I was particularly interested in this debate because I am acquainted with the woman who defended the pro-life side of the issue. She is on staff at the Crisis Pregnancy Center where I volunteer. She has had an abortion in the past, and has been involved in counseling women through post-abortion Bible studies for 19 years. She told her story as a part of her presentation for the debate.
The woman defending the other side of the issue had, as someone else put it "degrees as long as both my arms." She is obviously highly educated, and has been involved with the pro-choice movement since 1970. She was soft-spoken and congenial, but for all her education, she did little to further her point of view during the debate. (In my opinion.)
During her times to speak, she talked a great deal about getting along, and the need to understand the "other side" and the contradictions both "sides" have made with their arguments. I got the feeling that she was there to discuss the big picture of abortion, and point out what was wrong with the pro-life "techniques" of persuasion, rather than argue the specific question at hand; does abortion help or harm women?
When she did get around to discussing the main topic for a few minutes, her sole point of argument was that the majority of unplanned pregnancies happen to young women who are unmarried and living at or below the poverty level. She spoke about the difficulties of expecting these women to take on the extra burden of the expense of a child. She quoted statistics about how children born to these women are much more likely to be abused, go to jail (if they are boys), repeat the actions of their mothers (if they are girls), and never finish high school. She practically called it cruel to allow children to be born into the world when their lives would be so difficult, and she was of the opinion that asking women to take on this burden was asking too much of them.
If you have read this blog for any length of time, you know that I am strongly against abortion, and that I have good reason to be. But I found myself with mixed feelings at the end of the debate. So little seemed to be accomplished this way. I yearned for this woman's heart to change. She was so impersonal; bound up in her statistics.
This morning I found myself sitting in my bedroom talking to myself. ...Well, not really to myself. I was imagining what I would have said if I was the one doing the rebuttal after she had made her opening statement. Would you care to hear it?
"Ladies and Gentlemen, my worthy opponent has said a great deal about the need for us to get along, and understand both sides of the issue of abortion, which is true. She is right when she says we need to know how the 'other side' thinks. That doesn't mean we must agree, but how can you change a mind when you don't know how that mind works?
However, I find very little in her statements that addresses about the topic at hand. Her main argument has been based on statistics that she says we will not accept, because we are biased against them. She is right when she says that the pro-life and pro-choice movements are always suspicious of one another's research. I find that rather amusing, because she's right - it's true most of the time! But in this case I'd have to disagree. I do think the statistics she's quoted are accurate.
She says that the pro-life movement tends to focus solely on the unborn child, and the pro-choice movement solely on the woman, and that such a bias in either direction is unfair and un-logical. Again, I agree with her. We do wrong if we focus on the unborn baby at the expense of the woman. She is very much in need, and we need to help her. I see these women all the time at the Pregnancy Center. I go there because I care about them, and want to help them. Abortion is harmful, and would totally change their life if they were to have one, but most of them don't know that. I'm there to make sure they are informed.
I say this to point out that Miss ______'s argument is also based a great deal - but not entirely - on the life of the child. She says it is not worth bringing them into the sort of life they would have. She accuses us of focusing too much on the child, but her own argument is rooted in the same person, to a degree - though I do understand that her main point was that the mother is going to suffer if asked to bring a child into the world she lives in, and care for it.
So here we have a main problem that we both agree on; children born in unplanned pregnancies are born into difficult circumstances. However, we both give different solutions to the problem.
Miss ________'s solution is to kill the children before they ever enter the world. She hopes to avoid the added difficulties by making sure they are stopped as quickly as possible. She admits that ending the pregnancy does not solve the woman's condition in life, but says that it will at least make sure no new difficulties are added. She emphasizes that women should be able to chose when, where, and how they bring life into the world. It is their liberty and their right.
This solution ignores the fact that the children are already in the world. There are millions of children, all over the globe, who are suffering. They are starving. They are naked. They are uneducated. They are abused. Yet our solution to this is not to kill off the children. No person in his right mind would suggest that as a solution.
These unborn children are already in existence. Their mothers have already made the choice to bring life into the world. They have already exercised their right to decide.
I know many a poor family with several children. They struggle to make ends meet. Should I suggest that they eliminate a child or two to help with financial difficulties? 'Oh, let's just kill off the two year old, and you'll be able to make it.'
Of course not! No one would think of such a thing. But what about a 2-month old? A two-day old? It is equally unthinkable. Suppose we go two days before birth?
My point is that as soon as a woman finds out she is expecting, she is already entered into the responsibilities of motherhood. Those responsibilities will continue for years. If she, at any time, is allowed the freedom to "cancel" those responsibilities by killing her child, then, logically, she should have that freedom at any point in her child's existence. It is the most warped form of logic to suggest that her "freedom" applies only to a certain time frame of her motherhood.
My solution to the problem is two-fold. First, to prevent these pregnancies in the first place. Miss______ is right when she says that women need to be more responsible. I am not sure what exactly she refers to when she says that, but I just want to mention that I see women all the time who were on birth control and still got pregnant. Abstinence is the only foul-proof method of preventing pregnancies. I know it's politically incorrect to suggest that, but it is still the truth. ...But that's a topic for another time.
Secondly, we need to provide for the women who are already unintentionally pregnant and are unsure where to turn. They need to be educated. They need financial help. They need to be informed on all their options. My worthy opponent took offense, earlier, when I said women are being lied to about abortion, but it is still the truth; they ARE being lied to. They do not know everything it will involve. They do not know the risks. They do not know about the side effects that can be hidden for years and then pop up. They have no idea what they are getting into.
Abortion is harmful to women. The arguments Miss _______ have presented totally ignore the fact that the "problem" - the child - is already here, and what has happened can not be undone. Abortion purports to be able to "turn back" the clock, by undoing "the damage," but time machines are the property of science fiction. That woman is already pregnant, and if she crosses her natural mothering instincts - which a part of her very being, even if she is not aware of them - she will suffer trauma later on in life. It may be 50 seconds afterward, and it may be 50 years; I have seen both. But it will happen.
We need to be about the business of protecting both the unborn and their mothers. Because abortion is harmful to women."
...I think that would have filled up the 4-minute rebuttal time. :)
For those of you readers who don't know it, my father was born to one of those mothers who was poor and unwed and logically "unable" to care for a child. According to Miss X, he should have been aborted.
And I would have never lived.
Chew on that for a minute.
Here is a passage for you to meditate on today: