An Ethic of Life?
If any man’s wife go aside and is unfaithful to him, …the man shall bring his wife to the priest…let the priest make the woman take the oath of the curse and say to the woman – “the Lord make you an execration and an oath among your people, when the Lod makes your uterus drop, your womb discharge; now this water that brings the curse enter your bowels and make your womb discharge, your uterus drop!” (Numbers 5:12-22)
A PBS program entitled “Now,” addressed the growing economic insecurities of the American middle class. After lamenting the loss of her family home due to her husband’s chronic illness and inability to work, one Illinois woman, Melanie Fugate, proclaims that she could never vote for a Democrat because of the abortion issue. In the midst of her own financial ruin and the national economic disaster, not to mention wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, this woman’s main concern in politics is abortion.
Melanie Fugate is not alone. The Christian Post reported recently that the abortion debate is rated as ‘very important’ to approximately 40 percent of all voters on both sides of the issue. People who care about the abortion issue are not ignorant bible bashers or immoral baby killers as current propaganda would have us all believe. Rather, people on both sides of the issue are deeply empathetic individuals, genuinely concerned about human suffering and the value of life. What both sides lack in most cases, is information, with pro-life advocates focused on the image of innocent babies meeting their end while pro-choice voters focus on the image of desperate women poised with coat hangers.
A lot of gray area exists in between the two extremes that both sides need to consider. Ultimately, everybody would like to see fewer abortions. Pro-life advocates and pro-choice proponents only disagree on the best way to go about achieving this aim. Fortunately, we do have several reliable and well researched independent studies on the topic and therefore have ample data to determine which methods are effective in reducing abortions. As a society, we must be intelligent enough to embrace the research and let our emotional biases defer to what will achieve our stated and shared goal – to preserve human life and reduce suffering.
Some of the greatest ironies today in the political realm come from the discussion on the ethics of life. People who are for the death penalty and support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan tend to be against abortion rights for women, and people who are pro-choice tend to be against the death penalty and think the war in Iraq is an atrocity against humanity. How can it be that our society is so divided when it comes to these issues with most people thinking killing is okay in some capacity but not others?
Former president George W. remarked during the presidential debates of 2004, “I think every child should be welcomed to life.” Unfortunately, the Bush administration policy did not support this claim. Healthcare for poor children was withheld, education funds were chopped, prenatal care for women in poverty is practically non-existent, and the list goes on. During the Bush administration’s tenure, 13 million precious children were relegated to a childhood of poverty in the United States of America – the richest nation on earth .
Certainly people on both sides of the abortion debate can agree that all children should be welcomed to life. We can work together to ensure that women in poverty have adequate access to reproductive health services including birth control, so they can enjoy the same rights to plan their families that more affluent women enjoy. We can all agree that the children in foster care and orphanages and those living in poverty need more of our attention as a society in order to reach their full potential.
In his book Our Endangered Values, Jimmy Carter cites a United Nations statistic that reports that 90% of women seeking abortions name poverty as the cause. Women who are well-educated and have a moderate standard of living rarely seek abortions. Doesn’t it therefore stand to reason that if we improve the lives of the souls already in existence, it will help to cut down on unwanted pregnancies?
Every child should be welcomed to life and cherished including the children who are already alive. Let’s take care of them before we force women to make the choice of raising a child in desperate poverty or giving it up for adoption.
The Old Testament clearly defines women’s lives and those of their children as the property of their husbands and fathers. We have come a long way since the days when Yahweh prescribed abortion elixirs for women suspected of cheating on their husbands. We don’t need to outlaw a woman’s right to choose whether or not to give birth. We need to create an environment where each and every woman in our society has access to the information and medical care necessary to ensure that she can prevent unwanted pregnancy in the first place and then take care of the precious children she chooses to bear. We should all be able to agree about that.