While we’ve known it was coming for weeks now, this past week The United States Supreme Court overturned the court case from the 1970s which served as the primary framework for allowing women to terminate pregnancies in this country. And while this decision doesn’t outright ban abortion in America, it turns the decision over to each state, meaning that in a majority of states, something that was legal just days ago, is suddenly illegal.
Many organizations here in Wisconsin have already cut off options they have offered for decades, with little to no warning.
Now, I’ll admit, I’ve long had struggles with the topic of abortion. And, as a man, I’m honestly not the best choice of person for trying to make any sweeping statements about how women should be allowed to do what they consider best for their own bodies.
I’ve watched first-hand as my wife has gone through at least five different pregnancies (two of which were ended prematurely through unfortunately natural means). Each one had its own impacts on her body. And each one had me terrified at one point or another that I could lose her to the impacts those pregnancies had on her. I have personally spent long periods of time in my anxiety-ridden pre-dad brain trying to think of how I would respond if the decision were left to me to choose between my wife and my unborn child. And I feel lucky in many ways that as a man, I’ve never had to make that decision.
And while I believe in the idea of the sanctity of life, I’m not sure that this is what the discussion actually ends up being about in our current debates regarding abortion. It tends to be far more political than that. And in so many situations, especially now that we have changed the rules of termination, we find ourselves considering the life of the unborn is more important than any other life, or their life after birth. This isn’t about the sanctity of life, this is about power. This is about control.
For ages now, we’ve seen the poor in this country cut off from the education, the support, or the finances necessary to A. Have better ways to keep from getting pregnant in the first place or B. Support the child after it is born. Our foster care systems are overwhelmed with children born to parents who simply can’t or won’t be responsible for them. In 2020, over 38 million Americans struggled to feed themselves or their families. Over 10 percent of our country spent at least a portion of that year not knowing where they were going to get their next meal. 1 in 7 households with children could not buy enough food for their family that year. In America, a country known for its wealth and enormous farms, a significant portion of our countrymen struggled to live because they couldn’t find food.
If life is sacred, surely that includes the life of those outside the womb as much as those inside of it, doesn’t it?
Planned Parenthood has been the target for anti-abortionists for as long as I can remember because of how they provide options for terminating pregnancies, but are completely overlooked for all they have done to try to limit the amount of pregnancies that occur in the first place. Anti-abortionists have bombed these exact locations which have been actively working to decrease unwanted pregnancies because of the fact that they also have given options for people who simply can’t take care of a child on their own.
The debate about abortions is far more nuanced than simply about whether we should kill babies or not. There are health issues for mothers that come into play, health issues for fetuses, as well as the overall questions of incest and rape which often get completely ignored because there aren’t easy answers. Pregnancy is not like some simple common cold condition that will go away soon with no real lasting impacts. You don’t just wait 10 months (or 9 if you want to count the way we used to when I was a kid) and eat a bunch of ice cream and pickles until the baby’s out. That’s only the beginning, not the end. Especially for that child.
Out of all of the people I have known to have gotten abortions, not a single one of them took that decision lightly. I have never had a discussion with someone who was eager to end the life inside of them. It was a weighed decision which took time. If anything, with the fact that we’re decreasing the time people have to make decisions about whether or not to terminate their pregnancies, we’re looking at a probable increase in overall abortion rates.
In short, I think everything about this was short sighted. And this is coming from someone who cringes at the idea of ending any life short.
But then again, our country is long past the ability for nuanced discussion about any politicized topic. It has all become a black or white question of morality.
And that’s terrifying to me.
But my fear doesn’t end there. Because considering this is primarily a religious/political discussion, this feels like only the beginning of something far larger. For more terrifying.
While there are plenty of places in which the Bible talks about the sanctity of life, there are really only a few places that are typically applied to the discussion of abortion. The primary one used by many folks is in Psalm 51:5 where the writer mentions being conceived in sin. Now, the main takeaway many take here is that this means we are alive at conception because we are sinful at conception. However, considering the idea of original sin, that the sins of Adam are passed on to his entire lineage, it’s pretty simple to see that this could simply be a statement that once you exist in any form, you exist in a world of sin, not necessarily a statement of when life begins. In fact, there are places such as Jeremiah 1:5 where God is talked about as knowing a person before they are even formed in the womb, which would presumably be even before conception, presenting the idea of existence prior to existence in the womb. Although, the Jeremiah verse is also often used as a statement against abortion.
The other big thing which comes into play here is the concept of every sperm being sacred, which ultimately comes from the story of Onan, whose favorite method of finishing relations with his wife is known today as the pull-out method. God put Onan to death, in fact. Of course, there was a bigger issue here in that he was told by God, through Judah, that he was to impregnate his wife, so, there might be something here about disobeying an order from the Almighty, more than that he was wasting his seed.
But, even more importantly, there are only a handful of Biblical verses Christians have to support their reasoning behind their thoughts. Mostly Old Testament verses. On things people of the Jewish faith typically don’t see the same way.
The big fear I see here then is with the concept of what happens when these Christians in power start realizing there’s actually one theme repeated throughout the Bible more than any other one. That of faith. That faith is the most important thing for humans to be saved. Jesus himself says it all the time. If we’re using legislation to enact the will of God as we see it, what do we do with the knowledge that his greatest will is for all men to be saved? Create a new Holy Roman Empire where it’s literally illegal to believe anything outside of the government’s official religion?
Yeah, sure that’s a wild example, but the point here is that it terrifies me to think that our legislation could be so focused on the faith of one group. And, even the religious among you should be terrified of that exact same thing.