Saturday, January 19, 2013

Why I am Pro-Life

Why I am ardently Pro-Life:
Today, thousands of individuals march upon Lincoln, Nebraska’s capital in the state’s March for Life.  In honor of the march, I will address two objections to abolishing abortion that I have personally encountered since the march last year—disabilities and rape.  Then, I will explain briefly why I am pro-life.

Abortion in the Case of Disability and Its Natural Extensions
My wife is pregnant. Not just pregnant, she’s about-to-pop pregnant. Her due date was yesterday.  Within the last week, I had two individuals on separate occasions ask me if I was worried my child would be born disabled.  They both seemed to indicate that they would not choose to carry such a child to term—although I might be wrong.  If nothing else, they were terrified of the concept—so much so, they feared having children.  My heart was broken.

In 2012, a study reported 92% of children with down syndrome were aborted.  Take a breath for a second and consider what that really means. 92 out of 100 children that would be born with this disability were eliminated.  Why were they aborted? I think the answer is because the parents were afraid of the commitment such a child requires and were unwilling to change their lifestyle enough to accommodate the needs of said child. In general, our culture is inwardly focused and not outwardly focused.  Raising children with disabilities presents difficulties that I can’t truly appreciate or imagine, but does it justify the radical response? In general, what does the response really say about the way we view human beings?

Determining a principle reason for the cause is tough. Recently, a few philosophers have claimed it is merciful to abort a disabled baby rather than give birth to it.  The term “disability” is used loosely and is almost always subjective.  This means that the standard to be applied depends on the person viewing the situation.  One general premise is that the “quality” of life is lower than most other human beings.  Determining who is likely to have a lower quality of life naturally extends the realm of possible abortion candidates.  It is no coincidence that pro-choicers advocate for abortion as a way to control poverty. People have a tendency to view others born with seemingly lesser qualities or goods than they, themselves, were born with as undesirable. Societies/cultures begin to create self-perpetuating judgments of the human beings capable of participating within the society.

If you believe eugenics is justifiable in the case of disabilities, it is also justifiable in the case of the extremely poor.  Nothing, at least morally, significantly distinguishes the concept.  As an example of another similar case, an individual should not object to the growing rate of females being aborted around the world. They are viewed as less beneficial within certain societies.  Today, there are 117 males in China for every 100 females.  Due to a limitation on the number of children a family can have, families abort females much more frequently because they are less productive and have lower qualities of life within the society. This seems to be a natural extension of the principles underlying abortion of the disabled.  Generally, it is not the strong who need protection, but the weak and underrepresented.  Do we value human beings because of what they bring to the table for society, or do we value them because they are human beings?

You might be wondering what I told my friends. I told both of my friends that I wasn't concerned about it at all.  Am I terrified of it? Heck yes. However, I am able to balance that fear with the fruits I have seen disabled children produce in society—both individually and through their impact on those around them. I explained these fruits to them. One side of my family has two children with fragile x syndrome.  Every time I see them, I am amazed at their growth and progress as human beings.  What I am most impressed with is the development of the parents.  When I was younger, I remember them angering quickly and sometimes coming to tears out of frustration. Today, they are incredibly patient people—not only with their children, but with everybody they come into contact with.  They've become inspiring people full of strength and love.

When I was in high school, I coached a basketball team of boys for 3 years. When I started, they were in 4th grade, and my last year of coaching was when they were in 6th.  One family had three children, and two of their children were disabled.  The oldest daughter had down syndrome and their oldest son was born with a disfigured hand and feet. He often required leg braces to run down the court.  He had to shoot, catch, and dribble the ball with one hand.  Without a doubt, this boy has inspired me my entire life. I saw him progress as an athlete. He became a great basketball player and an even better baseball player.  His work ethic, joy, and acceptance of his hardships changed the way I viewed my own challenges and have helped me tackle things I considered tough or impossible.  I have no doubt that most people can look to individuals with physical/mental disabilities and be inspired. Think back to the guy that ran in the Olympics with metal legs—what a story!

I was able to be a “teammate”(cheerer) for their daughter with down syndrome at the Special Olympics.  There are few moments in my life as overwhelming as the appreciative hug she gave as she crossed the finish line for her race.  She was expressing true appreciation and joy without any concept of reserve. Often, I wish I was blessed with an ability to do that, but I hold back my joy and appreciation because it may seem weird. I’m afraid what others might think.  She never had that social construct, but was honest and open with her actions and feelings.

Years down the road, as I reflected on the impact disabled children have upon parents and families, I realized that it can create an amazing bond. In order to raise disabled children, everybody in the family has to make sacrifices.  The parents give of themselves until they seemingly can’t give anymore. Then, they give again.  They become so ingrained in the habit of caring for others, that they become people easily loved and admired by most.  I would guess most of you know some parents of disabled children. Think about the ones you know.  Do you consider them blessed with virtues of patience, kindness, and self-giving? I’m sure they didn’t come easy, but disabled members of society can greatly increase the traits within parents, brothers, sisters, classmates, etc.

Even if disabled individuals were a drain on society and individuals, abortion would not be the proper response. Plenty of people, many years into life, could be placed into this category. We don’t extinguish their lives, but tend to take care of them through various facets of our welfare system.

Cases of Rape:

One of the most common objections to the pro-life cause is that abortion needs to be legal in cases of rape. This is rather popular publicly, notwithstanding that this represents less than 1% of all abortions; it’s a serious concern that needs to be addressed. Pro-choicers zealously hammer rape cases in political debates and day-to-day discussions.  They do this because objectors to abortion in the cases of rape seem mean, inconsiderate, and out of touch with basic considerations for the feelings of females that were raped.  Failure to properly address the point cost 3 republican politicians their Congressional seats during the last election. The underlying principle of this abortion justification is that a woman does not desire/want/consent to her pregnancy.  Thus, if a woman does not desire/want/consent to her pregnancy, she should not be forced to have the child.  Maybe put more simply, a pregnancy that a woman does not expect or plan is unjust.

Pro-choicers hammer the issue because if you extend the underlying principle, abortion ought to be legal in more circumstances than rape (read any use of contraceptives).  If you think I’m stretching the issue too far, let this quote from Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992 make my case, “the Roe rule's limitation on state power could not be repudiated without serious inequity to people who, for two decades of economic and social developments, have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail.” Casey uses contraceptives as a justification for abortion seven times in its decision.

If you didn't catch that, the Supreme Court justifies and upholds abortion because contraceptives might fail.  If you believe abortion should be legal in cases of rape, there is no reason to object to this principle. It seems to me that consistent thought requires you to accept or reject abortion in both cases because the fundamental reasons are the same.  Those who object to abortion in all cases excluding rape have no logical reason to do so, but merely hold their positions because they’ve not thought deeply enough about the subject matter to present a consistent and holistic reason to object to abortion. 

As a society, we do not punish a child for sins of its parents (in this case a rapist father), but we consider them guilt-free.  When viewing the issue from the child’s standpoint, allowing abortion in the case of rape comes down hardest and unjustly upon the innocent child.

What Does It Mean for Me to be Pro-Life?
There is more to being pro-life than loving babies, protecting the unborn, and marching in parades aimed at creating political movements that lower the use of abortive services.

If you are pro-life, you have to be pro-future. You have to be pro-children. I don’t mean just the unborn, but the born as well. I mean the young adults attempting to find a foothold within the world. I mean the single mothers stuck between a rock and a hard place. I mean the homeless that are unemployed and living on the streets. I mean the murderers, rapists, and terrorists.  The pro-life movement must be holistic, or it isn’t consistent and capable of withstanding scrutiny. It must unabashedly be pro-life in every circumstance. This requires examining what is best for our children and posterity.

You don’t need to quote a Bible verse in order to explain any of these things. All you need to do is believe that loving your fellow man is our most important duty in society.  Everything falls into its rightful place after that. Protecting the weak and defenseless, giving basic human rights to those that don’t respect ours, and ensuring nobody has to starve to death all fall within the pro-life umbrella.

To me, being pro-life requires many things.  It requires an opposition to abortion.  It requires a critical examination of the causes of poverty and all methods of alleviating poverty.  It requires giving people second and third chances when their past doesn't show they deserve it.  It requires considering the implications of any project upon the environment.  It requires killing people—in war or as punishment—to be a last resort.  Mostly, it requires standing up for anybody whose needs are un/underrepresented. It requires an adherence to objective moral truth derived from natural law, otherwise all matters are subjective.

In order to be consistent, allowing any abortions requires you to allow all abortions. One leads to another because justifying one and not the others uses inconsistent logic.  Pick a side. If nobody will stand for the weak, who will stand for me in my time of need? I’m certain it will come. In the meantime, I will stand up for the weak and defenseless.