Wednesday , May 22 2024

Abortion: Finding the Moral Balance

The Supreme Court is about to become imbalanced in a way that will most likely favor the government’s increasing interference with our personal lives. I could of course be wrong, but I sincerely doubt it. It’s not that I don’t think Samuel Alito isn’t a qualified candidate – I do. He’s extremely qualified, one might even say he has been groomed for the position. But unlike Justice Roberts, Alito isn’t a letter-of-the-law kind of guy: he’s a dissenter and his court rulings speak volumes to me.

I am appalled, but not surprised that the Democrats aren’t putting up more of a fight over this guy, but the sad truth is we are a country in transition, without direction and without a real sense of leadership. Democrats are fumbling all over themselves to find a course to take, and the core conservatives are only listening to an extreme margin of society.

What a poor time to test our laws.

This week marks the 33rd anniversary of the landmark Roe vs. Wade legal decision, a case more about privacy than abortion, but which set in motion what has been a unique time in our nation’s history, where women have had an actual say in their reproductive paths. Of course, since that time we have been a divided country on the issue of abortion. Regardless of the media hype, you don’t have to be a religious fanatic to oppose abortion and you don’t have to be a bleeding heart liberal to support reproductive rights. You can come from any and every walk of life and arrive at diametrically opposed views on this frought matter.

It’s an issue of life for certain, but more specifically, I think it is an issue of the quality of life over quantity.

For as long as women have been able to conceive, women have sought control over their reproduction, and not just out of convenience. Before modern times, having too many children might have meant life or death to a woman or her other children. Whether the issue was a limit on the resources of food and shelter or her personal health, sometimes it just wasn’t possible to have another child. That didn’t mean she wasn’t forced to acquiesce to the desires of man/men). Essentially, for some women, having control over this function was inherent to their survival.

Go back about 30 years and women were finally given a safe and legal way to decide their fate over poverty, ridicule, survival of existing children, health and ultimately the path that the rest of their lives might take. Some might simplify and call this a convenience of a sort, but convenience is hardly the most salient issue when deciding to bring a pregnancy to term, or to terminate.

The issue of reproductive rights didn’t become a political one until the government took the practice out of the hands of opportunists butchering and scarring women in back alleys. Yes it wasn’t until the government had a say that anyone gave this issue its proper attention.

No one thinks abortion is a pleasant event: not the people performing them, or receiving them. Undoubtedly, the promise of a miracle is cut short, but simultaneously the potential of a better future is given back. The doctors are sad, the patient is sad, but the choice is typically perceived as a necessity.

I won’t pretend to not hold a very specific opinion on abortion. I am pro-choice, but not without limits. I love children, I want children to be treated like the miracles they are. Sometimes this means telling a women who has chosen to carry her child to term to stop smoking crack, having unprotected sex, drinking bourbon and beer like they’re water, or sometimes it means allowing a woman who knows she cannot properly care for a child to terminate that pregnancy BEFORE it is viable.

This is where the issue becomes cloudy. Some believe life begins at conception -and on some level, they are right. Some believe life begins when there is a heartbeat – there is no doubt that is also a sign of life. Others feel when a life can sustain itself outside the womb it deserves the inalienable rights of all humans. And there are those who think life doesn’t begin until an infant breathes its first breath on its own.

To me, this cloudy issue is where Americans must reach consensus and build law. We must meet in the middle. It is neither reasonable nor democratic to cater to the extreme of either side and leave the majority of opinion left out to dry. We can neither ban, nor have no limits on abortion. It is a moral issue that a moral society must agree to be moral and fair about.

Clearly, if more than 1 million women a year are seeking an abortion, there is an issue that needs to be addressed. The money spent by both sides on this issue would be better spent lobbying for better healthcare for women and children. They should be spending money on education that teaches abstinence and provides birth control that is reliable and easily attainable. The key to preventing abortion is to prevent unwanted pregnancies, and the best way to do that is to educate and give women options BEFORE they become pregnant. Even in the best case scenario, there will always be accidents, rapes, medical emergencies and pregnancies gone terribly wrong, and the option must be there.

We are a fallible race with fallible bodies, and as a society our goal should be to move forward and improve, not retreat back in time to where women were at war with their own bodies.

About Dawn Olsen

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