Abortion is, ultimately, an unthinkably selfish act. Abortion is one of those things that victimizes twice, that makes victims of everyone involved and destroys human potential—in both those who survive and those who do not. It is a crime that begins its work before any doctor even enters the room. Like most sex-related sin, much of what the church does concerning abortion is a misguided attempt to help God out, to fill in the blanks where scripture is silent and to exact vengeance in God’s name on unspeakable behavior. We’ve got our mission confused. The church is not the arm of God’s vengeance. It is the measure of God’s love.
The archetypal image for teen pregnancy
is that of a stoic young
girl lost in thought, staring out of a window or just blankly
into space, thinking things through and struggling with her
choices. It is a quiet panic, a life-altering review of
decisions both past and future. Seeing these images, I can’t
help but wonder why this girl didn’t go through this process
before she decided to have unprotected sex with her brainless,
selfish, unemployed teenage boyfriend. Teens, most especially,
are impatient, rushing to indulge in adult behavior while
lacking both adult reasoning and adult accountability. Adults have
jobs. Adults have mortgages. Adults pay taxes. Our doctrinal
concerns notwithstanding, our foundation for abstinence advocacy
should be logistics: If you don’t have a job, stop screwing. If
you live in your mama's basement, stop screwing. If you’re not
married, if there is no stable two-income relationship, stop
screwing. If you and your bedmate are not prepared to defend,
raise, feed, clothe and educate this person who may or may not
end up cursing you out and totaling your car, then you really
shouldn’t be having sex. Sex is designed for making Little
People. I know fairly few folks, adults or kids, who embrace
that fact, but rather think of sex like a carnival ride or
recreational drug, with pregnancy as some annoying side effect
or unforeseen circumstance. "Unforeseen?" If you’re having sex,
you should expect to become pregnant. Write this down
someplace: sexual intercourse
is designed to result in pregnancy. That’s what sex is
for. That’s the reason it exists. I am dumbfounded that I
have to actually explain this to people.
More than 80% of abortions performed in the U.S. are not medically necessary (Source: Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) Studies, 1987 and 2004). These abortions were not required to save the life of the mother, not because of some health defect of the fetus or the mother’s ability to carry to full-term, not to end a pregnancy caused by rape or incest. The overwhelming number of abortions performed in the U.S. are elective surgeries, are simply a matter of choice. Principal reasons given in these AGI studies: unready for responsibility (21%), too immature or young to have child (11%), problems with relationship or wants to avoid single parenthood (12%), can't afford baby now (21%), concerned about how having baby would change her life (16%) —all things the woman or girl should have considered before giving it up to Tyrone, who is usually not at the clinic with her but will be plowing into her bareback once again as soon as she medically recovers. It is this sad human weakness, this crippling loneliness afflicting our sisters most especially, that fuels the debate. There are any number of reasons a sister would seek an abortion, but the church’s task is to wind the clock back a bit and aggressively address not the dysfunctional and irresponsible sexual behavior or even its consequences but its causes. This is what, in my experience, the church fails so miserably to do: address, with any level of frank relevance, issues of human sexuality.
The root of abortion is not evil; the root of abortion is loneliness. Vulnerability. Why do our sisters feel so alone? Why do they feel like they have to always have a man? For some, the sexual urge is overwhelming and there’s some psychology at work there, much the same as why some people overeat: they’re trying to satisfy a need but have substituted sex for their actual needs—which the church fails to address. For others, it is simple loneliness: sex keeps him coming back. For teens, premarital sex is the pervasive lifestyle. Precious little if any of the garbage teens ingest, through music or video, during their waking hours (and most teens are plugged into some form of media literally at all times) presents the perspective of responsible sexual behavior. Instead, what is modeled for them, what becomes the accepted norm, is a tragic distortion not only of God’s plan but of reality in general. “Music” our kids listen to is, literally, pornography. And they’ve got the earbuds you paid for jammed in their ears from childhood right through the Metro ride to the abortion clinic in their mid-teens. You did this; you’re paying for this disgusting garbage your kid listens to, day and night, that sets the reasonable standard of sex being no big deal and pregnancy presented mostly as an unforeseen complication or plot device (‘Cuz nowadays it’s like a badge of honor / To be a baby mama… / I see you get that support check in the mail / Ya open it and you're like, "what the hell?" —Fantasia’s Baby Mama, possibly the most ignorant and culturally irresponsible piece of crap I've ever heard). It’s disgusting; a twisted perversion of not only God’s plan, but of rational adult behavior. But this is the accepted norm for our young people. Why? Because idiot parents pay the satellite and internet bill, pay for the poison that’s destroying entire generations and drowning our sons and daughters in ignorance. Why are virtually no black preachers preaching about this? What’s all this Noah and The Ark crap, these clever, crowd-pleasing, self-congratulatory homilies our so-called pastors are rambling on about week after week as, right before our eyes, our young people drown in ignorance?
Every woman, every girl, has her own reason for seeking an abortion, most prevalent among them are that theirs was an unplanned pregnancy and they can’t afford or are not ready to raise or simply do not want a child. It is toward this demographic that my irritation is greatest, as opposed to situations like rape or incest (1% of performed abortions), mother has health problems (3%), possible fetal health problems (3%).
The main reason women have abortions is an unplanned pregnancy. My presumption is only a fraction of all pregnancies in the world are actually planned. The devoted couple, exhausting themselves and their resources in a desperate effort to conceive, is likely in the extreme minority. The overwhelming majority of us are here because of selfishness; because of two people getting some and being either too immature, too lazy, or too drunk or high to practice effective birth control. Speaking for myself: nobody planned me. Nobody saved their money, bought a home, prepared a firm foundation for me. Nobody got on their knees and prayed to conceive me. I exist because of the selfishness of a woman barely out of high school and a married man cheating on his wife with her. There was no downtown abortion clinic in those days. There was no borrowing a few bucks from her friends and “fixing” her problem. Abortion didn’t become legal in New York until 1970 and nationwide until 1973. The selfishness of these two people continued past the bedroom and into a lifelong struggle for this woman, working herself to death to feed two kids on her own; children sentenced to a lifetime of economic struggle and need.