[back to part 5: Foreign Policy]
“Civil Rights for the Unborn Class”
“Understanding what Abortion means to a Nation and a Community”
Take a moment to, no matter your opinion, erase as much as you can concerning the preconceptions of people who exist on the “abortion stance spectrum”, including the terms we use.
Now I want to tell you that I believe that a sound civil government respects a woman’s right to her body. I also believe that every person has a right to life, even those who are not yet recognized citizens. I know that slightly more than half of children conceived in the world are women, and they have a right to live. Because women and men are equal, I must conclude that all male children conceived in the world have a right to live. Therefore, I believe all children have a right to live. The government should not interfere with a woman’s body (or a man’s), but if a woman has another woman inside her, and she is trying to end that life, then the government is at a crossroads, having to make a decision between not interfering with one woman’s body, but also protecting the life of another.
Medically speaking, there is no doubt that what is conceived and begins to grow in a woman’s womb is a human embryo that is alive and different in being than the mother carrying the life. We know this because it is composed of living cells and is not part of the mother because it has its own set of chromosomes. Although this argument is more often spoken from religious folks, I am surprised that it is not understood more universally. After all, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that any significant chemical or physical changes occur in the infant as it passes through a woman’s cervix that would warrant a change in it’s value as a human life.
You see, if we truly believe in progress, in human rights, then we will “evolve” the ability to accept the life rights of the unborn class. Unborn children are a minority who’s rights must be represented. Like a person born with a disability that makes them no less human but only calls for us to adjust our society to hear their voice, we must hear the voice of unborn children. Because they spend their fetal lives growing, the message they send us tells us they want to live and grow. If you inject chemicals into a woman’s womb to end the child’s life, they will kick around in pain, sending us the message that they do not desire this act to be forced upon them.
Are we to say then that abortion should be “a woman’s choice” (meaning the choice of the pregnant woman, not the child) based no the following reasons?
1) It’s not a person, but more like property
2) It’s a personal choice that the government should stay out of
3) It’s a religious issue
Well, these are the same arguments Stephen Douglas made when he argued for the right to retain slavery.
How much longer will we silence them? Unborn children are a minority class who have been denied enfranchisement for far too long. And yet our nation is quite divided as to what to do. Is it because the life rights of children is only a concern for Christian fundamentalists on the American political right wing? I highly doubt that. First of all, religions across the world hold verses and teachings that call for the protection of the unborn. Secondly, there exists groups of atheists against abortion, feminists against abortion, gays and lesbians against abortion, and Democrats against abortion. Especially among the pro-life atheists, we see reasons unrelated to Christian scriptures for accepting the viability of the human fetus and granting it the right to live. The fact that so many Christians are also invested in this struggle does not make it any less a civic issue, but has only distracted us. The politicizing of this issue—from both ends of the spectrum—has spoiled the struggle.
You see, women, being equal to men as creations of the Creator, “deserve holistic, woman-centered solutions” as the Feminists For Life advocacy organization claims. Susan B. Anthony, the woman on that special coin, was a feminist against abortion. So since I am well aware that as a man I lack the legitimacy for making these claims in the name of women, I want to demonstrate that among women these voices are strong, influential, informed, liberated, cognizant, free-thinking, honorable, and remembered.
For example, Gianna Jessen is abortion survivor and public activist born with cerebral palsy. If you have the time, you should see one of her speeches.
Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. has said that “abortion is the white supremacist’s best friend,” pointing to the fact that Black and Latinos represent 25% of our population but account for 59% of all abortions. You see, poverty accounts for one of the main reasons women choose abortions, which reflects the poor health of a society that does not look out for women. A higher percentage of minorities are in poverty than middle class whites. It has been offered that abortion takes a load off of poor women who can choose a career rather than having to raise a child, but what it actually does is control the population and oppress Black and Latino women even more by scarring them emotionally and psychologically. Ironically, abortion has become the new Apartheid, for abortion does not solve the problem of racial disparity, but only slaughters the lives of unborn minorities so that they do not grow to “leech off the upper class” and “shake up the establishment”.
Likewise, when genetic testing reveals a child to have Down Syndrome, most women choose to abort the child. This makes our culture of abortion but a still-living remnant of the eugenics movement, weeding out those our society believes to be “inferior”.
So you see I am for the advocacy of both women and the right to their child’s life because I believe in the strength and dignity of women and womanhood. I believe that women are capable of raising a child and living the life they desire, but it cannot occur if a community abandons them.
Although we can infer from verses in the Old and New Testaments that a child is alive and given soul before birth, the larger picture is that scientific testimony tells us that unborn children are alive and human, and therefore if your world-view tells you that killing a child is wrong, the same must apply. The teachings of Christ reflect murder as a wrong thing, a sin.
It seems then that this concept has been politicized rather than critically examined. From the right wing we have seen embarrassingly malformed and malevolent voices condemn and demean women in the name of touting a political flag, from calling a woman a whore because she desired birth control, to assuming that pregnancy resulting from rape is impossible, to comments about “legitimate rape”. And yet, from the left wing we see women being manipulated by exaggerated propaganda claiming that all pro-lifers are anti-women.
We are led to believe either that our opponents find pregnancy to be a horrible disease that debilitates women with tissue masses, or that our opponents are patriarchal fanatics who find women only useful for sex and baby-making. Our political discourse is unable to address the issue. We must meditate on this issue outside of the political forum, and then return to the forum to speak.
The practice of killing unborn children insults the blessing of maternity for both child and mother. So our advocacy must include both mother and child. For example, although those against abortions are stereotyped as hateful towards women (and some are), we must realize that among advocates are the most concerned for women, educating them about the emotional, psychological and physical damages that result from abortions. They seek to council women, not berate them. The capacity to bear children, a natural and beautiful aspect of womanhood, is maimed by the culture of abortion.
Our advocacy for the rights of unborn children and well-being of their mothers should not become a pillar of our religion. Rather, it must exist as a thread on a “seamless garment of life” ethic that embraces, cherishes and protects all human life and well-being from conception to natural death, “from womb to tomb”.
We must care about children before and after they are born, for many women seek abortions because they are convinced that they will not be able to provide for their child, nor will society lend a hand to them. We must work to prevent them from even coming to such a conclusion by showing them a community that will be there for them, no matter the circumstances of their pregnancy.
I believe in full advocacy for all children, and for maternity as a natural to womanhood. But this is not just about lobbying for legislation, but also helping to prevent conditions that lead women to consider abortion, and providing care and compassion to all women and all children in all cases.
I will tell you now of Kerry Butts, who for a time ministered with the Ithaca Church of Christ by helping support a pregnancy center that provided help to women during pregnancy and after the birth of the child. In the words of Kerry, “This was a ministry that provided women with the necessary help so that they might not seek an abortion. Besides financial support, women from various churches also volunteered at the pregnancy center too. Besides ministering to the pregnant women, it was a way of bringing some justice and mercy in a culture where abortion is lauded.”
After all, how many women seeking abortion have changed their minds because someone stood outside the clinic with a sign that had a Bible verse on it? It is counseling and service that are the most effective measures. This does not mean we should not protest, but our protest should have the ultimate goals in mind: Bring others to Christ, serve people with love, and save life—not just attempt to put people in their place by telling them what to think. Should we protest, I advise that we do not do so outside of abortion clinics, and that we do not do so in any way that could easily be construed as hateful to women, so as not to exploit shame upon women in a weak position. In fact, it may be appropriate only for women and children to protest.
We know that Barack Obama supports abortion in most cases. We know that Mitt Romney has multiple times changed his mind back and forth about abortion, and later lied about his history of stances against abortion. He also says almost nothing about it, and when he does seems to treat it as merely a sexually immoral ill, like prostitution, rather than a matter of life and death. He doesn’t care as much about promoting life as he does about appearing “pro-life”. As it has been said: “Mitt Romney isn’t ‘pro choice’ or ‘anti choice’: He’s multiple choice.”
But of course, refer to the Christian concept of a “seamless garment of life”, which we draw from the golden rule and other teachings of Christ. Because Mitt Romney favors Barack Obama’s drone policy, as well as the numerous wars we are involved in, he simply is not pro-life.
I repeat: Mitt Romney is not pro-life.
Ron Paul is a consistent advocate for the life of unborn children. Yet he is also realistic in his outlook on abortion.
Delivering over 4,000 babies in his lifetime has led Paul to understand beyond a doubt that, medically speaking, children are alive long before they are born. Paul tells the story of a great irony he encountered as a young doctor:
“One day I walked into an operating room, and they did a hysterotomy, which is a cesarean section, lifted out a baby that was crying and breathing, and put it in a bucket in the corner of the room and let it die, and pretended nobody heard it,” he told the audience.
Meanwhile, just down the hall, he said, a baby about the same size was being born prematurely, he said, “and all of a sudden 20 people, nurses and doctors, all [were] rushing around to save the baby’s life, which seemed very logical.”
Paul is against abortion from the beginning, but knows that it is absurd for the government to try to enforce something like the morning-after pill.
Paul reintroduced the Sanctity of Life Act to Congress with more explicit pro-life wording.
Paul wants abortion laws to be handled by states. He doesn’t want to go for the throat of the Supreme Court as his tactic on abortion. Abortion is an issue of murder, and is handled by states and individuals cases are brought to the Supreme Court to challenge federal laws.
When a woman is a victim of rape it is no doubt a tragic thing. But we must remember that the child did not commit the crime. An abortion will not heal the victim of the rape. The permission of abortion coarsens the soul just as the permission of rape and sexual violence. As folks become more permissive of abortion, they become more desensitized to its violence, and more likely to devalue the sanctity of human life when other situations arise, allowing folks to consider taking the lives of those deemed less viable for the livelihood of the strong. We should be just as concerned about the violence of rape as we are about the violence of abortion, rather than promoting a society that allows a vicious cycle trapping folks within the parallel plagues of sexual degradation and selfish violence.
So here is what I advise to prepare for situations involving rape and incest: Because a woman has been attacked, and a life is on the line, government programs should be in place to provide aide and counseling to women who become pregnant as a result of rape. This program would be provided on the state level. This program would also work to find couples willing to adopt the child should the mother express herself emotionally unable to endure raising the child herself. This program would also be optional.
I can’t see how the practice of legalized abortion is somehow a sign of a triumphant community. I can’t see it as anything other than a failure. When unmarried, unsupported women become pregnant too often, and when they are so commonly led by those who counsel them that abortion is a wise choice, this is a sign of a community that does not seek to respect women or to preserve the lives of children within them, but instead seeks a more convenient life for some at the expense of the entire life of others. And neither is an unaborted child with a single mother neglected by everyone else a triumphant community. For then we have said, “let the child live, but let the mother suffer to figure out how to raise it on her own.”
Know this: If abortion were to be outlawed in your state, or even across the country, this would not be an occasion to lie back and pat ourselves on the back for being a successful “moral majority”. Rather, it will mean a calling for Christians to go the extra mile to teach, to nurture, and to show grace to women who are pregnant and in an unfavorable position. Writing an action as illegal is not a panacea. Fostering a community in which the act is not even considered is the best course of treatment. Ask a doctor.
As Paul himself stated, “Only the moral character of the people will solve the abortion problem, not the law.” He knows that outlawing abortion will not mean that people won’t seek alternative means. It is in communities where the care of life from beginning to end must be taught. It’s not just about passing a law preventing a thing, but about creating a community that cares for all the aspects of life this touches.
[on to part 7: Healthcare]