Friday, August 13, 2010

The A word

I feel like opening up a can of worms. For some reason I'm feeling real curmudgeonly today.

The issue: ABORTION.

Okay everyone stop groaning. I'm not going to preach. Instead I'm going to post an excerpt from then novel I'm about to submit for publication.

Main character is Jan, a seventh grade English teacher, married to a college professor of religion at a small Baptist College. Jan finds out one of her 12 year old students just had an abortion and discusses the issue with Paul.

The rest of the day was unsettling, she didn’t like being conflicted. Getting home Paul took one look, “What’s the matter?”

“I just found out one of my students had an abortion last week.”

“Sorry to hear that,” Paul came up and hugged her. “Why does it trouble you?”

“Because abortion is wrong, and something inside me says that for Jennifer it was the right thing. How can I feel that way about killing a baby?”

“Why do you think it was the right decision for your student?”

“Because she’s only 12 and if she had a baby now it would be devastating to her, physically and mentally.”

“You’ve got a conflict between a strong belief and reality.”

“Thanks for pointing out the obvious,” she said.

They ate dinner and Paul went to teach his class. Jan graded papers, and called Nora; they talked for two hours. Nora explained to her the concept of cognitive dissonance.

"Your mind is trying to find consistency in two contradictory beliefs. Until you can reconcile them your mind won't be able to find peace."

She was in bed when Paul came home and they talked about other things till he got in bed with her. “Still troubled?”

“I’ve always felt that abortion on demand was wrong, and now I’m not sure.”

“What did Nora have to say about it?”

Jan made a face. “She spouted some psycho babble at me, and besides, she's pro-choice and said that this just proves her point that laws prohibiting abortions do more harm than good.”

“Actually,” Paul added, “even if the laws against abortion were still on the books the exceptions were for cases of rape, incest, mother’s life and in most states mother’s physical health. California even added mental health, signed into law by Ronald Reagan. Jennifer would have qualified on physical health.”

“And how is that supposed to help?”

“It doesn’t” he said. “You’ve just discovered that a strongly held belief isn’t absolute.”

“But it bothers me,” Jan slammed her hand down on the bed. “I can feel the life stirring inside me, and feel so much love for this baby. Jennifer has treated the abortion as if it was just a painful bowel movement.”

“That’s because she’s 12 and still thinks like a child. It should bother you. It bothers me too, but there’s nothing we can do about it,” Paul held her till she relaxed and finally went to sleep.

The sun was shining on Saturday it was going to be a great day for golf. In the cart between shots Jan decided to bring the topic back up with Paul, a subject that had never really come up between them. “So what is your position on abortion?”

“It’s called personally opposed pro-choice,” he said simply.

“That needs some explaining,” she said coming back from a fairly good tee shot.

He drove to where their balls landed. “My mother always said this is one subject that a man should stay out of as it doesn’t concern them, and she is right to a point.” He selected a 5 iron walked up to his ball and sent it on its way. She took out a 5 wood and hit it about half the distance as Paul, but it landed on the fairway where his was in a sand trap. “If you wanted an abortion, now don’t give me that look!” he said defensively. “It’s just an example. Anyway, if you wanted an abortion there is nothing I can or could do about it. It is also a choice I will never have to face, but I would never be able to love or want to stay married to a woman that would make that choice without good reason.”

Jan hit her next shot and landed just short of the green. Paul took two shots to get out of the bunker, but did get fairly close to the pin. Jan pitched onto the green and two putted, Paul sank his putt and they went on to the next hole. Waiting for the group ahead of them to get further up the fairway they sat in the cart before teeing off. “That’s why I say I’m personally opposed to abortion, it’s not for me or the woman I could love, but that doesn’t mean I would impose those beliefs or views on all women.”

“You don’t consider it a sin?”

“Yes I do,” he said. “But so is getting angry, so is foul language, so is lust, so is divorce, so is adultery, but that doesn’t mean they have to be crimes.”

“You don’t consider it to be murder?”

“No. And neither does God,” Paul said in his lofty professorial voice.

“How can you say that?”

Paul teed off, drove up to the women’s tees so Jan could hit her drive. She topped it, called a mulligan and hit another one into the trees. “Maybe we need to discuss this another time,” Paul said. “It’s ruining your game.”

“No, tell me what you meant.”

Paul took a deep breath as he headed over to Jan’s ball. “Abortion is never directly addressed in the Bible,” Paul said as preamble. “It wasn’t an issue, as women wanted to have babies, especially considering the stigma attached to a woman that was barren, like Sarah.”

Jan hit the ball bouncing it off a tree so that it went sideways instead of up the fairway. She walked over to the ball and hit a fairly good shot, then got back into the cart. “Go on,” she ordered.

“The only close reference is in Exodus, Chapter 22. Remember Chapter 20 is where you find the Ten Commandments. The next few chapters set up how the law is to be applied. It states (I’m paraphrasing here) that if a man were to strive with a woman who is with child and the child is lost that the man shall compensate the woman’s husband by a monetary settlement. If the woman is harmed then it shall be eye for eye, tooth for tooth, life for life.”

He got out and made his next shot and they went on. “So what does that mean?” Jan said as they headed to her ball.

“It’s the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor,” he said. “It means God didn’t think in this situation it was first or second degree murder or even manslaughter: all felonies,” Paul went on, “which is why the husband is only paid money, for the potential child, the punishment for a misdemeanor. If God thought it was murder the life for life penalty would have applied to the unborn child as it does for the mother.”

“I see your point.”

They finished the hole and again waited for the group in front of them to clear out. Saturdays at municipal golf courses are slow. “Your student would have been both physically and emotionally damaged by giving birth; because of this you know the decision to end the potential life of the baby was best for the living person. It’s a hard choice.”

Jan rubbed her tummy, “Yes it is. I’m so grateful it’s not a choice I have to make.”

Paul kissed her, “Did I change your mind about abortion?”

“No,” Jan said. “I still think it’s wrong, but like you said, there are exceptions, and this was one of them.”

Paul decided to stir something up, “What if Nora found out she was pregnant and though married, old enough, and financially secure enough, decided she didn’t want to be a mother yet, and decided to have an abortion. Would you support a law that would forbid her making this decision?”

“Yes,” Jan said emphatically. “She doesn’t have a good enough reason to take that child’s life.”

Gotcha, Paul thought and went in for the kill, “Who are you to tell Nora that her reason is not right and Jennifer that her reason is right?”

“You set me up for that didn’t you?” She gave him a look of disapproval.

“That’s the heart of the problem with abortion, it’s not about the baby’s life. It’s about who decides what a good reason is and what’s a bad reason. Those that are the most vocal against abortion want to play God.”

“So you support Roe vs. Wade?”

“No,” Paul surprised her. “I think it should have been left to the will of the people. We have been fighting this stupid culture war over an issue that the Supreme Court should have left to the state legislatures. The issue would have resolved itself to the satisfaction of all concerned eventually. California was leading the way, and eventually most of the other states would have followed suit. Southern states would have kept the strictest laws because it’s a way to keep the lower classes poor. The issue of abortion has never been about a woman’s right or the life of a fetus. It’s always been about money. All problems have at their core three issues: power, money and sex. Abortion hits the trifecta. Roe was a short cut around the legislatures and that is not the way the government should solve a problem of this magnitude.”

That is all I have to say on the issue.


swordfish1543 said...

My views were shaped largely by a book i read in college: Who Shall Live? Man's Control over Birth and Death: A Report Prepared for the American Friends Service Committee, which argued that yes, abortion is evil... but it is the lesser evil.
Role of SCOTUS & Roe v Wade? - I'm at best ambivalent... and in my 'strict constructionist' moments i'm happy to decry SCOTUS's establishment of 'rights' which do not exist.

P M Prescott said...

The Roe decision was a stretch, but the 9th amendment preserves to the people all rights not specifically mentioned. They basically said the right to privacy wasn't mentioned, but it still exists and the constitution protect it.