A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Monday, February 11, 2013

Both and Neither

If I had to bet on the most prevalent reason that Mormons are Republicans instead of Democrats, my wager could be summed up in one word: Abortion.  It's a lightening rod, black and white issue for most Mormons.  On this matter, Mormons may think that Democrats are the evil party of "abortions on demand," while Republicans virtuously defend the rights of the unborn.  Some Democrats, on the other hand, vilify those who are pro-life as forcing women to endure the psychological torture of carrying a baby which is the product of rape or incest.
For that reason, I've never done a post on abortion before. The extremists on both sides are wrong in many ways.   My brothers have a tried and true rhetorical technique which I'm going to use in this situation.  If someone asks me "Are you pro-life or pro-choice?"  I will respond with "yes."  The black and white categories don't adequately capture my views.  I am both and neither at the same time.

I am pro-life because I believe that we should value life, and the unborn should have advocates because they cannot speak for themselves.  I am pro-choice because I don't think the government should invade my body, or the body of any woman, like that.  And yes, I am not pro-life because I believe that a cluster of cells is different than a human being (I acknowledge this leaves me vulnerable to slippery slope arguments).  I am not pro-choice because I think that abortion should be regulated and restricted in some ways.

My 8th grade science teacher (who tried, bless him, to make health class for teenagers less awkward), had some wise words that I'm hoping we can all get behind.  Speaking about abortion, he said "the one thing both sides can agree on is that there should be fewer abortions."  Basically this captures my position.  Abortion should be legal, and rare.  We should create a world where women don't feel they have to get an abortion, but if they do, it should be done safely instead of in a back alley by a black market doctor.

Ironically enough, it's the position of 1994 Mitt Romney.  Then-candidate Romney discussed how someone he knew had died from an illegal botched abortion in the 1960's before Roe v. Wade.  More recently, Savita Halappanavar, a woman who was allegedly denied an abortion under Ireland's very strict anti-abortion laws, may have died as a result (the case is still being investigated).  The Mormon church's statement is that abortion is only allowed in cases of rape, incest, when the mother's life is at stake, or when the baby has severe mental defects which would not allow it to live beyond birth.  That is my own personal position, but...I still think abortion should be legal in this country.

Suppose in 2016 that Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, or another pro-life Republican is elected and manages to stack the Supreme Court with pro-life judges.  Suppose further that in a few years after that, the court gets an abortion case and overturns Roe v. Wade so that abortion is illegal again in this country.  To me, the result of this would be that rich women go to other countries and get abortions anyway, and poor women die as a result of illegal abortions.  This does not actually reduce the number of abortions, but just compounds the misery by resulting in needless deaths of women.  What will reduce the number of abortions?  This is the subject of another post.  For now, I am both and neither in the abortion debate.  I want a better and less extreme position.

Here are some better written posts on this subject that have got me thinking about this topic:
By a former supporter of abortion who is now pro-life
By a former pro-lifer who is now pro-choice (sorta?)

I encourage you to read *both* pieces no matter where you have a position on abortion.  They are both thoughtful explanations of a topic that for too long has been reduced to shouted slogans and nasty exchanges.

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