A Great Debate: Abortion

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of chatter on Facebook about birth control and a little about abortion. This is probably due to all the presidential stuff going on. “The Issues” are being discussed again so people are getting more vocal about their opinions. Normally I don’t tackle big issues like this partly because Ms. Non Confrontation pipes up and partly because I want my writing to be well researched. The problem is I hate doing research. I start strong, thinking I’m going to find what I need to know then get frustrated because the Internet is so damn huge and everyone is posting whatever they want. I can’t know for sure what is right and what is bullshit. So I guess I’ll just preface this by saying, I did some research. But most of this post is purely my opinion as viewed from my, admittedly limited point of view. So let’s dive right in shall we?

I started thinking seriously about my feelings on abortion in college. I went to a Christian university so I know I was supposed to feel one way about abortion and that was the pro-life way. But I just couldn’t get behind people who use fear, judgement and shame to try to guilt people out of having an abortion. I’m sure the woman getting an abortion feels bad enough already without being tormented as she walks in the door. I know, I know, not all pro-lifers stand by abortion clinics holding big signs of dead babies, shouting “Whore!” at every woman who walks in the door. But that’s what you think of first when you hear pro-life right?

I decided a long time ago that I’m pro-choice. Let me explain. This is my body. I have free will. I’m an adult. I am capable of deciding what happens with my body. Just like deciding to drink, smoke, exercise or sit on my ass all day. I should be the one making the choices that affect my body. My biggest issue with overturning Roe vs. Wade, or making abortion unconstitutional is the government’s involvement. I don’t like the idea of the government telling me I can’t make a choice that directly affects my body and frankly my entire life. I’m the one who is going to be impacted the most by the pregnancy (duh!). My body is going to be the one that morphs over 9 months not the government’s. Even if I don’t keep the baby after birth, my entire life is going to be different and it will probably never be the same again. For a decision that huge I think I should be the one pulling all the strings.

I’m going to be clear about something. I don’t think of abortion as a form of birth control. I’m not going out having unprotected sex thinking if I get pregnant I’ll just abort the fetus. I’m well informed. I know where to buy condoms and how to use them, I know about the pill, and diaphragms and spermicides. I was married for four years without getting pregnant. I also don’t think of those methods as abortion (which is a whole other topic). I’ve never had to deal with an unplanned pregnancy, so I can’t say for sure what I would do. I will say that raising one child on my own is hard enough and adding another child would be overwhelming; I’d probably have to move back in with my parents…which wouldn’t be ideal. It would be especially hard if the father wanted nothing to do with the child.

Second reason for being pro-choice has to do with rape. I’ve read that the instance of pregnancy caused by a rape is rare, but it’s not unheard of. Imagine being the victim of a violent crime and having a constant reminder of it. Being forced to continue the pregnancy would be somewhat comparable to being forced to live with the person who killed your family. That person is always there, reminding you of the violence against you, but you just have to live with it and deal.

Pro-lifers say that with the proper support rape victims can turn out just fine and then put the baby up for adoption. Here’s the key, with proper support. “Proper support” can cost a pretty penny and what if the woman can’t pay? Is the government or those pro-lifers going to step in and pay for it? How long will they need proper support? What about after giving up their baby? It’s probably true, that with help, eventually, the victim will be alright, but the question of how that is paid for still lingers.

The last thing I’m going to mention is one of the arguments against abortion. There are many, but as I was doing research for this post I came across this article: http://womensissues.about.com/od/reproductiverights/a/AbortionArgumen.htm. I’d like to pay special attention to reason #2 against abortion. It says “No civilized society permits one human to intentionally harm or take the life of another human without punishment, and abortion is no different.” Really? You think so? Then explain how the death penalty is not a civilized society taking the life of another human without punishment. And then explain this “The concept of personhood is different from the concept of human life. Human life occurs at conception, but fertilized eggs used for in vitro fertilization are also human lives and those not implanted are routinely thrown away. Is this murder, and if not, then how is abortion murder?”

I know I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface on this topic. There is so much more involved (isn’t there always?). What are your personal thoughts on abortion?


17 responses to “A Great Debate: Abortion

  1. Without getting in to it with depth, just my simple answer/thoughts on abortion are that I think it is wrong. I do know it’s my body, but the life inside is not my own, it is God’s. And to take that life away without giving it the chance to live doesn’t bode well with my concious. The argument of then how can someone then be for the death penalty, well, in those cases, they did something wrong, there is a reason they are being put to death. In an unborn child’s life, what wrong have they done? And to the argument of thrown away fertilized eggs for invetro…I don’t know enough about that process to make a judgment on at this point, if it is true they “throw out” fertilized human embroyos for no apparent reason, then I definitely don’t think that’s good, but again, I don’t know anything about that process. All very interesting stuff my dear! 🙂

    • It’s true that criminals on death row have done something to deserve it, but the human life is still being taken so I think it’s a silly argument to say “No civilized society permits one human to intentionally harm or take the life of another human without punishment, and abortion is no different.” So the criminal that killed someone is being killed…by someone else…

      But I’m not gonna tackle capitol punishment cause I’m not sure what my stance is.

      I thought the in vitro point was pretty interesting. You can freeze the unused embryos but if you have a bunch of them and don’t want a bunch of children what happens when you have your two kids and you have five more embryos left? Basically there’s three choices:
      1. Keep them frozen and pay every year for storage.
      2. Donate them to another family.
      3. Donate them to research. However, in some states or at some clinics this is not an option.

      I found this article pretty interesting: http://articles.cnn.com/2009-09-01/health/extra.ivf.embryos_1_embryos-fertility-patients-fertility-clinics?_s=PM:HEALTH

  2. I certainly am pro individualism and pro liberty, and love the idea of making choices for my own body. Philosophically, we are on the same page.

    My issue with abortion is that IF life does start at conception – not saying it does, hang with me here – if it does, than it’s no longer just about the mom’s right to the pursuit of happiness, it’s about the child’s right to life. Politically, my stance is “as long as you’re not hurting anyone, make your own choices!” But if an unborn baby is a person, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness will apply.

    So the question really comes down to: when does life start? I don’t have the answer there. But I’d rather err on the side of caution when it comes to human life. In the case of (potential or existing) human life vs. existing human life (that is, the mother’s life is in danger), I am pro-choice. In the case of (potential or existing) human life vs. existing human happiness, I am pro-life.

    I am deeply sympathetic to those in this position, I cannot begin to imagine how difficult it would be to carry a child for nine months and then give it up. But I do also know beautiful, loving families who wouldn’t exist without adoption; I wish more people would turn to this solution. Choosing abortion over adoption is hard for me to understand, and seems a bit spartan.

    Also, I dislike that being pro-choice has been coined a “women’s issue” given there are plenty of pro-life women and most of those being aborted are women (see: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/women-pregnant-girls-pressured-abortions-india/story?id=15103950#.T2zGuRHy-uY for one example).

    Anyhow, it’s an interesting and difficult topic, kudos for posting about something taboo.

    • I struggle with the same questions in regards to when life starts and what that means. Adoption is a great option and yes there are a large number of wonderful families with adopted children. I don’t really understand what you mean when you say you dislike that it’s been coined a “women’s issue.” Does that assume that all women are pro-choice or what?

      • firewallender

        Yeah, generally, if you’re not pro-choice you are painted as anti-women. Which I find ironic given it’s the female fetuses getting aborted in disproportional numbers.

  3. I agree with Megan that the life inside me is not mine but God’s, and I would never get an abortion, but I also have a hard time siding with people who use shame and fear tactics to discourage abortions. I try to support the prolife organizations who provide options for scared moms, like counseling, housing, and jobs throughout their pregnancies, and help with adoption if that’s their choice. I also know that many of those prolifers that you mention are anti invitro, because of that very conundrum. Most of the time when some gets invitro, they fertilize several eggs, implant a few of the best candidates, and freeze the rest until a later date when the couple decides they are done or want to do another round. Many get frozen for several years. There are also many organizations for prolifers who need help getting pregnant to “adopt” “abandoned” embryos instead of fertilizing their own. I think that is the best way for someone of strong prolife convictions to not be hypocritical about what is and isn’t ok.

  4. I agree Stace. I don’t see myself being able to have an abortion, but I am not interested in being told what to do and I won’t tell other’s what to do either. My relationship with God is my business and no one elses, as is everyone else’s.

    Love you!

  5. Love that you posted this Staci! I find that the real drivers behind the abortion issue aren’t really about abortion at all. It’s more about a desire to control and shame sex. If those who are so oppositional to abortion really want to reduce the number of abortions, all they have to do is promote the use of effective birth control. Yet, it seems that often the people who cry out the loudest against abortion are also the ones who are pushing abstinence only education on everyone. The fact is, if kids were taught about sex and about birth control in a frank and open manner, the instances of unwanted pregnancies would be greatly reduced, and thus the rates of abortion would go down. When I had sex ed in public school we weren’t taught the first thing about birth control. There was no mention of condoms, the pill or how to use them.
    The question of when life begins is a difficult one for sure. It is known that a large percentage of fertilized eggs never implant in the uterus and develop into fetuses, the numbers are all over the place, but all agree on the low end of 30% and the high end I’ve seen is 70%. So, if you believe that life begins at conception (sperm fertilizes egg), then how do you reconcile the fact that 30-70 percent of fertilized eggs never implant? What does that say about god and the soul and when human life actually begins? If god is against abortion, why does it happen with such high frequency as a function of our biology?
    In the end, I really and truly believe the real issue at hand has more to do with sex, and the desire to control sex, than it has to do with abortion. I agree, any person who makes the decision to have an abortion does not do so easily. I only hope we can someday get to a point where open and honest talk about sex and birth control are the norm and no longer taboo. The question of abortion will be a non-issue (or at least a much less prevalent one) if we give people the knowledge and tools to prevent unwanted pregnancies from happening in the first place.

    • That’s an interesting statistic, I hadn’t heard that before.
      I agree that it’s a lot about controlling sex. (Again there’s that issue of someone controlling my life and my decisions. Some folks are so nosy.)

      I also agree that proper sex education could help a lot. When I did sex ed in High School we learned all about STD’s and the biology etc, but we hardly touched on safe sex. I think condoms were mentioned, but mostly abstinence was taught as the best method of birth control. The problem was kids at my school were having sex and a few girls were getting pregnant. I think it was worse in my sister’s class, but I know there was one or two girls who didn’t walk at my graduation because of pregnancy.

      I plan on being very open with Jack. If the schools aren’t going to educate my child on all the methods of birth control then it’ll be up to me. So I’m going to make sure he’s well informed. And hopefully not embarrass him too much in the process.

    • I completely agree.

  6. I completely agree with Rachel’s comments above about how it is a gray area of when life actually begins (when sperm fertilizes egg?) and worth noting that many fertilized embryo’s never implant in the uterus and are flushed out without the mother even realizing it. I do not consider this human life or abortion in my opinion. However, some people who are pro life are so concerned about this definition of when human life begins, but don’t ever talk about this.
    I am like you Staci, I think a woman should have the right to choose to carry a pregnancy out or not. It is the woman who will be most affected by the pregnancy, not the government or anyone else with an opinion on what she should do. But I can’t imagine having to make that difficult decision about having an abortion.

    I think the greater issue here is preventing unwanted pregnancies instead of dealing with these huge, moral issues after the fact. I too had very little education on birth control and had to seek that knowledge out on my own because my conservative parents did not educate me either. I am grateful for places like Planned Parenthood who help young women make smart decisions about taking birth control to prevent pregnancies. I am sorry to bring politics and religion into this, but this issue of abortion forces one to delve into these topics too.

    It is interesting to me that many Christians consider themselves republicans because of the issue of abortion and identifying with pro life views…but fail to notice that the republican party is against making birth control more affordable to the young women in our country, which would in turn decrease abortions and health care costs that go along with Pregnancy. Prenatal care and hospital costs for delivering a baby are very expensive.

    Also, socioeconomic status plays a role in this topic too; those of lesser financial means often have less money to afford birth control and therefore these women have higher incidences of unwanted pregnancies. Also, many poorer women have less access to health care before and during unwanted pregnancies, which can lead to more complications during the pregnancy and delivery. For example, poor nutrition (lack of folic acid) in a pregnant woman’s diet can lead to fetal developmental problems. Smoking and drug use are more common among lower income women and if a pregnancy is unwanted then these behaviors may persist during the pregnancy.

    Many religious institutions are discouraging the use of birth control, thus increasing the number of unwanted pregnancies. And those very religious people are supporting the Republican party who doesn’t want to offer a government public option of health insurance available to lower the health care costs by providing competition to the current health care giants who have control over health care costs in America. So there is no affordable health insurance for these lower income women (and middle class women in this economy) to cover their prenatal costs, delivery costs, costs of complications of pregnancy. And finally no affordable health care for these fetuses to have access to once they are born into the world. Food for thought.

  7. what an honest post, staci. thank you for sharing your heart. and since you have done your readers the great honor of asking for their perspectives, i will humbly set mine into the circle, as well. this is a sadly fallen world, and we are sadly fallen people. in that context all of us make choices with that independent will of ours to take ourselves into consideration ahead of anyone else’s best. often it doesn’t feel that way, though, sincerely. often it feels like the choice is the only option open for our very survival ~ whether physical, mental, or emotional. and the world around us, also full of fallen individuals, does a very weak job of supporting us as we choose, most often pointing out our right to choose and survive any way we believe we need to. He created and allows our free will to function, but the Bible tells us the Lord grieves so many, many of those choices and that He stands by to be the support and the shepherd to our hearts and choices that no one else possibly can. that we even have the audacity and the technology to assume we can determine when life begins and whether we have authority to end it before birth is remarkable to me. in generations gone by when the abortion option was not available there were tragic stories, yes, but there were also beautifully redeemed stories that fall to the other side of the scale, and this side of heaven i’m not sure we can judge how any of those were intermingled for eternal purposes. i believe ending a life invitro ~ whether it’s a fertilized egg or a more fully developing fetus ~ is committed against an individual who has done nothing to deserve the sentence of death. an inmate convicted of aggrevated and premeditated murder in a prison has made a deliberate choice to take another life despite being fully aware of very clear consequences set out ahead of time. i am sorry that our government has stepped into the abortion issue. i grieve that our tax dollars fund abortions. i wish i knew a way to better come around the dear young women facing that decision to support them through a pregancy, knowing personally so many, many childless homes who would (and have) gladly taken the child in. my niece and nephew are two who were. my prayer is that one day in heaven in the presence of Jesus we will meet and receive forgiveness from the millions of precious children we never got to know in this life on earth. meanwhile, it is not ours to judge the hearts who choose abortion but to love and to pray for them and not to shy away from extending the grace we all need when the Lord puts them into our path.

    • Beautifully written comment. It’s true that many families benefit from adoption, and I think that is a viable option for many women who find themselves dealing with unwanted pregnancy. I think a big problem is money. Many women who must deal with unwanted pregnancy are lower class women who very simply can’t afford to have a baby. They can’t afford proper prenatal care, and can’t afford the hospital bills that come after birth. I understand that if an adoption is set up before hand the adoptive parents can lend a hand in that area, but that’s not always the case. Some women have wonderful support systems, but many, a great many do not.

  8. A very passionate topic and great comments already!

    I wanted to share two things:
    First, when I was 13 years old, I attended a private Christian school. On the topic of reproduction, our teacher told us that having an abortion would send the unborn child to hell directly. While I didn’t have any position on abortion at that point in my life, I challenged her! I read the Bible and looked up passages on life and death using an old Bible Concordance. Basically, my gut reaction that she was wrong was confirmed.
    After that debate (which resulted in her treating me like an outcast the rest of the school year), I struggled to side with Pro-Choice or Pro-life. I agree with Cassie on this one. I cannot know when life begins, but I do know that it felt very early in my pregnancies:) I think abortion is a very personal decision just like sex. And, I don’t think the government should decide what I do with my reproductive organs.

  9. oops!
    Okay, second…
    I had a very fascinating conversation about a year ago with an old friend. He’s a successful photographer who has lived in Europe, mostly Paris, for part of his career. He had a unplanned pregnancy and raised his daughter alone for a long time. He is the most un-religious person I know. Very liberal, many people mistake him for a gay man because he is so eccentric. So, now that you might have a good picture of him, he said this,”If we really want to give women a choice, we must offer abortions AND financial support for 18 years.” I thought that was a really good point that no one seems to be asking – why are we just getting all legalistic about abortion and not also recognizing the reality of a financial commitment it is to raise a child? Sure, you can get child support, if you know the father enough to get job information, or go on welfare if you cannot earn enough money to pay for your living expenses, but those options are hard. Especially for many of the women who are likely to chose abortion (I read Freakanomics too).
    So, I guess what I’m saying is it’s complicated. And we need to ask more questions!

    • Excellent comment! I have to agree with your friend. For a lot of women the question of how to support a child for 18 years is a big one. Very insightful comment Holli!

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