Speaking Personally- A Pro-Life Series: Part III

Matters of Compassion
I think of myself as a compassionate person. It’s the reason why I find the idea of an abortion repugnant. So, how do I answer the pro-choice side’s call for compassion for a desperate mother who “exercises her right to choose?” How do I respond to intelligent women, many of whom are my contemporaries, when they express to me their fears over what Justice Amy Coney Barrett could do to “reproductive rights?”
There are two circumstances that always seem to come up in a choice/life debate: exceptions for cases of rape or incest. Without dismissing these exceptions out of hand, I must first say that arguing from exceptions is never compelling. That is, making a rule to accommodate a small minority of circumstances is not logical, but much more importantly, in the case of abortion, it is not acceptable. Compassion for the mother’s circumstances cannot void the unborn child’s humanity. 
In the more common circumstance, one in which abortion is a form of birth control, I still have nothing but compassion for a woman who feels unable to keep or care for her child. Despite certain Netflix specials featuring a woman in a marching band costume, throwing glitter in the air with a gleaming smile yelling, “Get an abortion,”* I understand that choosing an abortion is a heavy decision, rarely made lightly, and often fraught with regret. Yet the gravity of the decision for the mother does not void an unborn child’s humanity. 
Consider the classic ethical dilemma: would you steal food to feed your starving family? Just like with an unwanted pregnancy, most of the circumstances that lead a person to such a crucible are deserving of compassion. A pro-theft debater could take the position that everyone has a fundamental right to eat, and a parent has a duty to provide. But, stealing is still wrong. More to the point, there is no reason to steal because there are numerous ways to access food for a needy family, even here in Willow Springs. 
Think about the options available to a woman faced with an unwanted pregnancy 40 years ago. She could have been fired for being pregnant. She might not have had a say in her own medical care if she were married. She might have been shamed by society if she was unmarried. There were few options for her to obtain public assistance.
Today women, married or not, have complete control over their own medical choices. In Missouri, most women have access to free medical care during and after pregnancy. Food stamps are an option, as is WIC, as are many, many food pantries and other private services. Federal law says her employer must hold her job for six weeks if she has been employed there a year or more. There are childcare assistance options, reduced cost lunch programs, and tax credit options available. These days, it would be considered shameful to shame a single mom. Women facing an unplanned pregnancy today have so many choices. 
The one choice they should not have is to still a beating heart, no matter the circumstance of how that soul blinked into existence in their womb. We live in a world in which tragic, unspeakable things happen every day. Children are sometimes conceived in a violent, nonconsensual way, and that is awful. Women who are the victims of such circumstances absolutely deserve our compassion. They deserve access to every resource we can offer them. That compassion, however, cannot void the unborn child’s humanity.
Assuming I have convinced you on every point so far, I think there remains one more compelling pro-choice argument to dispel. What would we have to fear in a world in which abortions are no longer legal and presumably safe? I will take up this topic in the next installment of this series.
*This highly offensive image is courtesy of the Netflix program, The Break with Michelle Wolf. A simple internet search should lead you to her skit, “Salute to Abortion.”


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