The abortion issue comes up before the Supreme Court again. Mr. Alito and Mr. Roberts await their big moment. I have lived through this debate for more than 35 years and think it is time we take a more mature position on this issue. To my mind, we are working the wrong side of the debate. Our problem is not whether our government allows abortion or what the legal details are on abortion, but why abortions are necessary at all. To argue the legality of abortion is a de-facto declaration that we as a society have failed by creating an unwanted pregnancy. We then turn to our government to rescue us from ourselves, but only in a way that meets our moral values.
By the time a woman is thinking about abortion, we as a society have failed. We have failed because we have not prevented the unwanted pregnancy. We have failed because at some point in this person's relationship they took a short view and deemed it right to get pregnant or take a chance on pregnancy. This is not about sliding the argument toward abstinence, a fine option to unwanted pregnancy, it is about acting responsibly. It is about knowing and accepting consequences and educating people. The day no abortions are done in the US will have nothing to do with laws, our government or the Supreme Court. It will come when we have risen above politics and turned inward to solve our societal ills, when we accept responsibility for our actions, when we don't expect someone to rescue us. Laws have never controlled abortion and never will. Laws have never stopped people from having sex and never will.
The battle needs to move away from a political debate. It needs to move out of the courtroom and into the bedroom. No amount of post-sex debate will change sexual behavior. All of our society is failing: our communities, our schools and our churches. As the center of the community, churches need to be more aggressive in promoting preventative measures and values. Churches need to get sex into the discussion and admit that before every "begat", there was sex. Why do churches battle our government over laws which cannot control the problem? The ratio of post-sex to pre-sex attention is way out of proportion and our laws seem to be written for Sandra-Dee and Gidget, not the average American.
When churches take the abortion problem to the government, they are admitting failure in the moral arena and are asking for laws to control a society they cannot. Yet they resent the rescue. Why is there so much abortion miss-information spread about? Why are so many intellegent people are walking around with false impressions of abortion law, the rate, the term, the number of late term abortions, all based on propaganda? This susggests some groups are more interested in political control than resolution. Propaganda may successfully draw a clearer battle line, but at the cost of overall integrity. To shift the battle line into a better place, both church and state will have to pull back from sound bytes and look at the hard reality of American society in the 21st century. To end abortion, churches will have to retake responsibility for the moral integrity of the society they serve and people will have to take responsibility for their actions.
As for the Supreme Court, I think all judges enter with an agenda. It may be an honest desire to sway the court to their interpretation of our founding fathers intent, feelings of religious correctness or a specific issue such as abortion. The true character of a Justice will not be tied to an agenda, but the long historical record of the person he or she becomes once this agenda resolves. Only then will he or she be burdened with the hard work of constitutional law. Our short-term concern is over two new appointees who may have some agenda or perhaps the same agenda. But if they are truly worthy of this honor, they must know this is a short chapter in a large book.
I am not convinced either side really wants change and the Supreme Court may cause more problems in future elections than the politicos want. Abortion is perpetual campaign fodder used to define the opposition (whichever side you are on). Lawmakers have spent decades formulating ways to alienate the least constituents while talking strongly about abortion. If RvW is overturned, the rhetoric will become more difficult to hedge and both sides will be in a position of alienating some part of their constituency.
The impact of overturning RvW may not be as dramatic as suggested by some. Many states have existing laws on the books to cover abortion and others will quickly introduce new laws. Some states will ban abortion and some will not. Those who ban abortion will be disenfranchising a large population with the least access to support systems. The poor will deliver more babies to live off the state and extend the cycle of poverty.
The Bible and the Constitution have both come up short on abortion. Both are interpreted to fit the dogma of a society not envisioned by their scribes. Both seek to enfranchise the very group who will suffer most from a change in abortion law: the poor. To solve the abortion issue, we must stop searching for new interpretations of law and religion, move away from black ink on white paper, move out of air conditioned halls and offices. Abortion is the post-sex effect of a society which openly promotes promiscuity. No amount of ink will not stop it.
Copyright Peter Jay Smith 2005 Return to helarc.com