I never had an abortion in my childbearing years and never wanted one. Yet I can imagine circumstances in which I would have done so: a severely deformed or dying fetus; trapped in an abusive relationship; raped by a man I would never choose to father my child.
We Americans are righteous. We can walk in someone else’s shoes. This new Texas law is foreign to American values. Texas is no model: it has the largest population of poor children in the country. It is the state with the highest rate of uninsured. It’s no coincidence that about 70 percent of abortions in Texas involve women of color.
Petty and vindictive rulers would punish rape victims by forcing them to bear the rapist’s child. Another sign of moral regression: the incorporation of bounty hunting, a medieval practice still legal only in the United States and the Philippines.
The whole abortion controversy is submerged in a quagmire of muddled language, lies of omission and logical errors, including the false assumption that making abortion illegal will end it. History and world experience show that criminalization hardly affects the numbers, but simply makes abortions unsafe.
Opponents of abortion ignore the economy. The average cost for a normal birth without insurance is $ 10,000, and much more for a cesarean, complications, premature or low birth weight babies. In Arkansas, 12% of women are uninsured. Even policyholders pay thousands because of the high deductibles. Covid unemployment, odd-job economy, automation make working life less secure. The majority of young parents (85%) report spending at least 10% of their income on child care.
Words matter. You can’t redefine them willy-nilly. Until recently, everyone knew what a baby was: a baby was born. The terms embryo and fetus date back to the 14th century.
People have argued since ancient times about exactly when the fertilized egg becomes a person, with a soul. Various religions differ in this regard. In practice, we cannot determine the time of conception, whether it is fertilization or implantation in the uterus a few days later. Between one third and one half of all fertilized eggs fail to implant.
Brain activity does not involve consciousness. Sustainability depends on the state of medical science. Instead of absolute answers, one philosopher suggests that there are degrees of “right to life”. This is reflected in law and in practice. Ninety-one percent of abortions occur at or before 13 weeks.
By claiming that a first trimester abortion is the equivalent of infanticide, someone becomes a knight in shining armor, preventing the “murder” of “babies”. More sincere pro-life people are actively trying to help women with unplanned pregnancies. At best, this sets up adoptions or helps women with immediate needs. (The first year of diapers and formula costs about $ 2,700.)
Pro-life is a term chosen for its propaganda value to describe a very limited program. If you were truly pro-life, you would do something about our country’s disgracefully high maternal mortality rate (55th in the world) and infant mortality rate nearly double that of the European Union. You would work for world peace and disarmament; you would be a climate change activist and an environmentalist.
Even limited to “unborn”, the movement ignores several real dangers for this population. The first is toxic pollution caused by smog, heavy metals, cigarette smoke, forest fires, pesticides, industrial emissions and many other sources. Second, domestic violence: According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 324,000 pregnant women are abused each year. Third, the global threats to pregnant women from war and famine. (But this is all really about America and American politics, isn’t it?)
What Does the Bible Say About Abortion? Well, really nothing. Southern Baptists did not speak out against abortion until the 1980s. Despite church doctrine, about half of lay Catholics want it to remain legal. The same is true of the majority of non-evangelical Protestants, Jews, and most of those without religious affiliation (now a quarter of us). Those who would like to impose their own beliefs on the whole country are too close to the establishment of a state religion.
Like the majority of Americans, I want abortion to remain a choice. We could also imitate countries with lower abortion rates than ours.
Here are some ways and means to reduce the number of abortions: 1. Cheap contraceptives, easily available, free in health plans; 2. Universal health care; 3. Higher minimum wage; 4. Parental leave; 5. Affordable and high quality child care services; 6. Secondary level parenting courses for girls and boys; 7. Continuation of research on contraceptives, in particular for men; and 8. A child allowance (no social assistance) as in a dozen other rich countries.
Coralie Koonce is a writer living in Fayetteville. His latest book is “Twelve Dispositions: A Field Guide to Humans”.