September 13, 2005

feeling homeless on abortion

I've been preoccupied with other things (understandably) an not paying close attention to the Roberts nomination hearings. Other than being a tad annoyed that NPR's morning edition was preempted!

It has got me thinking about something I've been thinking about for a long time. The unintended consequences of the narrow focus of both the pro-life and pro-choice movements.

Over my 33 years I've spent time in both camps, and currently find myself homeless. Most of my friends are in the pro-choice camp, but I really do believe in my heart that a life is a life (whether it is a death row inmate or a human being growing in a mother's womb). My church (big C here for the Catholic Church) is part of the pro-life camp, but I've been uncomfortable with the dogmatic narrow minded approach for a number of years. Ever since I was a teenager in fact.

Being familiar with both camps, I know that deep down they actually share a similar vision. Not that you'd get folks entrenched on either side to see it, but they do. It's about life, but a quality life where all people are able to thrive, to have not only their material and physical needs met but their spiritual and emotional needs as well.

I've started wondering though if by focusing on one issue, or even one court case (Roe v. Wade) if both camps have inadvertently pushed that vision ever further away.

By focusing on saving Roe v. Wade, the pro-choice camp has been forced to compromise and spend less energy pushing for living wages, family jobs, health care, and quality education. Things that would all increase the quality of life and I believe greatly decrease the perceived need for abortions in the first place.
By focusing on repealing Roe v. Wade, the pro-life camp has likewise been forced to compromise. It is my belief, and I know this from experience having grown up in a democratic Catholic neighborhood where people voted for politicians they vehemently disagreed with on 99% of issues merely because they were against abortion, that by focusing on the issue of abortion, many pro-life people have inadvertently supported politicians and policies that are decidedly detrimental to quality of life. Low wage jobs, the lack of heath care, our sorry educational system, the dissolution of the family, an entire laundry list of societal woes have been deemed "unimportant" when contrasted with being against abortion. Ironically, it seems that policies have been pursued that decrease the quality of life and increase the perceived need for and actual number of abortions.

And so I find myself homeless on this issue. And as this issue seems to be the only issue at times, I'm often at a loss.

(Cross posted on