anti-abortion, pro-abortion?

I didn’t pay much attention to the recent Supreme Court ruling on abortion. I skimmed the headlines, noted that pro-abortion activists were “outraged” while anti-abortion activists were celebrating, and went on to the next page. (In case you’re fuzzy on the details, the Supreme Court upheld a ban on partial birth abortions.) But this past week, I noticed that another web site had reprinted Tim’s post, “The Altar of the Gun.” The blogger said he didn’t agree with Tim’s post but wanted to provide another perspective on idolatry. At one point in the article, he inserted this: “No mention whatsoever from this crowd [that would be YAR] that this Democratic congress supports the murder of five million people per year with abortion…”

Abortion is an incredibly complex topic; it’s never as simple as either side wants it to be. Even the words we use, how we chose to define ourselves, matters: pro-choice? Pro-life? Both phrases sort of rankle me. But I really want to know: how do we here at YAR feel about abortion? Since I’m asking you all to perhaps make yourself vulnerable, it’s only polite of me to go first.

I’m a big propnent of the consistent life ethic. War, capital punishment, abortion, euthanasia, poverty, and racism are all troubling, and all something which threaten life and that which is life-giving. But I count myself as neither pro-life or pro-choice. Abortion is, for me–to borrow from Feminists for Life–a sign that we’ve failed women. Simply legislating it won’t change much, because wealthy women will be able to travel elsewhere to get abortions and less wealthy women will revert to poorly trained doctors on the street or worse. If we really want to stop abortion, then we have to figure out what causes women to get abortions and why, and from that perspective, affordable housing, universal healthcare and childcare support all matter. We have to care about the child both before and after its birth.

I think we begin by holding each life dear every time, but I’m cautious, too, because life is a lot more ambiguous than a lot of us would like to make it. That said, I’m genuinely interested in what you all think–and I won’t think less of you if you chose to thoughtfully disagree with me.

Comments (21)

  1. healtheland

    Theft still goes on despite laws against it, and the wealthy and privileged have far more sophisticated ways to steal large amounts of money without detection than does the common street criminal, right? And the few rich who are caught stealing out of greed, depravity, arrogance, and boredom get much lower sentences and easier jail time than street criminals who steal to feed and house themselves, right? Yet laws against theft persist. The same should be the case with abortion. Further, yes, abortions were still going on before it was legalized, but it was nowhere near 5 million a year. What is more important is the development of a general abortion culture; an unintended consequence that commits violence against and dehumanizes both the woman and the fetus and also marginalizes the male. It is not taught in our public schools or our elite universities or depicted in the media, but you are aware that the original feminists, Elizabeth Cady Staton and such, were fiercely antiabortion? And as for universal healthcare, child support, housing, and similar, Britain, France, and other European countries have those as well, and there are still plenty of abortions over there, and they still dispense RU-486 like candy. Proabortion advocates always try to appear “centrist” on the abortion issue by talking about other issues that have nothing to do with abortion, and that they would still support whether abortion was legal or not: those social welfare programs plus comprehensive sex education. Proabortion people weren’t talking about those things as a way to reduce abortion back in the 1980s, because back then they had the attitude that there was nothing wrong with abortion, the procedure had to be destigmatized, and there needed to be more abortions not less. Yet they still supported that agenda of which you speak and comprehensive sex education because those are liberal left ideas and they are liberal leftists. It was only when Bill Clinton saw that he needed to PRETEND to be anguished over abortion (so anguished that he put Bader Ginsburg and Stevens, two abortion absolutists, on the Supreme Court) in order to get elected, and when the Republicans won Congress in 1994 and the White House in 2000 that the proabortion crowd began to cast their longstanding agenda as something that would somehow prevent abortion. Yes, we need to talk about the things that cause abortion (most prominent among them men and women having sex with people that they should not, and if you believe that most pro – choice people is going to list that as a cause please realize that you are disengaged from reality) but we still need to realize that the #1 way to prevent 99% of abortions (and to cause men and women to think twice about sinful sexual behavior) is to (yes) “make criminals out of women and their doctors.” You do know that 52% of American doctors oppose the procedure, and that opposition to the procedure in the British medical community is so high that there aren’t enough doctors to perform them, so they are considering changing laws to allow nurses to give abortion instead. Those are two things that you would never hear reported in our media, or even by our supposedly pro – life Republican Party. Now the Bible says that people are conceived by the Holy Spirit. That would tend to support the “life begins at conception” position. But you know what? You do not even need to believe that life begins at conception in order to outlaw the barbaric practice. You mentioned a concern for racism … well do you know that two troubled inner city black males in Atlanta, Georgia received a ten year jail sentence for killing a dog? When a wealthy suburban white teenaged female gets that sort of a sentence for killing a dog (or for anything else short of first degree murder for that matter) let me know. The very same people that support giving a ten year sentence for killing an animal that is eaten for food in many countries wouldn’t want “a woman or her doctor” to spend five seconds in jail for destroying what has the potential to be in the image of God and have a spirit man that will stand before that same God in judgment one day to determine whether it will go to heaven or the lake of fire. And speaking of the radical Christian community, Jesse Jackson was once a strong pro – lifer who went around making barn – burning speeches that Republicans (who were then led by the Rockefeller pro – business contingent) supported abortion as a method of population – controlling the poor and blacks. When I worked as a push – poller for the Bob Dole Presidential campaign, I called a lady in Ohio who told me point blank that she felt abortion was murder, but if we didn’t have it, there’d be far too many black people, so she supported it for that reason. You do know that blacks receive abortions in heavily disproportionate numbers, and that it shot up when the Clinton Justide Department began suing states to force them to cover abortion under MediCaid, right? But Jesse Jackson switched his position when he saw that it was required for his to gain power on the left, and to cover up his own adultery (the woman who ultimately bore his child out of wedlock he pressured into having an abortion to conceal a prior pregnancy; Jesse Jackson’s longtime serial philandering has long been well known in some quarters but concealed). The only reason why abortion exists is to liberate women and men from the consequences of their sexual choices. Once people accept that incontrovertible fact and then go back to what the Bible says about sexual choices, then for a Bible – believing Christian to claim to claim any religious or moral conflict over the position is just as untenable as claiming religious or moral conflict over usury, neglecting widows and orphans, and robbing the poor. Thank you, sir, have a most excellent afternoon, and may the peace and blessings of God be upon you, your ministry, and your house.

  2. Brian Hamilton

    Thanks for the post, Lora–I’ve also only been skimming the news on this issue, but it’s a significant shift and worthy of conversation. My disposition is quite similar to yours, but I’ve had it disturbed somewhat since I’ve been among the Catholics at Notre Dame. So I’m unsettled and confused, but I’ll offer a few observations.

    * Proponents for a consistent ethic of life, in my experience, use the phrase as a counterpoint to an overemphasis on abortion (and sometimes euthanasia), to extend the meaning of ‘pro-life.’ That’s a good idea, to broaden that meaning, but in practice it ends up de-emphasizing abortion to the point of leaving it out. In conversations when I’ve invoked it, it’s almost always to leave abortion behind as an issue and ‘move on’ to war, capital punishment, etc.

    * Emphasizing the structural reasons for the high abortion rate, again important in itself, tends in practice to betray an ambiguity over whether there’s actually anything tragic happening in the act of abortion. Honestly, if I believed in my depths that abortion was actually violently taking an innocent human life, even if I know it’s more complicated than the choice to abort itself, would I want to wait until structural reform was completed and took effect? Advocates of addressing the structural reasons for abortion tend to see abortion as only something mildly lamentable, and are usually more concerned with the structural reasons themselves than actually with abortion.

    * While many accuse ‘pro-lifers’ of reducing ethics to the individual or over-simplifying the issue, the Catholic discourse against abortion has seemed to me to resist both of those things. Abortion is itself a social and structural issue: it stands in for and helps to foster the way that a society thinks about bodies and social relationships and life itself. Are intimate social bonds–familial, sexual, communitarian–to be considered as enduring and forming, or can they be chosen and discarded at will? Is the possibility of new human life something to be considered deliberately, or can we risk it and then make a decision ‘the morning after’? The Vatican, remember, has probably been the most consistent proponent of a consistent ethic of life: calling the Iraq war unjust, urging an end to capital punishment, insisting on an end to legal abortions, and reminding us of the value of ‘natural death.’

    These observations don’t decide the issue of how to respond to abortion by any means. They do, however, problematize both ‘progressive’ language about concern for abortion and the stock critiques of the ‘pro-life’ concern about legislation. Sorry so long.

  3. Lora (Post author)

    Abortion is itself a social and structural issue: it stands in for and helps to foster the way that a society thinks about bodies and social relationships and life itself. Are intimate social bonds—familial, sexual, communitarian—to be considered as enduring and forming, or can they be chosen and discarded at will?

    Brian, that’s exactly what I wanted to say. Thanks.

  4. jdaniel

    Thanks for the provocative post, Lora. Perhaps I’ll have time to comment later, but the Related YAR Posts utility failed to pick up this post from fall of 2006: Conception Conflict. I thought it should be included in the discussion.

  5. Forrest Moyer

    Thanks, Lora and Brian, for your comments. Perhaps I’m just ignorant on this issue…but it’s hard for me to understand how anyone could view abortion positively. It seems ultimately to have negative effects all around for mother, father and child, and a whole host of surrounding family and community members. In no way does it seem to tend toward a nobility of character or an imitation of Christ. Do some people view it as a “necessary evil”, like war or capital punishment? My current thought is–if it’s destructive and ultimately negative, then it is not really necessary or helpful, regardless of the structures or conditions that motivate a choice for abortion. That said, we should always be working to change negative structures and conditions. But just as war is not a good answer to negative structures and conditions, so neither is abortion…. I know that sounds pretty un-nuanced and absolute (but I think it also seems pretty obvious from an Anabaptist perspective). I’m very open to critiques of my thought, thanks.

  6. tomdunn

    This issue, along with countless others, frustrates me to no end. Like Forrest, I see this as a fairly black and white issue; if such a thing exists. I don’t think that is the issue. I see the issue as lack of action.

    Lora you asked, so I would say I am pro-life across the board (consistent life ethic). But I also say, what does it matter. What difference would it make if I was pro-choice and thought it would be fine if people could kill their babies up until they were three years old? I am hesitant to even say I am pro-life because I have never done anything to benefit the cause of pro-life, so in all actuality I am not pro-life. What I am saying is that I have done as much to aid abortion as I have to stop promotion. Just like the author of Ecclesiastes figured out so long ago, what I think on this issue is meaningless.

    I say that everyone who is passionate about being pro-life, and finds themselves waxing eloquent about how evil it is should be put on a list. The people on this list (which should be pretty long, given how popular “family values” are) will then be used to provide counseling for anyone who is thinking of having an abortion, financial support for the raising of the said child that is not being aborted, volunteer their time to baby-sit, and help with homework, and everything else that is involved in a parenting a child. When this is happening, then these people can call themselves pro-life.

    On second thought, I am not pro-life. I believe in pro-life, but I am really neither pro-life nor pro-choice. Thanks for asking though; you got me all riled up. Anyone know of a list that I can be put on?

  7. eric

    Good thoughts Lora. I also find the terms funny, and the fact that such blatantly public-relations-concocted terms (on both sides) would be used regularly by the media is disgusting.

    I think Tom Dunn is really onto something, and I think all of us men can chalk up another point for male privilege that we get to be “just ignorant on this issue.” Tom, I think, highlights some of the very real problems to be dealt with before espousing the wonders of pro-all-life.

    It really is an issue of Women’s health, equality, and right to life for themselves. The best way to be pro-life is to support comprehensive sex education and access to contraceptives.

    Here are a few links for more reading:

    Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog’s FAQ: What do feminists mean by “reproductive freedom”?

    Thinking Girl’s Blog for Choice Day, 2007

  8. eric

    And one more:

    Feministe’s “Pro-Life” Mississippi Has Highest Infant Mortality Rate in the Nation.

    It’s not a coincidence that the most “pro-life” states are the worst places to be born. There has long been a connection between pro-choice policies and healthy women, healthy families and healthy babies. Healthy women make for healthy babies – and pro-choice policies, which value women’s health, affirm women’s humanity, and embrace women’s general well-being, make for healthy women.

  9. Skylark

    Eric said: “The best way to be pro-life is to support comprehensive sex education and access to contraceptives.”

    Yeah, except for the contraceptives that are abortifacent. :-P That would be consistent with the life-begins-at-conception brand of pro-lifers.

    This may be a function of me becoming an adult and interacting with a variety of people, but I’ve become fairly disappointed with local pro-lifers. I grew up around them, parroting what they have to say. I talked in my intro post about a recent interview with three white, middle-class Catholic men over 60 and how horribly disappointed I was in them for an insistance on legislation as the answer. All had gone to the Walk for Life in DC and donated money to Right for Life, but only one had donated anything (money, in his case) to the needs of women and children. None of them knew any women who had abortions or who’d seriously considered them, and I didn’t think to ask if they tutor, babysit, or do any of the other things Tom Dunn mentioned for single/needy parents. I know some pro-lifers who do do these things, but they are definitely the minority.

    I started thinking about what I have done to get involved, and it’s a fairly short list. None were things I sought out but sort of fell into by default. Now I I have to weigh journalism ethics and refrain from donating my time to established organizations, though there’s nothing stopping me from being a supporter of family and friends who opted not to have abortions. I don’t know what list to put myself on, either, but I’m sure the local women’s health providers would know more.

    Brian Hamilton said: “Emphasizing the structural reasons for the high abortion rate, again important in itself, tends in practice to betray an ambiguity over whether there’s actually anything tragic happening in the act of abortion.”

    Ouch. You got me. I’ve seen myself meandering in that direction, and I don’t like that. I complain about people seeing outlawing abortion as the answer, and I might border on excusing abortion in the process. Still… I’m horribly uncomfortable with raising up the personal morality issue (abortion) as more important than the community morality issues (oppression through poverty, racism, sexism, etc.)

    To those of you who consider yourselves “all-pro-life”: Don’t you really mean “pro-all-human-life”? I don’t see many people jumping up and down to become vegans. Sentience is the criteria some use to determine which forms of life are acceptable for humans to take, and which are not.

  10. Forrest Moyer

    Tom, I think your point is very good, and I want to continue to challenge myself in this direction. Thank you.

    Eric, thanks for your veiled challenge as well. I’m uncomfortable with much of the way you write, maybe I’m not radical enough :) But I’m sure there are things we can learn from each other.

    A couple of thoughts on your post, Eric: Can Christian believers really use “right to life” arguments–either in regard to babies or mothers? Life is a gift, not a right. Mother, father and child have only the days given to them by God. To take by force the life of one to extend the life of another to me seems like a contradiction. I doubt that the developing infant slain in an abortion is voluntarily giving its life for its mother.

    And…it does not seem right to complain that this is another case of male privilege. While it may be a privilege that men do not have the burden of childbirth, it is by God’s design. By the same design, men do not have the blessing of motherhood, and they have already for centuries suffered the loneliness of being left behind when a wife has passed away in childbirth. I don’t think the male privilege argument fits here….

  11. Skylark

    Forrest, how on earth is male privilege not applicable here? Men cannot know the desperation some women feel when they discover they are pregnant and in undesirable circumstances. Yes, many men feel disempowered when they are unable to provide for their wives/children, but that isn’t the same. It’s one thing to know you have made a woman pregnant, and society will condemn her. It’s quite different to BE the woman. As empathy is not a characteristic patriarchal societies have encouraged in men, I doubt most men have seriously tried to understand what’s going through a woman’s head and why.

    Since it’s the straight white males who tend to resist changes the most, any move to give women some say-so in their reproduction inevitably encounters at least a little white privilege. Even the non-abortifacent contraceptives like the rhythm method will meet with resistance from some men who despise the idea of not getting as much sex whenever they want it from their ovulating wives.

    As strange as it sounds, adoption can be a “worst option” to a pregnant woman weighing the choice. If she keeps the child, her life will never be the same. Adoption leaves her wondering if someone is abusing the child and if the child will walk back into her life at some point. If she aborts the child, it’s over, done with, and she doesn’t have to wonder. The magazine First Things has a fascinating article from ’98 about this paragraph. (My old browser had trouble with FT’s site, so I found the text elsewhere.)

  12. Trini

    As a man, who would prefer to be ignorant and not form opinions on what a woman does with her body, I felt that I should not comment. As the conversation followed a very thinly veiled logic of white privilege I had to chime in, not being white and having none of that privilege, and growing up among women, only a mother and two sisters, with whatever male input from church, school and taxi drivers…

    I want to say women have a choice, as my feminist instincts kick in, but my moral conscience kicks in now to say that its more of a heavy, unasked-for responsibility. That being said, legislation makes no difference in whether a woman has abortions or not, and abortion is not a simple word, or a matter of yes and no. Several countries have broken down this question into several categories, as shown in the Reproductive Rights website. My own country, Trinidad and Tobago falls in the middle ground, which allows abortions to save a woman’s life, preserve her physical health, and protect her mental health. Countries go far and wide on these restrictions. My church association worked with and set up a pregnancy resource center in our country which sought to educate and empower women who were considering their options, and to connect them with resources to help them during and post-pregnancy.

    Most of the women choose to keep their babies, receiving assistance from the church for their economic reasons. Most of the people who came in to the center had economic reasons to do so, as they couldn’t afford to have a baby at that time in their life. When the center, the church, came alongside them, they were able to be in that place. Counter to that, the girls at my university or even in highschools whose parents could afford it, and were of a higher socioeconomic bracket, they all somehow knew where to get access to the ‘morning-after’ pills and even the doctors who’d do ‘back-room’ abortions. There are no abortion clinics in Trinidad, but somehow it still happens.

    I remember reading a story this year of a grandmother who helped her grand-daughter after she’d had a back-room abortion, she lay on her bed clutching her dead fetus. The grandmother upon seeing this cleaned up her grand-daughter and took the fetus and hastily buried the dead fetus in her backyard, before taking her grand-daughter to the emergency room, where all was eventually revealed. Where this is a will there is a way, for people who have money and people who don’t. I think governments have better things to do than waste tax-payers dollars debating abortion laws. People who want abortions will always find a way.

    I remember meeting a very outspoken public speaker, who shared her life with us when I was campus during my university years (10 years ago). She was talking about abstinence and eventually the conversation with us came around to abortion. Someone in the audience was commenting how days were different and our speaker didn’t understand the risks that young women face these days. The young lady was talking about rape, and the violence of it, and how under such circumstances the baby should be aborted, for many many reasons. It was then that our speaker, shared with us that she was a child of rape, and thanked God that her mother, believed in her as a gift from God.. and not punishment for someone else’s violent sin against her.

    So as Anabaptists, who value life, and as a Christian who sees God as life, I have to affirm life in every way. If we say we support life, we have to back it up with action. Not legislative action, but ‘love’ action. When your friend is scared and considering an abortion, we have to walk with them, that hard journey. What’s the point of having more starving babies coming into this world… my point isn’t that we don’t need more babies, my point is that we’re called to feed and clothe them. That being said, what happens in the US Supreme court is of no relevance to me, neither a victory nor an upset, as we’re called to live in a different way, under a different law.

  13. Forrest Moyer

    Forgive me. In my last post, I did fail to acknowledge the sins of many, many men in using women sexually and not taking responsibility for their own children. I am very aware of the prevalence of this problem among men, and I do not deny it. I wish God would do something so that men would be automatically responsible for their children, as well as women.

    What I was reacting to (perhaps carelessly) is the seemingly ever-present “let’s blame males again” phenomenon.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are many men out there who deserve blame, but I often feel that blame is leveled at mere “maleness” or masculinity. Not every bad thing is the fault of there being men in the world. Again, question me if you think I’m off track. I need sharpening….

  14. eric

    Forrest. I suppose we each find the other’s writing uncomfortable, and will find a way to manage. I’m not too worried :). Maybe I’m just not Anabaptist enough.

    I’m also not too worried about us men. But I think it is important to keep clear – a patriarchal system that favors men is a different thing from all men being evil and malicious. I like to think I’m not evil and malicious, but I am certainly part of a patriarchal system that gives me the privilege to vote on how women relate to their own bodies, without ever educating myself about what women deal with. The privilege is not in “not birthing” – yes, that is natural – but in the systems around us which are not.

    Enough about men, this is a post about abortion. Skylark says, and I think this is accurate, “Sentience is the criteria some use to determine which forms of life are acceptable for humans to take, and which are not.” If that is the case, can anyone really argue that there is anything tragic about abortions, most of which happen while the fetus is not more than a lump of cells.

    Tumors are also a lump of living cells, living parasitically of the host ‘parent’ and potentially hurting them.* The point being, it is not being “consistent” in a pro-sentient-human-life stance to be anti-abortion. It just doesn’t actually add up.

    *Yes, I just called fetuses parasites. I’m not being derogatory, I’m being literal. Look it up.

  15. michelle

    I have struggled with what sometimes seems to be my own inconsistent belief in pro-choice (and, yes, that’s pro-CHOICE, not pro-abortion… I am NOT pro-abortion) with my otherwise very strong feelings about not taking life through war, capital punishment, or other forms of violence. For me, this is not at all a black and white issue. It is incredibly complicated. And what makes it complicated is that I don’t buy the premise that abortion is “killing a baby,” as some have written here in previous posts. What makes it complicated is the question: When do cells become not just cells, but potential humans?

    For those of you who are anti-abortion (and I use that term, because I believe that’s what we’re talking about – we are talking about the fact that you consider abortion wrong in all (?) cases, and I don’t… and I think almost of us are “pro-life” in that we aren’t “pro-death” – but we all have our lines… most of us eat vegetables (and even meat, ie, animals) and contribute to cutting down trees through our use of resources… so we all have a line at which we can no longer be completely “pro-life”… but on to my question):

    Are you also against contraception? Because if you aren’t, then where, really, is the line? Every egg and sperm are a potential half-a-human. For that matter, what do you make of all the times women have periods and shed unused eggs? Is that lost life? What about times when men ejaculate with no possibility of that sperm meeting an egg? Again, is that lost life? Is that murder?

    If not, then where is the line? Is it simply when the egg and sperm meet? Why does it then suddenly become a problem?

    But I turn that question back on us pro-choice pacifists, too: When does it become a problem? If not in the first 6 weeks, because it is a mass of cells that doesn’t have consciousness, then is it a few months later? Is it when the organs form? Is it when the baby is born and thus, we define “murder” as any taking of life after the baby leaves the uterus? That seems a little simplistic, too.

    I am challenged by this issue.

    I guess I am pro-choice because I don’t believe that I should create laws for women (and men too, yes – they also deal with the outcome of whether or not an abortion takes place) when there are so many situations I cannot imagine. Some are financial, some are health-related, some are related to maturity, some are related to rape.

    It is the “moral” objections of the anti-abortionists that bother me most. There is an implication that the woman should have the baby because she didn’t take precautions (in the case of consensual sex – ie, we deem her a whore, or an irresponsible married woman) (and does she really not take precautions all by herself?), or because it is her duty to always protect life even when it was thrust upon her against her wishes (in the case of rape) or may hurt or even kill her in the process (in health-related issues).

    There are few other areas where we make people pay for their mistakes, or the mistakes of others, in such a complete and life-changing way as a baby affects a woman (or a couple). Why do we single this particular situation out?

    I am pro-choice, because I also don’t believe in telling someone they have to have an abortion.

    I am pro-choice because I value the woman’s life and body, and don’t believe a baby (and the responsibility that comes with it) is public domain. I don’t believe in telling people they have to have children they don’t want, for one reason or another.

    While all of this is complicated, yes, I also believe being pro-choice is very consistent with a (radical) belief in peace and justice. Abortion is not an easy choice. I don’t know anyone who has had an abortion and said it was a breeze, or that they felt so much better afterwards. But it can be the “best” choice out of many difficult and painful ones, and I believe that the people who make that choice have the right to make it.

  16. Skylark

    Forrest, you are forgiven, and if I came across as being anti-maleness, I also apologize. I’m not anti-men, nor am I opposed to men expressing themselves. But, I’m quite opposed to men expressing their maleness in oppressive ways. I’m glad men are in the world, and I am even more glad to interact with those who seriously take Jesus’ call to liberate the oppressed.

    Eric, I wasn’t actually talking about abortions when I said some people use sentience as the criteria for life-taking. Well, I was by extension, but I was referring to animals. Some people believe that since animals can feel pain (are sentient), humans should not kill them or inflict pain. If someone is opposed to “taking life,” and they’re only including humans in that, they need to know why. What about humans makes our lives special? What about animals makes it OK to kill them, inflict pain, use as we see fit, etc?

    These are not questions I see most Mennonites asking. Are we radical enough on YAR to ask them? (In another thread, not this one.)

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  18. Mary Meehan

    While a longtime admirer of the historic peace churches, I’ve always found it hard to understand how some folks can oppose war, yet not oppose abortion. There are so many similarities between the two: the violence, the targeting of civilians (and civilians only in the case of abortion), the euphemisms, the psychological problems shared by combat veterans and ex-abortion clinic workers (and, indeed, many women who have had abortions).

    I deeply believe tht everyone–not just Anabaptists–should be “anti-choice” both on abortion and on other types of killing. But we also must offer alternatives to every kind of killing. I try to do this on my web site,, which includes articles on “Peaceful Alternatives” and “Practicing What They Preach” and “Saving Lives through the Churches.”

  19. jdaniel

    Mary, I think many of us here find it equally confusing how someone can be vehemently opposed to abortion and at the same time support war and other forms of killing. I looked at your site, but I didn’t find anything about fertility clinics. Do you speak out about the number of embryos created and destroyed for the sake of the infertile? (that’s not all that fertility clinics do, of course)

    As a future physician, I have appreciated everyone’s commentary here. I imagine I will have to wrestle with these questions more in the future. I don’t have anything new to say really, but I do feel that there are significant “gray” aspects to this question. As others have pointed out, I think that as people who claim to value life, we should focus on that, and not as much on trying to “legislate morality” (my dad always said it would never work anyway).

    This morning I found this BBC article and thought it was relevant.

  20. Jerry C. Stanaway

    I have no respect for the “pro-choice” point of view since it advocates the legalized killing of innocent little babies through the violence of abortion. Legally, human rights should begin when human life begins, at the moment o fertilization.

  21. SteveK

    I have two comments on the abortion discussion in general:
    a. I am often disturbed by the lack of understanding between the two main viewpoints. They are each based on a philsophical (NOT religious, unless you are Catholic) answer to the question: When does human life begin? One viewpoint says that human life begins at conception, and that such a human being deserves all the rights and privleges of humans. The other point of view realistically says that human life– as far as rights and privliges go– begins at birth. In the ancient pagan world, human rights didn’t exist until much later in the human development. So, philosophically, there are different points of view. For the first point of view, it makes sense that the fetus has equal rights– not more than– to the mother, and so both should be treated with respect. The second point of view, while honoring all life, gives preference to the mother, and all points follow from that.

    The main issue is to understand that the point of view opposed to the one we hold is not evil incarnate, but simply a different point of view. If we react harshly to those who disagree with us, then we will never come to agreement, or even compromise.

    And this leads me to my second point. The responses in the abortion debate in society in large has been so dramatic and extreme, that it makes discussion about the subject almost impossible.

    Could it not be that Anabaptists, with concern for mediation and peacemaking, could open up this discussion to all, trying to understand the other point of view, even while disagreeing with it, setting aside the propoganda and seeing the true human feeling and compassion on both sides?

    I have hope in some of the present discussions about public policy, seeing possibilites that both sides might agree to having abortions reduced by reducing poverty, and increasing opportunities for well rounded education about sex and contraception.

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