Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Another letter to a Christian friend: This time, it's abortion

Even if you don't live in Philadelphia, you've probably heard about the arrest of Kermit Gosnell, the West Philly abortion doctor arrested and charged with multiple murder charges for delivering and killing live babies -- as well as a charge in the death of one of his patients.

I haven't written about the matter publicly until now, because, well, I don't want to.

But a Christian friend, from my older and churchier days, has written to inquire on my take. So here it goes. I don't expect it to satisfy anyone.*

My initial take is that I try to avoid public discussions of abortion whenever possible. On an instinctive level, I generally find abortion to be personally repellent. As a legal matter, I'm unable to bring myself to the place of believing it should be prohibited - in the first trimester at least. (Why? Because I've come to believe that there are real issues of women's health, economic well-being and freedom that are involved in the matter.)

But given that I don't possess much certitude or expertise on the topic, I've decided I can't add much of substance to any public discussion of the matter. So I refrain.

And it's possible that makes me a coward. I acknowledge that.

On the Kermit Gosnell arrest: It sounds like the man was a monster and his actions horrifiying. My conscience is troubled, by what I've read, and I haven't mustered the courage to actually read the grand jury report that goes into some detail on the matter.

That said, I'm fairly sure that was Gosnell is accused of doing is in not the way legalized abortion is supposed to be carried out. In fact, I can say that with some confidence because abortion IS generally legal in the first trimester, and yet the Democratic district attorney in this very Democratic city is talking about the death penalty for the doctor. Legal abortion isn't supposed to kill the women who seek it. And the officials who failed to meet their regulatory duties in ensuring the safety of Gosnell's clinic need to be held to account, so that women who do have abortions don't have to risk their lives, health, or dignity in doing so.

But like I say, I'm ambivalent -- at best -- about the whole topic, and I'll probably not let myself be drawn into an intricate conversation about the topic. I'm certain my take on this disappoints you, and that saddens me. I've tried to be honest, however, about a topic I'd rather not engage at all.

I only post this publicly, because I suspect that many Americans feel like I do: They don't really like abortion, but they don't want access to it prohibited. Those folks, I think, try to keep their heads down and avoid the discussion. Somebody might as well say something.

* To the extent there are comments on this post, incidentally -- either here or on my Facebook page -- I'm going to ask people to be respectful to each other. I'll have no problem deleting comments that I think cross a line into abusiveness, even if you're a friend of mine.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your post. It is honest and I don't think you are a coward for not engaging on subject.