No. It is not wrong. Neither is it right.
I am responding partly to a discussion between Pastor Steve Hickey and Cory Heidelberger on the Madville Times blog. Pastor Steve really wants Cory to answer this question; Cory says the question is not whether or not abortion is wrong, but whether or not Initiated Measure 11 (the second attempt at a sweeping abortion ban in South Dakota) is good public policy.
I do agree with Cory that his is a legitimate question that needs answering when we go to the polls, but I don’t agree with dodging the “right or wrong” question because those who believe abortion is morally wrong and a sin do not care how it is outlawed, as long as their crusade is won. The end, they believe, will justify their means, even if it legally demotes women to second or third-class citizens.
Abortion is not wrong. Coercing a woman to have an abortion is wrong, and coercing a woman into having a child she does not want is wrong, but that is a matter of coercion–forced agreement–rather than a matter of terminating a pregnancy.
Abortion itself is neither right nor wrong. It is neither to be banned nor encouraged, and it should be kept safe and legal so that women who seek this option will not endanger their lives by doing so.
Teaching young men and women about safe sex, abstinence as a good option, and the possible outcomes and responsibilities of their choices is a good way to reduce the number of abortions.
Outlawing abortion does not significantly reduce the number of abortions that occur, but it does significantly raise the negative physical, psychological, and emotional effects of those abortions, and those negative effects echo throughout society.
The fact is, women have been making decisions about their reproductive health for thousands of years, and that has always included the termination of pregnancies that are unintended and/or would result in a child that would be an over-taxation of the family’s and society’s resources.
That women have had, for most of recorded history, ways to make and carry out those decisions over their bodies and their fertility is a good thing, and has likely saved many tribes, community groups, and families from starvation and dissolution.
The self-righteousness of those who would deny women this intrinsic right over their own bodies and fertility baffles me. They want to do something they perceive as good and right and moral–Don’t let those women kill their babies! God will reward us for our (presumably) righteous cause (or at least not smite us with his wrath)!
But it strikes me as misguided to presume (if you’re a believer) what God wants from women in terms of their own bodies and fertility. Yes, they say “He wants us to be fruitful and multiply,” but wasn’t that a couple thousand years ago, and does that mean to the point of over-reaching our resources for our families, our communities, our earth that “He” supposedly gave us to be stewards over?
There are those who want every issue, every idea, every thing they encounter to have a “good” label or an “evil” label, and there are those who are quick to affix those labels. They castigate those who will not engage in this sort of labeling as the ultimate evil-doers: moral relavatists. I do not see myself as one of those.
I believe that when a women makes a decision to terminate or continue her pregnancy, it is often a practical decision that takes into account her own and her family’s and society’s ability to provide a good life for that child. It is a decision that takes into account whether or not an additional child will take away from the good lives she is able to provide for her other present or future children.
From an abortion-is-a-sin-and-an-abomination viewpoint, the decision to terminate a pregnancy is always morally wrong. For a women in uncertain times or without adequate resources, the morally right decision may be to terminate the pregnancy in order to provide for her existing children and family, or to better her circumstances in order that her future children will have better and healthier lives.