I believe that abortion is wrong.
However, in this country, we don’t make laws based on what I believe. And that’s as it should be.
My personal faith tells me that each human has a soul, and that the logical time for this soul to take form is at conception. Many of my fellow Americans, in equally good faith, believe otherwise. Former First Lady Barbara Bush insisted that the soul entered the body with the first breath the baby took after birth.
The former First Lady wrote her thoughts about the issue in 1980 which was unearthed and transcribed only three months ago. “When does the soul enter the body is the #1 question,” she wrote. “Not when does life begin, as life begins in a flower or an animal with the first cell. So the question is does the life begin (soul entering the body) at conception or at the moment the first breath is taken? If the answer to that question is at conception, then abortion is murder. If the answer to that question is the moment the first breath is taken, then abortion is not murder.”
Seems kind of whimsical, but who can say? Some people don’t believe in souls at all, and although I hope they’re wrong, I can’t prove it.
I gave birth to six children —okay, for a long time I thought contraception was wrong as well, but I came to my senses about THAT, as have 89% of American Catholics.
My sister, who believes as I do, has eight children. Between us, we have 30-something grandchildren. Not all of these children and grandchildren were planned for, or arrived at convenient times, or even with the bounds of holy wedlock. One grandchild was put up for adoption. Abortion was legal, yet no one in our family considered it, not once. Our moral compass did not allow us to go there.
Of course, we had the means to feed our kids, and take them to good doctors, and send them to fine schools. We were well-educated white Americans, and we were able to find resources for whatever came our way.
First Lady Donna Edwards had that advantage as well.
She talks about being pregnant with a baby diagnosed with spina bifada, and despite advice to have an abortion, she went ahead and delivered her daughter, Samantha. They worked with her disability, and she thrived.
I had German measles during my second pregnancy, which put my unborn son at risk for being stillborn or having dire disabilities. Unlike Samantha, he emerged skinny but healthy. And as Donna did, I let this cement my beliefs against abortion. When life treats you gently, it’s easy to take the moral high ground.
As do a lot of the women in my social circle. Well-manicured hands over hearts, they proclaim they cannot, morally, vote for a pro-choice candidate. It would cost babies’ lives, poor little angels. They are the single-issue candidates being manipulated by the Republican Party.
But don’t stereotype these women.
Many mean well, and do support various services for the poor, and even oppose capital punishment. They are not cold-hearted women. They are just misinformed.
They do not yet realize —as I eventually did— that anti-abortion legislation does more harm than good—even if you are considering only the lives of the unborn.
A recent Guttmacher Institute study finds that the rates of abortion are actually highest in countries where there are laws against it. The most likely reason is that places where abortion is illegal are usually places where little sex education or easy access to contraceptives are provided. That would also apply to U.S. states that have most recently banned abortion.
By contrast, when Colorado, under former Gov. John Hickenlooper, provided free long-acting reversible contraceptives to its residents, there was a a 42%drop in abortions. So if the goal is to stop killing unborn children, that’s the way to go.
Unfortunately, we have danced beyond those logical arguments and dissolved into screaming matches, waving around posters depicting empty uteruses on one side and adorable baby-like fetuses on the other.
We should stop it. Give up the vulgarities about politicians keeping out of our uteruses— even though it’s true— and emphasize the fact that prohibiting abortion won’t work. We need to offer realistic sex education (news flash: the kids already know that abstinence works; they don’t care) and provide contraceptives.
We can also argue that anti-abortion laws violate the separation of church and state.
No, we can’t eliminate abortion. But— as Bill Clinton first said in 1996— we can make it “safe, legal, and rare.”
Just don’t tell them President Clinton said that.