Recently a friend asked me if I was pro-choice or pro-life. I answered that I as much as I hate the use of abortion as birth control I am against having the government legislate this process. In a way, I guess I am pro-life where the practice of abortion is concerned but I am pro-choice where the practice meets government. I don’t condemn women who have made the choice to terminate a pregnancy. It’s a very private and gut wrenching decision to make. I know several beautiful, intelligent and loving Christian women in fact who have had to face the reality of that choice. And I know we carry our choices around with us in our hearts, in our bodies. These choices are heavy. I know that not one of my friends who have experienced this took her decision lightly.
I can’t help but feel, however, that all the posturing and postulating that happens around the idea of making abortion illegal has little to do with a hope that we’ll somehow become moral people who will simply not “require” abortions any longer. I often wonder what on earth politicians think will happen to the “unwanted” pregnancy rate if they do ever manage to over throw Roe v Wade or perhaps skirt the ruling altogether by enacting TRAP laws to close clinics.
In a perfect system, I suppose all of the children who are “unplanned” and “unwanted” would be able to find homes among the many people in this country who would love to have a child but cannot or those who see the injustice and the poverty many children suffer and want to open their heart and homes to a child.
The trouble is that it is not perfect system, though. It’s a complicated system and for the most part, “systems” are not really designed to raise children. Families are sticky and extended, laws are complex and often unfair, then there are the parental rights, the alcoholic family members, the “vetting” process for foster parents, the funding for the organizations which support the whole thing being yanked and pulled in Statehouses and Government budgets everywhere.
We have shortcomings where this issue is concerned. It’s not enough to think only of the unborn children as loss. The moment we identify the nations unborn children as people, as actual humans waiting to enter the dusty towns and dirty cities, waiting to enter the uncertain life, the shortsighted programming, the anemic condition of our attitude toward the poor and needy, well, it changes things quite a lot. Conservatives scream about killing the children, Liberals scream back about who will take care of those children and the fight continues in every household and every church sanctuary and every department store.
In my estimation, we have an absence of care in this country. It’s clear in the way we choose to fund wars instead of helping the poor here at home. It is evident in how we conduct ourselves when we differ in political and religious discussions. I am very nearly an Eastern Orthodox Christian. Each week at Liturgy we pray for all the nations unborn children and every week I make the sign of the cross and I hold my breath a little, the urge overwhelming to reach down and touch the floor, the metania. It is a laying down of this doubt and fear and conflict I feel around this issue. I pray for the nation’s unborn children because of the absence of care, the absence of a real “life” movement in this country. I pray for the children who will not be born but I pray also for the women who find themselves between a rock and Mt Everest. I pray for their grief and their shame and their pain. I pray for the leaders of this country who seem to have no idea what it means to truly support women in this situation. I pray for religious institutions that would condemn those women no matter which choice they would make. I pray for the foster care system in our country, for the red tape and the hearts ripped to pieces when placements go poorly or do not happen at all. I pray for the overwhelming realization that we are the worst of hypocrites, crowing about the sanctity of life while funding secret wars and cutting programs designed to educate, designed to support and nurture, designed to encourage free thinking and self-starting and loving one another regardless of how much we differ.
The bottom line is that I truly do not know how we become people who value life, no matter when it begins and when it ends. I doubt it will happen by legislation. I doubt it will happen by chance, television sitcoms, blog posts or Facebook rants. For my part, I’ll vote to keep the process safe and legal for the woman who has to live with that choice and I’ll pray for us to become people who will one day work towards embracing compassion and care, embracing life as a whole, cradle to grave.