I recently had a conversation with a friend. We were venting about Facebook being splattered with articles and opinions on this Hobby Lobby case. Some might ask why we were venting rather than joining in the conversation, this is an important debate. To be honest, I’m tired of Christians and non-Christians only discussing issues of homosexuality and abortion together. Even though I’ve grown weary of the constant debate, here is my opinion. First, let’s lay down the stones of insults and start working together. I think I’ve laid out plausible efforts to do just that. Please comment politely and engage in the discussion.
I had always been a strong advocate against abortion. Then roughly two years ago or so I had a conversation with a friend with completely different political views. I was crass and brutal in my position. Her friends insulted me rather than the position and I became even more defensive. She, however, remained strong in her convictions and lovingly responded to my comments even when I cursed and sulked. She might not know it, but her gracefulness forced me to critique my stance.
I’m still against the murder of a child, but my approach to the issue has transformed. It’s slightly amusing to myself that a miscarriage has actually assisted in affirming my transformed approach. You would think I’d rally that it is unfair. Why would they get to get pregnant and have the opportunity for a child and not me? To be honest, I often ask myself that, but it has also made me confront the idea that the situation is always more complex than it seems. Just as I get irritated when people tell me to stop stressing, just have sex and it’ll happen, or question when I’m finally going to have a kid, I’ve begun to understand how these women feel fear, confusion, and uncertainty at the impending arrival of a little one just as I do in the waiting.
There are a number of reasons a girl could be contemplating abortion. They could be financially strapped, unable to care for their own needs let alone a babe’s. A parent could be trying to hide the situation from a typically judgmental crowd regarding impregnated teenagers or unwed women. A woman could have had an affair and worries her husband will be less than forgiving if she were honest about a slip-up. A woman could have been raped by a family member, friend, or stranger. There could also be circumstances of impending death unless the child is terminated. I understand all these scenarios and I still think that God can use the birth of a child in any of these circumstances for good. However, I’ve never been in a predicament that has caused me to question abortion. We can still think the act is horrendous and morally wrong. However, the way we address it can either be seen as non-compassionate, hurtful, and mean or as kind, loving, and accepting.
We can refrain from picketing. (I was especially hurt watching a woman march outside of RMA in the rain saying we were killing kids. I was diagnosing why I couldn’t have kids. Some can view infertility treatments as abortions when a couple chooses not to implant the zygote. Typically the individuals doing these treatments want children so badly they’ll do costly medical treatments to get them. They also might feel that if it isn’t attached to the uterine wall that the child wouldn’t have an opportunity for life anyways. They might want to pick the most viable egg-sperm combo because they’ve endured several miscarriages and want to optimize their chances of actually birthing a child.) I say all this to emphasize that picketing is not usually the way to go. It leaves women feeling dejected, hated, and alone. It also causes the picketer to possibly be unjustifiably criticized. The picketer could have sound reasons for picketing—their mother contemplated abortion and decided to deliver their child thus giving life to them and they want the same opportunity for others. In the end, both sides are hurt by not viewing the opposing position.
Anyways, the whole case isn’t even in regards to going to clinics. It concerns early stages of abortion. The court decided that Hobby Lobby would not have to pay for birth control measures because of the moral conflict of the owners, saying that any law forcing them to pay for insurance on such substances would break their right to religious liberty. Insurance is expensive. If medical science can show that the birth control prevents ovulation, then there would be no viable reason not to disperse costs to a woman deciding to take preventive measures.
Sometimes we Christians can toss science out the window. We must not forget that if a medicine prevents ovulation and nothing else, then the sperm will not penetrate an egg. Conception can’t occur without ovulation. I don’t think this was stressed enough in sex-ed.
If a medicine is shown to allow conception to take place but prevent implantation, I could understand the moral discrepancy with wanting to provide assistance for something you are strongly opposed to. I am all for the Catholic church not being forced to administer condoms and other pregnancy prevention methods due to their convictions. Yet, from what I’ve read, Hobby Lobby is not a private institution. It is not a religious organization. It is a public company owned by a Christian. Now I understand they aren’t forbidding their employees from taking these drugs but rather refusing to pay for them. A Christian can disagree with laws, but if you are a public company rather than privately owned cooperation, you understand that there are going to be things you’ll have to provide that you might disagree with—maybe choosing to be a private company over amassing wealth might be a good decision.
If the owners don’t want to purchase it themselves, fine. If you hire individuals without a statement of faith and operate as a public cooperation, you will hire folks that don’t hold to your religious convictions. Refusing to provide a service because you alone are against it even though you aren’t a privately owned company will not bring peace and understanding to the table. If anything, it’ll create a bigger uproar.
I think sometimes we Christians can force our beliefs on others. (Other individuals besides Christians are guilty of this as well though.) I’m a scientist. I work in a lab. I might be working on a drug used in abortion clinics. I have seen tobacco samples at my former employer. I don’t agree with smoking or abortion. It doesn’t mean I can’t stop them from accepting and testing such substances. I might be able to request my desire not to personally be involved in the analysis. My opinion might be slightly different if Hobby Lobby wasn’t a public company.
As such, I’d challenge Hobby Lobby and pro-lifers as I challenged myself. What other ways can we address the issue of abortion without seeming judgmental, stuck-up, and insensitive? I have discovered that a law won’t stop someone from doing something. We have anti-murder laws and regulations against theft. It doesn’t stop someone from doing it. If anything, women will harm themselves and possibly their fetus further without proper medical attention. There will be underground clinics that will be unable to be regulated. (I think of that one clinic that was discovered recently where they were removing kids and throwing them into trash bags…I can’t recall the name right now.) Women will do it themselves or have a friend do it for them.
A law might not be our best option. I encourage supporting organizations like First Choice that provide counseling to women. I’ve personally considered opening a home for women where they feel it is a safe haven. Partner women with friends or family who desperately want a kid but for whom adoption organizations are too expensive. I’d challenge the church to provide counseling, sex education (because no matter how many times you tell someone to wait, someone will not) and self-esteem courses, and places women can go to for help. If a woman wanting abortion feels loved and cared for, she’ll be willing to listen to advice and perhaps seek other options. Also, if a woman wants to take a pill, remember it might be for more than pregnancy prevention (like I did when I was a teenager to reduce cramps…sometimes it is the only thing you’ve found that works).
For pro-choice folks—remember that there are those who consider these cells life. There are viable reasons we consider it life. For one, you can’t have life outside the womb without the sperm penetrating the egg. Life is a process and we’d do well to remember that you can’t get the end product without the first step. Yea math. Another comment, my 5 week old zygote was a baby in my eyes. I still lost a child. Telling me otherwise would be extremely insensitive on your part. Even if you don’t think it is a life, don’t tell me that. Empathize or sympathize.
I think it’s time for a discussion rather than judgmental slander on both parties parts. Start seeking to understand opposing views and why they believe what they believe. You might not agree and you don’t have to, but maybe we’ll find a resolution rather than constant fighting if you sit and listen rather than talk in the blow-horn.