The Heart of the Abortion Debate Within Our Culture: Part I

A friend of mine wrote the following poem, which mentions some concerns – some of the more “stickier” issues, no doubt – regarding the abortion debate. It is written from the perspective of the child in the womb.
It must be noted that the poem only describes just one of many possible situations and set of circumstances that may be faced by women who are pregnant.

I will never get a chance to live my life
Because you were afraid of hardship and strife
Didn’t you know that you would be blessed?
While you were moaning, “YES, YES, YES!”

I’ll never see the world or be set free
Because your only thought was “ME, ME, ME!”
Really our situation is not even that sad
There are worse cases that would make even you feel bad

But they chose an alternative solution
It was long and hard like solving pollution
But meant life for me, what’s my life worth?
Is it worth going through child birth?

How can the World let this happen, have we lost our Dignity
Or is it worse? Have we already lost our Humanity?
What about my Daddy? Doesn’t he get a say?
Please don’t do this! There must be another way

Let’s pick apart this poem stanza by stanza. In light of the wonderful semester I have spent with the University of Toronto Students for Life (UTSFL), I thought it would be an effective way to shed some light on what the pro-life movement, and those within it, may have to focus on when speaking to others about the issue.

The first stanza picks up on what would arguably be the heart of the abortion issue: the idea of choice. People, in almost all cases, can choose to have sex. I do not intend to go down the whole debate of that choice, because it is irrelevant to the matter at hand. There is, however, something that people who choose to engage in sex need to clearly understand…
Sometimes, when you have sex, you get pregnant.
This is a fact. It sounds so straightforward and seems so obvious. But this is crucial, and the disconnect between sex and pregnancy that many are making needs to be taken seriously.
So, if you do get pregnant, what does this mean? When you intentionally terminate a pregnancy, what exactly are you choosing to do?
Anti-abortionists/pro-lifers could say that when pregnant, a distinct human being, deserving of rights and needing protection, is now developing in the womb.
Pro-abortionists could say what’s in the womb is just a clump of cells that is a part of the women’s body. So, a woman should be able to terminate the pregnancy.
If one agrees with the former, one could derive that the right to liberty of the mother and the right to life of the human being in the womb are in conflict. Although the right to liberty is important (which no pro-lifer would deny), the right to life trumps the right to liberty, and thus, abortion is not permissible. If, however, one agrees with the former, one could conclude that the right to liberty of the mother, especially in light of the fact “it” is just “a clump of cells” takes precedence. This highlights the major difference in the views of pro-lifers and pro-abortionists, and this is often where the discussions end, because there is no agreement of what the unborn is.
Life is fillied with hardship and strife, with or without an expected pregnancy; carrying the pregnancy to term and raising a child is no easy task. (Noone in the pro-life movement would deny this, either.) But then one must ask – Is this, a life of hardship and strife (or any other reason, for that matter) an adequate reason to end a pregnancy, in light of the anti-abortion view?

The second stanza is the one I have the most problems with. It can be received as rather negative and quite harsh, as it can be interpreted as belittling the problems a woman facing a crisis pregnancy goes through. The pro-life movement is not meant to do this, and, unfortuantely, this is often what comes across to pro-abortionists (making them equate pro-lifers with being “anti-woman”). This must change; a woman facing a crisis pregnancy is undoubtedly going through a great deal of stress, and is often experiencing fear, loneliness, and anxiety. Compassion is the best response to any woman in this situation, regardless of the circumstances and the nature of the pregnancy. This response acknowledges that a woman needs help in so many respects, and society should help women raise their children by providing more services to do so – whether it be financially or emotionally through a network of people, and in turn, empower her with this support to raise her child. A society that tells a woman “You cannot raise a child because of a, b, and c!” seems to not give much choice at all.

The third stanza asks an important question with regards to the unborn: “What’s my life worth?” In acknowledging that a solution was made, and was a difficult choice to make (I do not like to think women choose abortion easily, but it may be for some), that this life is seen as less worthy than the life of the woman, for various reasons. In treating those in need of the most protection – the unborn, in this case – as worthless or less deserving, is truly unfortunate.

The fourth stanza is, personally, my favourite, and mentions something that has been erking me lately. Often, MEN don’t seem to think they shoud have a say in abortion, since it’s “the woman’s body”. Abortion is a human rights issue, and gender is arbitrary. (It’s like saying one shouldn’t have an opinion about the treatment of workers in sweatshops just because they don’t work in one, or any other human rights abuse just because it hasn’t happened to them). Again, we touch that heart of the debate – men are just as involved in the start of a pregnancy as women are. This prevailing notion of a disconnect of a man from the pregnancy (and beyond it) also needs to change; both men and women need to realize that responsibility is not, and shouldn’t be, only on the woman.
I would really like to stay optimistic, and not conclude that humanity has been lost. I hope that instead of completely losing our humanity, we have just forgotten to remember – what the unborn are; that a woman facing pregnancy is in need of financial and emotional support; that men are entitled to have a voice in the abortion debate; and ultimately, that we must treat everyone with dignity and compassion, especially when they are at their most vulnerable.
There must be another way. Yes, the other way would be REAL choice; women should be kept well-informed of the possible health risks of abortion, and society should provide the resources necessary for a woman to raise her child, or even for the child to be put up for adption. The pro-life movement is continuing to move in the direction of demanding a change in the institutions that make up our society with regards to how money is distributed. Taxes should not be used to destroy human life, but to save and protect it.

“A majority, perhaps as many as 75 percent, of abortion clinics [in the US] are in areas with high minority populations. Abortion apologists will say this is because they want to serve the poor. You don’t serve the poor, however, by taking their money to terminate their children.”
– Dr. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr.

A special thanks to my friend who wrote down their thoughts on what is, for many, such a controversial topic.

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