Yesterday’s video roused a number of emotions in me, and it’s hard while watching it not to get caught up in all things Obama. But the end message of the video was not about Barack Obama per se … it was about a child whose potential is as yet unknown. It is about generations of doctors, lawyers, and yes, drug dealers who never saw the light of day.
The question of whether it is morally acceptable to kill an unborn child hits awfully close to home for me. I was an unplanned pregnancy, the product of a more of less casual dalliance. My mother, an intelligent and promising young woman almost finished with her schooling, had an awful lot to lose in bringing me into the world. At the time, everyone I now love dearly in her family was against my being born in principle. In many ways, I owe my life to American Christians who ran a “coffee house” meeting in the German city of Giessen.
Bearing that in mind, I could never bring myself to be “for” abortion, even in my darkest, agnostic days. I never became an atheist, and I never gave up on the notion that a baby … fetus, zygote, bump, call it what you will … is a human being. Still, I argued with myself that I couldn’t make that decision for anyone else. I became what I would call a “pro-life pro-choicer,” the kind of woman who could never go through with an abortion herself, but didn’t wish to butt into anyone else’s life to tell them what to do.
In later years, as I attempted to parse the terms of debate used by my newly-rediscovered brethren, I began to understand just how difficult and convoluted the whole thing was. Emotion (and appeals to emotions) reigned supreme among evangelicals. The overturn of Roe v. Wade is the generally agreed-upon standard of success. But then what? Don’t misunderstand: I would be thrilled if abortion were illegal. But I wonder at what would happen if the hearts and minds of the women and men creating said babies were not changed first. Abortions existed before they were legal. They were dirty, and secretive, and often resulted in horrible injuries. Not that I am advocating legal abortions to prevent infections and sterility, but I do wish to point out that we must combine political efforts (with sane, not hateful, rhetoric) with true charity, God’s love lived out and embodied. I don’t know exactly what this always looks like. Encouraging adoptions, of course, and women’s homes and shelters for those who are about to give birth and are in need. Perhaps even Christian families “adopting” a pregnant woman into their home. Much of this will need to be fleshed out on an individual basis, family by family, congregation by congregation. Where I differ from the current view of most is that I do not believe this is the government’s job.
This is an incomplete summary of my thoughts – but then it’s late and I’ll be up several times tonight tending to my son, who is ill. When I was pregnant with him, we lived in a different house and our local grocery store anchored a shopping center that also contained a Planned Parenthood site. It made (and still makes) my stomach turn thinking that here, not one hundred feet fro where I bought my food, someone could buy an abortion.
I was moved by the CatholicVote.com video because it reminded me that not only would President Obama’s father not have been served a meal in a D.C. restaurant not too long ago, but that there are many who are now lauded as heroes of the pro-choice movement who would rather than President Obama didn’t exist. Margaret Sanger, for one.
Incidentally, Catholics have a way of being intelligent about certain stances that generally eludes most evangelicals. Take Alan Keyes’s response to the difference between the death penalty and abortion. Why, many ask, are conservative Christians generally in favor of the death penalty (judiciously applied) and opposed to abortion? Listen to his answer: