Wednesday, February 27, 2013

More than two positions on abortion

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The issue of abortion remains one of the most divisive in public life, with continuing battles to liberalize or to restrict access to legal abortion. As a society, we currently recognize two positions on this subject: pro-choice and pro-life.

If you are pro-choice, you are an advocate for legal access to abortion. As a pro-choice supporter, you believe that a woman is the only person with a right to make a decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.

If you are pro-life, you oppose on moral or sectarian grounds access to elective abortion and usually support legal prohibition or restriction to abortion. Advocates generally argue that the human fetus (and in most cases the human embryo) is a person and therefore has a right to life.

I suggest that those who currently call themselves pro-life are actually pro-birth. Their goal is simply to ensure that this child is born. Many pro-life supporters do not advocate any government aid to those women who require financial support prior to or after the child is born.

It is ironic that they support the child being born, but do not want any part of ensuring the quality of life this child might have. This attitude is not exclusive to pro-life supporters as many pro-choice supporters have the same attitude regarding those who receive public assistance to improve their quality of life or simply to live.

We actually have three positions on abortion in this country.

Pro-choice: You are an advocate for legal access to abortion. As a pro-choice supporter, you believe that a woman is the only person with a right to make a decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. Your support is a legal issue and nothing more.

Pro-birth: You oppose on moral or sectarian grounds access to elective abortion and usually support legal prohibition or restriction to abortion. Your support is simply to ensure that this child is born. Where are you once the child is born?

Pro-life: You support the living. You support programs that assist women who are trying to decide whether to terminate an unwanted pregnancy by providing counseling and supporting them, whatever their decision might be. You support babies who come into this world by coming together as a community (neighbors, church groups, nonprofits, relatives, etc.) to offer assistance and enrichment programs for the most vulnerable. You do not consider women who elect to give birth as freeloaders should they require public assistance once the child is born.

When does life begin? We could argue this point all day, but I surely know that life exists outside the womb.

So where do you really stand? Are you brave enough to stand up and be pro-life? Can you love your neighbor as yourself and leave politics out of the discussion?

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