So, let me add my two cents to this heated debate.
First of all, the terms of the debate are ridiculous. No one is pro-abortion or anti-life. Few would not admit that abortion is a dirty business. Most people would admit that the blood and guts of an abortion are hidden from the public's view.
Moreover, only someone with no knowledge of biology would argue that life is not being ended and a heartbeat stopped. So, let's begin by throwing out of the discussion the simplistic labels of pro-choice and pro-life. Abortions involve choices about life, so let's look at who makes those choices.
My biggest concern with efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade is that a woman's control over her own body will be removed from her and entrusted to the State. The GOP-controlled House recently passed a bill that would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks, with exceptions made for rape and incest. The Senate with its Democrat majority will no doubt defeat this bill. The main issue in this bill is control; i.e., who does the controlling after 20 weeks, the State or a mother?
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that Roe v. Wade is eventually overthrown by Congress or the Supreme Court. If that happens, will a woman be charged with murder if she goes to the proverbial back alley for an abortion?
The irony is that the GOP is usually against Big Brother in the form of the federal government messing around with our lives. Can you think if a more intrusive way a government could control our lives than controlling our decisions about whether to have a baby?
As an aside, I find it almost comical that the GOP in the House is made up of mostly white males who want to control a woman's choices, and thus her own body.
Another issue not talked about is adoption. People argue that women should have their babies, but if they do not want to keep them, they should give them up for adoption. When I worked as a pastor in Lake Forest, Ill., I found that babies born to blond, blue-eyed teens at the local high school were in high demand and easily adopted. Not true for black babies in the south side of Chicago.
Another issue not talked about is financial assistance for poor mothers who choose to raise their babies or find that their babies are unwanted in the adoption process. The recent farm bill was defeated in large part because of Democrats who did not want to cut food stamps, a feature of the bill. So, we have an effort by some politicians to limit abortion, but who also want to cut assistance to poor mothers. Isn't there a contradiction here?
Jesus castigated the rich and reached out in his ministry primarily to the poor. Jesus did not criticize the rich for being rich, but for being hard hearted. I wonder what our church-going politicians are hearing from the pulpit, or failing to understand?
My final point concerns our churches. Some denominations — e.g., the Roman Catholic Church — teach that abortion is wrong under all circumstances, even with rape and incest. And then these same churches, or some of them, teach that contraception is wrong. Presumably, a rapist using birth control is committing two sins. Contraception and sex education (which many churches also oppose) cut down the number of unwanted babies, and thus the number of abortions.
To sum up, I am against abortion, unless rape and incest are involved or the mother's life is in danger. That is the Episcopal Church's teaching. But I believe that this should be a woman's choice.
If a rape victim chooses to have a child conceived because of that rape, I applaud her choice and admire her courage. But that choice should be hers, and not Big Brother. Remember that in many instances rapists have rights concerning the child of their crime.
By all means, let's continue as a community to have our debate about abortion. But let's get all the issues on the table, including the staggering number of abortions, the horror of it all, the psychological scars no matter what the choices are, and the fact many people are more concerned about the unborn fetus than the mother and what her circumstances might be.
I have tried to broaden the discussion in this column.
Lastly, a bit more love, sensitivity, respect, empathy and compassion would improve the tenor of the abortion debate.
— By the Rev. Henry Idema, Tribune religion columnist