I thought that this time of year, so close to Good Friday and Easter Sunday, was a good time to talk about life.
If one believes in an immortal soul that is implanted at the moment of conception, and if personhood is determined by the presence of that immortal soul, then there is little difference, in effect, between terminating a week-old pregnancy or killing a living, breathing person. Rational members of the pro-life movement do acknowledge that there is a difference in intent–abortion would be, at worst, involuntary manslaughter rather than murder–but the consequences, i.e. the death of a human person, are regarded by pro-lifers in much the same way.
What troubles me is that according to a study conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, 68% of women who have abortions in the United States say that they cannot afford to have children and 27% cite this as their primary reason for terminating the pregnancy. 20% cite health reasons. 38% are young women either hiding pregnancies from their parents, or ordered by their parents to terminate their pregnancies. So pro-choice and pro-life advocates are failing miserably.
It has always disgusted me when people used abortion as birth control. But those women are few and far between….yes, they exist.
One of the best-kept secrets of the pro-life and pro-choice movements is that the two movements ultimately overlap to the extent that they share the goal of reducing the number of abortions. They differ only with respect to degree and methodology.
Unfortunately, politicians benefit more from having two polarized, angry movements than they do from having two less polarized, less angry movements.
We live in a culture today where the decision not to have sex is seen as ridiculous. Abstinence is the default choice, and the pro-choice movement has an obligation to make it a socially acceptable choice.
Likewise, the pro-life movement has been so tangled up in policy objectives that it has failed to actually reduce the number of abortions.
The debate over abortion rights is ugly, the gap between pro-choice and pro-life too vast for meaningful dialogue, the differences too fundamental for compromise. Which means, of course, that it’s a perfect issue to be exploited by politicians on both sides of the aisle. This tempts all of us to tune out the abortion rights debate, but behind all this noise and demagoguery is the very real and very important issue of balancing personal rights with potential new life. If we do no believe in murder, then how do we condone abortion? This question was raised to me several weeks ago by my Priest.