The Pros and Cons of Choice

My birthday falls on the same day as the Roe v. Wade anniversary, so I'm writing about it.

Yeah, this post is about abortion. Go ahead and get your polemic gear on.

My birthday is Sunday, which also happens to be "Sanctity of Life Sunday" in a lot of churches. It's also the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Normally, I would never write about this. It's too touchy. Anytime someone brings the topic of abortion up in normal conversation, things tend to go downhill. Pro-life. Pro-choice. Murder. Reproductive rights. Moral decline. Intrusive government. Pretty soon, you're throwing little smokies cocktail weiners at someone else and calling them ugly names.

So let me be upfront: I think abortion is morally wrong. I think life begins at conception. I think that abortion is therefore taking a human life. I wish abortion wasn't allowed as a legal, elective procedure, if for no other reason than the fact that my wife and I had been through three pregnancies, one of which was terminated against our will: our first child was stillborn at 41 weeks. It ripped our souls out and left me profoundly shaken. But the entire pregancy opened my eyes to how miraculous life is - from conception to birth and beyond - and left me solidly in the camp that no child should go unborn.

I know the arguments about rape and incest, so to keep things on one level, my comments are going to be targeted to elective abortions - cases where there is no rape or incest. When a woman had no choice in getting pregnant, it's inhumane to leave her no choice in the aftermath. That may make me unpopular with some folks, but so be it.

But regarding elective procedures, I also think that it's up to the woman to decide. Not because the baby isn't worth saving - he/she is - but because it's always been the woman's choice. By nature, the baby doesn't really get a say so. Whatever mom chooses, the baby just has to go along for the ride. And that's true not just in the case of life, but in the case of diet and other life habits including smoking, drinking, recreational drug use, and seat belt use.

Mothers always have a choice.

Legally, we have a system in place that allows a woman to schedule an appoitment with a clinic, pay a hefty fee, and have a pregnancy aborted. That beats a system in which woman have to find other, more dangerous ways to do the same thing.

And if you doubt that, I will tell you this: talking about the topic with my wife last night, I mentioned someone I knew who'd had an abortion. Rachel said, "I don't know anyone who's had an abortion, but I know of people who either got someone to hit them in the stomach or found a way to end their pregancy by themselves."

But having a system in place that allows for safe procedures doesn't mean that those procedures should be easy to obtain. Personally, I think our state's laws regarding this procedure strike a good balance, especially with regards to minors (unemancipated females under the age of 18). I like the fact that women should be given all of the options and information available to them, including the fact that the father of the child has legal obligation to help take care of that child. Far too many dudes feel like they can just walk away from their responsibility, and all too often we let them.

Which means the options available to the mothers can really suck.

This hit home for me yesterday when a young woman came to visit me for counseling. I won't go into details, but she was pregnant, scared, and facing crappy alternatives no matter what she chose. In her heart she felt abortion was wrong, but as she looked at her life, she couldn't see a better alternative. So she came to me at a friend's suggestion, just to talk.

Now, talk about "rubber-meets-the-road" moments.

I counseled her. I was honest with her about my thoughts on the issue - both theological and non-theological - and about the situation she is facing. I told her I thought an abortion would be murder. I also told her the choice was hers.

I also took her to some people who could offer her far more counseling that I could, as well as some free medical treatments (ultrasounds and screenings) that would give her more information about where she stood.

Look, I don't know what she'll choose. To be honest with you, her options seem to suck either way. The non-compassionate among us would chime in here and say that's what she gets for choosing to have sex outside of marriage, and while there's truth to that - our choices always lead to other, sometimes more difficult choices - people who would say that don't have much of a heart. And they probably haven't sat across from many people broken by their bad choices and equally afraid of making another one.

As human beings, we are given/evolved/whatever the ability to make choices for ourselves, choices that begin as soon as we are born but increase exponentially as we age. It might be a miracle that so many of our choices actually work out for us as well as they do; one need only watch a Road Runner/Coyote cartoon to know that even the best laid plans can blow up in your face. So it stands to reason that choice should be available to us all the time.

It also stands to reason that there should be plenty of people available to help us see the pros and cons of our choices. Sometimes there are. Sometimes there aren't. That's life. And if we're talking about shoes or shirts or car purchases or home purchases, well...we can survive pretty well even if we don't make the best choice.

But when it comes to human life, both of the mother and the child in her womb, having someone there along the way should be required. Parents, we need to be there for our kids. Churches, we need to be there for the young women of our community - and not by picketing clinics and calling women such encouraging things like "slut" or "whore."

And people also need to quit by denying that life begins at conception, or by refusing to call a baby in the womb a baby. The issue is difficult; try actually dealing with it instead of wimping out through terminology.

Honestly, I wish I'd been born in July. Feel free to turn the comments section in a war zone.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Grant January 23, 2012 at 07:36 PM
If you guys would just realize that I'm right I wouldn't have to be so argumentative Kris ! (Thats a joke BTW ) I said "meh" because Jason's summation of the discussion was pretty accurate . He addressed both sides accurately , stated his "moral" stance on the topic and acknowledged the indisputable biological reality . Nothing there that I can find fault with so "Meh, pilot light only on the flamethrower". No curve ball intended. It seems though , that those of us that take a realistic look at the topic are usually pigeonholed as "pro abortion" folks. Frankly I doubt there are many on planet Earth that are "pro abortion" , it's a sticky business and an extremely difficult issue. The fact remains, no matter what the laws are , what your church says or where you side on it ,abortion has been a part of the human condition for all of known history and will continue to be so . It is now and has always been a woman's choice to give birth or not . Issues with that biological fact should be addressed to "The Manufacturer" . I'd like to see less wasted energy focused on ineffective government interference and "after the fact" reactionary wharrgarrbll. Fewer unwanted pregnancies= fewer abortions seems to hold true in every case and energy would be more useful focused in that direction than breathless rants and protests or calls for government invasion..
Brian Crawford January 25, 2012 at 07:42 PM
OK Jason, since you brought this up I have a question for you. Everyone here agrees abortion is tragic and only the hardest could be considered pro abortion. Yet abortion remains a highly charged political issue that conservative, mostly Republican, politicians use to rally their religious base. It's election season and politicians like Rob Woodall are suddenly, some would say cynically, concerned about the sanctity of life. While I've always generally agreed that life begins at conception, does it really? Or is it the promise of life? An embryo at 10 weeks, 20 weeks, has no chance of surviving outside of the womb. The anti-abortion movement is unmistakeably a religious movement, going as far as condoning the murder of doctors offering legal abortion services in some extreme cases., From where does this movement draw their authority? Where in scripture does god condemn the act of abortion? in a lifetime of private Bible study I've not found it. What am I missing?
Jason Brooks January 26, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Brian - With your permission, I'd like to post my response to your inquiry as a blog. It'll take me a couple of days, but I'll say this: I read your question to two classes full of Christian high school students and it lead to two awesome classes. Actually, I will go ahead and answer one question (one that I believe you already know the answer to...): the Bible doesn't condemn abortion, because the word 'abortion' isn't in the Bible. I look forward to your comments when I post my blog.
North Georgia Weather January 26, 2012 at 08:13 PM
It doesn't have to live outside the womb to be a life. Going with your logic, a baby that can survive outside the womb is not a life as long as it's still in the womb? And I hardly think everyone that condemns abortion condones the killing of anyone. There's fringe lunatics with every group.
Brian Crawford January 27, 2012 at 06:42 AM
Thanks Jason, I'm sure you'll give this subject the thoughtful treatment it deserves. Looking forward to the read.


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