Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The One About Abortion

This is a long post, and it's a post I don't want to write. I have some friends that I'm pretty sure will tear me up – some politely and gently, some a bit more viciously. But being a believer means doing what God calls you do to even if it gets you torn up, so here I go. Folks, we need to talk about abortion.

I had a friend in high school who worked for many years at George Tiller's clinic. When we re-connected later on Facebook, we had a very civil discussion on the topic. Interestingly enough, she said she usually respected the people who peacefully protested at the clinic (key word, of course: peacefully); they had every right to try to persuade people to agree with their opinion of when life begins, she said.

Because we both agreed that the whole issue really hinges on the question of when, precisely, life begins. If life begins at conception, there is no doubt that abortion is wrong. On the other hand, if life doesn't begin until the fetus leaves the womb, abortion might be legally justified. And if life begins at some vague, arbitrary point in the gestation period . . . which is apparently what most Americans believe these days . . . well, that makes it all awfully fuzzy.

But deciding when a fetus is "alive" is the key to the whole argument. If you believe the fetus is alive, I'm not sure how you can give any justification for ending that life. All the reasons given to justify an abortion immediately cease to apply once the baby leaves the womb and everybody agrees that it is now "alive". Consider:

If the baby is born with some defect or medical condition that wasn't previously detected, nobody argues that it is now, after birth, okay to end that baby's life. If a new mother in a hospital suddenly decides that she isn't qualified or prepared to raise a baby, nobody would argue that it is okay to end that baby's life now, after birth. If a newborn could, in some way, put the life of its mother in danger, nobody would argue that it is okay to just kill the baby to spare the mother, once it's already born. If some terrible tragedy happened in the course of the delivery and that baby will now be a daily reminder to the mother of this trauma in her life, nobody would argue that it is okay to end that baby's life, after its birth, to spare the mother her emotional struggle.  Nobody argues that, because a newborn baby cannot survive independently without the nurturing of another that it is "unviable", and it is okay to allow it to die.

These arguments only apply to fetuses, to babies still in the womb, and they only apply if 1) the fetus is not really "alive" and 2) it is just a part of the mother's body that she can choose what to do with. (And you must believe both, by the way: none of this nonsense about the baby being alive but the mother still has a legal right to choose what to do with it. That's obscene rationalization. Yeah, I'll get crucified for that statement, but that's the truth, people. If you believe that baby is alive, but you think the mother should have a legal right to end its life because "it's her choice" . . . well, I don't know what to do with you.)

Here's the heart of what I want to say: whatever your religious stance, it is hard for me to understand -- based on what we know today, forty-some years after Roe v. Wade -- how you can come to these two beliefs (especially after the 1st trimester or so) unless you just want them to be true.

I'm not going to rag on Planned Parenthood and what they may or may not be doing that is illegal or immoral. But I do want to focus on something that came out in all those videos. Fetuses that they abort have organs. Intact (before they are mangled by the aborting process), visibly identifiable human organs. Even sexual organs ("It's another boy!" one of the technicians said).

These fetuses have DNA that is distinctly different from their mothers'. I don't know the legal or scientific definitions that apply to all this, but personally, I don't need the law or science to tell me that different DNA is a clear indication of a different human being, not simply a part of a human being growing inside itself.

These fetuses have beating hearts. I heard Chris Christie say the other day that he changed his position on abortion when he heard the heart of his child beating at his wife's OB appointment soon after the first trimester. This is a common story; there are many, many people out there whose feelings about the fetus changed when they heard that early heartbeat or saw that early ultrasound. This is why pro-life clinics try to give pregnant women ultrasounds as early as possible.

(And I don't understand why pro-choice people are so angry about this practice. If they are really about women having a choice, why are they opposed to women having all the available information before making that choice? My friend told me that at Tiller's clinic, they went way out of their way to be sure these women really wanted an abortion – they had no interest in performing procedures that the mother may regret someday. If this is the case with abortion providers, why would they fight the ultrasounds?

Pro-choice people vehemently protest that they are NOT pro-abortion; it's not that they want babies aborted – they just want women to have the choice. If that's true, why would they be pushing the medical route that is most likely to result in an abortion? If they are NOT "pro-abortion," why do they seem to be actively trying to prevent a pregnant woman from having any possible reason to change their mind about the procedure, from making any emotional connection with the fetus?  Why would they pointedly discourage a practice that helps pregnant women recognize and embrace the role of "mother"?  Why would they not rejoice at this? Aren't loving connections between mother and child a positive thing for society overall? Really, I don't understand this.)

Again, I'm afraid to bring this up, because I don't have the knowledge, energy, or time to make the pro-life case to friends who will get riled by my post. And I'm quite sure anyone who wants to can nickpick a million holes in everything I've said here – in everything every pro-life advocate would say. And I'm certainly not denying that there are pregnancy situations where I might wish abortion was okay (my friend described 9-year-old girls who were brought in for abortions after being raped – dear God – no, I would have no idea how to counsel someone in that situation, and that's the truth).

But those extreme situations are extremely rare . . . and arguing the individual points here can shield us from seeing the obvious big picture of what abortion is and how it is happening in our country. Don't focus on defending the trees and miss the layout of the forest – back up and look at this forest we've created. I want to urge my pro-choice friends to really consider what brought you to this position. Listen to your heart. Your gut. To justify abortion, you must believe that there is no life in that fetus. Can you honestly look at those videos, listen to those heartbeats, view those ultrasounds, and believe this is not a life?

If you can, I guess our conversation is done. If you realize that you can't, then God has answered some prayers today.

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