March 26, 2006

Pro-Life

In the car this afternoon, my wife asked me, "Are you going to participate in the walk?" The walk she was referring to is the "Walk for Life," which raises money for a local organization that provides counseling and services to pregnant women in crisis, with an emphasis on alternatives to abortion. Pretty much every church in the area has participants in the walk, and for the second year, one of our members is recruiting walkers and sponsors.

"I don't know," I said.

"What do you mean, you don't know?"

"I don't know."

It's a complicated issue. My wife and I do consider ourselves to be 'pro-life,' which may come as a surprise to some of our friends who are aware of our 'progressive' (liberal) inclinations on many issues. However, the issue of pro-life/pro-choice is way too political for me to want to get involved. The way I see it, no public leader has offered a real 'pro-life' platform. The reason for this is, as I say, a little complicated.

It has been documented that the lowest abortion rates in the world are in Scandinavian countries---where abortion is legal and even covered by those countries' nearly universal health care. Abortion rates are low in those countries because they offer excellent health care, maternity leaves, child care---in short, they make it possible for struggling mothers to care for their children.

In contrast, the countries with the highest abortion rates in the world are the countries of Latin America, where abortion is, in fact, illegal. Even though abortion is against the law, many women have abortions in those countries because they know that it will be difficult if not impossible for them to care for their children after they are born.

It's clear to me, then, that the way to reduce the number of abortions is NOT to outlaw abortion. This is what the evidence cleary suggests, so it seems that those who advocate outlawing abortion do so either out of ignorance, or for purely political reasons.

Our local agency focuses most of its energy and resources on providing counseling in a non-judgmental atmosphere, providing support to those women who decide to keep their children, and offering to walk those who cannot through the process of offering their children up for adoption. (My wife was adopted as a baby, so this is perhaps why we feel the way we do.) The agency also continues to provide support for those who do choose to have an abortion, by offering post-abortion counseling. For these reasons, I am pleased that people in my church have taken an interest in the Walk for Life.

However, given that outlawing abortion is still an implied, if not explicit, part of the agenda, I have yet to decide if I myself will participate.

3 comments:

SUZANNE said...

Well, the issue is not simply about abortion. It's about fetal rights. Lots of people are against abortion. But the question is: are you in favour of fetal rights and equality?

This is what the so-called abortion debate is really about. Outlawing abortion should not be the goal: providing legal equality for unborn babies is.

G. said...

I really respect your reasoned, sensitive approach to this most complex of issues. It's refreshing to hear someone that's thoughtfully speaking and not screaming or throwing red paint.

Anita said...

Really good thoughts, Danny.
I would also point out, using your examples, that birth control is accepted and encouraged in the Scandanivan countries, and all-but-banned in monstly-Catholic Latino cultures.
Hummm.