A True Pro-Life Stance…

fully takes into account what happens after those 40 weeks in utero.  In November 2004, during an interview with Bill Moyers, Sister Joan Chittister – a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie Pennsylvania, and author of more that 40 books regarding social issues and religious life – had this to say:

“But I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking. If all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed, and why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of what pro-life is.”

Life is not just about what happens between conception and birth – but more importantly about what happens afterwards.   Isn’t it quite hypocritical for someone to insist that a woman bear a child – and then push to restrict or limit tax funded assistance to that woman as she struggles to raise that child in less than optimal circumstances?  Because that seems to be whats happening. Don’t we owe it to our born children to do our best to provide a good life for them?  Should we not  think about whether or not a child is affordable to us BEFORE we get pregnant? Because if we do not think about that, then aren’t we perhaps maybe setting ourselves up in a potentially neglectful situation?  We are certainly not being socially responsible if we are birthing children year after year after year that other people (ie taxpayers) are essentially supporting.  That’s not only abusing the system but the child as well.  And before I get jumped on for that statement – think about it. Would it not be easier for a low-income family to get out of its poor financial and social situation with fewer children to think about and provide for? OF COURSE IT WOULD.

I submit it is morally irresponsible to  continue having children you cannot support. That does not however, relieve anyone of their social responsibility to assist and support others. If everyone does their part, then the costs of child-rearing can be manageable.  But resources are not unlimited.  It costs a middle income family almost a quarter of a million dollars to raise ONE child to 18. Not including college expenses. ( Data supporting this statement can be found here.)  Taxpayer dollars are dwindling as incomes aren’t increasing, unemployment numbers rising, and we take on the burden of care for non-citizens (who are also having children). I say again: the pool of funds available is not infinitely sustainable.  Hence the frustration on the part of the conservatives who completely understand that.  I believe we can only save the world by understanding that we have to reign ourselves in – socially, economically and environmentally.  We start by remembering that just because we CAN do something does not mean we SHOULD. This applies to sexual behavior  as well as to deforestation, fracking, and how we recycle.

As more of a centrist,  I do believe that showing some moral fortitude instead of turpitude would assist everyone in allocating said diminishing funds appropriately. Low cost or no cost contraception is available anywhere. If we ladies are truly in charge of our own bodies then we can just say no to unprotected sex – by using contraception, or by remaining abstinent. Because after all, there is no obligation to provide for a child that has not been created – is there?  Responsible behavior on the  part of most would  certainly free up funds to  help women who are in terrible situations through no fault of their own. I say that because, ladies, we can’t have our cake and eat it too.  If we are to be truly empowered that means we take responsibility for ourselves and our actions.  We provide our own birth  control, we make our own doctor appointments, get educated, have  careers etc etc.  We don’t blame other people or expect to get bailed out when we make poor decisions.  We figure out how to live with them – and we make sacrifices to  assure  we support those we love in the best way we can.

That said, let me address the “purist” pro-life stance for a minute or three.  Every life is precious. Agreed.  Marriage and Sex are for the procreation of children and stabilization of the family unit.  Agree that this is certainly part of the function of marriage and sex. (but not the end game of it) According to catholic doctrine fertility awareness; ie the rhythm method is the only sanctioned method of birth control practicing Catholics should be practicing if they practice it at all.  I’ve got a huge problem with this.  First, this doctrine doesn’t take into account the social component of marriage. People also marry for companionship – increasingly so, at least in the US.. Marriage is not solely about having children together.  And, the rhythm method is notoriously unreliable contraceptive method. – only 91% effective if used properly – and people rarely use it properly. Many fail to use the correct formula when calculating the fertile period.  Many women do not ovulate mid cycle, and changes to a woman’s lifestyle (medications, illness, life stressors etc) make it impossible to accurately predict the menstrual cycle month to month. It also can take up to 6 months or more to get a semi-accurate “read” on the menstrual cycle in order to even get a baseline prediction of the fertile period. And perhaps most importantly, this method offers ZERO protection from sexually transmitted diseases. Adopting out a child is always an option for a woman with an unaffordable or unwanted pregnancy – but the market appears severely skewed. Supply may be high, but demand is decreasing as families discover and avail themselves of new methods to  have their own biological children.  As many as 104,000 children are awaiting adoption in the US alone, right now.

Using a condom, the patch, the pill, an IUD and or spermicide is in my mind a viable, completely acceptable alternative for a committed couple to enjoy the benefits of a physical relationship without having to worry about a financial obligation towards children they can either not afford or do not want at that time. Using birth control is being socially responsible in its best sense. And let me be clear here: abortion may in the legal sense be termed a birth control method, but in my opinion should be a last resort and only utilized in the gravest of circumstances.  I have been told that even though this is my opinion, I cannot be classified as a pro-lifer because I do believe there are life circumstances and/or life threatening circumstances wherein abortion is the best alternative for the woman. Performed for appropriate reasons (which are determined by the woman and her doctor),  in the appropriate medical setting, with qualified medical personnel, abortion can save lives.   Abortion really is not an all or nothing issue. Factor in diminishing dollars and we have  arrived where we currently are. Which is why contraception is so flipping important!

English: Picture Of Ortho Tri-Cyclen oral cont...

English: Picture Of Ortho Tri-Cyclen oral contraceptives with Ortho Dialpak dispensers (photo taken by self). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One other problem I have always had with the “purists” is the whole attitude of “We have dominion over all things” and “God will find a way”  NO.  If we truly have dominion over everything, then it is our obligation to be responsible with that power. To conserve our resources, to act for the benefit of all.  It is not – and never has been, our “duty” to birth children we cannot fiscally or emotionally care for.  “God” is not going to find a way to fix things when we run out of money, run out of clean air and water, literally run out of gas, and run out of space to support the human population. We certainly do not need to follow the example of China and limit families to one child. But a little restraint would go a long way.  God gave us brains – and I think,  expects us to use  them.  To do the greatest good for the most amount of people. That means we are OBLIGATED to act responsibly in ALL we do.  Including the number of children we have, so that those children can have the best possible life.

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10 thoughts on “A True Pro-Life Stance…

  1. Pingback: Another Gun Death in America – x year old kills z year old | musingsofanoldfart

  2. Thought-provoking, as always! It’s interesting what descriptions people give themselves. ‘Pro-life’ without all the political connotations would seem like a good position, but it doesn’t give an accurate idea what the phrase has come to mean.

  3. Donna, this is truly outstanding in terms of its message and writing. Thank you. As we have discussed before, there is a high correlation between poverty and family size. We need widespread birth control and sex education to occur. Since a significant majority of Catholic women disagree with the Vatican on this issue and significant numbers of people have died around the world because of it, you would think the church would wake up. I love the “pro-birth description. Thanks, BTG

    • Thanks. I think I could’ve done better with the writing. There is so much I want to say about it. It took me awhile to edit because I wanted to get my points across without becoming too verbose and losing the audience. Glad you like it. I do believe that social responsibility correlates closely – if not equates with – moral responsibility.

      • You are selling yourself short. This was well done. I agree 100% with our last sentence in your reply. You can be moral, but an act of kindness will go further than mere words.

  4. You make some good points regarding the socioeconomic impacts of unwanted pregnancy. The issue of abortion being the option in “inconvenient” pregnancies is, I think, key. Abortion has become so woven into the fabric of our society, that it is seen as almost normative rather than as an anomaly. It is an option no matter what the circumstance.

    Unless and until we as a society return to seeing marriage and sex as sacred, and fully acknowledge God’s provision and purpose in both, we will never fully appreciate the sanctity of life. If we recognize fully the sanctity of life, we live and act responsibly to ensure that we honor that sanctity by providing for the needs of EVERY child.

    • Thanks for writing Paul! I agree with much of what you said. Everything today has certainly become easier to dispose of the second it becomes unwanted. We do need to return to a higher standard that recognizes and values commitment. Thanks again! 🙂

  5. You bring up many interesting points, not the least of which is your observation that the anti-abortion crowd is only pro-birth, and thats where all the concerns end. I might maintain that they are strictly anti-abortion, and once conception has occurred, thats where their interests end.Particularly in light of their work to even end aid for expentant mothers.

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