Seek common ground on abortion

By Debra LoGuercio

©Copyright 2004, Debra LoGuercio, all rights reserved

When it comes to abortion, all the shrieking between Pro Lifers and Pro Choicers only distracts from the real issue. Abortion isn't the problem. Unwanted pregnancy is. Want to end abortion? End unwanted pregnancy.

Teach abstinence, distribute condoms in home room, put girls on the pill at age 13, make free birth control available to everyone -- do whatever it takes to stop conception. Do that, and abortion becomes a moot point.

Sure, birth control can fail, and in that case, a woman or girl still must have the ultimate say over what happens to (or in) her body. But at some point, the fetus is viable, and has rights too. It's a thorny path, and the best answer is to not tread there in the first place. If an all-out push to prevent unwanted pregnancy could cut the abortion rate in half, isn't that at least an improvement?

Sadly, Lifers and Choicers aren't interested in finding common ground on abortion so they could combine forces. Each side stubbornly clings to its own agenda.

Lifers want to end abortion by making it illegal. This approach won't end abortion, it'll only drive it underground. (Please refer to the section on "Prohibition" in your history books.) As for birth control, unless we're talking abstinence, Lifers stumble over sex every time. Before you can say "not without a condom," they're on that irresistible salvation track and the issue of saving unborn children is forgotten.

If Lifers sincerely want to end abortion, they must focus on one "sin" at a time. If you believe abortion is murder, that trumps your average, garden variety fornication, which doesn't even make God's Top Ten list.

Choose one goal and stick with it. Let go of the sex issue, guys. You will not, no way, no how, ever ever ever stop all people from waiting until they're married to have sex. Ain't gonna happen. You might, however, get a lot of them to prevent unplanned pregnancies if you stop screaming about sin and start preaching about precautions.

I challenge Lifers to do some soul-searching and decide whether you're truly trying to end abortion or merely taking the opportunity to vent pent-up judgement and rage against "sinners." What do you really want -- to save unborn babies or convert people to Christianity? Be honest now. God doesn't like liars.

As for Choicers, I challenge them to face their denial. A fetus is a human life. Having transported two of them into the world, I can tell you firsthand that what's kicking, tumbling and hiccuping inside your belly is not merely a ball of cells. It's most definitely alive. You don't further your cause by casually dismissing a fetus as non-human.

Choicers are right in defending a woman's right to choose what happens to her own body. Nobody has the right to violate another person's body. But there's a flaw in that logic. Fetuses have bodies too. Isn't destroying someone's body the ultimate violation of it?

Another point: bringing unwanted babies into the world isn't the answer either. A long time ago, in a lifetime far away, I was employed in the social services field, coordinating a program for teenage mothers. If you think you've won the battle by convincing a teenager to birth and raise a squalling infant, you're wrong. To lean on an old but apt clichˇ, it's out of the frying pan, into the fire.

Teenagers are, developmentally speaking, psychologically unequipped to parent. They are completely self-centered. The world revolves around them. It's an observation, not an indictment. Unfortunately, the only thing more self-centered than a teenager is an infant. When the needs of two self-centered individuals clash, the weaker one will suffer. Forcing the two together, by making abortion illegal, constitutes child abuse for both. No one wins.

Preventing the situation from occurring, by preventing unwanted pregnancy, causes no abuse for anyone. No one loses. Not Lifers, not Choicers, not the unwilling mother and, most importantly, not the innocent life.

Lifers, Choicers, find the common ground. It may not end the problem, but it'll put a huge dent in it. Moreover, it'll bring us vastly closer to a solution than playing tug-of-war with the umbilical cord.

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