Something about Abortion

Something about Abortion December 2, 2010

We’ve had an interesting comment thread going on Monday’s post, “Apple Pulls Manhattan Declaration App.”  We’ve had everyone from a legal scholar to conservatives who insist on calling me, “Mr. Jones,” weigh in.

I’ve been most engaged in a contretemps with my acquaintance, Bob Hyatt, a pastor and blogger whom I very much respect.   You can go to that post to read our comments.  The one thing that Bob seems to feel that I didn’t sufficiently address is the question, Does being pro-life make a person a misogynist? That’s what the MacWorld article to which I linked seemed to suggest, as did the original HuffPo article that seems to have moved Apple to drop the app.

As Bob wrote in one of his comments, rather pointedly, “as the child of a teen mother, I’m ardently pro-life. Am I a misogynist?”  I thought that question deserved a post, rather than a comment, in response, so here it goes:

1) Although Bob seems comfortable with it, I despise the terms, “pro-life” and “pro-choice.”  I think they fall far short of communicating the nuance and complexities of this issue.  Here’s why:

2) I believe that, whenever possible, a fetus/baby should be carried to full-term and delivered.  I believe this makes me “ardently pro-life.”

3) However, “life” does not begin at conception.  That is an untenable argument to make, since “60 and 80 percent of all naturally conceived embryos are simply flushed out in women’s normal menstrual flows unnoticed.” (from, “Is Heaven Populated Chiefly by the Souls of Embryos?“)  That means millions and millions of fetuses (or, “babies,” as some would have it) die every day. (HT: Keith DeRose)

4) Therefore, one cannot credibly argue that every conception that ends is a tragedy on par with the death of a walking, talking person.

5) So the “beginning of life” is a tricky, or impossible, thing to pin down scientifically (and morally and theologically), and the only real, concrete watershed moment in the process of conception, gestation, and birth is birth.

6) Given that between conception and birth is a biologically and morally ambiguous period, a woman does has marginally more right over her own body than our society does over the fetus/baby that she is carrying.

7) I know of several cases — persons very close to me — who have undergone medically-necessary abortions.

8) Medicine has overtaken biology in many cases, and fetuses/babies whom nature would not have provided for in earlier times are now delivered and nursed into life.  In the past, these children would have died within hours of delivery, or died in utero, thus adding to the moral ambiguity, even of the moment of birth.

7) It has been proven by our societal experience that outlawing abortion does not serve to protect fetuses/babies from being aborted.

8) The evangelical church has made a major mistake in attempting to elect politicians to solve this problem — basically, hiring someone to do the dirty work of passing legislation.

9) The church — both conservative and liberal — should quit trying to legislate and adjudicate this issue and should instead work hard at the meta-level, reshaping American society into a place of love and care so that the teenage moms, like Bob’s, and the other women who contemplate voluntary abortions might be overwhelmed with the amount of support and care they will receive should they choose to carry their fetus/baby to full term.

In conclusion, No, Bob, I do not think you’re a misogynist for being “ardently pro-life,” because I am, too.


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