Thursday, August 13, 2015

Pro-Life or Pro-Birth?

Warning: this is a high-level touch-the-third-rail post. If you are not ready for rational and compassionate thought and discussion, go away and come back tomorrow for the naming of our Right-Cheek Ass Clown for July.

There are two topics it is said that one should never discuss in polite company: religion and politics. That’s very true these days, as the discussion of either topic quickly becomes lacking in politeness, not to mention compassion, empathy, and common sense. On the political side, there is no rational discussion of serious issues, because everyone’s opinions have been formulated in their own partisan echo chambers - there’s clearly no point in listening to a liberal (if you’re a conservative) or a conservative (if you’re a liberal), because nothing the other loser has to say is worth listening to.

The problem is the same with religion, except that it’s even more of an all-or-nothing exchange – when you absolutely believe that God (the one you worship, who is clearly the right one) is guiding you, there’s no room at all for consideration of any other point of view … those other people are obviously not only wrong, but forever damned.

Politics and religion meet in the ultimate third-rail topic that can never be discussed – the topic of abortion.

Now, before I go on, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I do not support abortion in almost all cases. I have three children of whom I am very proud, and six grandchildren I love with all my heart, and I can’t imagine a circumstance in which the thought of abortion would ever have entered my mind.

Sadly, though, we have reduced the discussion of this topic to the level of a clash of rights: the “right to choose” versus the “right to life.” The most consequential and important of issues is reduced to an argument between those supporting a woman’s right to control her body and those supporting an unborn child’s right to exist. I believe both sides are right and both are wrong.

The most wonderful summary of the fundamental issue came not long ago in a comment by Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister, who said,

"I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is."

Sister Joan has hit on the fundamental hypocrisy of the conservative “pro-life” movement. There is a dichotomy between wanting every child to be born, but espousing political and economic philosophies that deny the programs that would help feed, house, educate, and provide medical care for, or that oppose the measures that might reduce the number of abortions sought - such as sex education for children of an appropriate age, availability of counseling and birth control measures, and so on. It also extends to an insistence on prioritizing the life of the unborn child over that of the mother, and an unwillingness on the part of many "pro-life" advocates to adopt the children carried to term by mothers who do not want them.

Abortion is a horrible thing, and we must reduce the number of abortions sought each year. But don't call yourself "pro-life" when what you are is, in Sister Joan's elegant summation, "pro-birth." You can't be "pro-life" while opposing everything that might make the child's life safe, happy, and healthy.

Have a good day. Love your children. More thoughts tomorrow.



eViL pOp TaRt said...

"Pro-life" and "pro-choice" are both terms in which the users try to load the arguments for their own side. If someone argues for pro-life, then the quality for post-birth life should be an issue. Likewise, the pro-choice position should have open more possible choices.

We're in a sad state where there's a lack of rational discussion about anything.

And here's a matter regarding pro-life: Shouldn't a consistent pro-life stance include anti-death penalty? Just saying.

Unitic said...

Thank you, Evil Poptart! How can you truly be pro-life if you are in favor of killing the unborn when they are older? And, Mr. bilbo: masterfully presented.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Pro Lifers tend to think that a fetus is a life to save - once out of the womb all bets are off. Kill the doctor, kill the pregnant woman, capital punishment. I don't understand them.

I am pro-choice but really hope the choice is adoption. But it's not my body so I can't tell you what to do, any more than I can tell you how to raise your child, how to discipline your child, who to marry etc.
It's all none of my damn business. If you don't like abortion it's very simple really, don't have one!

Here's to Sister Joan. I've heard her speak a few times a lovely thoughtful and respectful woman.

Mike said...

The extremist side of the pro-lifers that are trying to kill birth control is just bizarre.

Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer said...

The Rabbit God is the true religion.

allenwoodhaven said...

I hadn't heard the expression "pro-birth" before; it's excellent. My bottom line is that abortions should be as rare as possible, in all ways short of coercion, but it must still be a choice for the individual because it is THEIR choice, not mine, yours, or anyone else's. I fully understand that some people are totally convinced that theirs is the right way (about anything) but I do not understand why some people insist on forcing their choice on others.

Well said, Bilbo.