Monday, January 23, 2012

An Anniversary.

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made..."
Psalm 139:13

"We call upon Southern Baptist to work for legislation that will allow for the possibility of Abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of sever fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental and physical health of the mother."
The Southern Baptist Convention, (Meeting in St. Louis, MO. 1971)

"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart..."
Jer. 1:5

"I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from it's mother that it became an individual person."
W.A. Criswell (Former President of the Southern Baptist Convention expressing satisfaction at the 1973 Roe V. Wade decision.)

Today is the anniversary of the fateful Roe V. Wade decision that legalized abortion in America. It was left up to the individual States to work out the details, and it's been a mess ever since. Even back then, Christians were confused on this issue, and bible verses being taken out of context didn't help the matter.

This post is not an attempt to belittle either side, or to find humor in any of this situation. It is, however, an attempt to call on the need for civility on this issue AND, if nothing else, to call on Believers involved in the Pro-Life movement to recognize that there is a lot more complexity and nuance on this issue than many would lead you to believe. Also, if we want to make any progress on this issue, we had better come to terms with just how complex it truly is, and not simply allow ourselves be lead by the nose by politicians & pastors who gain notoriety & power out of doing so.

For the record, my sympathies lie with the Pro-Life camp. (But they are also the ones I will take to task the most.) Abortion is a dirty business. All of the people I know, both male & female, who have been involved in an abortion have their scars. They are not always physical, but they are there. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. There is nothing easy or simple about an abortion. The people who have been involved in them need compassion, love and grace...not condemnation or self-righteous judgment. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Here is the dilemma: The majority of Americans do not like abortion. The majority of Americans think that they are wrong for a variety of reasons. However, the majority of Americans, even those who dislike abortion, do not wish to see it criminalized. (I won't even bother to put up any links to that statistic. You can easily find it where ever you look.)

And this is where I find myself. I don't like it. But I don't want it criminalized. So what do I do?

Some UNcomfortable Thoughts:

#1. Why criminalizing abortion doesn't work: Let us say that tomorrow the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade, and all abortions were made illegal...would that solve the problem? Would there now by no more abortions in America? (Before you read on, think about that question for a moment. Think about the ramifications.)

Well, the answer would be a solid "NO!" No, abortion would not end. Instead, two things would happen. 1) People from the Middle-Class on up would give a huge economic boost to the Canadian & Mexican medical industry, because that is where they would head. People too poor to afford a trip out of the country would quickly find unsafe back-alleys.

In fact, the World Health Organization just released some facts a few days ago that show that restricting abortions actually has the negative side affect of causing MORE abortions in countries where these restriction occur. This study is about as exciting as watching paint dry, but it gets the point across that criminalizing something like this simply doesn't work.

2) If abortion was now illegal, what you would sadly, sadly see would be a bunch of self-righteous "Christians" waddling into their churches next Sunday, patting themselves on their backs and feeling very happy that they could now ignore this problem. They would then be happy to condemn any teen girl who made a big mistake with the words "Congratulations, you're going to be a mother...and stop mooching on welfare!" In the mean time, they could conveniently ignore the fact that abortions were still happening.

Be honest with yourself. You know full well that something along these lines would happen.

#2. Abortion will NEVER be outlawed: This is the great hope and lie that has been fostered for ages now by people drooling for power. Politicians on the Left play to their base when they scare people with the idea of Roe V. Wade being overturned. Politicians on the Right do the exact same thing in reverse. Some of them might actually believe it. However, the vast majority know that neither will ever occur. Not after almost 40 years of it being legal. They also know that harping on this is a cheap & easy way to get votes by playing to their base. In the mean time, no real progress is made to finding a solution that might actually work.

#3. When does "Life" begin: The easy, and I mean easy as in "Simplistic," answer is to say that life begins at conception. Let's face it. It's not a dog or a cat that is now growing inside that woman. For catholics and some others I've talked to, that egg that has now been fertilized has all the same rights as any other fully developed human walking around. However, there are some problems with this...

Not to long ago, Mississippi attempted to get Personhood defined as beginning at conception. This is a very Conservative State with a Republican governor. The citizens of the State were asked to vote on the matter, and it all went down in flames. Why? Because for once, people took a few moments to soberly reflect on what that would entail.

It's easy to "Say" that this 3 week old fetus is a human, but...

Does a pregnant woman now buy two tickets when she goes to the movies? What about when she gets on a bus or a plane? What if you see a pregnant woman smoking or drinking (A really & truly horrible idea if you are pregnant.), do you call child protective services? What if a pregnant woman is skiing, jogging, etc. Is that child endangerment? If that 3 week old fetus is now considered a full human, as that attempted law implied, then she would have to buy a second ticket, and you might have to call the police if she has a beer. Even conservative Republican Gov. Hayley Barbour saw the problems with this and turned against the Mississippi proposal in the end. This is indeed a very complicated issue.

From my own perspective, if you really believe that a month old fetus is indeed a human in every respect that matters, then I would say that you should, indeed, buy two tickets. Either live what you believe or stop saying such trite things, because it's obvious that you do not truly believe it.

To further complicate this issue, let's think about the fertilization of eggs in medical labs. The normal procedure is to remove and fertilize numerous eggs. Only some of them will be put back in in the hopes of a successful pregnancy. According to many, those fertilized eggs that remain and are now frozen until and IF they are ever needed again, are now little souls in a dish. In many cases, those eggs are never used again. Does this mean that those are really & truly human beings frozen in state until Christ returns?

I'm very serious about that question. These are the types of things that people do not wish to consider because it leaves us with more questions than answers. This is also why we need to eschew easy answers & simplistic platitudes that are merely politically/"Religiously" correct and popular, and instead sit down to have a mature discussion.

#4. When Pro-Life is really Pro-Birth: To my mind, caring only about a pregnancy only shows that you care about "Life" up to a certain point. My biggest criticism of my fellow Believers on this issue is that they no longer seem to care about a baby after it comes out of the womb. If you really want to earn the label "Pro-Life" then it seems to me that you had better care about the whole life of that kid.

This means that you had better be equally concerned that this baby grows up in an environment as clean as it can be. He better have access to a school that is properly funded, and some decent health insurance. You had better be concerned that there is a decent economic environment for his parent or parents to work in so as to provide a good living for that kid, and so that poverty is avoided. In fact, you had better be savagely concerned about poverty.

Do not even try to tell me that it is only the government's, societies', or an individual's business to make sure all the babies are born, but then it it is not their "Role" to care after that. Be consistent in your concern or shut up! If you do not care about the WHOLE life of the person, you are not, nor ever will, be "Pro-Life." You are merely "Pro-Birth," and to say otherwise is hypocrisy.


I think I'll cut it short here. This is a very difficult and sensitive subject. I am disturbed more often than not by what I see on this issue. I see more yelling and screaming AT each other than I do people actually talking TO and discussing WITH others. That is no way to find a solution.

Near as I can tell, the overwhelming majority of people would like to see abortion stop...even those who favor complete legalization. It would seem to me that they only way any of us could work towards nearing this common goal is to find common ground in ways to prevent the desire for an abortion in the first place...and doing so is no easy task.

I dunno. If I had the ultimate answers to fix this, then I would be God...and I'm pretty sure that I am not. I'm sorry if I hurt any readers feelings. That was not my goal. I am hoping that people of good will, Believers and non-believers, on all sides of this issue will begin a dialogue that might actually make some progress. (Unfortunately, I know human nature.) A guy can hope, can't he?




  1. Excellent and poignant post about an incredibly difficult topic to motivate people to discuss without their learned position or dogma being enagaged and overuling themselves.

    Some things that it did make me consider are, where are these "pro-life" peoples concern for the people who are left contemplating an abortion prior to the actual pregnancy? Where is their compassion for the individuals involved before the pregnancy occurs? Shouldn't they/we be reaching out to individuals before life decisions are made that would make them feel the need for such a decision?

    The converse is also true.

    It is a simple thing to express sorry, grief and outrage over the loss of what they perceive to be human lives by picketing, spouting their rhetoric in media, holding vigils at Planned Parenthood and clamoring for more legislation to protect the innocent. It really requires little effort, disruption or "mess" to continue their culture war against the un-named and unknown girls and guys who are in this situation but what about after the fact? Where is their concern for the hurting girls and guys who have made this decision and are now living with the emotional, physical and social aftermath that such a hard choice leaves in their lives as a result?

    It may be all too easy to cry out for those lives lost, but what about the lost ones that are still living? The Gospel in their lives, prior to choices and after such choices would certainly wreak a new kind of reaction and justice in our communities.

    Just some thoughts...


  2. Welllllll, I'm going to say that I agree with much of what you've said. I was in DC yesterday at the March for Life, as I have been for the last few years. What strikes me every time, though, is that it seems that many people have not thought through the issues surrounding abortion...welfare, healthcare, the foster care system that is already overrun.

    If we are going to save babies, we need to make sure there will be a life for them outside the womb. We are not doing that. If we save a baby, we pat ourselves on the back and forget about the real life of the person we think we saved.

    Another thing that disturbs me is that many who say that human life is sacred and has value will be all for saving a baby, but when that same baby is a man sitting on death row, they are more than happy to murder him. If human life is sacred, it should be sacred across the board. We don't get to pick and choose which human has value and which doesn't if that's what we say we believe.

    Aaaaanyway, I think that when we bring up these subjects and thoughts, some conservative pro-lifers immediately bristle because they hear what they think is Liberal drivel and immediately their eyes glaze over.

    I am all for saving every baby, but we need to figure out how to make their lives better after we save them or there's no point.

    (Before I went to the MFL this year, my husband told me I should blog about my thoughts on the issue. Maybe I should...)

  3. I got pregnant in 1968 from a date rape. I tried some odd medicine guaranteed to start the process of miscarriage, this did not work and I eventually had the child and gave him up for adoption. I was frightened, and didn't have much guidence. Each thing caused horrible guilt. But I don't know if I would have been able to have an abortion, if legal.

    I think it's good to have the option. But better to have a good support system and/or parents who love you. I think it's better to be able to have a discussion about sex, love, contraception and life goals.

    Maybe you have to ask yourself, what would you do?

    1. The entire issue is complicated, difficult and often a bit overwhelming. This is why I am no fan of pat, easy answers that play to a politician or an organization's base. Simplicity is a beautiful thing, but "Simplistic" is not.

      I'm not sure what I would do in a difficult circumstance such as this. However, I do know that I would not be happy with my neighbors being able to tell me what I HAVE to do...which is what would be the case if this were criminalized.

      For what it's worth, I am adopted. I am extremely thankful that the birth mother gave me up. I am certain that it was one of, if not the most, difficult decisions she has ever had to make. However, I have been absolutely blessed beyond belief with the family that "Hand Picked" me, in their words. :)

      This also allowed the girl (And I say that because I am making the assumption that she was probably a teen since I was born in 1964.) who bore me to get a relatively fresh start in her life. I can't tell you how to feel, but I would encourage you to give yourself permission to see what you did in giving the child up for adoption as one of the most unselfish acts that a person could ever do. A painful blessing, if you will. But a blessing none the less.

      Who knows what YHWH has up his sleeve in the new Heaven & Earth? You may very well meet this person and they could end up telling you some very wonderful stories. I've seen stranger things in this one.

  4. That made me tear up my bro. Wow! You truly have a gift of writing and putting into words the right things to say. I believe the Holy Spirit knows how to speak through you and in you Joe. I am truly proud of you in many ways. Thanks for your blogs! Very moving and inspirational! Love you! Love,Janis