Abortion – No Easy Answers

The following was extracted from the “preserve life” section of my make a difference post because a paragraph wasn’t enough.

TL;DR

  • We should compassionately discourage abortions
  • We should be truly pro-life, not just pro-birth
  • Abortion should be permitted when the mother’s health is at risk or in the case of rape
  • Be Humble: We don’t know with absolute certainty when “life” begins nor do we know what legislation will actually be effective. When talking with people who hold a different position strive for understanding. It’s likely you and they actually agree on many things and both of you are trying to care for others. Don’t treat the people holding a different position with contempt.

I believe that we should do everything possible to compassionately discourage abortions. This starts with empathy for the mother. Abortions are rarely a flip decision or a casually selected birth control method. The vast majority of women seeking an abortion are heart broken, trying to make the best of a bad set of decisions. There are several compassionate ways we can discourage abortions:

  1. Prevent unwanted pregnancies from occurring in the first place. The moralists who advocate abstinence as the solution and talk about people being responsible for their decisions lack empathy and any understanding of the human condition.
  2. Support mothers who would like to keep and care for a baby but aren’t ready. Lets be pro-life. not just being pro-birth. This goes beyond counseling to keep the baby and providing basic baby supplies for the first week or two. It is likely the mother is going to need help for at least several years. Governmental policies in the USA are far less supportive of parents than nearly every other developed country. Start by look at the paid parental leave in the UK and EU. Let’s work on changing our government policies and programs to support families. Let’s make sure that babies spared abortion don’t suffer from “unwantedness” which has a devastating impact. Lets not heap judgement and shame on these unintended parents. They have a hard and honorable job in front of them. I have heard multiple heart-breaking stories about women who decided to keep their child and were told by churches they didn’t want “people like her” in their church.
  3. We need to seriously overhaul the adoption system. There are baby’s than no one is adopting and people who are well suited to be parents and desperate want to get a child but are unable to and often the adoption process costs are a barrier for families that could afford caring for the child if it wasn’t for the high legal fees for the process.

I think abortion should be permitted in the case of rape or the mother’s health is threatened, even though I know I won’t have been born if my birth mother decided to get an abortion.

I don’t think criminalization is the answer and am troubled that abortion is accessible to the wealthy who can afford to travel and illegal / dangerous for those without means in many states. It is ironic that in countries outside the USA with the most liberal laws there are less abortions than where its illegal, which reinforces my belief that people generally seek an abortion because they feel they its the best of a bad set of options, typically driven by economic issues. What is the answer? I don’t know.

An important question is when does human life start? The Bible doesn’t tell us for certain when a human life starts. Bible scholars have debated Exodus 21:22-23, some believe the passage indicate that causing a miscarriage is of less severity than hurting the mother. This would suggest that a fetus is not accorded the same rights as a “person”. Others argue that this is passage is describing a premature birth which proves the fetus is a person. Possible options for when human life starts: a year after being born (some tribal cultures than had low survival rates had this standard), after a nature birth, when the fetus is viable apart from mother (with or without technology), when there is neural activity, when the fetus looks “human”, when the egg implants in the placental, when the egg is fertilized, when a couple had sex because God know what’s coming? We should be humble in asserting when life begins because we don’t really know, though it could be argued, being conservative will likely produce the least harm.

A modern ethics question is what to do with the extra fertilized eggs which are produced during in vitro procedures. If those eggs are people keeping them frozen seems like it’s in-prisoning innocents and destroying eggs is mass murder.

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