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February 06, 2004

The Abortion Issue

A friend of mine from youth group growing up (who now teaches economics at a university in Mexico) is rather prolific in sending e-mails about social and political issues, especially the abortion issue. While I have not been persuaded to take his position on the subject, I have been persuaded recently by some other things.

For instance, a recent study indicates that less than 30 percent of women who describe themselves as "pro-choice" believe that abortion "improves women's lives."

The analysis from the Elliot Institute (the conservative think tank that published the study) is: "Most [women] have many regrets about their abortions, even if they believe it to have been their only choice. This is why they don't support the radical agenda of pro-abortion special-interest groups. They've been there, done that, and hated it."

While I'm not sure how they arrive at the "not supporting the radical agenda of pro-abortion special-interest groups" conclusion, I do think the study says a powerful thing -- pro-choice women are not the baby-killing bitches that the Christian Coalition has made them out to be. In fact, these women have a very sober view of abortion -- 67% would probably vote for "a candidate who calls for government support for grief-counseling programs to assist women who experience emotional problems after an abortion."

Like my youth group friend, the Elliot Institute is hoping to use their information to persuade pro-life politicians to "Touch the Hearts, Earn the Trust, and Win the Votes of 30 Million Post-Abortive Women." Which is pretty crass, but I guess I won't judge them on that. I am pro-life, after all.

It's just that, my view of people who are "pro-choice" is changing. An article in the Boston Globe Magazine has a lot to do with that. In "My Late-Term Abortion," Gretchen Voss powerfully describes the anguish that comes when abstract issues become painfully real. And in the process Voss gives a thought-provoking critique of the partial-birth abortion ban signed into law by President Bush.

destinyMeanwhile, filmmaker Katherine Makinney is making waves for a short film which tells the story of a woman who experiences deep regret after having an abortion. Her film destiny conveys its pro-life message in a subtle way -- which has stirred things up with Google apparently.

The controversy doesn't hurt sales of the video, however, nor does the fact that it stars Jerri Manthey of Survivor: Australia and current Survivor: All-Stars fame. (Hey, I'm a Survivor fan, not a Jerri Manthey fan.) I'd like to see this film, and I'm just glad that the abortion debate (can we say conversation?) is moving in this more (and I hesitate to use this word because of how it's been politicized) compassionate way.

Finally, leave it to the good (although kooky) folks at Christians for Howard Dean to uncover this startling fact -- the President's recent "State of the Union" address was the first Republican "State of the Union" since 1981 to not mention the abortion issue. The speech mentioned performance-enhancing drugs in sports and the war on terror, but not abortion. It seems the new hot-button issue is gay marriage. And that's a topic for another time.

At the end of the day, I'm still pro-life, anti-abortion, whatever you want to call it. But I'm beginning to see the people on the other side of the issue as real people -- not the caricatures that special-interest groups of the conservative, faith-based persuasion would like me to see. And that's a good thing, I think.

UPDATE (2/10): This article isn't about abortion, but it is about the loss of a child -- and it nearly moved me to tears. Maybe it's being a parent and knowing how much love God is able to cram into our hearts the minute you become a parent -- you are able to love someone (your child) more than you ever dreamed possible. I just can't imagine losing a child. (My prayers are with you tonight, John and Jana ...)

Posted by Steve K. at February 6, 2004 11:00 PM


I am morally pro-life, but politically I am pro-choice. I am always hauted by Brick by Ben Folds Five (I never understood how this song got so popular...it wrenches my stomach every time I hear it. I usually turn off the radio.)

6 am day after Christmas
I throw some clothes on in the dark
The smell of cold
Car seat is freezing
The world is sleeping
I am numb

Up the stairs to the apartment
She is balled up on the couch
Her mom and dad went down to Charlotte
They're not home to find us out
And we drive
Now that I have found someone
I'm feeling more alone
Than I ever have before

She's a brick and I'm drowning slowly
Off the coast and I'm headed nowhere
She's a brick and I'm drowning slowly

They call her name at 7:30
I pace around the parking lot
Then I walk down to buy her flowers
And sell some gifts that I got
Can't you see
It's not me you're dying for
Now she's feeling more alone
Than she ever has before

She's a brick and I'm drowning slowly
Off the coast and I'm headed nowhere
She's a brick and I'm drowning slowly

As weeks went by
It showed that she was not fine
They told me son, it's time to tell the truth
She broke down, and I broke down
Cause I was tired of lying

Driving home to her apartment
For a moment we're alone
Yeah she's alone
I'm alone
Now I know it

She's a brick and I'm drowning slowly
Off the coast and I'm headed nowhere
She's a brick and I'm drowning slowly

Posted by: Tim Bednar at February 10, 2004 11:52 AM

Let me clarify, I'm not actively pro-choice politically--I am more of an agnostic on the issue politically. My great problem is that I am anti-death penalty and anti-euthanasia. I'm also firt with being a passivist at times.

Posted by: Tim Bednar at February 10, 2004 11:58 AM

Fellow poster Tim ...
I must say I have difficulty seeing how you can be against the death penalty and euthanasia (I agree with you on both) and yet not politically against abortion.

To me it seems kind of like being against slavery morally, but not politically ... You can have slaves, but I won't.

If you recognize it as something deplorable, then why embrace a "you do what you like, I'll do what I like" attitude about it? Perhaps that's not your stance, but it seems possible.

This short commentary was helpful for me in thinking about this personal vs. corporate aspect of the issue.

Hope that is thought provoking and not condemning.

Posted by: MT at February 11, 2004 04:40 PM

I freely acknowlegde the contradiction here.

It is more of a practical situation for me. The way the debate is framed politically--I believe that women should have the right to choose how to best deal with child bearing issues, even if I feel it is immoral.

It is also a stance of a person who has been 'berated' by lots of pro-lifers for being the least bit sympathetic to pro-choice.

Posted by: Tim Bednar at February 12, 2004 11:34 AM

I hope you don't count me as one of the "beraters."

But I would be curious whether or not there are "moral" choices that you think the government can or should make for people.

My example of slavery for instance. Would you make the same statement about a slave owner ... that they have the right to choose how best deal with slavery issues even if you feel slavery is immoral?

Sorry if this just feels like I'm not letting this go. Just curious how your thinking would go on this point.

Posted by: MT at February 12, 2004 07:51 PM

I'd like to point out that slavery and abortion arent the same thing- so I'm not entirely in with your analogy... but I get your point. I was raised very pro-choice but a lot of times i feel more pro-life. So I'm not sure what I am really. The thing that I think people need to be adressing is making it easier for mothers to go through with a pregnancy, and putting more money into our very messed up orphan and adoption system. Just wanted to mention this.

Posted by: jb at May 12, 2004 09:54 PM

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