In 1998, a dear friend of mine, Andy Mahler, ran for Commissioner of Orange County, Indiana. The hot topics that year were as they stand today for many of us in rural America: gun control and abortion. Rights of person, basically.
I recall asking Andy then what his take on abortion was. How do you respond when people ask you whether you approve of abortion or not? Andy’s quick answer, “I tell them I wouldn't have one.”
No, Andy couldn't have an abortion, choice or not. Why even ask a man’s opinion of a struggle if he cannot personally comprehend all facets of the matter?
In all seriousness as Andy knocked on doors in rural southern Indiana, he told his neighbors that the way to deal with the issue of abortion is to prevent the circumstances that inspire a mother to seek abortion. At the time, I’d not thought this far into our circumstances. Andy was spot on and the resolution will not be found in bandage-like programs that support mothers within the context of a society that does not honor life. Abortion will cease to be a justifiable action when and only when all beings are free and happy. Truly.
To this day, we continue with futile arguments. Abortion is neither right nor wrong.
Abortion is a taking of life in its purest and most delicate state. We can agree, all of us, that abortion takes a life. This is in fact. Taking life at this stage is a violation of nature. No mother should be in a position so unnatural that she considers abortion a bearable option. Why are mothers today feeling unnatural and unholy? Oh, the list is long…
The wrong is the mess of harms that compel mothers to choose abortion because they cannot bear to bring a child into a stressed uncertain world fraught with extraordinary change, fear and greed. Our mothers are wise to see that their circumstances are wrong for bearing children. Until there is peace in our persons, families, and societies, mothers will rightly choose abortion.
Abortion should sound an alarm that something is very wrong with our lives. Instead, we have blamed mothers or justified abortion outright. Whether the stress and pain in a mother’s life is found primarily in her personal relationships or in the relationships she witnesses in her society, abortion is justified in times of extreme unrest. Right now personal and societal circumstances of harm are at such extremes. Abortion is simply the only choice for many mothers who are at a loss thinking of how their children will live.
No one ever is to blame. Mothers who choose not to give birth and the people assisting them are not perpetrators of a crime. They are symptoms of a fiercely competitive society that thrives on a myth of independence and disregards the value of life on the whole. This society is itself against nature and spiritually corrupt. We should not be forced to choose between children, mothers and physicians.
The matter of discriminatory rights is most striking and of greatest concern to me in the whole abortion debate. Why is it that Right to Life can be co-opted to refer solely to an unborn human? Do not all of us have right to life in the womb and in the world? Do not the unborn and born of other species have a right to life and freedom as much as humans? Why would they exist if not for this right and for all the brilliance and worth they add to the world? Who are we to say who shall live and who shall die, when, how and where?
Sure. We are divine, each one of us human beings. But so is each one of everyone else.
Humans are not alone among animals in our awareness of need for wholeness and safety in the world. We know that some whales avoid reproduction when their community is under severe stress. How intelligent and giving are the mothers who know when it is unwise to bring dependent innocents into untold pain, unparalleled loss and terror.
Our task is to ensure that all mothers feel safe and secure before, during and after conception. This task requires greater integrity than that of one who will choose a side in a case that cannot be argued. It’s a tough and lonely road to walk in a society that applauds blame and misconstrues compassion as ambivalence and weakness. But our task is just this, to change our minds and our circumstances. I believe we have the wisdom, courage and strength. We certainly have the motivation.
One day people will look back on us and say: How awful it must have been to live in a time when abortion was a reasonable and wise choice—when mothers of all kinds chose not to give birth. How wonderful were those people who decided to ensure that all mothers and children would be peaceful and safe. How blessed are we for them today.
Recommended reading: The Value of Species by Edward L. McCord