Why I Support Planned Parenthood

Why I Support Planned Parenthood August 17, 2015
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Unlike IVF patients, who are primarily wealthy and white, women who have abortions are disproportionately poor and women of color, groups it has always been popular to condemn and regulate.

 This quotation from a Washington Post article on the free and uncondemned donation of embryos created by IVF for research purposes sums up the real issue: those in power get what they want essentially without repercussions.

But for those without power, money and influence, then it is shame, shame and more shame on the women who had unprotected sex, either willingly or unwillingly.

I don’t like abortion. I wish we lived in a perfect world with perfect people and perfect, always planned pregnancies and perfectly healthy mothers and perfectly supportive fathers and a perfectly fair economy where all can find adequate financial means to raise the perfect children that result from such a world.

I wish we lived in a world where rapists don’t exist, and even better where theology doesn’t support rape (ISIS style here, Christian fundamentalist style here).

I wish I lived in a world where male relatives don’t force themselves on the women and children trapped in their homes. Note this story about an eleven-year-old, impregnated by her stepfather, and then denied an abortion by the state.

In the mostly Catholic country, 684 girls between the ages of 10 and 14 gave birth last year. Most of the minors had been victims of sexual abuse, according to government figures. A Paraguayan law bans abortions except in cases where the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life.

I wish I didn’t live in a world where men get back pats for having multiple sex partners even as they happily infect far more vulnerable heterosexual women to AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases.

There are lots of things I wish.

I suspect we’d all like a perfect world. I also suspect we’d all describe a perfect world differently. Some might describe a perfect world as a place where any man gets to rape any woman he/she wants and then gets to force her to carry all pregnancies to term.

I describe a perfect world as one where all life is held as sacred and all people seen as those created in the image of God and deserving of respect, equal treatment and equal privilege.

In this imperfect world in which we currently live, women pay a far higher price than any man does for what are often his actions and his insistence. Women are the ones who show the outward evidence of having had sex which results in pregnancy. Women’s bodies often suffer for the privilege of bringing new lives into the world. Women’s careers and economic outlets tend to slow or even totally derail by the joys and responsibilities of caring for and nurturing those offspring.

Simply put, babies should be planned and welcomed, no matter what the economic class one belongs to. Here is where Planned Parenthood has played a vital role in helping women do exactly that: plan and welcome their babies.

Yes, the secretly recorded videos with their slanted and edited snips made me ill to watch. Yes, there are way too many abortions taking place for convenience.

But by outlawing abortion, we pave the way for far more outlaw abortions.

By making it more and more impossible for impoverished women to have access to family planning services, we open the door to return to the horror of back-alley abortions and all the damage they do.

I was one of the lucky ones. Each of my children was carefully planned and fully wanted. Would that the entire world would share in that privilege.

But this is what we have before us now:  Rich and powerful men seek to punish poor women for having unprotected sex. I bet, and I admit I have no facts behind this, that the daughters of those rich and powerful ones still got and will get their abortions when they find themselves unhappily, embarrassingly  and inconveniently pregnant.  [getty src=”159627272?et=ck-9YHh4TVVV5MHEkO01FQ&viewMoreLink=off&sig=47j0kSt7V8c1NxKcrCSF0Wlgc9q25H7HJlHyuJZmV_k=” width=”380″ height=”253″]

Personally, as a pastor, as a Christian, as one who sees all life as holy, I don’t like the position I am taking here. I know it is a compromise with the brokenness in our world. But I am taking a stand with those who say that abortion should be safe, legal and as rare as possible.

Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee commented this past weekend on a 10-year-old rape/incest victim who was forced to carry the baby to term.

Huckabee is willing to carry the “no abortion under any circumstances” to the absolute extreme. By so doing, he and others of the same stance (presidential candidates Scott Walker and Marco Rubio, for example) place the life of the fetus above the life of the girl who has been already tragically violated.

However, even the Bible, which most anti-abortionists cite as their authority, does not take such an extreme position. Note what Exodus 21:22-25 (NRSV) says:

When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no further harm follows, the one responsible shall be fined what the woman’s husband demands, paying as much as the judges determine. If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
Just before this, however, is a much stronger command:
Whoever curses father or mother shall be put to death. (Exodus 21:17) 

Some who say they honor the Bible ignore the earlier command as barbaric, and expand to the absurd the second. They end up making their own stance barbaric.

Surely the kingdom of heaven includes a more just world, a world where everyone, including poor and disadvantaged women, have the right to see their bodies as holy and sacred.

Under the growing and draconian abortion restrictions, women’s bodies become nothing but vessels to be used at will by someone else, and without concern as to what harm may befall them in the process.

That is simply wrong.

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  • Internetamerica

    Couldn’t read your message. L

    Sent from my iPad


  • Lynda Schupp

    I agree. I realize there are times when abortion is the better solution to a very bad situation. It is sad for many different reasons. I don’t want them totally banned. I am for making them as safe as possible. I would like to see more information on birth control and abstinence.

    • We do absolutely need far, far better sex education and early teaching and availability of birth control methods.

  • mrsredboots

    Here in the UK it isn’t really an issue. I dislike the idea of abortion, but in many cases it’s the “least worst” option. And women have always sought, and will always seek abortions, for whatever reason, good or bad – and I’m glad that in this country they can have one, legally and safely, without risking their lives.

    Incidentally, if those who would ban all abortions will not also set up legislation to provide for these children who would not otherwise have been born, then they are not pro-life, they are merely pro-birth, not caring what happens to the child once it’s born. It always amuses me that many of the same people are pro-capital punishment (which is also not an issue here – it is considered a major, major violation of human rights).

    • Yes, there is an interesting disconnect for the so-called “pro-life” folks with their pro-capital punishment stance. Never have understood that.

    • Looks like I just reiterated your thoughts.

      If we restrict abortion access, shouldn’t welfare benefits for families get a bump? And should congregations make ministry to families their first priorities?

  • Just one dimension that makes abortion a more justifiable choice for poor women is that our elected officials don’t prioritize policy that give poor women and children an avenue out of crushing poverty.

    If we put our tax money where our religion is, would our welfare budgets look different?

    • It’s a great question. Our policies make is nearly impossible to rise from that spot of utterly degrading poverty. Just heartbreaking.

  • Carolyn

    Thanks for stating your position, Christy. I agree that abortion should be safe, legal and rare. Many of the pro-birth people I know would argue that pregnancies should be carried to term and if the mother is unable to support the child, that he or she should be given up for adoption. For many pro-birthers, this seems like a win-win proposition. Except it often isn’t. As a counselor, adults adopted as infants or young children make up a disproportionate number of my clients. Though raised in good families, the broken bond with their birth mother is a pain they carry daily with constant reminders of being “given up.” Adoption is not a perfect solution either.

  • Christy: As always, I appreciate your well thought out and well stated discussion of one of the most divisive issues of our time. I recently completed a series in which I was the co-moderator which was based on and utilized the book and video by Adam Hamilton called Confronting the Controversies.
    As a result of that coupled with many other things in my life and career experiences, I have finally reached a conclusion that is really inescapable and I am amazed that I have not focused on analyzing issues of this type in the context of it well before now. My conclusion, although it may seem simplistic, is that all these issues are about justice. I don’t mean justice as a substitute for vengeance or justice served because the punishment “fits the crime” I mean justice as social justice as outlined by John Wesley and many others. I mean justice in its truest sense to include scriptural or biblical justice. I doubt any rational person would say they are a “fan” of abortion. The very subject arises because of issues and problems of an overwhelming nature that surround a particular pregnancy. I suppose there are those who actually look at abortion as just an alternative method of birth control to be used anytime other methods are ineffective or to be utilized as a matter of convenience. I am not addressing that circumstance at all. On the other hand, what about the circumstance of the powerless, vulnerable, exploited, marginalized woman or young girl caught in an untenable situation. Where is her justice? Christians and others for that matter are mandated by faith to act with love, kindness, and compassion and to seek true justice. We are to recognize that after all there are three things–faith, hope, and love and the greatest of these is love. How do we square this with hard line, no exceptions, no access for the powerless laws and policies. I believe we must seek true justice in all things tempered by mercy. Sorry this was so long!

    • Don, thank you for taking the time to write all this out. I’d like to copy your reply and put it on a Facebook discussion where I am taking much heat for my stance. Please let me know if that would be OK.

      • Don Windle

        Certainly. If what I said would be of assistance in discussing this controversial issue, please feel free to do so.

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