Abortion: From the Middle

Abortion is just one of those topics, the mere mention of which is likely to end conversation and begin fisticuffs. If ever there was a polarizing issue in American politics, this is it. If ever there was a bi-polarizing issue in American politics, this is also it. The Los Angeles Times Poll in 2000 neatly sums up the bi-polar aspect; 57% believed that abortion was murder, 67% believed the decision should be between a women and her doctor. That similar results as these have been recorded in many polls over the years, is evidence that at least some of our fellow Americans believe that some murder is a matter between a women and her doctor. I suppose I should work to finish my honey-do list before my wife goes to the doctor next.

On theĀ  issue of black and white polling, pro-life and pro-choice are as consistently 50/50 is it gets in U.S. politics. It would appear that the criteria for defining the issue is a life versus liberty question, but for the purposes of our democracy, it is really a when does life begin question. Thus religion enters the fray; most Christians believe that the soul comes into play at conception. This makes the issue of abortion a simple matter of killing human life. Now, this nation was founded by people willing to use compromise for the greater good, but it is not immediately clear that asking someone to compromise on murder is reasonable. That there is a strong positive correlation between pro-life and pro-gun/pro-death penalty types, creates the impression of hypocrisy when the sanctity of life is discussed. Both sides are handicapped in reasonable discussion. And so we have the ingredients for hatred, mistrust, derision, and confrontation.

This confrontation has, by itself, been responsible for hundreds of thousands of abortions that need not have occurred. My argument here, is that this is a group responsibility for all those pro-life and pro-choice types who have fought against reason for the last 40 years. For pro-lifers, sensible and age-appropriate sex education and contraceptive programs could reduce the incidence of unplanned pregnancy to negligible levels. To pro-choicers, that education must start with abstinence indoctrination.To ignore abstinence education, is to take the completely effective solution to abortion and sexually transmitted diseases off the table. On that issue of when life begins, the notion of viability is simply ridiculous. A 6 month old child is exactly as likely to survive without the care and shelter provided by its mother or a surrogate as a second trimester fetus.

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When it comes to abortion, most Americans tell pollsters that they want the two sides to shut up and fix the problem. For pro-lifers, this means working across the divide on providing education and access on and to reproductive health issues. For pro-choicers, this means abandoning the self-serving notion of nobility often ascribed to the fight. Having an abortion, in and of itself, is nothing to be proud of. Even if you buy into the House M.D. school of thinking, where a fetus is a parasitic growth, medical science would still think it smarter to avoid the parasite in the first place.

A well written statute will have many elements with which to address the full scope of the issue. But no statute will work without a concerted effort by Americans to reassert, in our children, a sense of self-worth and personal accountability. In my generation, the explosion of AIDS on the world led to a renewed focus on both condoms and relationships. It was in the face of my shock and horror that I discovered the hook-up culture that my boys were growing up in. Not being a prude myself, I accept that the biological drive to mate is in full swing by the time both sexes are into their teens. But humans are supposed to learn about self-control and consequences; it is called higher intelligence for a reason.

Conservatives have been sounding the personal responsibility alarm for decades, but they would be well reminded that the government certainly can’t mandate the issue. What can be done is the passage of state laws that aim public and private education and support at the issue, and allow for the contraceptive care necessary to prevent the spread of STD’s and the need for abortions. Personal responsibility is crucial, but we humans are fallible. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, they say.

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One Response to “Abortion: From the Middle”

  • Dan Resto says:

    I respect both sides of the abortion issue . . . although I quickly point out that the so-called pro-life side is almost exclusively the side that resorts to violence. That being said, I was greatly offended when the Catholic Church excommunicated a nun because she allowed a woman at a church-run hospital to undergo an abortion. The physicians stated with medical certainty that if the woman’s pregnancy continued she AND THE FETUS would die. The woman already had five children. If she had died those children would have been motherless. So the nun approved the procedure. The so-called “compassionate” church took away this nun’s vocation despite decades of devoted service.

    Just another reason why you can’t trust organized religion. The church is run entirely by men. Men decided that a woman should not be allowed to have a life-saving procedure with which they morally disagreed. So they punish the woman who doubtlessly understood the situation far better than they ever would and approved the procedure. How sick is that?

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