Before I begin, I’d like to ask you for 2 things–First Thing: Please forgive me. I just want to start right out by asking for your forgiveness if anything I say here comes across as hurtful or offensive–I promise it is not my intent (this time, at least) to be either of those things. The issue of abortion is one of the most divisive issues that there is, and people on both sides of the debate are so emotionally charged that it becomes to scary to even talk about. I am certain that something I am going to write here is going to offend people on both sides of this issue, but I am not taking this lightly. Here’s the Second Thing: Please allow me to speak into this situation, even though I’m a man. I’m not saying this jokingly. If I am this tired of men controlling the conversations about women’s health issues, I can just imagine how tiring it has to be for a woman. That being said, please hear me out, and if I don’t add anything of value to the conversation, feel free to leave this in the same pile as you left the term “legitimate rape.”
“Only in America can you be Pro-Death Penalty, Pro-War, Pro-Unmanned Drone Bombs, Pro-Nuclear Weapons, Pro-Guns, Pro-Torture, Pro-Land Mines, AND still call yourself ‘Pro-Life.’” ~ John Fugelsang
People get very emotional when discussing politics. People also get very emotional when discussing religion…. And I can’t think of any other issue that is so firmly fixed at the crosshairs of these two emotional subjects as the issue of abortion. For many people on both sides of the issue, their beliefs about abortion are so important to them that it overpowers any other matter of contention, and it (almost exclusively) dictates how they will vote in an election. I am not one of those people. And I am not writing this in order to change anyone’s view on the rightness or wrongness of abortion–I doubt even the most eloquently written blog with the funniest photo captions could hope to do that. When I told people that I was writing a blog on abortion, most people’s first question (after an initial “Uh oh.”) was, “Which side are you on?” Well, I’m not taking sides. I’m on the side of civil discourse. I’m on the side of loving your enemy. I’m on the side of being able to talk to someone with whom you completely disagree, and I am writing this post about the conversation.
We live in a world that attempts to sway the thoughts of the people in the middle, NOT through civil discourse or rational and respectful conversation, but through the strategy of having the people at the extremes make as much noise as possible. On issues that are very polarizing, it seems that the plan has become adopting such a extreme view that it pulls the perception of “the middle ground” toward their ideological end of the political spectrum. Unfortunately this often works…. but the process leaves those of us in the middle (who see the shades of gray in other people’s black and white worlds) feeling disillusioned, and even hopeless that anything like common ground or consensus or even community can come from yet another conversation. And we are left with one side loudly arguing with the other side while the rest of the people quietly slip away into the other room and discuss Christina leaving The Voice…. attempting to avoid adding to an aparently fruitless noise.
But we have to be able to come to a place where we can talk to each other–even (or especially) about something as divisive as abortion. I believe that something the world needs now more than ever is CIVIL DISCOURSE. We are so divided, but I believe we can do it. Here are some things to remember when talking to someone about abortion–They are easily remembered using the acronym AAAAA (I’ve never been very good with acronyms):
- Assume The Best. Consider the possibility that the people who disagree you are not doing so out of some sort of demonic, baby bloodlust or a vast eugenics conspiricy, nor are they doing it out of a desire for fascist, patriarchal nation-state that is in complete control of a woman’s body and choices. People probably believe the way they do because they think they are doing the right thing. That’s something important to remember.
- Attempt To Find Places Of Agreement. Believe me when I say this: No one wants as many abortions as possible! Everyone wants to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, but people have a lot of different ideas about how to accomplish that. Some people think the best way to do this is by making abortions illegal even in cases of incest and rape. Others believe that there are better ways to be Pro-Life than by trying to make abortion illegal–That the best way to lower the abortion rate is by addressing poverty, increasing education and access to birth control/healthcare, and by reforming the Church into the kind of people who are so filled with love and alien to judgment that it becomes a way more natural decision for a girl facing an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy to carry her baby to term and give it up for adoption. Whichever side you are on, consider the fact that (other than a demented few) nobody wants as many abortions as possible.
- Allow For The Possibility That You Might Be Wrong. Think of a time that you were CERTAIN that you would always feel exactly the same way, but then, for whatever reason, you changed your mind . It’s okay to be sure of yourself–I do it all the time–but if you acknowledge that you have been wrong before, and that you may not always think exactly the same way that you do right now, it makes you a lot easier to talk to AND to listen to. In other words, be humble.
- Apologize. If you say something that hurts someone, say you’re sorry. And actually BE sorry–Don’t pull one of those, “I’m sorry that you care more about being inconvenienced than you do about your unborn child” sorts of apologies. Be full of empathy and quick to apologize if you say or do something that hurts someone else. Putting your cause above people is a real fast way to become a jackass.
- Admit Complexity. Everyone who votes for a Pro-Life candidate is not necessarily anti-choice, and everyone who votes for a Pro-Choice candidate is not necessarily anti-life. It might not be as simple as the people on the extremes think it is. On one end of the spectrum, we have people who say that taking a pill that prevents pregnancy the day after a condom breaks is basically premeditated murder. On the other end, we have people who believe that because a baby is in her body, the mother has the right to do what she wants with it–even at 39 weeks. Many people find themselves somewhere in between these ideological extremes. For example, the Mayo Clinic says that 26 weeks after conception, “Otherwise healthy babies born this week have a 90 percent chance of survival without physical or neurological impairment,” and yet abortions are legal up to week 24…. If you can’t see why many people are concerned about this fact, you are not trying very hard. Understanding that people (who find themselves at different places along this ideological spectrum) have legitimates reasons for believing as they do is a pretty decent starting point for civil discourse, but this “Admitting Complexity” thing requires some more explanation…. Specifically for the issue of discussing abortion.
I went into college as sure as a person could be that “life began at conception,” and therefore, abortion was murder. In a Biological Ethics class, we discussed this, and we were asked the question, “When is someone declared dead?” The answer is: When they have no pulse and no brainwaves. Turns out there is a time after conception that a fetus has no heartbeat or brainwaves…. Is it murder to abort a fetus that has no pulse or brainwaves? I don’t know. And even if my morality or my belief in God convicted me that it was, can and should I demand that a person without my same beliefs be bound my my convictions? Especially when medically, they might have competing conclusions…. And if personhood begins at conception (or two weeks before), is there an investigation into a lost child during pregnancy (somewhere between 10-25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, or what doctors call Spontaneous Abortions)? As many as 50% of pregnancies for women 45 and older end in miscarriage…. Should we allow women that age to get pregnant when half of their babies are dying? There are a lot of questions, and the answers are not as simple as some people think.
When people are overly simplistic with complex issues, feelings end up getting hurt–Especially when you realize that you never really know who you’re talking to. Someone walks up being very secure and vocal about their case for a woman’s right to choose…. But what they don’t realize is that the person they are talking to has been trying for years to have a child and can’t, or maybe she has had multiple miscarriages, and the thought of a person ending a pregnancy (when a pregnancy is what they want more than anything else in the world) seems as selfish as something can be. Someone else walks up being very secure and vocal about how abortion is murder…. But what they don’t realize is that they are talking to a person who was forced to make a decision between two very shitty choices–That some guy forced himself on her, she decided to end the pregnancy, and then a teenager was forced to walk through a gauntlet of judgmental people who claimed to represent Jesus as they shouted hate-filled things that echo in her ears to this day.
So I have to wrap this up (another way to prevent abortions, by the way). I’m sure that most people who identify themselves as Pro-Life probably read this and think I’m Pro-Choice, just like the Pro-Choice people probably read this and think I’m Pro-Life, but I don’t really care what category people put me in. Sometimes life leaves us in a position where there is no good choice, and how dare you judge someone who had to live through one of those sorts of situations? I also believe that there are actual things worth talking about surrounding our abortion laws. For example, the “point of viability” for a fetus might be different 40 years after Roe v. Wade than it was in 1973, and I think that issue can be discussed without taking away a woman’s right to privacy and choice. In those same 40 years there have been around 50 million abortions, and I think we can all agree that that number is way too high. What if the Church started to model such love to the world that more girls facing an unplanned pregnancy would be moved and inspired to choose adoption? Maybe if we can stop demonizing and yelling at each other for long enough, we can work together to figure out how to prevent so many unwanted pregnancies….
I appreciated our church years ago when the pastor stated, ” do not picket the abortion clinic unless you are willing to adopt the babies and care for their mother and father.” Love, love, love is a verb. Thank you for you well written thoughts.
Thank you, Martha.
Look at catsoncats.wordpress.com
Comment and help this girl!!!
I looked at the article, and–I’m no expert–but from what I have researched in writing this, the stats about abortion in the US are way off and trying to use false figures to sway the people who are not at the extremes. When people use misleading statistics to make their point (because they believe the ends justify the means), it only serves to make people more dispondent and sure that everyone is full of crap….
also, all of those were written on the same day…looks fake.
Yeah, I looked at it on my phone just in case it was some crazy porn virus thing, but I think this whole thing is some sort of fake blog with a fake situation in order to push an agenda…. Just what the world needs: More bullshit.
pretty sure… your quintuple A acronym can be applied to like.. everything, in regards to how we interact with (& think of) each other. because it’s about just trying to understand one another.
That’s the hope! : )
Unfortunately, the moral and spiritual aspects of this discussion are often obscured by the political. At one time, the Republican Party was not particularly interested in abortion and had no platform regarding the issue. But in a discussion with the leaders of what later became known as the Religious Right, GOP leaders offered up party support on the issue to religious conservatives. This move helped millions of voters to shift their allegiance from their unions’ political directives and the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. It took almost a decade before the GOP actually took steps to address abortion rights in Congress, but the topic has proven to be a consistent political winner for the GOP. It moved the conversation from the church into the marketplace and with the advent of hyper-partisanship has resulted in increasing hostility between both sides of the issue. Conversely, the Democratic Party dug in its heals on the topic, claiming to side with women’s viewpoints, but ignoring the number of women who feel differently about Right to Life issues. Instead of offering a big tent for opposing viewpoints, the Democrats ceded a large section of the electorate to its opposition. This has also greatly contributed to the rancor in public discussion of the topic. For many the topic is now inexorably bound up with partisan bickering and viewpoints on other (and often non-related) issues.
Yup…. What a mess. The only way out of this is to love our way out. Thanks for reading, and for you thoughtful observations, James.
Since 1973 54 million babies have been killed legally through abortion. Plus through “THE MEXICO CITY POLICY” ( look it up) Obama reversed his “first day” (why such a hurry) in office after leaving the traditional church service for new Presidents. A friend Carol Young & I watched the church service LIVE on C- Span. We prayed God would change Obama’s heart & mind NOT to sign this POLICY. Yes, policy. You and I have been supporting abortion with our TAX money in our overseas women’s USA clinics. I watched the debate on THE MEXICO CITY POLICY..Abortion is big business. Watch a video of one of many on U TUBE. A woman named Carol Everett ran several in Fort Worth Texas… Listen to her story. Do you really think God would BLESS A COUNTRY with more jobs after looking down a a MOUNTAIN of 54 million dead babies. Like Solomon prayed for WISDOM first and God blessed him with wisdom & wealth, do you not think we should pray for Abortion to end legally first. Then maybe we will prosper with jobs… Number one thing people want jobs, jobs, jobs… Forget morals..Jobs and more stuff…You know how I feel about the design of Church buildings… Shelters on the end & open 24/7 Worship in the middle, kitchens for the poor & especially for single MOMS & babies…I had a Dream 26 years ago when I would get into trouble then when I would pray for abortion to end. Got a public appoligy a few years ago. Lol
Here is my dream!!
Field of Flowers Dream Center
I have dreamed for a haven in the crisis of life for battered women and pregnant single mothers. A spiritual haven facility and Retreat Center dedicated to compassionate care of their spirit, mind and body.
Envision a great building designed like a spoke with eight wheels and a hub for 24/7 hour Worship and Prayer. The outer perimeter of the spoke contains living quarters for long or short term stay. Women will receive restoration through Worship, Prayer and spiritual guidance through a professional Christian staff.
The land surrounding this community will have acres of Garden paths for walking reading and prayer for physical and emotional healing. For years I have envisioned this Haven for women through series of prophetic dreams, divine appointments, and words of knowledge.
I was given the Blue Prints for this Center a week after hearing an audible word describing the ministry and design of the building. I was handed the Blue Prints by a church elder and architect in our local church that matched this design. He knew nothing of the previous encounter I had with the Lord.
For many years I have walked and envisioned this Center and land in my heart for these women; a place to feel safe and restored. It will be a place to decide which path to take, a place where she can have a caring alternative to abortion where she can be supported through childbirth to raise her baby or can also be counseled for the option of adoption.
If we want the activity of abortion to stop, we will have to pay to stop it. If we want our young women to stop getting abortions, we will have to build more Crisis pregnancy facilities. I believe it is much more effective to create alternative caring Retreats and learning centers than to just block the entrances of abortion clinics. We need to stand by girls and women who are going through a crisis pregnancy or abuse. Many women are one and the same. We need to support them through childbirth, and as they raise their children. If we practice more compassion and less confrontation, I believe we will see a significant decrease in abortions and abuse taking place in America.
We will offer pregnancy tests, verification and referrals to medical care; and abstinence counseling for unmarried clients. It will be staffed by professional trained personnel and volunteers from churches & a non-profit pregnancy resource staff from LIFELINE founded in 1977. This is just one of the resources that will be available for ministry.
International House of Prayer model will be used in WORSHIP & PRAYER.
Romans 8:28). Praise is a “sacrifice,” something that we offer to God sacrificially, not just because we feel like it, but because we believe in Him and wish to please Him. “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15). Praise Sends the Enemy Running Since praise manifests God’s presence, we also realize that praise repels the presence of the enemy, Satan. An atmosphere which is filled with sincere worship and praise to God by humble and contrite hearts is disgusting to the Devil. He fears the power in the name of Jesus, and flees from the Lord’s habitation in praise. “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God” (Psalms 50:23). Worship is where most healing takes place from the Lord
Other ministries and creeds are included.
Post abortion counseling for women who have had previous abortions will also will be used. Healing the Effects of Abortion Related Trauma manual published by Heartbeat International or individual counseling is available. These are just a few of the multidimensional programs that will be included as this home develops. Other ministries and creeds are included.
The primary tool for healing will be a compassionate availability of WORSHIP & PRAYER model. This Center will be a place to bring healing to the body and spirit and direction. Ready to instill healing, restoration through Christian team to minister, pray for women to be healed and raised from ashes to beauty. GOD’S WORD will be the BALM to heal the scars that seem to stay forever in these women. These Emotional and physical scars will NOT LAST forever and she will NOT continue to be the victim but; a part of the beautiful BRIDE OF CHRIST.
There are a lot of ways in which people can look at abortions. My main issue with individuals who spout out at the mouth of how morally wrong this is and how we need to have laws making abortions illegal are essentially saying that their opinion is the only opinion that matters. If there is someone who is unwilling to have an abortion, so be it. But there is no good reason to say that person is an immoral person because they seek one out. This is a case of if you walked a mile in the other person’s shoes maybe that would change your mind.
The fact is that we live in a democratic society that means that we are a society of multiple individual intellectual opinions. In no way should the opinions of one group be forced upon the individuals of the other. No one is making any one person have an abortion. The point is that you have choice to make and only you can make up your own decision. At some point, we as a society are going to have to determine if we are interested in having a democratic society or not. If we are only interested in have one way of thinking, one opinion in everything then are we no different from Nazi Germany.
Each month in front of the Planned Parenthood near my house there is a protest against Planned Parenthood. Without a doubt each time there is a sign that says “I regretted my abortion” but the opposite is also true. There are many who regret not having an abortion.
We live in a world in which there are already too many children who are in the custody of the state and no one is interested in helping those children because they are “difficult.” The real issue is that most want those little babies who will hopefully know only families love. Until we reach the point in which all children are taken care of it seems belittling the sacrifice that someone is choosing to make for their circumstances.
While I understand the different churches opinions, they are just that: opinions. I was raised to believe and think for myself. To determine what is best for me, by not allowing me a decision that would be very difficult to make, you are essentially saying that I am too stupid to know what is best. What prevents further destruction of women’s rights? It could be said that we are too stupid to vote, then where does that leave us again. What would it be like if we went back to a society in which a woman could not gain a divorce, or charge their spouse with abuse? Am I interested in going back in history, no.
well………. i cried. this touched my heart. The issue of love is the most important topic, above all else, to me. And i really feel you have demonstrated abundant love in this post. The saddest thing to me, is that some people claim to “represent” the One whom calls Himself “Love”, by not showing love at all…. most times showing hatred, and a lot of times showing indifference…. Personally, as you know, i have been through some hard situations, and it is the Love that found me, that saved my life, and made me who i am. We can absolutely love someone, no matter, even if they disagree on literally every topic of life. Being different or having different ways of life, beliefs, etc does not disqualify a person from being loved and accepted. Everyone is worthy of love and acceptance for the simple reason that they are a human being. And the topic of abortion is no different. No one WANTS to kill babies….. or even fetuses….. people just add dramatic extremes to try to sway people to a specific “side”, when really, if we all communicated in love, and worked together, we could ACTUALLY be effective in lessening abortions. “If they work together, nothing will be impossible for them.” Having had the life experiences i’ve had, no matter the situation, I would give birth the the baby and then give it up for adoption. As I have experienced a lot of pain from the other option, and I know many people who want nothing more than to have a child, and the adoption system is extremely difficult and emotionally painful. BUT, this decision was made based on MY LIFE EXPERIENCES, and by MY CHOICE. Never would i judge someone for having a different decision than myself (though if they came to me for advice, i would give my advice honestly and lovingly) …. they have not had the same experiences. Well done Boeskool.
I especially liked the point that nobody is actually for MORE abortions. I was a part of an online forum and got to know many people with polar opposite views as mine. Like you, I was adamant that I was 100% pro-life…all the time…no exceptions. Though I still feel that way (FOR ME) I have changed my posture for others. While participating in a thread about abortion a pro-choice friend (whom I have grown to love and admire) said, “Amanda, just because you are pro-choice doesnt mean you are pro-death. Nobody wants to see more abortions.”
It clicked and I realized I was labeling all my pro-choice friends and colleagues as pro-MURDER. Wow. How much worse could I be?
Pretty freeing to admit when you are wrong and to hold on to your own beliefs while allowing others theirs.
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