I always chuckle when someone accuses me of being a “liberal.” Such unfounded proclamations about my beliefs reveal only the ever-present human desire to put people in neat little categories. In reality, my political and religious convictions range from moderate-conservative to middle of the road left, depending on the issue. In fact, I’ve lost more than one “fan” because I refused to toe a straight progressive line.
One issue that I still lean toward the right on is abortion. Except in cases of rape or incest, I simply cannot condone the termination of a pregnancy without urgent medical need. I believe it’s the taking of an innocent human life.
Despite this fact, I have no use for the Religious Right, for the following reasons:
1. I believe its leaders have formed a dangerous alliance with people whose hearts are ruled by greed and the desire to dominate others. Whether they realize it or not, Christian conservatives are the stooges of moneyed interests who have no concern for anything but turning the United States into a plutocracy. The goal of these people is to create a society ruled by the ultra-rich in which the poor are barely able to survive.
2. I also believe that, despite their claims to the contrary, the leadership of the Republican Party doesn’t give a damn about the unborn. They give lip service to the issue because it’s useful for rallying Evangelicals to their side. But, when one looks at the GOP’s actual track record, it’s clear that they have done virtually nothing to stem the tide of abortions. In fact, it can be persuasively argued that their economic policies have caused thousands of women to have abortions who might otherwise have carried their children to term.
3. I believe that, underneath the patriotic slogans and pious speeches, the true motivation of the Religious Right’s leaders is simply to amass as much money, power, and influence in worldly circles as possible. Having done so, I believe that they will follow in the footsteps of despots throughout history and start to reshape society in their own image. Their victims will be anyone they deem as America’s enemies, including homosexuals, liberals, pacifists, intellectuals, and anyone who believes Darwin was right. The results will be yet another attempt to create heaven on earth by using the tactics of Hell, at the expense of millions of innocent lives.
This leaves me, and the millions who hold similar views, in a quandary when it comes to political activism. The Democratic Party is overwhelmingly pro-choice, yet in many other ways I find myself in sympathy with its views and objectives.
Is there any way to reconcile this dilemma, both for me and for all pro-life persons who believe in progressive values?
Yes, there is. It was championed by President Bill Clinton during his terms in office and was summarized nicely when he said that he believed abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” What does this mean? To me, simply the following:
1. Anti-abortion legislation is a dead end that will not stop the practice. This is indisputably true, as no law has ever prevented people who are determined to break it. Whether it’s in back alley abortion mills, overseas clinics, or with a coat hanger, women will still seek abortions. In many cases they will be pressured by men who want the child, and their obligations to it, to simply go away.
2. No woman chooses an unwanted pregnancy. When a child is conceived without being planned, the cause is either a selfish, manipulative male, choices based in the heat of the moment, or idealistic images of motherhood that clash with reality. As with so many of life’s ills, the best cure for the condition is prevention. While this solution will include using birth control, it must also be accompanied by a renewal of time-honored moral precepts. Put plainly, sexual love that is expressed within the context of a loving, monogamous marriage is best for individuals, society, and children.
3. Women should abandon the notion that acting like shallow, sex-obsessed men is somehow empowering; it’s not. Millions of young ladies believe that their self-worth depends on whether or not a guy wants them. This idea comes from many sources, including influences from pop culture, and it should be challenged on all fronts.
4. When an unintended pregnancy occurs, the church has a magnificent opportunity for ministry, by surrounding couples and mothers-to-be with loving support. This will include finding loving adoptive parents for many babies whose parents are either unwilling or unable to provide a suitable home environment.
This approach offers a chance for consensus among progressive-leaning people who differ on the issue of abortion. It can serve as the foundation for efforts that actually reduce the number of pregnancies that are terminated each year. Best of all, it avoids the endless rancor over legislative efforts that divides people who might otherwise be able to work together.
All that’s needed to implement it is courage and open-mindedness from those on both sides of the debate. Admittedly, those qualities are in short supply in these ultra-polarized days. But I for one still believe in miracles.