Do religious/political conservatives really believe God gives them permission to pretend this world is far simpler than it is?
Take the abortion issue, which, thanks to budget wrangles over Planned Parenthood, is back. Let’s for one moment follow The Donald’s lead, set aside a woman’s right to privacy (the central legal issue), and boldly go into the rightness or wrongness of abortion, itself.
Is abortion always morally wrong?
Got me. The older I get, the more such black-and-white morality seems to be mostly about my own comfort; about the world as I’d like it to be; a world that comes with instructions. Not the world I actually live in which is choc-a-block full of pain, suffering, sleaze, greed, fear-mongering and unwanted children.
I saw my first addicted babies years ago while helping a TV station with the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon. They sent me to the New Born Intensive Care Unit at the University of Virginia Hospital, where, swathed from bosom to toe in sequins, I made my pitch for funding beside a row of addicted babies, all tiny as partridges, all shaking, all feathered with the needles necessary to pump them full of whatever was keeping them alive. They’d been birthed by addicts incapable of raising them; women who’d been unable to stop using drugs long enough to give their babies a fighting chance at a decent life should someone else be found who was willing to raise them.
Now this is certainly a sorry way to give life to a child, but my disapproval of their mothers’ choices didn’t make those addicted babies any less real. And I’m sure there would have many other such babies in the NICU had they not been aborted.
Pro-life advocates (among them those conservative politicians who would de-fund Planned Parenthood) like to keep morality simple. They maintain that abortion is always wrong, because, they claim, God says we shall not kill people (except criminals and enemies). But shouldn’t anyone claiming such a clear-cut mandate from God—in this case everyone who holds that abortion is always wrong because God says it is and that’s the end of it— be required to face that issue at play in the real world? Shouldn’t right-to-lifers have the moral right to talk in terms of “God saying” and “God wanting” and “God thinking” about unwanted babies only after they, themselves, have stood beside one that’s been born addicted or brain-damaged in some new born intensive care unit and realistically considered that particular baby’s future? Of course, a black-and-white, conservative religious approach to morality is more comfortable than a NICU approach, but surely our own comfort doesn’t mean we can claim moral righteousness at a safe remove from reality.
Perhaps while they’re out acquainting themselves with this human tragedy, Virginia’s conservative Christian politicians might also visit the children of the state’s under-funded foster care programs. There are some 1300 children waiting for adoption in the state – children whom Virginia’s Board of Social Services has just decided may not be jointly adopted by a loving gay couple.
This decision was made after dueling legal opinions on the legality of allowing gay couples to adopt had been issued by former Attorney General Bill Mims and current AG Ken Cucinnelli. But to my mind Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell voiced the true reason for alarm at legalizing gay couple adoption when he said, “Many of our adoption agencies are faith-based groups that ought to be able to establish what their own policies are.”
Does Virginia’s governor believe religious beliefs trump the exigent needs of children? And that somehow preventing the adoption of children by gay couples is keeping the faith?
Which leads me back to my original question: Is abortion always wrong?
Before you answer yes, go to a NICU and spend some time with an abandoned, addicted baby. Are you willing to take that baby home? And if you’re not, then who are you to say that God, humanity’s engine of love and compassion, demands that all babies have to be born?
This essay is part of Faith Unboxed , an ongoing, civil, respectful conversation about faith I invite you to participate by sharing your own ideas and experiences (either here or on the website), rather than by denigrating the ideas and experiences of others.