Here’s another rant…

Posted on October 5, 2012

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Texas law forces women to seek unsafe abortions.

That’s the headline they should have used.  Because that’s what the article says.  At least, that’s my opinion of what it says.

Fair warning: I’m going to rant about abortion.  I’m doing this for me and not for you.  I don’t mean to belittle your opinion on the matter, but I really just need to blow some steam.  If you disagree and wish to say so, please leave a comment and we can discuss things further.

This is a topic that America as a whole has been talking about since at least 1973 (the first state-level abortion law was enacted in 1891).  And we’ll be talking about it still in another hundred years.  What concerns me about the above article is not whether or not abortion should be legal (it shouldn’t), but when does an individual’s responsibility become society’s responsibility?

I want to make it clear: I believe abortion is murder.  I believe life begins at conception (though we’re still debating that issue).  However, I also believe that we’re all better off when government gets involved only where necessary.

So should abortion be legal?  Should there be limits on who can get one and when?  How restrictive should those limits be?  What procedures do we allow?  Is it a state or federal issue?

All good questions, but I want to talk about this one: where does the responsibility lie?

With the individual.  You don’t want kids?  Don’t get pregnant.  Use birth control: condoms, diaphrams, spermicide gel, the pill, etc.  If you know you never want children, get a vasectomy or have your tubes tied.  (I don’t actually advocate the latter, as it’s an invasive procedure.  But it is a relatively permanent solution.)  Or don’t have sex.  That’s pretty simple.

What about victims of rape?  What if the condom breaks?  What if God plants a baby in a woman’s womb through immaculate conception?  …  Okay, I think we can all agree that the latter option probably won’t happen, but there are times when things don’t go according to plan.  What is a woman to do?

I don’t know.  I’m not a woman.  I’ll never have to go through that.  I have dealt with an unwanted pregnancy, but as a male I can only speak to my experience.  (Generally, I believe that men have rights where pregnancy is concerned.  If we’re expected to provide child support outside of marriage or a committed relationship, then we should be granted some say in whether or not to terminate a pregnancy.)  So I’m not an expert on what women should do with unexpected pregnancies.

But that never stops me from having an opinion.  Life begins at conception.  Therefore a woman’s responsibiltiy as a mother begins at conception.  An unplanned pregnancy is not cause for ignoring that responsibility.  Is it fair?  No, and that’s the way it is, so deal with it.

Still, when does the responsibility go from the individual to the society?  We should always try to help those who are less fortunate than us.  That’s a Christian value, and I generally agree with it.  So if a teenager gets pregnant because she (or her boyfriend) made a mistake, or if a woman gets pregnant from rape, then the proper response is to help the woman get the care and support she needs to bring her child into this world.  There are ways to do this: give the child up for adoption or bring the extended family together to help support the mother.  Why is abortion being touted as an acceptabe method?

Okay, my head is spinning (probably from too much caffeine and not enough sleep), so I’m going to try and focus my thoughts.

Whether or not a woman gets pregnant is mostly her and her partner’s responsibility.  If an unplanned pregnancy occurs, and the woman doesn’t want the child, adoption should be the best solution.  So inviduals and groups in our society should be working harder to make that option more appealing and accessible.  One way of doing that is limiting the ease with which a woman can get an abortion.

Now I don’t think that’s the best option.  If a state enacts laws to limit abortions but doesn’t make support options more available, then that state is encouraging women to seek an unsafe solution.  Again, the responsibility lies with the individual first, then the group or community, then the state.  But abortion is already legal.  We’ve grown accustomed to having that option available.  And while it’s a cowardly option, it’s appealing because it lets the woman ignore the pain involved.  She doesn’t have to face her family or friends.  She can have the procedure done and not tell anyone, and she can pretend it never happened.  And overall, our society is very individualistic.  So it makes sense (to me at least) that we’ve become used to dealing with this issue in this manner.  Then a state makes a law that restricts abortion.  And another law comes along.  Each law is intended to make it harder to get an abortion, and the rationale behind it is simple: force the mother to carefully consider what she’s doing before she does it.  But where’s the support?  It’s as though we’re saying, “You’re a bad person for being pregnant.”  That’s just not true.  Even if the message is this: “You’re a bad person for wanting to kill your unborn child,” there’s something missing.  What we should be saying to these women is: “It’s okay that this happened.  You’re not a bad person.  You’re not a bad mother.  And if you let us help you, we can get through this together.”

That’s what we should be working toward in our society.

From the above article: “It is telling that women are willing to go to such great lengths to terminate a pregnancy, but it is not surprising.  A safe abortion can mean the difference between a life of poverty and an education.”  That’s certainly true.  But that statement betrays an underlying belief: that the wants of the mother outweigh the needs of the child.  I think there’s a better way and it begins with valuing human life.

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