This post is one I've debated writing since I started blogging. I hesitated for so long because, well, you'll have to read on.
Why now? Well, its a topic I keep running into. As Shrek opines, better out than in, so here goes.
There I said it.
Do I feel better? Well, no, not really. Why?
Because this isn't a topic one can debate. I tried, back when the only online forum was newsgroups (1992 or so). I learned then that the lines or opinions are too deeply entrenched. There is no opportunity for the changing of minds. Everybody makes their own decision, and it seems pretty much sticks with for life. It is seen as a battle, with no room for accommodating the other side. I can see the rationale of both sides of the debate, of why they so firmly hold on. Its a battle between those that feel an obligation to protect all life, against those that see the issue as a matter of freedom, of individual liberty. Based on the volume of posts on the subject lately, the whole abortion debate is reaching a fever pitch again. Online at least.
Considering myself liberal minded, I have found myself constantly questioning why I am so at odds with the established liberal viewpoint on this. Every time I reach the same conclusion. I cannot satisfactorily answer the question "Is a fetus human, or not?"
This in essence, what it boils down to for me. We do not know where life begins. We cannot definitively frame that point in time where a fetus becomes a human child. What I know for certain, is that we don't know jack shit about what constitutes a human being. So I take the conservative approach, if we do not know for sure, then it is human. The consequences of assuming otherwise are disquieting.
We know more about when life ends, than when life begins. When your heart stops beating, within minutes you are dead. But when we try to define that point, either at or after conception, where life begins, we only have theory, ideas, guesses and outright wishing depending on your point of view. I say that last point, as I find that if one examines the motive behind the reasoning, it shows a personal stake in the outcome. Whether one is not willing to be a parent, or a stem-cell embryonic researcher, there is a personal stake for those supporting the theory. That's my controversial viewpoint for those wishing to savage my logic.
To answer the question probably on your mind, yes, I was raised a Christian. In the Christian Reformed Church specifically. I studied my catechisms and took my profession of faith and was accepted a full member of the church. But for the same reasons that I am pro-life, I left the church (and was publicly censured for it). When I fully analyzed what I thought I believed, I had no satisfactory answers. In the end I could not accept that I just had to have faith in God's mercy, God's forgiveness. I could not accept the illogic of heaven and hell, that I owed my life to a God who expected my undying gratitude and love in return.
In this same way, I see illogic in the belief, the faith if you will, that a fetus is not a human child. The very nebulous nature of that line is not universally agreed on (not the greatest link, I admit). So I have no answer to my question, "Where then, does humanity begin if not at conception?"
So if I am pro-life, why did I hesitate to address this topic? I believe that this is an issue each of us has to grapple with in our own way. Pro or con, the effects on society are far-reaching and complex. It is not for me to decide what is right for all. So I do not participate in, or condone the actions of the vehement pro-life movement. I do not believe in calling abortionists murderers. It is too easy to fall into the trap of a myopic viewpoint of casting those with a differing point of view as villains. Calling abortionists murderers ignores the very real part of all of us that finds it abhorrent to kill another human being. By using that label, we deny the pro-choice movement that part of humanity all of us share. We all desire to protect human life. Pro-choice or pro-life. Our priorities and perspectives are different, but our values are not that far apart.
If you press me, or attempt to trap me with my own logic, yes, you will get me to state that I believe abortion is murder. But it is not what I believe that is important, its what you believe, its what the larger part of society believes. If society is truly split 50/50 on this issue, then we owe it to ourselves to calmly debate this, if only for our own personal benefit. Of course, there is no calm debate, so the cycle of recrimination and outright violence continues. Maybe that's as it must be, as we are emotional creatures at heart. But the part of me that values debate and reason cries out in agony at the unjustness of it all.
So I stay out of it, or did until now. But this is all I will contribute to this debate. Take it or leave it, and if you disagree with me, I do not condemn you. I only ask you to teach me your thoughts, so I may learn from you and from that either change my mind, or gain further insight into my own belief.