Abortion is the most controversial and divisive topic in our culture. It seems we’re totally unable to talk about it without a heated debate. Both sides choose to attack the other side rather than talk about our differences. If only we could stop and listen to the other side, perhaps we could make meaningful progress.
It seems we’re divided down the middle on the issue and, for the most part, are unwilling to explore things any differently than we previously viewed things.
ONE ISSUE / TWO BATTLEFIELDS
If you read any opinion piece on abortion, a clear bias quickly comes into play. They either talk about how women’s rights are being attacked (Pro-Choice) or how the unborn are being killed without restraint (Pro-Life). You don’t find pieces which talk about the issue holistically; they pick one front and go after their angle with a particular passion.
This is absolutely fascinating to me. The most debated issue of our time is broken into two sides, and each side debates the issue entirely on their front.
Here’s where things get complicated: when we debate abortion, we talk about the issue from our view point. Pro-Life people talk about abortion in regards to the unborn. Pro-Choice people only discuss the issues in regard to women’s rights. There’s not an actual discussion of the issues. There’s just, typically, twisting and simplifying a complicated issue to fit their particular perspective.
SPINNING THE OTHER SIDE
Check out any comment section on an article on abortion, and you will find some of the most ignorant comments of your entire life. Everyone frames the arguments in the most one-sided, absurd fashion imaginable.
The Pro-Choice Side:
- “They’re just old white men that want to control women!”
- “They’re waging a war against women!”
As someone who runs in Pro-Life circles, both of these are absurd statements. Some of the most Pro-Life people I know are women. They aren’t waging a war against themselves or other women; They care about the unborn. But, because each side of this issue wages war on their own side, the Pro-Choice side must frame things as a war against women, instead of the protecting of the unborn.
But this imbalance plays out on both sides…
The Pro-Life Side:
- “They’re pro-abortion!”
- “They just want to kill babies!”
The problem with these claims is that they aren’t true. Most people who are pro-choice don’t like abortion. They heavily support programs which will prevent women from getting pregnant in the first place, and programs which provide government services for those who have an unwanted pregnancy.
This is the Pro-Life side doing battle on the unborn born baby front of the issue. Therefore, they present the Pro-Choice side in the worst light possible. That means Pro-Choice = Pro-Abortion. Pro-Choice means they want the unborn to be killed. There’s no discussion of the woman in the equation, except to shame her.
You look at some of the phrases thrown out there, and they’re flat-out ridiculous.
PAYING ATTENTION TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE
Each side seems to only care about certain people affected by abortion and pregnancy.
The Pro-Choice crowd pay attention to the woman and the child (post-birth). This plays out in a number of ways. They push hard for laws which give women access to contraception and condoms. The Pro-Choice side believes you can avoid abortion by avoiding pregnancy (which isn’t a crazy idea). They elect to attempt to make it easier for women to avoid pregnancy.
Furthermore, they tend to support government programs which would help women who give birth to “unexpected” children. There are countless welfare programs that help those who are most likely to have abortions that are supported primarily by people who are pro-choice.
Here’s an assortment of comments from some of the pro-choice camp:
- Pro-Choice cares about stopping the woman from getting pregnant before the unwanted pregnancy
- Pro-Choice cares about the woman and her body during the pregnancy.
- Pro-Choice cares about the child after the birth.
On the flip-side, you have the pro-life crowd supporting the unborn child. They see the unborn as a person who should have rights (this is the side, for the record, that I am on). Therefore, they fight for any laws which protect the unborn child.
- Pro-Life only seems interested in the unborn baby during the pregnancy.
However, both sides ignore the people which don’t fit neatly into their side of the issues. So, the pro-life side doesn’t consider the woman and the child after birth, and the pro-choice side doesn’t factor in the unborn life being aborted.
Likewise, I’m not sure how helpful it is for the pro-life side to call the pro-choice side baby killers. It does nothing but distance two sides relationally which are already opposed.
Here’s a video of a politician attempting to ban abortion fully admitting he’s never considered the other side’s perspective.
FRUSTRATED FIGHTING FOR LIFE
When talking about abortion, frustrated isn’t even close to the right word to describe the Pro-Life’s perspective on the abortion issue.
Stop and consider this:
- The majority of people who are pro-life believe the unborn are still fully alive humans.
- Each day there are 4,000 abortions in the United States and 125,000 abortions globally.
- That means, to someone who is pro-life, we are currently living in an era of continuous holocaust against the unborn.
Some people on the pro-choice side throw out phrases, like “Don’t like abortion, don’t have one.” That might be the worst line you can throw at someone who is pro-life. Using basic logic, you can apply that same reasoning to any number of other scenarios, and it’s clearly silly.
- Don’t like murder, don’t kill someone.
- Don’t like spousal abuse, don’t hit your spouse.
- Don’t like slavery, don’t own one.
- Don’t like the Holocaust of WWII, don’t turn in your Jewish friends.
If you use that same logic with anything else, it sounds insane. In particular with slavery and the Holocaust, the people justifying such behavior didn’t think they were doing something wrong, but the other side did. To generalize, people of the North didn’t think kidnapped Africans should be treated as property. Simply telling them, “Don’t like slavery, don’t own one,” doesn’t address the tragedy they would see at the thought of owning another human.
Now, look at the issue of abortion. I understand that we don’t all agree on when life begins. What I don’t understand is people who treat flippantly that others believe 125,000 lives end daily due to abortion. You may not agree with me, but that does not negate where I’m coming from. I view this as an ongoing holocaust. And the numbers over time dwarf the Holocaust of WWII.
So telling me, “Don’t like abortion, don’t have one,” tells me you don’t understand, and you don’t care where I’m coming from.
More importantly, if we’re going to error on this issue, shouldn’t we err on the side of life?
PROGRESS REQUIRES UNDERSTANDING
To make any progress, it requires that we understand where the other side is coming from, and make progress on the issues they care about.
Those who are pro-life don’t want to control women. When you scream at them about controlling women, you’re talking to something that they’re not trying to do. Instead, find a way to show that you acknowledge that they actually believe the unborn have the right to life. That isn’t just language. They actually believe abortion ends a life. You will not make any progress until you can speak on their terms. You have to understand that every abortion mandate they attempt to pass is led by a heart to save unborn lives.
Likewise, those who are pro-choice don’t just want to kill babies. They’re concerned about the government forcing women to follow through with pregnancies which have serious life and financial ramifications. They don’t want the government telling women what to do with their bodies. They also see unwanted children being raised by unfit parents. You have to understand their actions are led by a desire to help women and children in tough situations.
- Are you pro-life enough that you would support a government program which would prevent unwanted pregnancy?
- Are you willing to acknowledge there is more than just the woman to consider during pregnancy?
TO BE HONEST
I do not understand the pro-choice side. I can understand someone who is moderately pro-choice for first trimester abortions. But as a father of one with one on the way, I cannot understand the pro-choice position. I can write on it with some objectivity but, in my heart, I just remember the joy of finding out my wife was pregnant both times. Losing our future child would be devastating. It has never once occurred to me to call my future daughter a fetus.
This is where I really struggle with the issue. Unwanted pregnancies are called fetuses, and wanted pregnancies are called babies. I don’t know what happens in other households, but I can’t imagine a family that wants their child calling their unborn child a fetus.
I really struggle with the idea that a wanted pregnancy is a baby, and an unwanted pregnancy is a fetus. We mourn miscarriages and accidents which terminate pregnancy for the loss of life, but abortion is tragic because it is a difficult decision.
The value of a child shouldn’t be based on whether it’s wanted or not.