Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Coming out of the closet on abortion

Out of the closet
It is time for me to come out of the closet on abortion.  I have long had views on abortion, views which I mostly kept to myself.  Over time these views changed significantly.  I still kept them to myself.  And it is time for that silence to end.

This is what I believe about abortion.  Abortion is wrong, from virtually every place it may be considered.  It ends the life of a human being.  Additionally, it is the intentional ending of the life of a human being, so that in essence, abortion is murder. 

Under the present laws of our land, abortion is not classified as the crime it is.  The fact that at present in the United States it is legal for a woman, while pregnant, and her physician, to end the life of her child, at any time and for any reason, does not change my belief that abortion is morally and ethically wrong.

You may or may not agree with my position.  If you continue reading this I will try to explain myself, my position, and its implications further.

My changing views
First of all, for a long time my position on abortion was that it wasn't any of my business.  I considered it to be a "women's issue" and not being a woman I felt it was out-of-bounds for me to either facilitate or suppress the availability of legal abortion in this country.

I don’t know when in my life I came to that position, or for how long I held it.  I know that for many men who are silent on the issue this is the position they hold. 

Later in life I came to a position that abortion was acceptable early in a pregnancy, say the first three months, but not later, at that time in the pregnancy when that baby had a clearly more human appearance.  I am not entirely certain but I think that my position may have changed about the time my wife and I had our children. 

And eventually  I came to believe that abortion was wrong at any stage of a pregnancy.  Again, I am a bit uncertain as to when this change in my thought happened.  I do believe it was clearly a consequence of my becoming a Christian and participating in a Bible study, things which happened in 2000 and 2001.

Looking back, my guess is that the change came while studying the Psalms, in 2004.  The Psalms have several things to say about human life, from God's vantage point, that suggest that the essence of human life begins at conception.  And if human life begins at conception then abortion is the taking of a human life, no matter what the physical resemblance of the baby is before its birth compared to after its birth.

The catalyst for making my position more public
The catalyst for my speaking out now is simple.  It is the release of a number of videos that portray a side of the abortion industry that was previously unknown to most people.  These videos show an aspect, an ugly aspect, of an ugly business.  And they show this ugly business as practiced by the largest abortion provider in the United States. 

You may have heard of these videos.  You may have seen some of these videos.  You may have chosen not to see the videos.  While the videos show what happens through one particular abortion provider, and they have unleashed a torrent of comment both in favor and against that provider, one thing I believe those videos show is the reprehensible nature of abortion, no matter who is providing the abortion, no matter what happens with the aborted baby.  The videos show abortion for the evil that it really is. 

To this date there have been nine videos released.  If you doubt the humanity of the aborted baby, or perhaps think that abortion is essentially an undesirable necessity of our day, then I suggest you watch this video, the 5th of the series.  And before you watch it I want to remind you that some things, once seen, cannot be unseen.

Are the videos valid?
Some supporters of the abortion provider in the videos have challenged their validity, based on the fact that they were made in an undercover fashion and then edited before release.  To those arguments I would reply that undercover  investigation has a long history in this country.  We can go back more than 100 years to Upton Sinclair and his work in the meat-packing industry and can see undercover investigation as something that drove positive changes in this country.  Here is a link to a current story, from the food industry, generated through undercover investigation.

Undercover work has been the kind of work that has brought things from darkness to light.  To bring change to things that were terribly wrong.  And abortion is a terrible wrong.

As far as editing goes, I understand that the full videos and transcripts of them have been made available.  The videos, as compiled and shared, in no way misrepresent what is being done in the abortion industry.  The representatives of that industry, as they speak their own words on tape, shine light on what had previously been in darkness.  And as painful as it may be for us to see, those videos need to be seen.

William Wilberforce, who led the struggle in the British Parliament against slavery, once spoke at length and in graphic detail on the very vile nature of that trade.  He concluded his speech with these words:

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” 

Those words ring true for the true nature of abortion, and the true nature of it is repeatedly shown in these videos.

Is abortion murder?
Is abortion murder?  I believe that it is.  Many other people are not so sure.  Some people are quite certain that it is not.  A key element in deciding if abortion is, or is not, murder depends on if that baby, not yet born, is a person or not.

Here is a link to a summary and an explanation by Peter Kreeft, a philosopher, on the four choices we have in considering abortion, after we have decided if that baby is, or is not, a person.  Having already come to the conclusion in my own mind that the baby is indeed a person, at every stage of development, I found Kreeft's explanation of the implications that follow to be coherent and compelling.

Public outrage
If abortion is the death of a person, then abortion becomes the leading cause of death in this country for black Americans.   Here is an article that shows for 2005, the last year the CDC collected abortion statistics by race, that abortion itself killed more black Americans than heart disease, cancer, strokes, accidents, diabetes, homicide, and chronic lower respiratory diseases combined. 

According to this article, in 2012 in New York City there were, on average, 85 abortions of black babies every day, compared with 67 births.  Here is an article, from a different source, reporting on 2013.  Slightly different numbers but the same general conclusion.  In New York City more black pregnancies end in abortion than in live birth.

I cite the two above examples to show the disparity in public outrage over recent events receiving significant publicity in this country.  Most of us are familiar with the events that triggered "Black lives matter" and "Save our girls."  Those two events are understandable examples of outrage over injustice, over wrong that shouldn’t be allowed to be.  Yet abortion is both numerically and exponentially more heinous, and sadly, an everyday occurrence.

The hard cases
There are several arguments used to justify abortion that maintain that while it may be a generally objectionable choice there are certain, albeit rare, circumstances where abortion is a valid option. 

One of these arguments is that if abortion is made illegal we will return to the pre-Roe days, when abortion was illegal and when women died from the complications of abortion.

I have no doubt that if abortion were to be made illegal that it would still occur.  However the fact that when laws are made there is also knowledge that some people will break those laws is not a reason for not making the laws in the first place.  The presence of lawbreakers does not stop society from making laws that are ultimately for its good. 

I don't have the reference at hand but I read recently that at the time the Roe decision was made  less than 100 women died annually from complications of illegal abortions.  One hundred deaths from the complications of abortion is indeed a tragic thing.  And given that our nation's population is significantly larger now perhaps that number would be as high as 200 annually, should abortion again become illegal.  However that number, tragic as it is, pales when compared to the 3,000 deaths by abortion that occur in this country every day. 

Another allowance is often made for abortion in the cases of rape and incest.  These are also tragic and horrible crimes.  They bring real pain to real people.  However, if abortion is murder, under what rationale is it acceptable to make a third party pay, with their life, for a crime that they were not a party to?  I don't presume to know all of the answers to give to women, and in some cases children, who are the victims of these crimes as we as a society support and care for them.  However, I don’t believe that providing care for the victims should include killing the baby that was created through a criminal act.

An acceptable percentage?
To this point I have refrained from naming Planned Parenthood.  They are the abortion-providing organization that has been targeted in the videos.  Many people are supporters of Planned Parenthood.  They believe that abortion is just one of a number of things Planned Parenthood provides to women, and a fairly minor thing at that.  Planned Parenthood itself has circulated reports that abortion only accounts for 3% of its services.  Numerically, abortion may only account for 3% of Planned Parenthood's services.  I have read information that shows that from a financial point-of-view, the value to Planned Parenthood of abortion is significantly higher.  But let's just consider the 3% number.

If 3% of a company's business is murder, is that allowable?  Should we not be concerned, even outraged, at doing business with a person or organization where 3% of what they do results in someone's intentional death?  At what point to we decide to be outraged?  Is 3% okay, but if they move to 10% then I'll no longer give them my support?  25%?  50%?

Every day Planned Parenthood kills babies.  The videos touch on what happens after the fact.  I believe that the fact of murder itself is sufficient reason to back away, completely and immediately, from Planned Parenthood.

Some of Planned Parenthood's supporters argue that it provides many important services to women, in terms of general healthcare, and more specifically, contraception.  Be that as it may, one of the benefits of Obamacare is that there are many options beside Planned Parenthood to get those services.  There are many options to obtain contraception without dealing with an organization that is more than willing to kill your baby, for any reason, should you become pregnant.

The future
What will our country look like if abortion is ended?  Here are few thoughts.

We will have more people.  We will have more racial diversity.  We will have more babies born into families that are struggling and needing the support of society.  We will have more babies requiring foster care and adoptive homes.  We will have more babies born with disabilities, some requiring life-long care.  We will have more people in jail, as abortion goes underground.

Individuals and our culture will have to change if abortion in this country ends.  And, if legal abortion in this country ends, that will in itself be a clear sign that profound change is underway, the kind of change that can also positively address the changes of a post-abortion America.

Concluding thoughts
Recently I had a conversation about abortion where it was pointed out to me that abortion is legal service in the United States today, and has been so since a January day in 1973.  That is a point that is beyond doubt, but legal is not the same as moral or ethical.  And the United States has a number of historical examples of things which were legal, but eventually the lack of ethics and morality of those things came to be the consensus of society.  And those things are no longer legal today. 

And it is my hope, my desire, that one day we would reach a consensus in this country that abortion is also something that would be rightly moved from legal to illegal, and that as a society we would care and value life, all of it, from conception onward.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for an honest and well thought out response. God will judge our nation for the blood shed through abortion. But He will judge His children for their silence. There is no longer any truth to the excuse "I did not know" because the truth of it has been on the news and in our face for weeks.