I recently saw a headline about a proposal to sell an ‘Anti-Abortion Fundraising License Plate’ that would benefit “organisations that oppose abortions”.
After a short period of staring at the screen, blinking, I thought about how painfully ineffective we are.
Instead of being always against, why aren’t we FOR?
Why aren’t we fundraising to help support and protect people carrying unplanned pregnancies to term?
Why aren’t we fundraising to support babies whose parents cannot raise them?
Why aren’t we pushing to ensure that every American has access to high quality education from the earliest stages of life up through a decent college education?
Or to ensure that access to contraceptives is free, or very, very cheap?
(“But Kat!”, you say, “if people have access to contraceptives they will be encouraged to have sex!”
Maybe so. I have my doubts about this assertion, and clearly plenty of people are having sex anyway, but for me that isn’t the important point.)
For me the important question here is, which do you really want to do: reduce abortions, or control other people’s decisions and actions?
That isn’t a trick question, but do give it a moment’s thought before answering.
Because if what you really want is to reduce abortion, then it’s time to focus on the practices, processes, and resources that really DO reduce it. And pushing our country deeper and deeper into poverty, inequality, divisiveness, and desperation aren’t part of the solution here.
But as I mentioned earlier, there are many really effective parts of this solution – they make a big difference in abortion rates.
And they do it in ways that don’t require abusing, or alienating, desperate people who feel trapped in circumstances far beyond their ability to manage.
(Which also sounds a bit more useful to the mandate of the Christian, according to my reading.)
And if what you really want is to control other people, at least be honest about that, so you aren’t burdening those who are actually fighting abortion. (And perhaps, let’s be realistic too: You can’t wholesale control other people’s thoughts, choices, or actions. I’d suggest focusing on what IS possible.)
I strongly suspect that most people who consider themselves ‘Pro Life’, view abortion as something sought by irresponsible high school or college kids. And undoubtedly some are. I have no idea of the actual proportions.
What I do know is that when I worked in a crisis pregnancy centre, EVERY ONE of the clients I saw who was actually considering abortion was a married woman who felt that she and her husband simply could not afford to support another baby.
My experience may be unique. I’ve sometimes wondered if God hand picked each of these clients to transform ME.
Because they did transform me.
But regardless of whether my experience was typical, or just God’s underhanded machinations, it does point to the fact that many women are considering abortion due to the exact conditions which most Pro Life Americans consistently work to preserve in our country: low wages, expensive or limited access to health care, reducing (of all things! What on earth?) access to birth control options, poor quality education, and limited support for families raising young children.
If that is all we have to offer, I don’t think we’re going to achieve this goal.
Hope and opportunity are a much better foundation from which bargain for the life of a child than are poverty, judgement, and continually diminishing opportunity to thrive.
So what’s up with this disconnect?
Is it really that we care more about controlling other people’s choices than that we care about saving lives? I hope not. That doesn’t speak well of us, and if it is so, I think we need to get our heads on straight.
But my guess is that isn’t all of us. At least not when we are paying attention.
I suspect that when we see media hype about one topic, we don’t necessarily make all the connections to other topics.
We may see the recipients of Head Start or school lunches or Food stamps as people with no connection to us. OTHER. THEM.
And maybe we never realise that these may be the very same people we are praying for when we pray to end abortion.
When we see that THE OTHER SIDE supports abortion rights, we may close our ears to everything else they support, and never realise that a great deal of what they support has direct, and significant impact on reducing the likelihood that a couple will ever even consider abortion.
For that matter, when we judge THE OTHER (or THE OTHER SIDE) it probably doesn’t occur to us that no one has ever changed our own beliefs by judging us, so probably we won’t change anyone’s views that way either.
As for me, I’m still against far more things than I ought to be, but I’m going to at least be for every viable part of the solution that I can manage.