After recently posting "An Email to a Concerned Friend" regarding my support for presidential candidate, Barack Obama, I received a separate email inquiring about Senator Obama's Pro-Choice stance. Here was my response:
Dear Hillary Fay,
Great to hear from you! Thanks for taking the time to read what I wrote to my friend, it was definitely an impassioned email. And thank you for writing me. I think it's neat the way people our age seem to be open to talking about these complicated matters. That is one of my hopes that our generation will be more open-minded about working together to improve the status quo.
So let's get to it! I'm going to try my best to respond, but I'm not very intelligent. And please don't take any of my explaining as though I would be attempting to educate you on the matter. I just feel the need to explain myself thoroughly on such a complex topic!
You are correct that the abortion issue is important. Personally I am pro-life and I would love to see women choose birth over abortion. I don't think that aborting a child is the ethical thing to do, and I too consider it murdering a human life.
Now, when we consider a fetus to be a human life then abortion is murder. That's easy. Right? Right. And I agree. And I don't think that many people would disagree with the idea that murdering human life is wrong. Most people would agree. So I don't think that the issue finds its complications here. (That is, on the "Murder" argument. Thanks to science and medicine I think most people would agree that abortion is killing a human life)
I do, however, think that the issue of abortion gets complicated when we begin the discussion of a government's right to force a citizen- well actually TWO citizens (the mother and the unborn child) - into a situation that the citizen does not want. This is extremely complicated because our original notion as a country was that the government would not control its citizens. If Roe v. Wade were overturned and women were forced to bear their children then this would be compromising one citizen's freedom for another's.
(I don't agree with my argument, I'm just pointing out the complexity)
Also, if Roe v. Wade were overturned and a law were passed to mandate childbearing, I really don't think abortions would cease. It MAY decline, but we both know it would not stop. Laws don't change people.
That being said, this is where I start to come to the issue from a different angle. And that is that abortion is a symptom. It is a symptom of a greater issue: unwanted pregnancy. And unwanted pregnancy is actually a symptom of irresponsible sexual behavior. So... the issue just got more complex!
If men/women are having sex outside of marriage then there are always going to be unwanted pregnancies. The issue of abortion then BEGINS with sex. (Obvious, yes, I know!) But I think this should have some affect on how we look at the issue. How should we then promote safe sexual behavior? How should we encourage male responsibility as opposed to men using women for their bodies and then leaving them with the decision-making? These are good questions to consider that may help prevent the unwanted pregnancies in the first place.
Then, I find myself attempting to empathize with one of these women. Wow. I can't imagine what it would be like. And when I try, I can almost understand why it would be easier to abort a child than to birth it. There would be so many things to consider. To name a few: relations with father, personal goals (job, school, etc.), economic status, pressure from family/community... That would be a lot to handle. Even if I did see abortion as murder, it might just look like the easiest thing to do.
Then, I try to imagine how women feel before, during, or after having an abortion. I cannot imagine the burden they must bare. I suppose that they are so distressed physically, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually that only God could ever empathize with their pain. It makes me wonder how much good an "ABORTION IS HOMICIDE" sweatshirt would really do for a woman who has experienced this. It makes me wonder just exactly what impact the protesters standing outside the clinic have on the women entering/exiting the clinic. (My personal opinion is that it must feel pretty terrible to be those women)
One small problem I have with many "Pro-Life" advocates is that they seem to care only about birth and not life altogether (as if to say "We just want the child to be born, then it's your problem"). The right to life should be granted as long as we live, not just at childbirth. So, in turn that should cause us to work for a heathy environment into which the child may be born. Better communities, healthcare, etc. And, personally, my Pro-Life stance means I am opposed to the death penalty (a completely other issue!) because I am FOR LIFE in all circumstances.
It is also very difficult when candidates use broad terms like "sanctity of life." Well, what does that mean? Does it mean you value ALL human life or just fetuses? Does that mean you don't want to see another civilian die in Iraq or that you're willing to sacrifice some lives for freedom? Does that mean that you want to save the thousands in Africa from dying of simple needs like water and basic healthcare or do you view their lives as less valuable? These are tough issues and I don't like that nonspecific rhetoric about "sanctity of life" that so many candidates use. It allows them to sound universally ethical.
So basically I've only discussed a little of the abortion issue. You asked me how I balance my political views with this very important matter. It's a good question... I'll do my best to respond.
When it comes to politics no one gets a Cinderella candidate, we all have to sacrifice in some areas. For me, I try to compromise in areas where I think I can still make a difference, even if I disagree with my candidate. I think that the citizens of the US can impact the abortion issue more significantly than our foreign policy. I mean, if 10's of 1,000's of protesters can't even budge our governments' foreign policy then I'm going to vote for an anti-war candidate!
What could we do as citizens even if our President is pro-choice? Well, that's tough. Maybe write letters to congress. Maybe try to investigate and treat the CAUSES of unwanted pregnancies instead of just discussing abortion alone. Maybe that could come through sexual education classes, supplying contraceptives, after school programs that keep kids busy, or other community aide. Or maybe through funding adoption agencies and orphanages. I don't know. It's difficult. But I think that we could do a better job to begin healing the causes of unwanted pregnancy - that just may take a President who rebuilds communities and gives people more self-value and purpose.
And, I also think that no President is going to overturn Roe v. Wade. I just really doubt that will happen. Therefore, I don't believe most campaign promises that are made about abortion. Take Bush for example, our Christian president for 8 years has done nothing except pass the Partial-Birth Abortion Act. Albeit that's great, it's probably not exactly what most Pro-Lifers hoped for, and it certainly has not ceased abortions in America.
In the end, Hillary Fay, I think that the abortion issue is going to take a brand new conversation. I think it's going to take a willingness to see the seekers of abortion as real women with real needs, not just murderers. And I think we're going to have to trade our "firm stances" and condemning bumper stickers for listening ears and loving dialogue that asks questions like "What can I personally do to help a woman who desires an abortion? What can I do to make sure this newborn child receives good care? How can I help others begin to see the abortion issue as complex and messy, not black & white? How can I help heal the broken hearts of mothers who have aborted children?"
It's not easy. Not at all. But I'm gonna stand with you on the Pro-Life side of things because I believe that all human beings are valuable and deserve life. The question is, what can we do whether Obama or McCain or Romney or Clinton become president? Because I don't think the election of any of them will be the once-and-for-all solution to this problem.
I'm sorry this was so long. These matters are too complex to write a paragraph on! I hope this helps a bit.