After watching a video on illegal abortions that occur in the Philippines, I can say that I am conflicted about the issue of abortion. Our assignment in class was to look up Roe v. Wade, and we were to write down 1) whether we knew what the case was before this assignment, 2) a three-sentence summary of the case, 3) how the ruling was interpreted then versus now, and 4) whether we thought that the ruling should be upheld. The last one got me. After seeing the video of the illegal abortions that take place, I understood something that I’ve always somewhat understood but never realized until recently: it’s not as simple as “legal” or “illegal.”
After seeing the abject poverty that over 30% (I believe it says in the video) of the population lives in, I was empathetic to the mothers who were trying to obtain abortions. Here in the United States, we have an overabundance of families willing to adopt “unwanted” babies, or babies who are born into bad situations, if the mother chooses that rout. But in the Philippines, so many of these women have only two choices, abort or starve their children. We have a mentality in the U.S. that the only reason that a woman would want an abortion is because she selfishly does not want her child or the trouble or responsibility that children can bring. We fail to see that in many, many parts of the world, this is not the case.
The young girl in the video who is recorded during her abortion is sobbing during the entire procedure. Why is she sobbing? Because she is losing her child. She doesn’t want this to have to be an option. She doesn’t want to lose her baby. But she is faced with the decision to abort her second child, or let the 8 month old baby that she already has go hungry. Obviously this is not black and white. And obviously the mayor’s decision to make both abortion and contraception illegal was a poor one. But if you notice in the video, there is a comment made: “This is where religion and politics come together.” That sentence got me thinking even more, especially about Christians who think that there should be laws against abortion. Is more legislation really the answer? Are we going to the right place for our problems to be fixed? What does this say about the idol of government?
The truth is, we’re trying to fix a very deep problem with a very surface-level answer. We’re putting band-aids on broken bones. We’re trying to fix sin, not through Jesus Christ, but through man-made laws. It won’t work. It will never work. I strongly believe that we need to focus on loving these men and women and children. Are we really showing the love of Christ when we stand outside abortion clinics, hiding behind signs, and yelling at women about how awful they are? Even if that’s true (and I know that every human being is born a sinner in opposition to God), we are completely eliminating love from our message. Now, some might say that it’s like a parent’s discipline. It seems harsh, but will benefit the child in the future. To me, it sounds like poor justification for beating a child. We also have to be careful not to go so far in the other direction that we eliminate God’s judgement and wrath.
A large part of why I am not in any pro-life groups is because 1) I feel that they are far too focused on making new laws and putting trust in government when it should be in God, 2) because of how nasty those groups can be toward people, and 3) because they don’t generally focus on loving and serving people, but rather focus on being aggressively legalistic in their approach.
I’d love to know why those same people who are outside of Planned Parenthood yelling at people are not also the same people raising their voices for, say, foster care reform or advocating making adoption easier, in light of the fact that there are 150,000+ children who are up for adoption through the foster care system, and over 600, 000 in the foster care system overall. This does not include the countless other kids who are living on their own with no familial support whatsoever. Why is nobody upset about this? Why is it not a huge issue? Besides this, 25% of U.S. children are not receiving regular meals every day, or live without consistent access to food. To top that off, of the women who get yelled at for having had abortions, so many of these women who had abortions say that they felt pressured into it, or that they regret it, and many even say that if they’d had the proper support they’d have kept their child. To me, this says nothing of the women but says everything about the quality of help that we are giving them. If we’re going to be against abortion, why are all of these other issues ignored when they relate directly? There’s also the fact that information about adoption is hard to obtain and not made widely available, while abortion is covered in every single sex-ed class and Planned Parenthood brochure in existence.
I would love to know why Christians are not coming alongside these men and women more often and saying, “We’re all sinners. I’m a sinner. You’re a sinner. We’ve made bad decisions. I don’t agree with the one you made, but I want to love you anyway, because Jesus loved me first.”
Author’s Note (added Nov. 20, 2012): I’d like to clear something up real quick. I actually don’t even know if it’s an issue, but I feel the need to address it, just to be completely, entirely, absolutely clear on this: I am not condoning abortion, nor do I support the practice in any way. I believe absolutely in the right to life, and I believe that abortion is, in fact, murder. What I was trying to convey in this post was that my heart breaks for these women, and that I wish that these sorts of things did not have to happen. I was not trying to say that abortion is a solution to poverty, unplanned pregnancies, or anything else. It is never a solution. There is one instance where both the mother and the child cannot be saved, and that is ectopic pregnancy. In this case, the baby has implanted outside the uterus and it is a life-threatening condition for the mother in which the baby will not survive. I do not believe that women should ever be denied medical attention that they need in order to save their life. However, I do not believe that abortion “on demand and without apology” is women’s health, and I do not support it in any way. I may post more on this later, but for now I’d just like to clarify what this post was attempting to get across.