I have another good guest post here from my brother-in-blogging Big Man from Raving Black Lunatic, this time on abortion. Whether by the grace of God or simple random fate, this means the second time that he will broach a thorny topic before I do (previously, it was a same sex-relations oriented topic), which will help grease the wheels when I get around to a full post on those topics myself. Yes, as bold as I am on certain topics, I’m coward enough sometimes to drag my feet on others. Thanks for taking a metaphorical bullet—twice—Big Man. I owe you. As for the headline for today’s post, hopefully it will make sense by the end—I’ll have a little after-post commentary following the words of our esteemed guest poster. Now, on with the post:
Big Man back for another post on another controversial topic among religious folks.
This time I’m talking the Big A, not adultery, but abortion. Yeah, I’m going there, buckle your seat belts and enjoy the ride.
First of all, let me get my stance on the issue out of the way before I start breaking down why I believe what I believe. I’m pro-choice, but anti-abortion. Basically, I believe women should have the right to have legal abortions, but, I really wish they wouldn’t use that right. I’m actually pretty conflicted about the whole situation.
To some people on both sides of the abortion issue, my stance is a coward’s way out. For those people, abortion is clear cut issue; either you’re standing with women, or you’re standing with God. There is no middle ground, no shades of grey. These people aren’t the majority of Americans, but they’re a vocal enough minority to wreak havoc on the rest of our lives.
And I call bullshit on that.
Seriously, I have no respect for anti-abortion activists who picket in front of clinics with pictures of aborted babies, and I particularly despise the assholes who think it’s ok to bomb or otherwise inflict violence on abortion clinics or doctors. Deciding whether to have an abortion is one of the most difficult choices any woman could make, and I can’t comprehend what type of moral deficiency somebody has to have to shout obscenities at a woman who is trying to go through with such a tough choice.
On the other hand, those pro-choice activists who paint anybody with qualms about abortion as being some sort of religion Nazi are also a problem. Just because I don’t think abortions are a great idea doesn’t mean I hate women or want to keep them in chains under the thumbs of men. You can support somebody’s right to commit an action without actually supporting that action.
The most disturbing part of the abortion debate, at least in my mind, is how important this issue has become to the religious right. The position of the religious right has been unfairly dumped upon all traditional Christians by many abortion supporters.
First of all, the religious basis for disagreeing with abortion does not translate into a justification for passing laws against the practice. It’s very close to the argument I’ve made in my post about gay marriage and holds true for most wedge issues. People have erroneously come to believe that it is acceptable to force every American to live according to Christian ideals, and that is just silly.
In addition, I don’t think any human can be truly certain when we are given souls and truly become human in God’s eyes. Those individuals who argue that this occurs at conception have no true religious basis for that belief.
Those people who argue that it’s wrong for anyone to play God and attempt to control procreation are also living in some sort of fantasy world where they have never heard of condoms, birth control pills or the rhythm method. Unless people staunchly refuse to practice any sort of birth control, their argument against abortion based on it stymieing God’s will seems hypocritical.
Ultimately, I believe that far too many Christians in this country have allowed themselves to be bamboozled into focusing their energies on issues that have nothing whatsoever to do with the true purpose God has for their lives. The abortion argument seems to be one of those issues because I don’t think most people believe that a woman’s right to have an abortion has a direct impact on how they live their lives. If your neighbor has an abortion, I can’t see how it affects your walk with Christ.
So why are you so angry about it?
OK, Deacon Blue back again to add some final words. So, why did I slap the headline that I did on Big Man’s topic today? Because I feel like both sides in the pro-life/pro-choice debate (the vocal and in-your-face crowd, that is) have turned this issue into a spectacle. It’s almost like a (bad) spectator sport now, and both the extreme ends of the spectrum insist that people pick a team (i.e. choose unyielding ideological sides on the issues). But the issue of abortion isn’t a sport, and shouldn’t be made into one. It shouldn’t be a way for us to clash on the field and jockey for better field position.
Yes, there are women who think nothing of having abortions and who would rather go without birth control and let the dice roll, and use abortion to solve their problem later if they end up with one. But those women are rare, probably even more rare than the “welfare queens” the right-wing politicians and pundits manufacture to convince us everyone is milking the system. And let’s be fair, the left-wing creates its own bogeymen, including trying to paint fundamental and evangelistic Christians as all wanting to overturn Roe v. Wade.
For most women, this is not an easy choice, and going to a clinic to get an abortion is not a goal-line they wanted to cross. I have personal experience in this. A woman for whom I cared a great deal once faced an unwanted pregnancy and decided—painfully—to terminate the pregnancy. For reasons I don’t need to go into, carrying the child to term and giving it up for adoption just wasn’t a choice she could pick. I was there for her. I took her to the clinic and I stayed with her for emotional support. I even helped her pay for it since she couldn’t do so alone at the time. That day did come up—very briefly and very rarely—in conversations we had in the years to follow, but we had a sort of unspoken pact that we wouldn’t re-open the wounds on this issue for either one of us. We both carried some heavy spiritual and emotional baggage from that pro-choice choice, and I know it still comes up for me at times. And I still have a great deal of conflict over what did I do right that day (if anything) and what did I do wrong (if anything).
Am I pro-choice? Yes. Am I pro-life? Yes. Like Big Man, I wish that no woman ever chose this route. But it’s not a path for any of us—man or woman, Christian or not—to choose for them.