January 22, 2009
Abortion: The Unspoken Jihad
In Arabic, the word "jihad" means "inner struggle," and for those involved in one particular battle, there is no simple answer and varying perspectives cause, in many cases, violent reactions and repercussions. That word has come to signify the murder of innocence and the demolition of security in a time of worldwide uncertainty. The death toll keeps rising as years keep passing, and fighting in this war guarantees earning the label of "radical," "extremist," or "fanatic." Yet those who do keep fighting are actually trying to save lives. With the 36th year of Roe v. Wade passing today, the war rages on.
Sarah Palin was the only candidate in the 2008 election to take a truly vocal stance in her pro-life values, and as we all have learned, she lives what she believes. For her efforts in promoting life and keeping sacred every human, no matter how small, she received the above adjectives from liberals as famous as Michael Moore, who called her "an extremist," to the most unimportant of bloggers who called her "one of those radical Christians" and a "flaky fanatic." And it's not just the big-mouth blowhards who took the potshots. Even widely read publications like Newsweek have said her "pro-life extremism is...ethically flawed." The Huffington Post called her "the most extremist" candidate we have seen in decades, if ever. And NARAL unsurprisingly released headlines describing her as "radically pro-life." But perhaps Palin's "pro-life fanaticism" was masquerading as another term her opponents misconstrued -- common sense.
In a time when Americans are overseas fighting certain groups of people who believe it is their duty to kill blameless victims for their own religious glorification, equating the terminology associated with such hostile perpetrators to a woman who campaigns to keep alive and treat equally all citizens regardless of their stage of life is not only descriptively inaccurate, but tragically inappropriate.
In addition to misleading the public with misrepresentative words, some celebrities are rewriting the documents of our founding fathers in the process. Roseanne Barr, on Real Time with Bill Maher, compared Palin's desire to overturn Roe v. Wade to "overturning the laws" that gave women the right to vote. Likewise, fellow comedian Whoopi Goldberg claimed on The View that prohibiting abortion would be like "rewriting the Constitution" and worried of the reinstitution of slavery. As a clear indication of the failure of our public schools, these women clearly do not know the difference between the process of a Supreme Court decision and the creation of Constitutional amendments. As most high school Government students should be able to attest, Roe v. Wade is not an amendment and does not need the involvement of an overwhelming majority of the states and a strenuous ratification procedure like the abolition of slavery and institution of women's suffrage each did.
So while we clear the air on appropriate adjectives to describe the beliefs of conservatives and what abortion legislation actually entails and represents, let's look at something that gets overlooked in this heated debate: the facts. According to a 2007 study in the not-so-conservative Time Magazine, less than 1.5% of abortions are attributed to rape or incest. Problems with the health of the mother account for 12% of abortions but do not clarify as to the mortal danger of the mother giving birth; thus we can assume the percentage of the mother's life being at risk to be much lower. Nearly all other cases of abortion, Time states, are labeled as matters of "convenience," with reasons given by women that include "can't afford it" and "would drastically change my life." No kidding.
The conservative Center for Bioethical Reform puts these numbers at 1% rape/incest, 6% maternal health reasons, and 93% convenience. Other independent sources cite the statistics for abortive occurrences as being even lower in cases of rape or incest and in life-threatening cases for the mother, while the personal choice number rises to 98%. The reproductive health and policy oriented Guttmacher Institute shows similar results. Despite a few percentage shifts here and there, the blatantly obvious theme we can identify is that the greatest arguments for abortion, even from some Republicans, are actually much rarer than we are led to believe by activists and the media.
Abortion is not an issue about violence against women. If it were liberals would be fine with doctors providing abortions only in cases of rape or incest -- the 1% rate does not a case make, however. Therefore, we may deduce that nearly all pregnancies occur through voluntary sex, and those involved are fully aware of the consequences of such an activity. We can then take the next logical step and surmise that abortion is not even about protecting moms. Since all those women having voluntary sex should know the risks of having a living thing growing inside them, they are automatically putting themselves in potential peril for the purpose of having a child. So let's call the pro-abortion crowd what they really are: activists for having sex without consequence or responsibility.
As a personal contrast to the misguided hype of liberals, I once met a woman with a pro-life stance. I asked her what she would do if she was raped. She explained to me that there are thousands of loving families in this country who would love to raise a child that she was not ready for.
So I asked what she would do if she ever got pregnant through a contraceptive malfunction. She plainly told me that there are no accidents. If you're planning on having sex, you're planning on having a baby.
So I went for the toughest question of all. I asked if she would want to be saved if the baby was endangering her life. Without a second of hesitation, she responded with more grace, toughness, and selflessness than I'd ever seen in another person. She simply said, "Let me go -- the baby's more important."
That is feminism. That is generosity, and determination, and love at its most inspirational. That is what being pro-choice really means: making the right decision, and when a complicated result arises, making another right decision. And then doing that every day. And that's why I married that young woman.
Is my wife a radical? Are conservatives really extremists or fanatics by believing all children should be respected in life and raised in love? Maybe some like Sarah Palin are genuine leaders who will guide not only those closest to them, but all Americans, to do what is right, even when it is difficult. January 22 is a dark day for those who believe in God's gift of life, but maybe the jihad against the unborn can be prevented if facts are made clear, derogatory words are attributed to rightful perpetrators, and we all take more personal responsibility. I don't think that's too extreme.