Well, this is going to be a touchy subject. We challenged our staff to answer the important question: Is abortion a sin? Eight writers (including myself) tackled the subject head on. I highly recommend reading everyone’s pieces as a lot of time and effort was put into each of them. Feel free to voice your own opinion in the comments as we always love to read what our readers have to say.
The time I spent in high school gave me a front row seat to see a few cases where someone would be desperate enough consider abortion as an option. I saw four different girls have to choose between a harder future for themselves and an entire future for their child. The right to “choose”: that’s what pro-choice supporters are after. They frequently warn about calling them “pro-abortion” because they are not supporting abortion in general, just that it should be an option; but whose option is it?
According to a 2013 study 51% of women obtaining abortions in the U. S. are younger than 25, and a very unsettling fact is that teenagers comprise 18% of all abortions (abort73.com). At such a young age, how could someone even have enough experience and foresight to make such a heavy decision? I believe that girls put in a position to do so will only do what is the more socially acceptable option. Sadly for many of them, what’s more socially acceptable is to have an abortion and then keep it quiet.
There are several arguments around the issue of abortion and many ways to discuss them; but usually it comes down to individual’s morality and the scientific debate on when life actually begins. I was once under the impression that Pro-Life was primarily supported by moral arguments and that Pro-Choice was supported by scientific evidence to a greater degree. I was wrong in my assumption, as there are many credible scientists and physicians who come down on the side of Pro-Life, stating that human life begins at conception. Some of the world’s most prominent scientists and physicians have testified to a U.S. Senate committee that human life begins at conception. Some of those respected professionals were:
Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni a professor of pediatrics and obstetrics at the University of Pennsylvania,
Dr. Jerome LeJeune a professor of genetics at the University of Descartes in Paris,
Professor Hymie Gordon from the Mayo Clinic,
Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth at Harvard University Medical School,
and Dr. Watson A. Bowes at the University of Colorado Medical School.
All of those who I have mentioned brought many compelling arguments and facts supporting Pro-Life views to a committee of the U.S. Senate. (http://www.epm.org/artman2/publish/prolife_human_rights/Scientists_Attest_To_Life_Beginning_At_Conception.shtml).
One example of this evidence is development studies showing a fetus being nothing more than a human that has yet to finish developing into a child, much the same as the way a child will continue to develop when puberty is reached. Science shows that the gestational period is just another time of development for humans. No one would say that a child is not a human because it hasn’t gone through the development periods that make it into an adult. So why would we not extend that same logic to the prenatal humans and say that a fetus is a human in an early stage of development?
Yes, I fully understand that children born to parents who are ill-prepared or unable to adequately provide for them will cause much hardship for both the parents and the child. However, if we are arguing that a birth into an unfavorable circumstance will result in difficulty, then we are already considering the fetus to be truly a life.
Ending a life in order to avoid personal hardship would be considered murder in any other situation; and ending a life in order to save that person from hardship would be considered a mercy killing. However, there have been scores of people who have overcome being born under unfavorable circumstances; there have even been more than a few who have achieved great things. Liz Murray came into this world in the Bronx of New York. She was born to drug-addicted parents who later contracted HIV/Aids. By 15, her mother had died, her father was forced to live in a homeless shelter, and she, too, became homeless. Today, Liz is a Harvard graduate, psychologist, and an inspirational speaker. She speaks about determination and that how no matter how hard life is you have to move on and continue to work your way through the battles. A movie was made inspired by the events of her life (Homeless to Harvard).
Oprah Winfrey was born to unwed teenage parents in Mississippi. After her birth, the two teenagers ended their relationship and she was left to be raised by her grandmother. For a large portion of her early childhood she was raised on a farm in poverty. In her adult life, she went from a radio host to a news anchor and then to a television host. Today, she has a magazine, has established a television network, built a massive corporation, and has become internationally recognized as one of the most successful people in television.
My name is Bryan Conard. I am 23 years old, and I was born to a 16 year old mother with a father that made it clear that he wasn’t going to be in my life. I’m not saying that my story is as sad or will end as greatly as Oprah’s or Liz’s, but that I almost did not get to choose how it would be written at all. Being born to someone who was still a child at the time, I came to realize that there was an obvious choice made, without my knowledge or consent, that affected the rest of my life quite literally. I believe my mother was right by not choosing abortion, but how she handled the stress of that decision at such a young age I’ll never know. She chose to put her future of schooling, career, and her dreams of going into the air force in jeopardy when she chose not to take the easy way out.
In 1991, the year I was born, 1,388,937 abortions were reported according to the C.D.C. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). That is more than the entire population of of San Diego (1,355,896 in 2013).
I’m sure that many of the parents of those aborted children chose what they did based off significant reasons which pressured them greatly; they knew that they were not suited for parenthood at the time. However, just like the two stories I shared with you, even someone born into extremely adverse conditions can overcome their circumstances and live a productive life if just given the “choice.” The pro-choice movement has emphasized the right for women to choose what happens to their bodies and their futures, but what about their child’s choice?
Without being terminated as a fetus or some other kind of unforeseen tragedy, what would have grown out of those 1,388,937 pregnancies is 1,388,937 adults. Adults who could function and make their own choices.
The abortion issue is a choice issue.
“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee …” – God (Jeremiah 1:5)
Before I begin, I want to first wrestle with the idea of personally knowing if something “is OK” for everyone. While God clearly calls us to be righteous humans, we’ve created for ourselves a lot of gray areas—and despite what many Christian’s think, it is OK to not have all the answers, to wrestle with thoughts, to live in the confusion. I do not believe I have the words or life experience to say if abortion is “OK” or not. I will not decide for you. I believe this is a very personal decision. But I won’t shy away from telling you about my journey.
I went to Catholic middle school. In seventh grade we spent weeks talking about abortions. Before I really knew anything about sex ed, I knew the exact procedure for third term abortions (a scare tactic—only .01% of all abortions occur this late). I’d held rubber fetuses to feel “how big the baby was” (89% of all abortions are in the first trimester) and had a neat little image of the horrible, selfish women who wanted this procedure. My religion teacher sneered about an imaginary woman who aborted her fetus for the sake of “fitting into a bridesmaid’s dress.”
Please do me a favor and strike these images from your mind. There are very, very few women who go into abortions lightly. Most clinics stress the importance of the decision, and our polarized media fills in the gaps for anyone who doesn’t understand the finality of this act. Abortion is a big deal. It should be a big deal. Women who decide to go ahead with the procedure have wrestled with it. They are not flippantly “murdering their babies.” You would do well to remember this. Humanize those you think so little of.
Do I wish we lived in a world where abortions weren’t necessary? Of course. I abhor the idea of them, but I pray every day that I never find myself feeling so hopeless, so out of options, so very lost and scared. I wish we had better sex education (87% of high schools teach abstinence as the most effective form of birth control), that we taught our children about safe, consensual sex, about all the forms of pregnancy prevention. I wish we made it easier for them to get birth control; I wish we would erase the stigmas of sexual safety. And I wish we would all strike the idea from our minds that pregnancy is somehow a punishment for having sex, that those who engage in unsafe, premarital sex deserve what comes to them. How horribly unkind and self-righteous. You do not know anyone else’s story. Do not push your own history onto them.
On top of poor sex ed, having a child in this country is terribly difficult. The average cost of prenatal care (without insurance) is $2,000. C-sections cost $15,800, vaginal births around $10,000 (WebMD) (with insurance most women pay about 30% of this cost, still about $3,000-$4,700). And this is all before the child is even born. Obviously after birth there is food, diapers, clothing, schooling, room and board, health, etc. The average cost of raising a child is $245,000 over the course of their lifetime. Yes, we should all be aware of these things before we have sex. Yes, it would be wonderful if we lived in a world where everyone knew the consequences of their actions.
The cost argument might not be valid for you. But imagine having three children, working two minimum-wage jobs, struggling to make ends meet. Imagine discovering that you are pregnant and must come up with the funds to pay for another child, while struggling to care for those you do have. It would be nice if the father would help, but he doesn’t, because pregnancy is a woman’s problem. It is your burden for having unprotected sex with him in the first place, for not being able to afford birth control, for sleeping with someone you clearly shouldn’t have. You are out of options.
But, wait, what about adoption? Isn’t that a viable option? As of 2013 there are 402,000 children in the foster care system in the US, with 205,000 children added in 2013 alone. Nearly 102,000 of these children are waiting for adoption, averaging over three years before finding a family. While adoption appears to be a noble option at the outset, it is certainly not a kind or easy life.
But it is a life.
Your opinions about abortion should be your own, and they should come to you after really thinking about them. I have wrestled with it for years, and I am still not done thinking. Do I think it should be legal and safe? Yes. No matter your opinion, women will continue to get abortions whether it is legal or not. Illegal abortions are extremely unsafe (accounting for nearly a fifth of all pregnancy-related deaths in 1965). Since the legalization of abortion in 1973, death tolls for women have dropped dramatically. Women’s health is a huge factor in the abortion debate, and it should not be taken lightly. Neither should the abortion itself.
Just do me a favor before you make sweeping statements about the morality of another person’s actions: stop and think. Have grace. And remember that God loves all of us equally, and it is not your place to speak for Him.
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