Educating to be ‘pro-life’
Observer Viewpoint | Wednesday, September 29, 2004
There are two issues I would like to address concerning Peter Quaranto’s Sept. 29 column “Adjusting the abortion lens.” First, Peter mentions that “the pro-life movement in America has become so focused on the criminalization of abortion in recent years.” He points out that the pro-life movement often becomes so focused on the “black and white,” so to speak, that the issues surrounding abortion are clouded out.
To a certain extent, I agree with what he is saying. There are other issues that need to be acknowledged and addressed with respect to the wider scope of abortion. Nevertheless, the defining characteristic of the pro-life movement is that “abortion is a moral wrong,” as Quaranto acknowledges. Why is it believed to be a moral wrong? Because it is the willful termination of an innocent human life.
Regardless of the issues relating to the welfare of the mother, as well as the socio-economic injustices that often drive a mother to have an abortion, abortion is ultimately the termination of a human life. In this sense, it is a “black and white” issue, and it is an act that cannot be endorsed in our society, period. To be pro-life is necessarily to believe that abortion is a criminal act, and the criminalization of this act is what should be its primary focus.
Second, as Quaranto touches on what I perceive to be one of the primary arguments of the pro-abortion movement – not to say Quaranto is pro-abortion – is that criminalizing abortion would not solve anything. Abortions would still occur in the United States, and would now be more dangerous and more taxing on the physical and mental health of the mother. A standard pro-life refutation to such an argument is that “abortions are dangerous, regardless if they are legal or illegal.” But, as Quaranto acknowledges, a truly pro-life response must go far beyond such a refutation. One who is pro-life must not stop at just working to criminalize abortion.
Nevertheless, I think the solution he posits does not touch on the true root of the problem. Quaranto seems to believe that the problem is a lack of access to contraceptives, a lack of good education and a poor economy – these problems being especially true in developing countries.
I think what Quaranto misses is that the real root of the problem of abortion is a disordered understanding of the inherent goodness of human sexuality and a systematic manipulation of our sexual desires. The consumerist society we live in is constantly driven to make more money. Tap into what gets our attention and you will succeed in making money off us.
The media, the film and television industry and companies across the board use sex to sell their product because they know it will draw people in. Think about every “loving” relationship you have ever seen on television or in a movie. The expression of that love is always sex. You never see a couple striving for virtue and making sacrifices for one another as a manifestation of their love. That’s not what people want to see.
I could give countless other examples, but the point is that we’re duped into thinking sex is necessary for truly expressing our love and that chastity is looked down upon as an antiquated and obsolete virtue. Most people believe, without even trying it, that chastity is both impractical and impossible. People also need to get away from the belief that chastity binds us. Ultimately, it is what sets us free from the bonds of our disordered sexual desires.
Thus, I agree to an extent with Quaranto that the solution is indeed education, but it must be a proper education that teaches the true Christian meaning of our sexuality and sexual desires. And I do believe Christianity got it right. To increase access to contraceptives would only exacerbate and endorse the irresponsible sexual relationships that often lead to an “unwanted pregnancy.” Simply handing out condoms and birth control is not really solving any problem; it is just putting off and ultimately feeding into a much greater problem. Here I reiterate the need for education, especially in developing countries, of what it truly means to engage in a loving and fruitful relationship. This is the ultimate solution that one who is pro-life must strive for.