While many states legislate to restrict abortions, rallies across the nation this week called for abortions rights.
There are good-hearted, compassionate people on both sides of the debate. I know them. I have talked with them. Many pro-abortion folks care deeply about the young pregnant woman who feels trapped and confused. Many anti-abortion people recognize the fetus as human life and believe it should be protected as such.
So, both sides care about people. Unfortunately, many on both sides see the debate so clearly that they cannot imagine another point of view. In fact, they think, those with the opposing point of view are motivated by hate, ignorance, political agenda, or self-righteousness. Such people don't even deserve a hearing. They are stupid. We should silence them. They are the enemy.
The sides of the abortion debate seem more and more hostile to each other. The debate has become more about winning than truth or justice. Each side thinks that the other is unreasonable. No one is listening. Facts are used as weapons to beat down the opponent, while other facts are ignored.
If both sides really care about people, shouldn't we be able to have this conversation with more civility?
Here are some observations I have about the debate.
- Abortion is a moral issue, too often hijacked for political purposes.
- While both sides say the issue is simple, it is actually complex.
- Stances for or against abortion rights always include some motive, often obscure.
- One's views on abortion are informed by experience, beliefs, traditions, culture.
- The Bible does not directly forbid abortion.
- The life of a fetus is distinct from that of the mother. It is human life.
- The abortion process legally requires that this life be terminated in the womb before the tissue is removed. Because of this requirement, abortion is different from other surgical procedures.
- The abortion option only arises because something has gone wrong. A woman did not intend to become pregnant. A fetus appears to have abnormalities. A woman was raped. A woman doesn't want more children. Birth control failed. A woman fears the consequences of disclosing her pregnancy.
- There are different ways to measure when life begins: at conception, at the first beat of the heart, at the first breath. The most visible of these is the first breath.
I believe abortion is wrong, but I don't want to demonize people who disagree with me. I do want to persuade them.