The best answer I can give to a valid question

A reader left a valid question on my last post:

... where is the answer to the question regarding the rights of unborn children?

In the current abortion debate, there are really only two answers I'm allowed to give: that they equal or override those of the mother; or that they are always superseded by hers.

It's not that cut and dried to me, not so black and white. In fairness to the questioner, I will try to explain my thoughts, but I ask you to remember that I'm neither theologian nor social scientist. It's by no means completely clear in my own mind. What I say here is only intended to give you a glimpse into my thought process on this complicated and emotional issue.

For me, it comes down to this: The rights of a mother and child are inseparable during pregnancy. I'm as saddened at the angry voices that call women who seek abortions murderers as I am at the defiant voices that cry for us to ignore the statistics. Neither pole, in my opinion, recognizes our societal responsibility for what drives women to abortion.

I'm old enough to remember what women did before it was legal. I've seen the pictures of women impaled on coat hangers, which today are dismissed or even called "just desserts" by some in the pro-life camp. I can't condemn living breathing women to that fate again.

But I also can't ignore that lives are lost in abortion. There are certainly women who believe that a pregnancy is no more than a lump of tissue until the moment of birth, but neonatal medicine alone shoots that point of view down for me, and for most women I daresay. The vast majority of woman who turn to abortion do so with sorrow, and with acute awareness that in different circumstances their pregnancy would have been a much loved child. No one chooses abortion because they think it's a good idea, they choose it because it's the only possibility they see.

So, in my opinion, if we really want to protect the rights of the unborn, we'll listen to their mothers. This doesn't bring an immediate halt to the 1.4M abortions that are taking place in the U.S. today. But looking out over the years, I see a better chance for making abortion as rare as we all want it to be if we stop the debate and work toward compassionate solutions to the challenges that bring women to abortion today. Added to clarify: Those solutions, in my opinion, offer the best chance of reducing the number of abortions long-term.

And again: I offer my point of view not to try to sway people to it, just to explain how I view this complicated issue.


Anonymous said…
"So, in my opinion, if we really want to protect the rights of the unborn, we'll listen to their mothers"
Thank you Margie - eloquent as usual. I couldn't agree more. I don't think there is anyone on earth who sees abortion as a good thing - its a horrible thing. The only person in a position to make that kind of decision is the mother. Not politicians, not bystanders. Only the mother has that right and that responsibility. Nobody I know who made that decision made it lightly. Those women deserve our compassion.

I remember my Jen, when she was just a little girl, commenting on a Right To Life parade once. People had the signs that read "Adoption not Abortion" - I tried to explain how they saw that link between the 2 concepts. Jen said "I guess they don't know much about adoption huh?"
Margie said…
Thanks, Maggie. I'm really REALLY worried about the Republican push for more adoptions as a solution to abortion. They seriously don't get adoption, yet it's become one of their mantras. Frightening.

Hope you're doing well!!
Anonymous said…
Um... I will raise my hand here and say that *I* believe abortion can be a good thing. I don't see how it's any more horrible than parenting or adoption, depending on the circumstances surrounding the individual woman's decision-making. If abortion is a decision made from a woman's own moral center in the best interest of both herself AND the child that would otherwise come into being, then a safe clean abortion can be a serious blessing for all involved.

Not a theologian either, but I'm strong in my belief that whatever gave women the ability to bring forth new life also gave us the moral authority to make freewill decisions on behalf of ourselves and the nascent lives we carry during pregnancy. If women are the gatekeepers of human life, then women have the responsibility (not submissive obligation, not "choice" - responsibility!) to decide whether or not a given conception will come to fruition. Outside agendas that throw roadblocks in a woman's moral process are the horror, not the outcome of her soul-search and subsequent actions.

Sarah said…
Thank you Margie for your thoughtful answer.
I agree with you that the number of abortions is something most Americans want to see decrease. When do we decide though when life is independent of another? Does the elderly who needs the aid of others to live lose their rights because they require help? Does the physically or mentally challenged forfeit their rights to life as well because of their need for assistance from other humans to live?
Abortion isn't just about the unborn lives that are terminated. It's about the value of life in our culture and who decides whether one lives or doesn't.
And no, I'm not republican. I'm a registered independent. I haven't seen much done to protect the rights of humans and their lives offered by my former party.
Yes, I believe and practice in my actions that the women who find themselves with a pregnancy whether planned or not, should be given as much support as possible. That doesn't always mean adoption in my view. If mothers want to parent, offering as much assistance possible from both the private sector and government should be of utmost importance both during and AFTER delivery of that child.
I find myself in my 40's as a pro-woman, pro-child, anti-all the fighting, wanting better for everyone in my country - both the born and unborn.
maybe said…
Marige said, "I see a better chance for making abortion as rare as we all want it to be if we stop the debate and work toward compassionate solutions to the challenges that bring women to abortion today."

That is spot on.

No woman walks into an abortion clinic feeling happy to be in a position that necessitates abortion.

We can work for better access and more reliable methods of birth control. And we can work for better support of single and/or otherwise struggling mothers. I think a lot of women would choose to parent if they had a little support to get on their feet.

I also think pushing adoption as the solution probably results in more abortions. I personally know women who have stated they only choose either abortion or their heart they know they could never carry a baby for nine months and walk away.
I echo what Maybe said. No one considers abortion without great sadness in their heart.

As I was writing that I wondered if young girls sometimes feel pressured into it these days the way we felt pressured about adoption way back when.

I really resent adoption being put forth as the no muss, no fuss alternative.

I am pro-choice btw.

Popular Posts