Long before I began learning God’s plan for our sexuality, I confronted the issue of abortion.
Wasn’t because of a family crisis or a poor decision I made. I just felt I needed to have a viewpoint. I needed to take a side.
I didn’t do exhaustive research. I didn’t talk to friends and family to get their take. I reasoned it out in my own. It was a long time ago and I don’t remember all the details but I imagine the debate in my mind went something like this…
Sperm penetrates egg and fertilizes it. The genetic material of Mom and Dad is completely present. The fertilized egg starts to grow. Cells divide into more cells and so on. It’s an embryo, a zygote, and finally a fetus, I think.
After awhile, there’s a heartbeat. At a certain point, gender is known. The little one can move around too. After 40 weeks, give or take a few, birth takes place. A first breath is taken, followed by a lot of crying.
High school health class was good for something after all…
Pro Choice as I Understood It Back Then
Some people believe that before a certain time, it’s ok to terminate the pregnancy. Others believe it can be terminated just about any time before birth. They have different reasons.
Some believe that, before a certain point, the fertilized egg/embryo/zygote/fetus is not alive, or not human or not developed enough to have the same rights as those of us who have been born. Others believe that the pregnant woman gets to decide the fate of the developing human inside her. What if the pregnancy was unwanted, occurred as a result of rape or incest, or having the baby puts the mother’s life at risk?
What if the fetus has a serious disease or genetic disorder that will result in a diminished quality of life or a short life span? Aren’t we doing it a favor by not bringing it into the world? Aren’t we showing mercy by not bringing a child into the world who will suffer from birth until death?
I’m sure there was more to it back then but I think I covered the basics. What about the other side of the coin?
What Pro Life Meant to Me All Those Years Ago
Some people believe that life begins at the moment of conception. The fertilized egg is a developing human, no different than a child who is growing into an adult. Because it’s a human it has all the rights humans have. The greatest of those being the right to live.
Our laws say ending a life is illegal. (I’ll cover assisted suicide in another post.) Therefore abortion is a crime and should be illegal. Pregnant women can make many choices but the one they shouldn’t be allowed to make is the one to end a pregnancy. A mother’s obligation to protect her offspring extends to her unborn offspring. Her right to choose ends when the choice is abortion.
These folks believe that a child conceived from rape or incest can have an adoption plan made if the mother doesn’t wish to raise it. As for the mother’s life being endangered by bringing the pregnancy to term, it’s such a rare occurrence that no law should be expected to account for it.
A hard road to travel in some cases but there are those who believe there’s dignity in living, no matter what that life may entail.
The Choice I Made Before I Met Jesus
Compelling arguments on both sides, indeed. The deciding factor for me was the differing opinions on when the fertilized egg became human, or was truly “alive”. Organs begin to form? Heartbeat? Limbs? Gender becomes apparent? And with the differing opinions came different abortion laws in different states. Second trimester, third trimester, partial-birth and so on.
There had to be a simpler dividing line. Not all things in life are simple but they are easier to understand by reducing them to their simplest elements. The simplest explanation for me was that life begins at conception.
And so I became pro life.
Then, years later, I became Catholic and I began to learn the church’s teachings on the sanctity of human life. The viewpoint I formed years prior was just me trying to apply logic and what little I knew of the natural law. Now I had a different perspective and a new understanding of why it’s important to not just believe in the sanctity of human life but to defend life out in the world.
I’m not naive enough to think there won’t be a comment to this post that says, “Stay out of my uterus. My body, my choice. You’re enslaving women!” or something to that effect. After all, I’m a man and even though my genetic material is necessary to create life, I have no say in whether or not that life is allowed to take its first breath – according to the opposition anyway.
Mine is a simple response. All Catholics are called to defend the sanctity of human life, men and women both. Jesus didn’t cure sick men and leave sick women to die. Jesus saved the adulterous woman from being stoned and rebuked the men who were about to stone her for ignoring their own sins. I love all human life so I defend all human life.
And I defend your right to disagree, too.