Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Why I’m pro-life AND pro-choice, and why I don’t see that as a paradox.

I’ve been thinking about writing a blog on abortion for quite a while, and was “inspired” from a recent article on  The headline read “US ranks 40th in infant mortality;” and no, that’s not like we’re among the lowest – it actually means there are 39 countries that have lower infant mortality rates than us!  In a nation where the debate constantly rages on about the fate of the unborn, the fate of the born is actually in grave danger.
What’s more startling to me is that the state of Mississippi, which was proclaimed to be the “safest state in America for an unborn child,” is actually the most dangerous state in America once that child has left the womb.  Yes, Mississippi has the highest infant mortality rate in the United States. I’m really confused here, how would a state that is so concerned about “life” being failing in such a dramatic way to protect it?
Abortion has become a religiously polarizing issue, with those speaking the loudest clamoring for the U.S. banning abortion because of “what the Bible says.”  What these folks aren’t saying, and aren’t allowing anyone else to say, is that their view isn’t the only one that can be drawn from the pages of scripture.  The following are four views gleaned from the Bible:
4 “Biblical” Views on abortion
1.        Life begins at conception : Psalm 139:13-16
2.       When blood appears in embryo : Leviticus 17:1-14
3.       Life begins at first breath : Genesis 2:7
4.       Fetus as property : Exodus 21:22-25
I imagine most of us are familiar with the first, but probably not so much with the others.  Ironically, the most well-known position is probably the weakest – “David’s” psalm here isn’t a scientific or medical document, it is an artistic hymn or poem of praise. Was “he” really made in the “depths of the earth?” Can “he” “count” God’s thoughts? The other passages are at least historical works (Genesis being arguably being an exception), passages written as stories and guidelines to follow. Yet, because those who hold to the first view “believe in the Bible,” they are somehow automatically right in their interpretation – and yes, it is their INTERPRETATION.
So I find myself still looking for guidelines when it comes to this, for I have many questions to ask to those who are Pro-life. Why do they want to cut women’s health options? Why do they treat Planned Parenthood as the devil, when PP actually gives out free and low-cost contraceptives to actually prevent abortions? Why is it that states that teach Abstinence-only education have some of the highest teen-birth rates? Why do pro-lifers seem to stop caring once the baby is born?
Sure, there’s plenty of care and concern given to a woman on the fence and up until she delivers, but we don’t hear much afterwards.  There are lots of pro-life pregnancy centers where mothers are encouraged to keep the baby, but are there free day-care centers for after they have delivered? Is there job training or educational assistance so the mom can provide or her child?  Is their housing assistance?  How about a pro-lifer allow a young pregnant girl to live with them during and after pregnancy to help her get established?
The welfare moms are vilified, yet if you were given the option of having more babies and getting able to stay home with them vs. working a low-paying job, going to school, and having the kids in daycare all-day, what would you go for? And don’t give me that “personal responsibility” bull-shit.  Perhaps the abstinence only educator should have taken some personal responsibility and taught her about birth control.  Perhaps the dude should have put on a condom. Those who praise abstinence need to grow up – teens have sex. Should they probably have less,  should they use protection, yes, but a hundred years ago teens were getting married and having sex, now culture demands them to wait far longer to get married – all the while those same sexual desires are still raging. That’s no solution.
 I don’t think the  answers are as easy as some would like.  I don’t want to see abortions happen – and neither do most women who have one. From The Human Drama of Abortion authors Anibal Faundes and Jose S. Barzelatto tell that “There is no doubt that woman do not have abortions because they enjoy the experience. Every woman who has had an abortion would have preferred to avoid it. Although most of them were satisfied with their decision to abort and had no regrets at having done so, they have been much happier if the need had not arisen.” 
I’m not a medical doctor or scientist, I am a theologian in training – and this is the perspective I am coming from. So when I say I am pro-life, I say I don’t want to see abortions happen and want to see steps taken to reduce them.  But I also say that I am pro-choice, and by that I mean, I am a man, and I cannot and should not speak for a woman.  One stock answer cannot and will not be sufficient for every situation .
(And for all the Christians out there who believe in the “age of accountability,” wouldn’t babies dying actually be good in that they go to heaven versus being likely to end up in hell?)
As a pastor and author Phil Snider said to me, the pro-life and the pro-choice movements can come together for a common goal -- to reduce the prevalence of abortions.  This means talking frankly to teens about sex, giver greater access to birth control, creating an economic environment where women have the ability to provide for their child, encouraging adoption, and maybe even quit letting the father walk out scot-free.  The LAST place to worry about is the abortion clinic, yet this is often the first area of protest.  If we really want to reduce abortions, there’s a lot that can and should be done before it even gets to that.
US 40th in infant mortality


  1. I am sure you did not mean it but I would like to say that you may have overgeneralized several of your comments. "Sure, there’s plenty of care and concern given to a woman on the fence and up until she delivers"......"How about a pro-lifer allow a young pregnant girl to live with them during and after pregnancy to help her get established?" I would like to remind you that two of your Christian, pro-life friends have cared a great deal for a young child, after birth, in the form of adoption. I would also like to speak for the christian pro-life churches that I have attended in the last 10 years. The first was Southside Bible Church which I sadly had to move away from and the second is the church that I attend now. Both of these churches strongly support both financially and physically (volunteer labor) organizations that care for mother and baby before and after birth. I can also tell you that women who attended these churches who lost a husband or came to the church single received the most loving care that one could ever hope for. I understand that not all churches are like this and if your church isn't perhaps it would be a good time to find a new church? Please don't lump us all together there are some of us who do truly care!

  2. Education can, to the uneducated, convince someone that they are educated and thus have valid arguments. Yet education can also produce an entirely different response. The newly educated person realizes that they, nor anyone else, has a true grasp on any topic. Education has rightly shown them how much they do not know about the world. This should be enough to sew up the mouths of the truly wise. Where does one find wisdom? Proverbs 1:7 Only by the fear of the Lord. Your entire work seems to discredit and demean the word of God. I am surprised that you believe in a hell ("to end up in hell?") as you seem to have so little fear for going there (I speculate from your writings) as well as no apparent aspirations for going to heaven. It would seem that you care more for the issues (depravity) of today than the salvation of the lost and dying. Peace and healing come through one man's death. The word INTERPRETATION, as it applies to the Bible, has become a very loose word. "you interpret it one way and I another" but you forget that this is God's word! It is not subject to how you interpret it, and in the end you will be held accountable for what it actually says. "For the wages of sin is death;but the gift of God is eternal life THROUGH Jesus Christ our Lord." There is a truth and you will be held to that truth.