Saturday, September 27, 2014

Is It Valid For a Christian To Continue Cranking the Screws On Abortion Access?

A recent subject of debate in Missouri is the veto-session override of Governor Nixon's veto of a 72-hour waiting period for abortions at the one clinic still operating in the state. People who know me recognize that I am by no means a fan of Nixon and I believe that abortion is immoral. In this case, however, Nixon was right and Missouri Republicans were wrong. I have said this in pieces elsewhere, but I think it is worth putting my reasons in one place.

As a Christian, I believe that abortion is immoral. Finding clear justification in Scripture for this is not easy, but I strongly believe that it represents a disrespect for life which does not belong to us and that, as it does state in Scripture, "there shall be an accounting for blood". Abortion is an obscenity. I do not believe there is Scriptural support for abortion-as-murder and challenge anyone to cite a direct link between abortion and murder in the Bible. But is not necessary for abortion to be murder in order to be wrong.

I also believe that abortion is damaging to secular morality. Pro-choice advocates, even if contending that a fetus is in no way human, would probably support animal-cruelty laws on (at least) the argument that cruelty or indifference to life begets cruelty and indifference even though a cat or a horse is clearly not human.

Be that as it may, explicitly outlawing abortion or practically restricting it via 'public health' legislation is also wrong. The pro-choice activists argument is correct that a woman does have a right to decide what to do with her body, and as long as the fetus is part of her, that operates. Whether her choice is wrong or not is between her and God, not my business and not the business of human law. Sometimes a woman in facing the choice of abortion must balance wrongs, such as the wrongs of rape or incest, of youthful indiscretion, of abandonment by the father, of drug addiction, of an inability to raise a child, of danger to her health; it is not my place to make that decision for her, any more than it is someone else's choice whether I use force in defense of my self or another, committing one wrong to prevent another. But more than simply not being my business, preventing abortion would require me to take action (or condone action by law in my name) which I consider actively evil.

What are the alternatives? If we outlaw abortion, is imprisoning a mother for attempting to rid herself of an unwanted child going to help that child? A birth in prison, introduction to the tender mercies of our intensely messed-up foster care system? To force an irresponsible pregnant youth to irresponsibly raise a child after being abandoned by an irresponsible father? Knowledge that his or her mother tried to kill him or her? Is it better for the mother? Is it better for society to insert ourselves into that matter and become the problem? What is the hypocrisy of doing so when we refuse to put in the effort to care for abandoned children, to correct our foster care system, or for enough good families to step up and adopt as it is? Who is worthy to throw the first stone?

If we instead kill abortion with a thousand bureaucratic pricks, is that really any different? We pass public health laws which reduce the options to a single licensed facility, and increase the waiting period from 24 to 72 hours, so that someone who has already traveled across the state now has to either stay over or travel again, someone who in all likelihood is already in bad straits--- or they would not be considering the choice. We then shift our focus to further restrictions. Does anyone think that unlicensed abortions will not increase? Or abandoned children? Or more children in foster care families too often plagued by drugs, abuse, or neglect? How is that protecting public health? Are the people who now ask for pressure to close even that last facility willing to individually step up to care for women and children which now become our responsibility? How many of us, honestly, are willing or capable of adopting and caring for a child with fetal alcohol syndrome? How many of us when faced with a pregnant teenager respond first by condemning and only later--- if ever--- with "I'll take responsibility for that child"? I'm disabled myself and have more trouble than I can handle raising our own daughter. If we hesitate to shoulder that responsibility, can we blame the mother?

As a Christian believing that abortion is wrong, it is my responsibility to try to correct that evil where I can. Social pressure and activism is fair game. Education is fair game. Attempting to understand, to assist, to counsel without judgement, to rebuild families, extended families, godparents, churches, and functional marriages, working to improve foster care, to correct the corruption, to protect the children in the system, to make more families available, to adopt a relative's child--- or a stranger's if necessary---, promoting chastity and contraception, are all fair game. Keep the government out of it. Prayer and activism is called for; punishment is not my place.

Do unto others as you would have them do to unto you. Where have we lost track of that?


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