“You could say I lost my faith in science and progress
You could say I lost my belief in the holy Church
You could say I lost my sense of direction
You could say all of this and worse.”– Gordon Sumner
A friend (one of the few readers I have) brought up the abortion legislation that was recently passed. I had intended to skip it. It’s not because of a lack of importance. One could easily argue that it was the most grotesque of all of the legislation passed this time around. The problem isn’t so much interest in the topic or having a definite opinion. It is finding a balanced way to discuss it without trampling on deeply held beliefs (or non-beliefs).
I’m a fairly committed Catholic. I would say I’m devout, but that word brings all kinds of connotations that I’m not sure I want to embrace at this point. We go to mass weekly, we volunteer in the church, and I’m what traditionalists would call a Catechist (or Sunday school teacher in everyday vernacular). In the past, I’ve served on committees and councils as well.
Yet, there is a difference between being active and being devout. The textbook definition of devout is not any different, but people see a kind of fundamentalism when they see devout. As a catechist I try to keep personal beliefs out of the equation. Usually, we avoid those topics all together. This is one of those cases where it is impossible to avoid these conflicts.
Political labels are rarely ever accurate. Pro-life and pro-choice are no different. The pro-life contingent could more accurately be called pro-birth. Drill down deep and you’ll find these folks are usually pro-death penalty, and generally in favor of U.S. intervention in foreign conflicts. Their dedication to life appears to be rather limited and focused on one thing.
The opposition tries to label pro-choice as pro-abortion. I’ve talked about this before. The insinuation is absolutely repugnant. No one I know is in favor of abortions. No one is roaming the countryside and preaching for women to get abortions. The idea is just silly. So, if forced to say which one I choose to adhere to I often hesitate to answer. Neither fit me that well.
So, if we wanted to quickly characterize the new legislation we would basically say it outlaws abortions after six weeks. The particularly insidious part is where it gives friends and neighbors the ability to rat out their friends and neighbors if they think they have gotten an abortion or have aided and abetted in someone obtaining an abortion.
Removing the religious implications is nearly impossible, but we have to try. At the heart of this is a battle between the life of the fetus and the rights to privacy for the women involved. Unfortunately, now that includes anyone in their immediate circle as well. Supreme Court precedence indicates that women should be able to legally obtain an abortion through the second trimester. Six weeks hardly qualifies there.
For me, it is impossible to unravel the religious implications, so I’ll stop trying. If the stated goal is to reduce the number of abortions then this is absolute wrong way to do it. If you are aiming to control a woman’s pregnancy and by extension her body you are coming to the party a little late. You reduce the number of abortions by reducing the demand for abortions. You do that by reducing the amount of unwanted pregnancies.
This is where I run into problems with the church. The church preaches not only for life in all instances, but steadfastly opposes most forms of birth control. The only acceptable sex education is abstinence based education. While in the abstract, I’d agree that should be the goal, we have a problem when we start talking reality. Teenagers and young people will be sexually active more often than not. Failing to acknowledge this only creates problems. If everyone had a healthy understanding of not only the mechanics of safe sex, but also the emotional and spiritual implications they would probably be more likely to avoid situations that would lead to the demand for an abortion.
The flip side is to continue to perpetuate the notion that unwed mothers have done something evil. When a young potential mother seeks help she is often told she shouldn’t have had sex. Now, if she seeks a medical option that is available to the vast majority of the country she can be tarred and feathered along with anyone that supposedly helped her. If she were greeted with compassion and grace then most if not all of this would be unnecessary.
So, to put it simply, I oppose abortions 99 percent of the time. I can’t give a 100 percent qualification because there are obvious situations where the mother’s health is in jeopardy. Also, for obvious anatomical reasons, the choice is not mine and should not be mine. So, I suppose that makes me pro-choice in the strictest definition of the term, but I also think carrying the baby to term is almost always the correct choice. I just think there is a much better way of doing this that doesn’t cause so much shame all the way around.