Is There Light In All This Heat?
Can we have this conversation without rancor? Please. Because I’ve almost never seen it done. Certainly not on television or in picket lines or on blogs. Here’s the word: abortion.
I don’t know where I stand in this debate. My tendency to empathize, to see shades of gray, to shun extremes leaves me in a policy fog on this issue. Our politicians are “pro-life” or “pro-choice.” They have to sign statements affirming their commitment to one side or the other. Can’t a person be both: Find abortion objectionable on many levels but find a total ban also objectionable? And if so, what would that look like practically – in terms of law, policy, social programs? But it’s not just policy — not on a matter as deeply felt as this. Here are the voices in my head, back and forth.
- The church speaks out against abortion but allows exceptions – rape, incest, health of a mother. If there aren’t legal safeguards (can a woman always prove she’s been raped), what then?
- I’m anti-death penalty, I’m anti-torture, I abhore war. I look at those who advocate torture and capital punishment but wax on about the “culture of life” (cough*Bush*cough) as hypocritical. But if I am consistent in my stances, shouldn’t I be consistently, well, pro-life? And if so, does that necessitate advocating for certain legal restrictions?
- The LDS church, unlike the Catholic Church, does not have a firm stance on “when life begins.” The doctrine of “eternal souls” seems to provide a safeguard – that spirit could come to another body at another time.
- But about that – about selective screenings. Are we developing a society where those with “deficits” are considered “errors” – expendable. A huge number of Down Syndrome babies are aborted – what implication does that have (even in terms of special education and social services) for those that are not? And we know that millions of girl fetuses have been aborted in the world – gender selection. How can the feminist/humanist in me not be deeply disturbed by that?
- Reproductive rights are intricately tied to feminism – a woman’s ability to have some say over her body. And this is no small matter – a woman’s body, for much of history in some society’s, has not really been her own.
- By the same token, does this embrace of abortion rights make some distrust or even vilify feminism. Is there room for constructive dialogue about abortion rights and reasonable restrictions in the feminist community? A building of cultural bridges?
- Stories of women – even LDS women — who made this difficult choice in difficult circumstances and felt strongly it was the right choice. And what if a particular mother is emotionally or psychologically unable to care for a child – or what if a pregnancy would put her health in serious jeopardy? What about protecting her options to protect herself and her loved ones?
- Stories of women – even LDS women – who have spoken to me of a lifetime of regrets from this decision.
- Back-alley abortions
- Partial birth abortions
- Criminalizing women
- Trivializing the unborn
- Dirty Dancing
- Protecting the unborn
- Protecting women — sometimes at their most vulnerable
Here are my questions: Where do you stand on abortion rights? How did you come to this conclusion and how have you made peace with it? Have your views changed over the years? And if, like me, you want it both ways . . . what’s the logical policy implication?