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Further Thoughts on the Texas Abortion Decision: Framing the Question

Further Thoughts on the Texas Abortion Decision: Framing the Question July 2, 2013

An Ideal World

I’m with Rick Perry, Governor of Texas (whom I personally find embarrassing in his egomaniacal drive to become President of the US) on one thing only:  in an ideal world, there would be no abortions.

But also in an ideal world there would be cohesive families, no rape or incest, no fetal deformities incompatible with life,  no spousal/girlfriend abuse, no abandoned mothers/children, affordable health care and insurance, high quality subsidized day-care available to all who need it, an economy that makes meaningful work available to all, an educational system that does not shortchange the poorest of the poor, and religious practices that show the world what real, sacrificial love looks like.

Last time I checked, we don’t live in a world like that. It is right for us as a society to see how we can do that. The government must be in the business of creating just laws that protect the innocent and move us toward a healthier society.

Please note:  I am not pro-abortion. Nonetheless as others have said, and whose words I echo, abortion should still be legal, safe and very, very rare. I stand with Wendy Davis and the other protestors in Austin right now because the bill that Perry is pushing through does not address the real issues underlying the a culture that has made abortion a too reasonable option.

Reframing the Question

The question itself must be reframed.

Last week at a Board Meeting for the child care ministry at our church, Children’s Day Out, the Board and staff were wrestling with the question, “Do we implement a feeding program so we can provide breakfasts and lunches?” We were wandering through cost sheets, the current labyrinth tuition setup, and the question of how many of our families will qualify for free or reduced meals. General frustration was arising.

I stopped them and said, “I think we need to reframe the question: If you know what your mission is, then you will be able to know your direction.”

The atmosphere changed immediately as we realized that the mission of the program itself had changed over the years but had never been clarified again.  A few moments later, we had it:  “The Mission of CDO is to offer a childcare facility with a loving nurturing Christian School atmosphere where we partner with parents to build healthy minds, bodies and souls in their children.”

At the point, the question shifted from “Do we implement a feeding program” to “HOW do we do this?” We got past that blockade by thinking bigger for a moment.  Now the details can fall into place.

“Do We Want Abortion?” is NOT the Question

I think the same methodology applies to the abortion situation. The question is not, “Do we want abortions?” with simplistic  “yes/no” the only options for answers.

The real question is: “How can we create a state/nation that values human life, respects the dignity of all humanity (including expectant mothers and developing fetuses), and seeks equal justice for the poor and disenfranchised?”

With a much wider question like this, the debate can be reframed and abortion laws clarified. Yes, 20 weeks of gestation seems like a reasonable limit, with room for the occasional exception, when such a painful act becomes necessary and yes facilities need oversight. But there is more: we must find and fund better ways to help expectant mothers see better options AND work on changing the culture of children having children and of irresponsible men and women who engage thoughtlessly in acts that have life-changing possibilities.

Address the System, not the Symptom

We must think bigger and address the system of societal unhealth, not the symptom of societal unhealth. The current legislation is the medical equivalent of putting a small bandage over a giant pus-filled wound which continues unhindered to pump out poison into the entire body.

I implore lawmakers to do their tasks with dignity. The stakes are eternal here–and to play with these things motivated solely by electability and along partisan lines denies the whole idea of the reason for the kind of government we say we want.


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