wrote a post in which I claimed that abortion was not morally wrong, but could be a blessing for many. In that post, I quoted the words of Reverend Katherine Ragsdale, dean of Cambridge University's Episcopal Divinity School. I still believe every word I wrote in that post. Abortion is not immoral -- but can be both moral and a blessing.
Now I have found another important voice in the debate over women's choice. It is psychologist and author Valerie Terico (pictured on the left). She has written an excellent article on this subject on her own blog called Away Point. In the post, she discusses abortion and moral values -- and she says that those of us who believe in a woman's right to choose must reclaim the moral high ground in this debate.
Too often, we limit our argument in favor of choice to the privacy issue -- the issue on which the Supreme Court made its Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion. But privacy, the constitutional issue, is not the only issue -- and limiting our argument to it alone gives up the moral high ground in the debate. There is no reason to do that. There are moral arguments to be made for giving women control over their own bodies (and the decision on whether to have an abortion).
I urge you all to go over and read Ms. Terico's article. It is well-written, intelligent, and an important addition to the debate over abortion and a woman's right to control her own body. Just to whet your appetite, I post below just some of the bare-bones of the points she makes on how we can reclaim the high ground in this debate. There is much more in her article, including her fleshing-out of these points:
1. Talk about the whole moral continuum.
* No-choice advocates say: Abortion is immoral. God hates abortion.
* We can say: For me, bringing a child into the world under bad circumstances is immoral. It violates my moral and spiritual values. / Whose god decides?
2. Challenge the personhood/fetus-as-baby concept both philosophically and visually.
* They say: Abortion is murder. Abortion kills little babies.
* We can say: A person can think and feel. My cat can feel hungry or hurt or curious or content; an embryo cannot. / Thanks to better and better pregnancy tests, over 60 percent of abortions now occur before 9 weeks of gestation. Want to see what theyactually look like?
3. Admit that the qualities of personhood begin to emerge during gestation.
* They say: A fetus is a baby. A baby is a living soul from the moment of conception.
* We can say: In nature, most fertilized eggs never become babies. A fetus is becoming a baby, grows into a baby, is a potential person, or is becoming a person.
4. Pin blame for high abortion rates where it belongs – on those who oppose contraception—and call out the immorality of their position because it causes expense and suffering.
* They say: Liberals are to blame for abortion. Planned Parenthood is an abortion mill.
* We can say: Obstructing contraceptive knowledge and access causes abortion and unwanted babies. That’s what’s immoral. We have the technology to prevent almost all of the suffering and expense caused by unintended pregnancy, but many women don’t have access to that information or technology because of the twisted moral priorities of religious and cultural conservatives. Barack Obama and Planned Parenthood have done more to prevent abortions in America than all of the choice opponents combined. The no-choice position is anti-life. It kills women. It puts faith over life.
5. Acknowledge and address the powerful mixed feelings surrounding abortion.
* They Say: Abortion is psychologically scarring. Women end up haunted by guilt and permanently traumatized after having an abortion.
* We can say: No one should do something that violates her own values. Violating your values is wounding; that is why each woman should be supported in following her own moral, spiritual and life values when making decisions about pregnancy.
6. OWN religious freedom.
* They say: Employers shouldn’t be forced to provide contraceptive or abortion coverage.
* We Can Say: The freedom to choose how your employees spend their hard earned benefits and the freedom to choose whether to have a child are two very different things. No institution—and nobody’s boss–should have a say in one of the most personal and sacred decisions we can make: whether to have child. That is why all women, regardless of who they work for, should have access to the full range of contraceptives and reproductive care.
7. Talk about children and parenting, not just women.
* They say: Abortion is selfish. Women just want to have sex without consequences.
* We can say: A loving mother makes hard decisions to bring her kids the best life possible. A responsible woman takes care of herself. A caring father wants the best life possible for his children. Wise parents know their limits.
8. Embrace abortion as a sacred gift or blessing.
* They say: Abortion is bad. An abortion is regrettable.
* We can say: An ill-conceived pregnancy is bad. An unintended pregnancy is regrettable. An abortion when needed is a blessing. It is a gift, a grace, a mercy, a cause for gratitude, a new lease on life. Being able to choose when and whether to bring a child into the world enables us and our children to flourish.
9. Honor doctors who provide abortion services as we honor other healers.
* They say: Abortionists are murderers.
* We can say: God (or Nature) aborts most fertilized eggs. Abortion doctors are compassionate healers who devote their lives to helping women and men ensure that they have strong, well-planned, wanted families. Their work is as sacred as any in the field of medicine.
10. Honor women who decide to terminate pregnancies just as we honor motherhood.
* They say: An abortion is shameful. An abortion should be kept secret. An abortion needs to be forgiven by God.
* We can say: Choosing abortion can be wise and brave. It can be loving and generous. It can be responsible and self-sacrificing.