make things better for all human beings. All of that to say, I am pro-life in principle most definitely, but I don't think you have to always vote for candidates that are pro-life. I think it's about viewing the issue outside of the messed up political system and just thinking about it in it's basic form. Again, Maya Angelou gets it right. Let's start fighting for saved lives. Women and unborn babies alike.

Anonymous said...

I think the simple thing to remember, especially in terms of women's rights (which should be equal, always, to inalienable human rights. For Everyone.) is that pro-choice doesn't mean that you would have an abortion. It doesn't mean that you necessarily would be supportive if anyone in your life had one. It means simply that you believe that a woman has the right to choose what she does with her own body. When she is involved in a healthy relationship, this should involve her partner, as a joint decision, but it is ultimately hers alone. When the circumstances of conception are horrific ('legitimate or not' GRR!) she should not be forced by governmental legislation to carry to term what will constantly be a reminder of an act that was inflicted upon her without choice.

If we outlaw a woman's right to choose, we are no better then less developed countries who mutilate women until the men in society deem them 'of age'. We are no better then our ancestors who sent women to death for 'sorcery' or adultery. We are taking away decisions for women that are torturous enough for them to deal with. Why add on extra grief, guilt, and possible bodily harm inflicted by society and legislation as well?

Yes, we should be able to live in a world where women don't have to make these decisions, but unfortunately we don't. And while your husband has a point in that all DNA is present at conception, this completely negates the nurture theory and only focuses on nature--an issue which is not resolved in scientific or psychological circles, so I can't agree with him there completely.

I think as a woman, you need to stand up for the fact that you deserve to be equal and live the same life, with the same chances, as any man--any other person--in the world should be privy to. Regardless of your personal beliefs, the issue is not 'killing a child' or legitimate conception, or any of the other reasons conservatives (and liberals alike) throw out into the political gambit. The issue is equality and free will.

Laurin said...

Beth, you are not oversimplifying the wondrous truth that God is the Author of lie. Period. That is glorious, not simple. And mysterious too. We serve a mysterious God.
You are right~life is complicated. Let's have more compassion-compassion on the unborn. Compassion in that God is sovereign. He does not make mistakes despite our failings. Isn't is amazing~in the midst of the fallen world and the fallenness of rape, of sex outside of marriage....of any situation that would cause an unwanted pregnancy, even of a situation of a birth defect (obviously not caused because of sin but still present in our world because this world is not perfect and is fallen)~there is a God on His throne. Let us offer that hope and compassion to these women.
No, a woman will never be the same after having a baby. But may I suggest this: she will never be the same for her own good (and, of course, for the good of her child)? It is a wondrous thing to be unselfish. The world in which we live in cannot contemplate that. It goes agains the grain for sure. If we but took seriously the command of Jesus to "Love your neighbor as yourself", and stopped thinking so much of ourselves and wanting to preserve self instead of promote others, the world we live in would be so much better.
Finally, there is forgiveness and hope through Christ in repentance, not in standing against the Word of God. Murder is wrong. Do not murder, declares the Life-Giver God. How we fail to offer the beauty of forgiveness and hope of Christ when we try to cover over the deep pain that woman is suffering because we tell her that it's all okay because it was "her choice, her right, her body". No, let us tell her of a Saviour that had a choice, had a right, had a body....and let us tell her that He gave it all up so that she would have true forgiveness, true hope.

Say something...