Gloucester Daily Times Debate on Abortion (36)

We Must Reach Our Own Conclusion

For the past few months the editorial page of the Times has provided a forum for verbal sparring between pro-life and pro-choice advocates. Abortion is a highly charged and very emotional issue for most people, an issue that has given rise to a great deal of self-righteous preaching on one side, and indignant nose-thumbing on the other. Perhaps if we try to view the issue as a complex one, which is certainly is, and not simply black-and-white asĀ  some would present it, we might begin to think a bit more before we are so quick to jump on a soapbox.

A person can, in a very real way, be pro-life and pro-choice. Most people are just that. Most would agree that abortion is a tragic and painful choice to have to make, and should be avoided by all means. For a woman who has had to endure that nightmare, however, the scars are deep and lasting, and hearing herself called a murderer again and again on the evening news rubs salt into a wound that will not heal.

But there are times when abortion is sadly the best, if not the only, solution. On a small scale, the birth of a child to a frightened teenager, or a family not financially or emotionally prepared to accept it often has tragic results for all concerned. On a broad scale, let us remember that overpopulation was one that caused citerd [Times misprint it seems]] for the recent famine in Africa. Millions of innocent children suffered and died because ideally because they should have never been born. Jerry Falwell and his ilk, dressed in custom-tailored suits, preach incessantly at us from air-conditioned pulpits about righteousness and the sanctity of life. When we see the Rev. Falwell standing in the blazing Ethiopian sun, covered with flies and knee-deep in human and animal waste, passing out bread with one hand and condoms with the other, then perhaps he’ll deserve some credibility. His “Moral Majority” it seems is really only a loud “Vocal Minority.” We hear much about their activities, from legitimate demonstrations, to the factional terrorist bombings of clinics. (To those people I say, stop grandstanding — why not also go after the manufacturers of birth control devices since many of these devices, most notably the I.U.D., are technically instruments of abortion.) Yet polls and voter referendums all over the country indicate overwhelming pro-choice sentiment. And I would guess that most of those who embrace the pro-choice position do so with a great deal of soul-searching, difficulty and heartache.

What is especially irksome to me, ad I’m sure to many women, is that most of the hard0line and oversimplified condemnation of the pro-choice position seems to come from men. In this case, and with my apologies to them, its difficult not to single out John Rankin and Tom Griffith. Mr. Rankin has cited many Biblical passages to support his strong pro-life position. If any readers took the time to look these passages up, however, they would realize that none of them directly addresses, let alone condemns, the practice of abortion. They are open, some broadly, to interpretation, and some cited out of context. It would be interesting to know how Mr. Rankin deals with the Old Testament law which states that when a man cause a pregnant woman to fall, and she dies as a result, the mad is guilt of murder. If she survives, but the fall causes her to miscarry, he is guilty of assault. Even the Bible isn’t black and white on this issue.

Mr. Griffith, without benefit of sound logic or substantiation, equates humanism and pro-choice with communism and brutal totalitarianism, and Heaven alone perhaps knows where he gets his information on China. As a history teacher, he shouldn’t have to be reminded that separation of Church and State took place in Philadelphia 141 years before it became a Communist mandate. Our founding fathers felt it was one of our “certain inalienable rights.” If, however, Mt. Griffith claims, the souls of the unborn are “innocent,” aren’t those aborted fetuses being spared the “trial and travail of the Earth,” and being ushered straight into the Kingdom of Heaven? I’m not proposing this as an argument for the pro-choice position, but it’s as certainly as credible as many of th epro-lufe arguments we’ve been reading on this page.

It seems a blatant act of chauvinism for men to appoint themselves anti-abortion spokespersons. I, along with several other readers, are anxious to hear Mr. Rankin’s arguments to support abortion as a vehicle of male chauvinism. If he can present a convincing case, then my hat is off to him (figuratively, of course, since 1 Corinthians 11 states that women should not only keep their hair long, but their heads covered as well). And I’d like to hear from Mrs. Rankin. Whatever her position on this issue, as a woman she has more credibility to address it than her husband (unless, as it states quite clearly in 1 Timothy 2:12, she must keep silent and not teach, but remain totally submissive to men). I cite these passages only to illustrate the scripture can be, and often is, used to support any position on a number of issues, including the embrace of racism, slavery and nuclear war. As noted in a recent letter to the editor, those who bend scripture to support a pre-conceived position will expound upon a biology textbook’s definition of the beginning of “life” in the womb, yet vehemently denounce that same textbook’s definition of the beginning of life on Earth.

I would encourage anyone who is wrestling with this issue to give it long and careful thought before taking a stand. It is a moral issue, but it is also a personal issue, and it certainly is a difficult issue to come to terms with. Don’t blindly accept the inflamed, guilt and fear-laden oratory of slick TV evangelists, pulpit pounding preachers, or even our president. Question the issue, question the arguments, research the best you can and establish your own position. My own pro-choice position was especially difficult to arrive at, since I am a Christian woman in the truest sense. Will anyone be so arrogant as to defy God’s law and judge me otherwise?

Marjorie Howard, 15 Tuna Wharf, Rockport