Abortion issue muddier than ever
Most of the state legislatures have terminated their business for the year, leaving the abortion issue unsolved, most likely because it is an unsolvable issue that straddles the secular and spiritual worlds, making it a political as well as a theological enigma.
Since the protection of life has been a responsibility of society through government action, politicians are bound to get involved. Unfortunately, no issue can be considered objectively these days because perspectives are jaundiced by a political system gone awry.
In the recent legislative sessions, a couple of states have loosened restrictions on abortion while more states have moved to make it more difficult. But the sizes of the opposing groups have remained the same for 50 years.
Bible no guide
Many pro-life advocates have made abortion a religious issue even though there is no specific guidance in the Old or the New Testament to oppose or support any point of view. So for literalists it is necessary to rely on the general tenor of the New Testament to conclude that abortion is a religious matter.
The most common argument used by pro-abortion folks is that it doesn’t seem right to abort a being made in the image of God. In addition, humans are the pride of God’s creation and the object of His unending love which means that messing with God’s stuff is above our pay grade.
Denominationally, the issue runs the gamut between total restriction to total freedom. Evangelical churches are the most restrictive, outdoing the Catholic Church on its own issue. A majority of Catholic parishioners favor abortion.
Pope vs. U.S. bishops
For the Catholic Church, the issue has been muddied by a standoff between the pope and the U.S. Bishops. Pope Francis likes Joe Biden and wants to give him a pass on communion while the U.S. Bishops lean to denying communion to any political officeholder who is pro-choice.
This difference between the pope and his bishops undermines the anti-abortion position of the Church. If the pope goes soft, the high ground will be lost. He would be in tune with the parishioners but not the bishops, making a hard line on abortion difficult to maintain.
One facet to the abortion issue that is never adequately addressed is the equal accountability for both prospective parents. When life’s circumstances result in an unwanted pregnancy, it’s the woman whose life is at stake. The man, a polygamist by nature, accepts no blame or shame, and it’s just a joke when he leaves town.
Most moralists rush to judgment when it comes to an unwanted pregnancy. A common proposal has been to offer more education for every person breaking into the sex world. But, we say, if we educate teenagers about sex, they’ll become more active.
Now let’s quit kidding ourselves. What was going on in your school when you were a teenager? Kids were engaging in sex and you – and everyone else – knew it. Uninformed kids were the ones swept into unwanted pregnancies.
Unwanted pregnancies happen in marriages when the sex-driven males pressure wives to take chances, knowing that the wives will live with mishaps. And, of course, some Christian theologies require submission. Oh, I know the Bible says that both should love and respect one another, but that is only academic theory as soon as the lights are out.
Because women have the most to lose, they should have as much say as men in abortion decisions. Unfortunately, we live in a world still dominated by men who control legislatures and churches, using their male values in decisions.
As a society, we could do many things to reduce the use of abortion. However, we would first need to have a rational understanding of the realities involved and nothing can be rational these days.
Lloyd Omdahl is a former lieutenant governor of North Dakota and former political science professor at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks.