Update: Fixed the links.
Okay, so this is in The New Republic, which just loves to point out how silly, bad, and dumb Democrats are – all in the name of supporting them, of course. But this article by Amy Sullivan that is making the bloggers nuts is ridiculous.
Sullivan’s problem is that she buys into the conservative rhetoric about the “pro-choice” position so deeply that she ignores the mountains of evidence that contradicts it. So the compromise that she celebrates between pro-choice and pro-life Coloradans, which is to institute policies and programs aimed at reducing the rate of unwanted pregnancies is, as Scott Lemieux so aptly puts it, “is the pro-choice position.” It’s the pro-life crowd that also tends to oppose contraception, even to the point of ignoring all medical understanding in order to claim that birth control pills are actually abortifacents rather than doses of hormones that prevent a pregnancy from occuring.
The problem that Sullivan and others have with this issue is that they are willing to believe what people say about themselves than trust what they see and hear. Simply put, the only real “pro-life” position is to be “pro-choice.” And I’m not dragging out the good ol’ tropes about how most pro-lifers support the death penalty and regular use of military force, though these issues shouldn’t be ignored. Rather, I don’t have space for and don’t need them for the argument I am making.
No, I’m just talking about abortion, terminating a pregnancy. First, the most effective way to reduce the number of abortions is to reduce the number of unwanted – for any reason – pregnancies. This is done most effectively by access to contraception and education that encompasses all aspects of human sexual behavior, not just a series of lectures about how dirty it is outside of marriage and so “just say no.” If our focus is upon the children and not upon the sins committed by those who create these children, then we are morally obligated to make sure that people, especially the poor and the young, have easy access to birth control and the knowledge of how to use them. As much as it may offend people’s sensibilities that unmarried couples are having sex, when it comes to the issue of pregnancy, abortion and children, that really isn’t the point. Children are not punishment for having sex, they are gifts to us from a gracious and loving God. This same God has allowed human beings to develop methods for avoiding the production of a child as a result from sex, and we should use these methods. There are simply not enough people looking to adopt children from teenaged and/or poor parents, and I cannot understand the perversity of thinking that forcing children to grow up in poverty and neglect is somehow justified because it shows the parents (meaning just the mom) that there are “consequences” to having sex. There are plenty of “consequences” without making children suffer for the sins of their parents.
Aside from contraception, though, the pro-choice position is the only logical pro-life position because it recognizes that there are always at least two lives involved in a decision about abortion – that of the mother and the potential life of the fetus. Despite what “Dr.” Bill O’Reilly says, pregnancy is full of dangers to both mother and child, as is delivery. There are people who have to make hard choices about just who they want to save. At those moments a bunch of rhetoric based upon very flimsy scriptural support simply isn’t going to help. We must also understand that there are issues beyond “the mom will die” when it comes to the decision of abortion. I simply don’t want children to be born to meth addicts, alcoholics who drink during pregnancy, crack addicts, etc. What kind of “pro-life” position would dictate that a baby must spend the nine months of gestation with various toxins and poisons coursing into her bloodstream, only to be born with physical and mental disabilities – born with these disabilities to parents who will most assuredly neglect and/or abuse her in the pursuit of their addictions? Even beyond these extreme examples, there are many situations in which a child should frankly not be introduced. It is impossible to fully legislate these situations, creating a legal system that takes into account every single situation in which an abortion might be permissible as opposed to inappropriate. Unless, of course, one thinks that all pregnancy must be brought to term, even those taking place because of or in the presence of abuse, rape, incest and addiction. At which point I can admire the intellectual rigor and consistency, but the position itself is perverse.
That’s why this is about choice. Hard, difficult to manage choices. The issue of abortion is one of those things about being human that makes it so hard to be human. But trying to make it easier for ourselves by legislating it away will solve nothing and create even more problems. I am pro-choice because the high value I place on human life doesn’t allow me to sentence women and children to abuse, physical and mental damage or even death just to soothe my own conscience.
Another aspect of this is the presence of fertility clinics which are in possession of hundreds of thousands of embryos which will never, ever become anything other than embryos. Unless, of course, people are found who are willing to adopt them for the sake of political photo ops. That there are thousands of children in this country who have no family to take care of them while people with both means and a desire for children spend thousands of their own dollars to “have a child of their own” is twisted. Again, if our focus was upon children and not upon our own morality or the sins of others, these clinics would not be doing the booming business they currently are, and there would be a lot less unadopted children in this country. Let’s get our priorities straight.