An Anti-Abortion Meme & My Reply

 An Anti-Abortion Meme & My Reply


A friend posted this meme, as an expression of his anti-abortion convictions. I respect his views, but don’t share them, and am not persuaded by this poster. Here’s why:

1. A zygote is formed at conception, usually (but not always) with complete DNA. Yes, it’s “alive,” but  has from the start about a one-third chance of implanting and surviving for more than a day or two.

The majority of fertilized “living” zygotes is aborted, i.e., killed, ruthlessly by “Mother” Nature, but unintentionally by the women carrying them. In my moral calculations, the zygote is mostly like a set of architectural plans for a house. A specific house; but not yet a house.

2. The line of “viability” (as my non-lawyer’s mind grasps it) was only provisionally drawn by Roe. It does not surprise or dismay me that science has pushed it back a bit since 1973.
Yet there’s still a line, even if in individual situations it may be blurry or wavering.
My bias is toward preserving life in tough cases, but parents & docs will continue to be called on to make tough, responsible existential calls.
Life (& death) is like that, and there is no guarantee that those involved will be exempted from wondering “What if?” even after they’ve all done their best.

And 3. Notwithstanding my bias toward preserving life, I am clear that legal bans on abortion are bad & counterproductive public policy, in much the same way that Prohibition was the wrong answer to the “right” question of alcohol abuse (a question still very much with us, and still essentially unanswered).
Most Americans today have very little notion of just how disastrously  deep and lasting was the social damage done by Prohibition.  A useful summary of twelve major adverse effects of the “experiment” are given here.   They include the creation of organized crime, permanent corruption of much law enforcement and politics, and far more. A key quote:

Prohibition was a massively failed attempt at legislating morality. The government’s role is to protect citizens and their property — not legislate what people are allowed to do for recreation, who they can love, or what kind of sex they can have.

We spend billions of dollars a year on “the war on drugs” and have only defeat to show for it. Meanwhile, the police and courts are tied up with people whose only crime was enjoying or selling a recreational drug.

4. I see the expression in the original meme image as one of chagrin at the realization that the black-and-white frameworks & “answers” to these questions don’t fit actual life.

I not only recognize it. I remember when I first saw that expression:  in my mirror.

PS. If readers want more on this loaded topic, here’s a lengthy essay I wrote in another century — 1988 — which described in much more detail the evolution of my thinking on this matter. It’s called “Abortion and Civil War,” and while much has changed in the intervening 25-plus years, I pretty much stand by the arguments offered there.

4 thoughts on “An Anti-Abortion Meme & My Reply”

  1. Opinions are easy to come by. They are the articulations of select facts diluted by enough emotion to satisfy beliefs. Facts supply just enough structure to provide enough logic to hold the opinion and support the belief. Opinions grow weak if the selected facts erode and newly selected facts are brought in to shore up the desired logic. The age-old philosophical rules of good argumentation are usually not in the equation unless the opinion holder selects a few principles to brace the opinion and return to emotional stability.

    If one holds enough indisputable facts to refute the opinion, the opinion holder then retreats into the magical dichotomy of them vs us duality that can introduce such imaginative myths such as Satan. Productive dialog dies right there.

    As a pastor, I was confronted by the subject of abortion in a way that I never expected. One family came to me because their 14 year-old daughter was pregnant by a drug dealer who was at least 10 years her senior and of another race. Although, not of the “Right-to-life” ilk, they did not agree with abortion and were stuck in the disaster. I had, as a minister, decided to not form an opinion and for years just listened to the arguments trying to learn. I was beginning to lean to the anti-abortion side when this came to me as a pastor. Now I was stuck as well. I did what I usually do; I studied everything I could find. I studied ethics, arguments for and against abortion and what actually was my salvation in all of this was; I studied the family as we talked individually and as a group. Then I studied myself. My self-study occupied me for hours and days as I turned over all of this information, the facts and the family repeatedly in my mind. I concluded that I did indeed have anti-abortion leanings but I realized one day that it was not about me. It was first about that 14 year-old, the life growing within her and the family that mattered. I was just a tool charged with bearing peace wherever I am. This happened to be the task at hand and I had dedicated myself to delivering peace any way I could.

    I can’t revel any more of the case because someone might be able to figure out who I’m referring too or worse assume they know. But, I will say that I was only satisfied with the outcome when at the end of a long final conference with everybody concerned and major input from a much wiser girl, it was resolved. Then, the healing work that I prescribed out of my pastoral authority began. A horrible, catastrophic situation rose to the level of just a bad situation. I hope that 20 years or so later, it has produced wisdom and peace of mind for that young woman.

    Standing on picket lines, railing for and against this and other issues and producing clever looking memes can look heroic but I recommend that opinion holders and meme designers lower themselves off the band wagon into the muddy ruts and put arms around someone splattered by the passing parade.

  2. Never as a father did I ever think of our 3 pre-born infants, even at the earliest stages as a zygote, etc.

    Plus, even if I had been a clinical biologist and pro-choice, our first ultrasound photo would have caused me to pause and re-think.

    Also abortion laws create strange contradictions. In California, abortion on demand is legal, yet in at least one case, a man was charged with murder when he attacked and caused a fetus to die.

    So there you have it, if the mother doesn’t want it, it isn’t worth anything, can be flushed out, but if she wants it, then it’s a precious baby and mustn’t be aborted or its murder.

    Personally, I think politicians should stay out of the whole thing, and leave the ethical choice to a mother and her doctor.

    I think Quakers and all humans should focus on pro-life in all areas–war, abortion, c.p., poverty, etc.

    1. Daniel:
      Your reply makes me think that you think that this issue is cut and dry. As one who leans to the right to life pole of this controversy, I think you are making it easy for yourself to hold your position. Your comment also demonizes the mother who chooses to abort. I certainly agree with you and have never considered one of my children a zygote. However, you have probably never had the misfortune (or opportunity) of working through the multi-layered horror of certain human struggles. I don’t expect you change your mind because of my comments but I certainly hope that if this situation enters your life that you will hold all concerned gently and non-judgmentally. Let God care of judgement, it’s just not in our job descriptions and is WAY above our pay grade.

      1. Interesting that one should not judge and leave that to the Creator and yet must allow a judgment of death for an unborn? Hmmmm….not to mention that in the original post the “zygote” that does attach is truly the subject of life or death judgement.

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