Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Girder in Our Own Eye

In the Gospels of both Matthew and Luke, Jesus asks how can you tell your neighbor that they have a speck in their eye, while ignoring the beam in your own?

Excellent question. And so, before I write a piece on how some of the people in the “pro-life” camp “cook the books”, use questionable data, and just out and out lie in order to try to make their case against abortion, I need to take a look at some of the ways that many of us in the “pro-choice” camp have been disingenuous or not quite honest about things in order to promote our side of the issue.

And why have we been this way? Because we’re afraid that ceding any “points” to the other side makes us “traitors to the cause.” Yet, it seems to me that intellectual honesty demands that we admit when the other side has a valid point, especially when we’re going to object when we believe that they’re the ones being dishonest. It seems at times that some of us are the NRA of abortion rights.

The components of your basic steel girder are iron, carbon, and elements such as tungsten, copper, and chromium. So what are the components of the girder that many of us in the “pro-choice” camp have had in our eyes for the past 42 years?

First of all, there are the arguments I heard as a teenager in early 70s, which may still be being used now, on why abortion shouldn’t be such a big deal. You know…the ones that said it’s no different from cutting off a hangnail or removing an appendix. It’s just an unwanted body part, so why make a big fuss over it? Some even went so far as to compare the fetus to a tumor or tapeworm that needs to be removed.

Really? Really?

I’ve never known anyone to agonize over whether or not to remove a hangnail or have their appendix removed…except maybe about the possible pain and discomfort later on. And except for situations where there were complications with the surgery, I’ve never known of anyone to have second thoughts or regret about cutting off that hangnail or having that appendectomy.

And this brings us to the second component of that girder: the denial that some women have regrets afterwards.

Come on now…would it kill us to admit that for some non-trivial number of women this is a major big deal; something that they may not have wanted to go through with in the first place, felt pressured into, and definitely regret having done afterwards? Do we have to minimize the numbers and feelings of those who have had regrets in order to not “cede any points” to the other side, or would maybe being honest about this too, force them to be a little more honest about the things they say?

I mean, maybe many women don’t have any second thoughts or regrets…but maybe many women do. Let’s be honest and admit that.

Number three…ignoring or denying the fact that the easy availability of abortion has brought out some of the worst behavior in us. And no, I’m not talking about the fact that there seem to be so many unwed mothers out there. Heck, that’s good news…it means that we’ve stopped painting those women as pariahs to be shunned and shamed. We’ve embraced them, and their cute little babies in our families…and our churches. And…I haven’t had a chance to check the figures on this, but I suspect that our more charitable treatment of unwed mothers, because of our acceptance of the fact that (shudder) people have sex when they’re not married, has helped the abortion rate go down. I also suspect that it’s helped the abortion rate go down more than any amount of ranting from the other side has done.

No, what I’m talking about is boorish behavior by guys…the guys who got these women pregnant in the first place. As much as I hate the “old days” of shame and coat hangers, back then I think that most guys would reluctantly own up to their responsibility and try to do the right thing one way or the other. Now we hear of stories of guys callously dropping off their girlfriends at the abortion clinic to take care of the “problem that they didn’t want to have to deal with.” Or maybe I overstate the case here…maybe these are the same guys who would’ve pressured their girlfriends to visit that back alley 40-plus years ago.

Finally, there’s that whole “war on women” thing. I don’t know if that’s what we called it back in the 70s, but let’s be honest about it. The people who are against abortion are not trying to wage a war on women. They are trying to save lives. They may be a little overzealous. They may not have great follow through once the kid is actually born, but would it kill us to admit that their intentions might actually be honorable?

Of course it would. Because admitting that might mean that they had a point, and then we’d lose.

The problem is that neither side wants to budge even a millimeter; because they’re afraid that if they give that much, they’ve lost the battle. But the simple fact of the matter is that a compromise absolutely has to happen.

And it can only happen when we both take the girders out of our eyes, and can look at each other clearly.

1 comment:

  1. I don’t know who you’ve been hanging with but so many of your assertions simply seem wrong to me.

    First, why abortion shouldn’t be such a big deal. I’ve had several friends who have had abortions, both here and in the UK, and absolutely none of them would say that the choice to abort wasn’t a big deal. It is a choice which is remembered forever. Perhaps you mean the clinical procedure isn’t a big deal compared to other surgeries, like, say, removing an aneurism. But for every woman who chooses to abort, it is a sad but necessary situation.

    Secondly, regrets. Of course. But not regrets in the sense of its having been a bad choice. Most women would say it wasn’t an easy decision but it was necessary at the time. It isn’t casual, to put it mildly, but at least there is the choice. You may wish to review the Freakonomics discussion of the Donohue-Levitt hypothesis which states that legalized abortion in the 1970s explains a substantial part of the crime decline in the 1990s.

    “The problem is that neither side wants to budge even a millimeter; because they’re afraid that if they give that much, they’ve lost the battle.” I don’t see it that way actually. Being ardently pro-choice, I welcome thoughtful discussion of this issue, but don’t start waving pictures of dead babies in my face. The unfortunate labelling of issues which are female-centric as ‘the war on women’ encompasses more than just the choice debate. It is many other things like insurance coverage of birth control devices and medical examinations. And no, I don’t think that some of the discourse by those who would like to limit access to abortions is honorable at all. My favorite bumper sticker of all time is the one which said: “Against abortion, don’t have one.” Ironically, generally speaking these are the same people who would limit access to nutritional programs for school aged children. It is a bundled agenda which really makes no sense.
    ~ Judy Jerome