Thursday, September 15, 2005

Abortion, Choice, and Wisdom

With the confirmation hearings underway for a new Chief Justice for the U.S. Supreme Court, it is inevitable that political conversation has turned toward abortion. The discussions of legality are important, and I hope to blog about different aspects of that in future posts. But for today I'd like to focus on wisdom.

In the Declaration of Independence, we find that our forefathers considering fighting for independence from Britain were not prepared to make such a momentous decision for "light and transient" reasons. In general, serious and permanent decisions should be made for matchingly serious and permanent reasons, not comparatively light and transient ones. When it comes to abortion, the decision is momentous and permanent. Given that abortions are legal, we are asking: are they wise?

A coworker told me she was struggling with whether to have an abortion, and though she was distressed because she wanted the child, for financial reasons she chose abortion. A friend from high school had two abortions. Years later, she would still tell me how old each of her children would have been, would even talk to the fathers of her children about how things might have been. Another friend of mine who had an abortion admitted to still having nightmares about it years later.

I know these women, friends and coworkers. What do all these abortions have in common? The women later regretted them. They second-guessed themselves, knowing that they could have made some sacrifices and kept a child -- their own child. If the only ones who ever questioned abortion were people who never faced the hardships of raising children under tough conditions, then we might more easily brush off the criticism. But the most heart-rending reasons against abortion I've ever heard are from friends who have aborted their own children. Looking back, they considered their own reasons to have been insufficient -- at least in comparison with their child's life. They're living with deep regrets, wishing they could undo something that simply cannot be undone.

I think it does reflect a problem with our land when an abortion is available for any reason at all. The decision is permanent. When stacked up against your own child's life, most reasons just won't do. Even for those who believe that this genetically unique human is somehow not yet human while still in the womb, there's reason to ask: your decision is permanent; how sure are you that your reasons will be permanent as well?

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