Q: Can you be a feminist and oppose abortion in all circumstances? Can you be a person of faith and support abortion in some circumstances?
One of the lessons we all learn early on (or should) is that we should stay away from absolutes. And yet, pro-life advocates maintain an absolute – that abortions should never be allowed.
It is the absolutism of the pro-life position which is most troublesome, coupled with the fact that “life” seems to be precious only if it is a fetus. How is it that a fetus is more important than the woman who is giving it birth, who might be a mother of other children, or who does not want to die for the sake of honoring church doctrine?
Sarah Palin says she is a frontier feminist when in fact she is a modern-day opportunist playing to her base. Palin is off base here. Life is bigger than a fetus.
The problem with absolutes, and especially absolutes that use God as their justification, is that they impose on us ideology disguised as theology. I truly wonder if God would sanction letting a mother die to save an unborn fetus.
People have scrambled to honor the church absolutes. I can remember the Roman Catholics who lived on my street when I was little. They had baby after baby because “the church” said they must — or at least musn’t use birth control. I can remember seeing some of them cry as they told my mother of yet another pregnancy.
They would cry because they could not afford another baby. “The church” said using birth control was wrong. Abortion was wrong. They loved their husbands and wanted to have sex, but the result was …another baby. They were damned if they had sex because it would produce another baby. They were damned if they used birth control, and they were damned if they wanted (yes, even just wanted!) an abortion.
Why do I think God would not sanction that kind of misery?
The nun who made the decision to save the life of a mother instead of an 11-week-old fetus made a courageous decision, a humane decision. She knew was at risk.
But she stepped out of the circle of absolutism. One can be pro-life and a person of faith and still support abortions in some cases. And one can be pro-choice and veer from that position based on any particular situation.
Absolutes push people to despair. As I understand it, the absolutism of legalism was one of the things Jesus spoke against. He made people mad, but he did it anyway. Why? Because grace and love are more powerful, are more in line with the agape love of God, than are man-made absolutes.
Paul wrote (and I am no fan of Paul) that the things “I do, I do not want to do, and the things I do not want to do, those things I do.” He was obviously trying to follow the 614 laws of the Jewish faith, along with the 1,521 emendations, and found it impossible.
He also grappled with sex and suggested that people should not desire sex. He advised people not to get married, but if they could not control their sexual passions, then they should get married because being married would defuse the passion. Then, all attention could be directed at living “godly lives.”
But that premise proves false. There are plenty of married people who enjoy sex but do not want and cannot afford another child. They cannot practice birth control, they cannot have an abortion, and they have to know that if another child is conceived and the choice is between that unborn fetus, the choice must be on the side of the unborn fetus.
I cannot see God supporting that whole scenario, Sarah Palin and the Roman Catholic Church notwithstanding.