Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rethinking the Abortion Debate from a Liberal Christian Perspective

Found at OpEdNews.com

By Placing Obsessive Emphasis on a Fetus' Life Many Christians Demean Women and Potentially Weaken Our Society
by Paul Evans:

I have been searching my soul and re-examining the whole debate on abortion for the last couple of years, and thought it was time to let my readers have my thoughts on this divisive issue.

In the past, Evans Liberal Politics has generally but conditionally come out on the side of life, as Christian opponents of abortion generally understand the term. Let me go back to an article we featured on May 28, 2010, TN GOP proves that "pro-life" ends at birth, which was from Daily Kos, by benintn. At that time, I was basically holding a liberal sort of conception of an anti-abortion stance, and I said:

This article gets at the heart of the reason I have a problem being anti-abortion (as I am), even though a developing fetus has a measurably human brainwave at eight days after conception. If we eliminate first trimester abortions, this will dump about 300,000 unwanted infants annually, into the social services pool. Caring for that many children is a huge burden on the system. However even though I remain basically anti-abortion, I cannot STAND these righteous Republican moralizers who rant against it. These are the last people on earth who would be willing to cut out one of their vacations each year in order to pay for the costs of caring for the infants who would be born if there were no abortion. They rave on against abortion, but they are not willing to pay the social costs for not having it. It's truly root hog or die with these hypocrites. That is NOT to say that many Republicans aren't willing to pay these costs, but the Grand Old Party is kneejerk and lockstep in opposition to programs to care for our people.

Far from wanting to alleviate suffering in the worst economic turndown since the Great Depression (voting almost in lockstep against extending unemployment benefits any further), Republicans are now preparing an onslaught against tried and tested safety net programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Watch for this one folks: right wingers are now saying we can't afford to pay for these programs and it will be a big campaign issue in 2012.

If you want to do the crime, ya got to do the time (and pay for the costs).

I have been doing a lot of soul searching, as a person who is both very liberal and very Christian, and I also did a lot of reading on the subject around the net. We are in the midst of a big time austerity push where Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as currently constituted are under determined attack by the wealthy in this nation, and their agents, the GOP, as well as some conservative Democrats. I can't see America ever putting out the kind of resources it would take to care for 300,000 unwanted infants in any kind of coordinated, funded program that would establish federal rules for these infants to be cared for by society. If society doesn't care for them, who will? Are we going to sell them? To whom? It is simply a fact that there are not that many people willing to adopt and care for that many unwanted infants each year. To think otherwise is wishful, delusional thinking.

I have always put the mother's life first. Forcing a mother that is the victim of rape or incest to carry an unborn fetus to term is highly morally repugnant to me. I also think that forcing a 15 year old to carry an developing fetus to term is not something that should be legally required. It should be up to the parents, in consultation with their doctor and any spiritual advisers they wish to consult. And for God's sake, let's have realistic sex education as early as junior high school, realizing that these kids have bodies which are in many or most aspects adult and will engage in adult sexual behavior. While we're at it, let's give high school kids condoms through the agency of the school counselors or else the kids' parents. All this to me has alwaysbeen moral, realistic as well as Christian in its direction.

The real hang-up I have had is over more "standard" first-trimester abortions, and in the past, I have been generally against them after eight days after conception, because at that time a fetus develops a recognizably human brainwave. Yet the fact remains, looking at the matter stone cold realistically, society is not going to expand the social safety net to care for the additional 300,000 infants a year that would result if first trimester abortions were outlawed.

I guess it's that simple to me. I look at it in terms of a sort of "overall misery index" and at this point, very reluctantly, I would let Roe v. Wade stand and continue with first trimester abortions staying legal. By the way, I would make free "morning after pills" available all over the place and have the government pay for them.

There are those fundamentalist Christians who go so far as to say that birth control itself should be illegal since it might deny a potential life that would come to be if birth control were not available. And there are those pharmacists who will not fill prescriptions for the morning after pill or even birth control, citing religious grounds. Moreover, some state laws have supported a pharmacist's right to refuse this to people. Thank God, this is not prevalent and we do not live in a theocracy yet.

I'm going to let my arguments and thoughts end at this point, providing some of the articles I have read which helping bring me to my current viewpoint. To summarize the reasons for my position, it is driven by

1.) the compassion I feel for all living beings, in this case putting the life of the pregnant woman ahead of that of the unborn fetus,

2.) a general conclusion based on what is possible politically to care for potential unwanted infants and thus

3.) an overall feeling of compassion and regard for the misery versus the health of women as well as society. For those of you who might question my credentials as a true Christian, I suggest you read my article, My Christian Religious Views.

I also have one last thing to say: abortion is a very difficult issue. I KNOW the seriousness of aborting a fetus and I have thought about this a lot. I can honestly say, I don't know what's right. For what it's worth, these were my thoughts on the subject. It really bothers me that a fetus has a scientifically measured, recognizably human brainwave at eight days after conception, but I am not really convinced that this means that aborting such a fetus is killing a human being. It is alive, it has a human brainwave, but is it a human being? I guess such fetuses... well we need to think long and hard about this as individuals before we would decide to have an abortion. I might make some kind of law requiring counseling, but then the question is, who does the counseling, for that would determine what gets done, wouldn't it?

In the final analysis, I believe that such a question for a woman (or a teenager's parents) should be for the individual to make, that it is between the person and God, and that it should not be made illegal for first trimester abortions. I pray to God that my thinking here has some kind of decent validity and moral correctness. But I don't really claim to know for sure. We certainly shouldn't kill each other over this. Here are some of the articles which have contributed to my viewpoint on abortion:

I have been thinking about this for a long time. See The Rise of the Religious Left -- Why Christianity Isn't Just for Conservatives, AlterNet on Evans Liberal Politics, October 17, 2009, by Anna Hartnell.

See The Human Sacrifice Encouragement Act of 2011 (Updated), Daily Kos on Evans Liberal Politics, February 5, 2011, by dengre: In this bill, Republicans wanted to turn pregnant raped women who are about to die during pregnancy away from hospitals and out in the streets rather than allow abortion of any kind, ever. I'm not quite sure what ever happened to this legislation.

See John Stewart on Sen. Kyl's "political strategy known as lying', The Raw Story on Evans Liberal Politics, April 12, 2011, by Kase Wickman:

... one of the last sticking points in reaching a budget deal to avoid government shutdown was whether Planned Parenthood would receive federal funding or not. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) argued that abortion is "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does," when abortions actually account for only 3 percent of PPFA's services. When confronted, his office said that it was "not intended to be a factual statement."

One of the best religious articles I read on the subject of abortion was Liberal Christians and Abortion, Anitra.net, no date:

One thing to understand about Liberal Christianity is that it tries to adhere to the spirit of scripture and not necessarily to the letter. There are often no specific scriptural texts on a particular subject. Or the specific texts may say the opposite, taken literally, than what a Liberal Christian would understand to be the spirit of scripture as a whole.

If you ever go back to look at the 19th century debates about abolishing slavery, you will see what I mean. Not a single text in the bible says that slavery ought to be abolished. On the contrary there are specific instructions to slaves to be diligent and obedient to their masters. So the supporters of slavery had lots of scriptural backing for their position, and the abolitionists had very little. But the abolitionists based their case on what the bible teaches overall about the nature of human beings, and God's love for each and every one, and drew the conclusion, in spite of what a surface reading of scripture seems to say, that slavery was morally wrong and ought to be abolished.

When it comes to abortion, I cannot speak for all Liberal Christians, but this is my take on it.

1. Every conception creates a human life and God loves and honours that human life and wants it to develop to its full potential. Every abortion is tragic insofar as it ends a human life.

2. Every woman's life is dear to God as well. God loves the mother as much as the child and wants childbearing to be a joy for her. God never values the child above the mother (as most anti-choice advocates do) nor the mother above the child.

3. In some circumstances, bearing a child would bring great hardship to the mother and to others in her family. In such a case, one may have to weigh whether the cost of bringing a new life into the world is justified when the impacts on other lives are considered. This is a never a judgment to be made lightly, nor is there a simple rule one can follow, as the circumstances vary so much from one situation to another. All things considered, in some circumstances it is better not to continue the pregnancy. (Just as, in some circumstances it is better not to continue a marriage.)

No comments:

Post a Comment

I want to hear from you but any comment that advocates violence, illegal activity or that contains advertisements that do not promote activism or awareness, will be deleted.