Monday, January 30, 2006

Rethinking Abortion

In college I was pro-choice. After reading Francis Schaefer and Everett Koop (Whatever Happened to the Human Race?) and Bernard Nathanson (Aborting America), I became pro-life and have been ever since. Why the change? New information I wasn't aware of. For example, Nathanson exposes some of the lies of the pre-Roe v Wade prochoice legal arguments and explains his transformation from being a co-founder of NARAL and a leading abortionist to recognizing the humaness of "alpha" (the fetus) and becoming a pro-life advocate. (I challenge everyone to read this book, whatever your side. Nathanson doesn't write as a right-winger but as an abortion movement insider). Koop brought his perspective as a pediatric surgeon and the value of human life. In 1989 I was arrested along with 800 others in Los Angeles at an Operation Rescue (OR) in front of a clinic and spent 3 days in jail. That was an eye-opening experience.

Although I'm still strongly prolife, my stance has shifted over the years as I continue to learn new information. I no longer believe that abortion should be in the same category as murder, except perhaps in some extreme late-term circumstances. I now have no issue with allowing exceptions for abortion for rape or incest. I no longer think that we should have a nationwide ban on abortion, but instead we should allow the States to decide through the legislative process. Although my experience with OR was positive (the media and pro-choice counter demonstrators revealed extreme bias against us), I have found later statements by an OR founder to be divisive and out-of-line.

Today, my main peeve with more traditional pro-life stance is the all-or-nothing and black-and-white attitude. It is our way or the highway and no room for compromise. My main peeve with the common pro-choice position is its disingenousness and unwillingness to face facts. If they were truly pro-choice, they would welcome the nationwide network of pregnancy help centers and encourage women to consider their services. They would admit the lies of their past (e.g. the exagerated claims on the number of deaths from backalley abortions, that "Roe" was not raped as was claimed in the case, and that she is now pro-life), and the fact that the Roe v Wade decision is based on flawed legal logic which is increasingly being conceded by pro-choice analysts. For example, see Cohen and Kinsley, (Kinsley: "Although I'm pro-choice, I was taught in law school, and still believe, that Roe v Wade is a muddle of bad reasoning... and judicial overreaching.")

It's interesting that Cohen has shifted within a pro-choice position and is now closer to mine. Perhaps this is a one way to solve the abortion dilemma. Each side get honest and take steps toward each other.


Jonathan said...

As always, your writings cause me to sit back and think!

Thank you!


Anonymous said...

With all due respect, formulating opinions about abortion via the works of Bernard “Silent Scream” Nathanson, or C. Everett Koop before he became Reagan’s AIDS guru is a bit like learning about racial tolerance from David Duke. (

If you check the history of anti-contraception and anti-abortion movements throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, you will find that the prime motivator behind them was the desire of governments for recruits for their armies or the desire of industrialists to have a steady supply of cheap, expendable laborers.

As for the “crisis pregnancy centers”, they cannot benefit their intended demographic because their operations are governed by their parent organizations’ very selfish goals of amassing money, political power and followers. Allowing states to outlaw abortion is putting an intensely personal decision into the hands of the same kinds of pandering politicians who now have our existing children fighting in Iraq.

The decision to abort is never taken lightly by those who consider it, whatever their ultimate decision might be. There are pro-choicers who’ve elected to carry their unplanned pregnancies to term and pro-lifers who've dropped long-cherished beliefs in a hurry when they aborted theirs.

Abortion would rapidly go the way of steam locomotives and Morse code if there were serious advances in birth control. Current hormone-based methods are based upon technologies which date from the early 1960's. Barrier methods are older still. If our space program had been run the way contraception research has been over the last 40 years, the moon would now be a Soviet missile base.

Michael said...

You really have Nathanson and Koop in a box. Comparing them to David Duke doesn't hold water. Duke is a racist. Nathanson was a co-founder of NARAL. Koop promoted condom use to fight AIDS to the chagrin of conservatives while gays applauded him. These guys don't fit in your sterotypical box.

I'd like sources for your history lesson. So, people who advocated for birth rather than abortion were just recruiting for the military or sweatshops?? Sounds ludicrous. Yesterday or today, where is the evidence for that?

I've known people who have worked in crisis pregnancy centers and have done volunteer work for them. You have this image that Dr. Dobson or someone is controlling of them for money and political power. Again, a ludcricous assumption. I'm no fan of Dobson these days, but really, he doesn't have that much power. CPCs are typically run by a local board and they do really help women who want to choose life.

As for better contraception research, I'm all for it.

LilMissIndie said...

Excellent post, as are the others I've read. I found your blog through a roundabout way, and I'm glad I did. It's nice to find someone else who is neither extreme liberal nor extreme conservative, and who has struggled with these issues. And who is also willing to re-examine them. I despair sometimes when viewing the schism that has occurred in our Church and in our country. There doesn't seem to be any place where agreement can find hold and grow.