Monday, May 18, 2009

Finding the Real Middle Ground of the Abortion Debate

This weekend, President Obama called for tolerance to find the "middle ground" in the abortion debate. Here is where my husband, an Irish Democrat, went crazy. "How do you halfway kill a baby?" It left me scratching my head. It was a little like saying I was a little pregnant when I had our eighth child. It is a yes or no proposition and I believed that there was no middle ground.

At this point in the conversation, my husband gave me a pearl. Pearls are what I call the wisdom that comes from a hidden truth, as in the Pearl of Great Price,(the parable Jesus once told.) My husband does high level negotiations with the CEO's of million dollar corporations. He quoted his number one rule in negotiations. Make the middle ground as far on your side as possible.

When my husband enters a room to negotiate a contract, he asks for more than he wants. He never asks for less. This instantly forces the opposition to negotiate away from their position. In addition, the stronger of the two entities pulls naturally towards the middle, forcing the other side to acquiesce. My husband is a very strong personality, so he is usually successful, while at the same time, the other side feels they have walked away with more for their side. My husband, though, knows who had the real advantage.

Pro-life Catholics are that strong personality in the negotiation. They see no compromise in the issue of abortion. The subject is the life of a human being. Science has already settled this question, so the only option is to make a new middle ground, closer to their position, while suggesting it is close to what pro-choicers want. This is where the listening becomes vital to the posturing in the negotiation.

In listening to the other side, a pro-lifer will discover a wealth of information that can be learned. For example, I learned how to zero in on the real issue that worried most teens and young women when they had abortions. Truth be told, it made me a more effective hot line counselor. Their biggest fear was the immediate response, and how it will impact their lives. I would remind them their parents love them, and, once they scrape them off the ceiling, their parents will be there to support their decision.

Crisis motivates people to make rash and often regrettable decisions. The TARP funds and the Stimulus Bill are evidence of this. The same is true in a crisis pregnancy. One addage that always seems to hold true: Any decision made in a rush and without careful consideration of all the facts, leads to regret at some level. If we want to build a new middle ground, why not remind everyone about this reality? Will abortion really open a door? Or does it actually close one? Is the decision really another crisis diversion where the cure is worse than the condition? How will it feel in 7 (or 7 1/2, or 6 1/2) months when the mother would have delivered? Will she really feel relief then? Or regret?

If regret doesn't come, what is she really denying? Yes, the 'problem' will have been easily avoided, but there is no free lunch. Anyone who says you can have your cake and eat it too is lying to you and themself. Truth is, the middle ground exists here. It exists in the hearts of those who have made a decision on either side, and those who will make the decision. Those who have had abortions will (if they are honest) admit a sense of loss in the process. If they don't admit some sorrow or regret, they are likely to be suppressing a LOT of anger, (my suspicions regarding J. Garofalo.) Those who have given birth have a very different point of view.

I fit into this category. It was tough, but enduring built character in me. I now have a beautiful daughter, one of many, who is quite successful, even at the tender age of 25. (Two books coming out next year to prove it.) President Obama's mother could also say this. He was an unplanned pregnancy, but his mother chose to see beyond the immediate crisis and focused, instead, on what the future could hold.

One is a position of negative justification,(will I abort my fetus to get where I want to be in life?) The other is a positive one (by giving birth, I will able to take pride in her accomplishments, and I can still accomplish my goal, although with a little more difficulty.) Most women fail to consider the latter. I was just fortunate to be raised by parents and grandparents that knew to consider it. They passed this pearl of wisdom on to me.

The critical component in this is to remove judgement at the moment of crisis. If one removes judgement, the woman can remove her emotions (fretfulness) long enough to consider the future positive possibilities, rather than the negative. When judgement exists, defensiveness ensues, and the person is unable to be objective.

Women who have struggled with depression after abortion understand this. Judgement of herself is the biggest issue, and it can be debilitating. It is so, because the human soul knows intuitively right from wrong. The more we try to deny the truth, the more sick our soul becomes. Depression is a sickness of the soul, eminating from the constant need to turn off the voice in our head that tells us we did something wrong or bad. Sometimes that voice is created by others, and sometimes it is made by the things we do. Sometimes there is an organic component (like the sudden shift of hormones) but it is usually given greater power with guilt.

Guilt becomes a polarizing element in the debate. But like Pain, Guilt is a gift to help us know how to behave within society. For those who believe in God, it is what tells us we have stepped away from God. The sadness this brings is a natural consequence. If we step away from Our Creator, by going against His Creation process, we distance ourselves from the One who created us. It's like a child never speaking to a parent again. There is a sadness that comes with it that can't be explained until the two begin to converse again.

Pro-lifers should play this hand, now that the President has suggested it. Don't compromise on the principle, but open the discussion for the sake of those who are facing crisis pregnancies. Take anyone who has had an abortion, and anyone who has opted to give birth, then compare their lives and attitudes. Who would you want to be like? Who would you want to trust? Which one is truly happy? I guarantee you, there is not one woman who is genuinely elated with abortion, in the same way one is elated after giving birth.

Even though BOTH have negative and positive aspects to their decision, only one is content with life. The other is constantly driven to justify what they did, in order to prove it was the right decision. The other simply continues on with their plan for life, despite the bump in the road (or belly.) By default, it proves which decision is the better choice.

The key to the whole middle ground issue is focusing on the person in the crisis WHEN they are in the crisis, and trusting they can make a good decision when presented with all the facts. By removing the element of 'crisis,' they will see the possiblities. The world won't end if things don't go exactly as originally planned. But if we adapt to new circumstances, the rewards have the potential for greatness.

I'm sure President Obama's mother would agree with me.

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