Albert Einstein wrote: “Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison of self-absorption by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation, and a foundation for inner security.”
Abortion has become technologically perfected and legally sanctioned since 1973. Since the legalization of the procedure via Roe vs. Wade, the number of reported abortions in the United States to date is nearly 70 million. The number of potential lives lost in 2017 is an estimated 800,000.
While abortion-on-demand has become somewhat commonplace in our high tech culture, it is still regarded by a significant number of Americans as morally unacceptable, or a wrongful “quick fix antidote” to a series of more complex social challenges.
The jolting news of an unexpected and/or unwanted pregnancy may require the need for competent counsel, it should not prompt a “quick fix” mentality. Abortion does not solve the social conditions that would drive a woman to choose such a desperate, and often violent act upon herself and her baby-to-be.
Whether the decision to have an abortion is due to: (1) socio-economic stress; (2) an imaginative recourse for the salvation of one’s own, private American dream; (3) an impulse of insecurity at the thought of bringing a child to full term, or the subsequent inconvenience of offering for the child a lifetime of care; or (4) a chosen means of population control, — other than for the life of the mother — abortion-on-demand is a demoralizing procedure that is not a cure for the challenges a woman faces in our society.
There are healthier alternatives to abortion — even in the glaring reality of life’s challenges that we all must reckon with every day. (No one ever concedes that raising a child is EVER easy.)
Martin Luther King, Jr. envisioned “the beloved community … to create a society in which all will be able to live together as [family] and respect the dignity and worth of all human personality.” If “personality” begins in the DNA of merging cells, then even the life-in-process within the womb is deserving of our “respect for her/his dignity and worth,” and the embrace of a “beloved community.”
Is the choice to abort-on-demand an undeniably human fetus, the most loving thing we can offer?
Thomas Merton’s challenge continues: “corrupt forms of love wait for the neighbor to ‘become a worthy object of love’ before actually loving him.”
Or, when does that life within the womb become a “worthy object of love?” Could there be a sacredness about simply loving the vulnerable developing child without yet knowing her/his name?
If anything in this world is sacred, certainly the awe-inspiring processes of human life-time must be.
If we are to be fully human ourselves, we must affirm the processes that deepen our experience called life and our mutual quest for the fullest spectrum of the “beloved community.”
In computer terminology, the word “default” refers to the response a computer is programmed to have unless the user instructs it to do something different. Has our society so de-evolved to the level of personal privilege that abortion has become the “default” for an unexpected or unwanted pregnancy?
We can choose the most politically correct language, but the result is still the same. No matter how life-in-process is labeled, a unique, DNA-designed embryo, a fetus, or a baby-on-the way, after an abortion, “Somebody who should have been born, is gone,” as Anne Sexton put it in her poem “The Abortion.”
Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, abolitionist, activist for women’s rights, and the first woman in the U.S. to earn a medical degree wrote:
“Look at the first faint gleam of life, the life of the embryo, the commencement of human existence. We see a tiny cell, so small it may be easily overlooked; it is a living cell; it contains a power progressive growth, according to laws, towards a definite type, that we can only regard with reverent admiration.
“Leave it in its natural home, tended by the rich life of the healthy maternal organism, and it will grow steadily into the human type; in no other by any possibility.”
In the pro-life movement, there is compassion both for the woman and for her child. Over 50 pregnancy care centers have been established in Kentucky since 1973 — offering hope and a way-out-of-no-way for women — except abortion by default.
The most profound admonition of any ideology is the respect for human life. Although abortion may be technologically perfected and culturally acceptable, there remains a tension regarding that violent procedure and the better good for a progressive society.
In 2018, “beating hearts for life” are investing in offices for insightful counseling, homes for destitute families, and joining in the call for affordable adoption services. We articulate a vision of a loving environment into which all children may be welcome in a community rightly called “beloved.”
Dr. Brian Shoemaker is the executive associate director the Kentucky Right to Life Association and a member of St. Stephen Anglican Church.