Pro Life and Pro Choice

Leonard Pitts, the controversial but always thoughtful, African American columnist wrote a piece the other day on abortion in which he identified himself as pro life and pro choice. Basically, he said that he found himself moved and persuaded by the familiar slogan that “Abortion stops a beating heart,” but believes only a woman, in consultation with her doctor, clergy, other advisers, should be able to make that decision. So, he is pro life…and pro choice.

I find myself in that same category. I believe that abortion is the taking of a human life, or at least a “potential” human life. Since no one on this earth, scientist or pope,  knows when human life in the womb actually begins, it seems to me that we must err on the side of the earliest possible moment which would be conception…or at least implantation. Abortion does indeed stop a beating heart.

But, tragically, there are times when human lives are legally taken every day. By soldiers in war, by the police in instances that are truly “justified,” in self defense or the defense of others. And while I am no fan of the death penalty because I believe it to be often unfairly administered and not a proven deterrent to violent crime, I accept that there are some acts so heinous as to warrant even this extreme measure.

So, in cases of rape and incest, in cases dealing with the life of the mother, and a number of other medical, psychological, and sociological realities which it would be impossible to enumerate or categorize, the tragic taking of a nascent life must be permitted morally. In these cases, only the mother whose body alone is the bearer and guardian of another human being — again, in thoughtful, prayerful, consultation with her physician, clergy or other counselors, family and friends as available — should be empowered to make that decision and given all the safety and support she needs to follow though on this most difficult choice.

This should not be a question of law, except to assure a woman’s legal right to make that choice. Society also has the responsibility to see that she has the comprehensive health care necessary to assure her healing and eventual flourishing in the years to come. With no particular pleasure or even satisfaction in the position and certainly no judgment on those who reach different conclusions, I stand with those who believe that abortion should be

Safe…legal…and rare.

One Response to “Pro Life and Pro Choice”

  1. Bob Miller Says:

    Those who presume to judge to take someone’s life after conception seem to be the same persons who feel themselves empowered to take the life of someone who has forgotten how precious life is and is in prison or to end a life when it appears no longer to have any useful value to society. We receive life as a precious gift, to be protected, nurtured, and celebrated, especially when young. Life is not something we can command, either by right of our station or legal privilege. When it becomes unbearable due to terminal illness or when our bodies are no longer able to sustain it, we, and no others, should have the legal right to decide about embracing the transition of our dying. But along the way, each of us is obligation to support one another, to ease the pain, to lend encouragement, hope, and love.

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