The debate over abortion is traditionally polarized between two camps, that of “choice” and that of “life”, as if their values were exclusive to one another. The legal and ethical friction comes from weighing differently the rights of two parties, often right down to a fundamental difference in premise as to one even being a “party”.
What is forgotten is that there is a wide diversity of opinion, from blind moral assumption without rational basis to absolute rights according to nothing more than what one is capable or allowed by law. I would hope the bell curve puts these extremes to a minimal — though vocal — statistical fringe. Our hope lies in honest consideration of multiple possibilities — namely, those things that either cannot be known, or cannot be agreed upon. After all, beliefs about the nature of what it is to be human are not homogeneous, not merely a physiological question or legality regarding potentiality. It breaches past the subjects of medicine and law — or rather speaks to their philosophical underpinnings. Most important to us, it touches our daily lives in concrete, yet profound ways.
Therefore, any solution (or attempt at reconciling diverse perspectives) must in the end address fundamental personal and social realities.
So here I offer the reader an unpublished editorial, written many years ago. Keep in mind it is written from a Christian perspective, though perhaps not a traditional one, and therefore speaks more to guide the “Right to Life” crowd to recognize the pragmatism more often found in the “Richt to Choose” crowd.
1 October 1998
330 Progress Rd.
Dayton, OH 45449
I am a grade-11 (Confirmation) catechist for SS. Peter & Paul in Depew, NY. Since I started teaching two years ago, I have read many good articles and found helpful resources in Catechist magazine.
The September 1998 Catechist article, “Teaching Contemporary Social Issues to Junior High Students,” caught my attention. Regarding reproductive technology, it stated “The Church … does recognize the pain infertility causes in a marriage [and its teachings] encourage medical research which seeks to put an end to sterility.” Besides seeming of little comfort, it neglected the obvious moral solution, which was also forgotten in the section on abortion. It is called ADOPTION.
If we teach future parents to Love their unborn enough to give away the child into a good, long-waiting home, both of these issues are morally survivable. Teaching is not a matter of “No, no, no!” (Perhaps picketing with signs saying essentially, “No, no, no!” is not much better or productive in tackling the issue as adults.)
What did the early Church do? Yes, I said the early Church. Most people do not realize that the Romans had surgical and chemical means for abortions centuries before Christ. The most socially visible form was “post-natal” abandonment. However, the Church took a stand through the actions of its members. Christian men and women regularly saved children left to die of exposure at the stone feet of unfeeling Roman gods.
What can we learn and teach by this example? We must change the attitude from a confrontational “Abortion is Murder!” to a constructive “We will Love your child well; they will have a good home.” The challenge of these issues will arise for all young adults, if not personally then in the lives of people in the world around them. Putting the long list of forever-waiting parents and even orphanages in the public view will ensure that Christian options are clear.
Once again, thank you for a wonderful & resourceful magazine.
Sincerely in Christ,