Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Whole-Life Policy (No, not insurance and, yes I do think about things other than human sexuality.)

In a discussion about Wendy Davis and the pro-life/pro-choice debate, one of my Facebook friends said this:
. . . Texas, who claims to value life just executed it's 500 inmate. Last but not least if you want to be pro-life be all of pro-life and support women who choose to be single mothers, head start programs, education, food stamp programs and the list goes on. If we are a country that tries to live by christian values then help the disadvantaged like Christians.

I have to say, I mostly agree with this.  “Mostly” because I have some problem with women who choose to be single mothers. But overall, I think that a whole-life policy requires that we think about abortion as a part of a general approach to life.  

I call this a “whole-life policy” because I oppose abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia, and war all for the same reason: I think life is sacred.  

Possibly because my grandmother was a single mom before it was common, I have always tried to help and support single moms, who by and large haven’t really “chosen” that status and who have a very difficult job.  So for friends and parishioners who are single moms I have babysat, helped them fill out paperwork for Social Security, food stamps and WIC, chauffeured them to doctor’s appointments, listened and tried to be available when they just needed a break or a sympathetic shoulder to cry on. I have great respect for anyone trying to raise children on their own and I have learned a great deal about love, sacrifice, patience, frustration, and poverty from some of these single moms.  I have also learned that no matter how much government support someone has, the government support will rarely help someone change their status.  At best it will support them in their poverty; but as far as I can tell, the best way to help someone get out of poverty is to build a relationship with that person that enables you to see how all of the parts of her life fit together and how useless simplistic solutions are.  I have felt fairly helpless in trying to help solve the mountain of problems faced by some of these single moms, but at the very least I can try to help them believe in themselves and in their children. 

I have to admit, I don’t have a lot of sympathy in general for women who use abortion as birth control and there are a lot of abortions that fall under that category.  As a pastor, however, I would not condemn a woman who was feeling guilt over a past abortion.  I would assure her that God forgives her and that she needs to accept forgiveness. I would ask her to think about how she could honor her unborn child by working for life in some way – volunteering to read to schoolchildren, serving the homeless, working at a food bank.

But in terms of abortions, I think that late-term abortions are barbaric and I fully support the 20-week limit.  I would actually rather have no abortions.  I don’t think Wendy Davis is a heroine for trying to make sure that women can kill their 24 week fetuses. (See for interviews with late-term abortion providers) I urge women in particular to stand against abortion, especially late-term abortion.  But I deeply urge everyone and women in particular to stand for those who are trapped in poverty and feel that the only good choice is abortion.  

And one more issue, while I am discussing a whole-life policy.  I am totally opposed to the death penalty and I am sick that Texas has executed 500 people. (And yes, Rick Perry has lost my vote over this.) I have told my family that if I am ever murdered I want them to ask prosecutors not to seek the death penalty if my murderer is brought to court.  I would not seek it for someone killing a member of my family. Make no mistake; I would want to extract justice with my own bare hands.  But I would not.  And the time to make that decision is before anything horrible happens.

So that is a brief look at my “whole-life policy.” There is lots more to say, but that is enough for now.


  1. I think that's pretty fair, though I'm curious about your stance on early abortions. It sounds like you're uncomfortable with them, but what's your cutoff point? Fertilization, or sometime after?

    I ask because I'm trying to figure out exactly what my own cutoff ought to be. Late-term abortions trouble me, but earlier ones not so much. I read some of that bill, and it didn't just ban abortions past 20 weeks - it also imposed regulations that would probably shut down most abortion clinics in the state. So if you are on board with earlier abortions, then it would not make sense to support this bill even if you do support a ban on abortions after 20 weeks.

    1. No, it didn't just ban abortions past 20 weeks, but I knowing what I know about such a procedure, I think higher standards are warranted. I know there is disagreement over that, but I am concerned about abortion "clinics" that treat this like it is as easy as getting your ears pierced.

      I am still trying to work out my "cut-off." In one sense, I am just opposed to abortions, period. But I do realize that there are differences between fertilized ova, embryos, before implantation, after implantation, etc. When does "life" actually begin? I think I would probably say 10 weeks (the stage at which embryo turns into fetus) but I can't give you a real good reason for that. I know that part of this has an emotional component for me; I saw you at 12 weeks on a sonogram and at that point you were my baby. But I also realize that is not an answer that will work for others.

      I still continue to hope that we can work on the issue of abortion from a different perspective. I wish birth control were readily available everywhere and to all. I think that would be a better use of money than abortions. Not to mention excellent prenatal care.

      So, sorry I can't answer this one any better.

  2. Poverty and women.
    Breaking the cycle is not easy and only those with the desire and the stamina to change their life will do so. The poor have to see a world apart from there own. They have to be encourage to have a can do attitude. Single young women don't just drop on the face of the earth. Most have family that help them with housing, childcare, finance etc.

    I hold no contempt for most women that have had abortions. Most have adopted the world view and never really studied the
    procedure. I hold great contempt for those that mislead and prompt young women in a direction they know little about.

    The law doesn't allow minors to sign contracts or be held liable and there are reasons for that. The young are easily manipulated and that is a sin.

    Fusing murder, war, and appropriate punishment in one mix is confusing issues. They have to be evaluated separately.


  3. "I oppose abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia, and war all for the same reason: I think life is sacred"

    So nice to see a non-hypocritical view!

    But a question: why do you "have some problem with women who choose to be single mothers"?

    1. Yes, that should probably be explained. The type of single mother I have some problem with is the wealthy single woman who uses a sperm bank to get pregnant because she wants a child but not a husband. I think a child deserves two parents if possible. It ISN'T always possible, but it troubles me that a small number of women think they are all a child needs from the get-go. I think it is awesome when single women (or men for that matter)in particular choose to adopt an older child and give that child a home.

      So, actually, most single moms I have great respect for. Just not the few who treat motherhood like another job to be conquered and put on the resume. There are not many, but there are a few.

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