Until I looked it up, I had no idea who Roe and Wade were, but their names are on top of the news.
Norma McCorvey, known legally as “Jane Roe,” filed a suit against Henry Wade, a Dallas district attorney, in February of 1973. Wade had enforced a Texas law that prohibited abortion except if needed to save the mother’s life. The case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of Roe. As a result, legal abortions became the law of the land.
Now, over 45 years later, the state of Alabama has passed a law prohibiting any abortion from being performed in the state. While this law is already being appealed, there seems to be a trend toward repealing the national right for any woman who wants to have an abortion.
Two opposing sides have developed: those who are pro-life and those who are pro-choice. We see them on TV, shouting and waving signs and banners, with pro-lifers protesting outside abortion clinics. Planned Parenthood, the target of pro-lifers, has been accused of aborting fetuses at nearly full-term, and selling various body parts. They have denied this practice, and point out that the vast majority of their clients practice contraception rather than abortion.
I am not in favor of women easily using abortion as a method of birth control, but I can understand that in many cases abortion becomes an option for women who feel they cannot afford or are not emotionally able to care for a child. On occasion I have counseled a woman to consider abortion, and promised to stand by her no matter what her decision might be.
Pro-lifers claim that abortion is not Christian, although I don’t think there are any passages in the Bible that deal specifically with the subject. Pro-choicers, who rarely use the term “abortion,” refer to women’s’ health, and claim that a woman must have control of her own body. The two sides yell and scream at each other, but I rarely hear of representatives of the groups talking with each other rationally and quietly. Listen thoughtfully to your opponent’s point of view, and perhaps you can concede that they have a valid point.
Each side fishes for information that supports its argument and conveniently ignores any data that might favor the other side. This seems to be the pattern in political debate as well. Those who support the president cite his strong talking points but ignore (or forgive) his shady business practices and his immoral sexual history. His opponents attack his questionable administrative style and impulsive use of Twitter but will not give him credit for a strong economy or historically low unemployment levels. The political climate in Washington does little or nothing to bring the parties together, but pits them vigorously against one another.
Hate groups who assault churches or synagogues are a product of this practice. You can’t just accept those who disagree with you, you have got to fight back, and in the extreme this leads to violence and death. Whatever happened to “I disagree with what you say, but will fight for your right to say it”? Our Constitution rose from an atmosphere of debate and was written as a product of intelligent compromise.
Roe v. Wade is obviously under attack in our current political atmosphere. New appointees to the Supreme Court will be nominated according to their views on abortion. They may or may not accept our current abortion rights as constitutional, even though that historical decision has stood for over 45 years. Meanwhile, several other states are expected to follow the example of Alabama to make abortion either illegal or more tightly restricted. These actions seem to place strong emphasis on the rights of the unborn, but have little concern for the health and wellbeing of the women.
My hope would be, as I stated above, that the two sides will stop fighting and begin to talk and listen to one another with open minds. Neither side may get all that they want, but the result should be a fairer and more just resolve of the argument.
Harry Bronkar is a retired Baptist minister living in Seven Lakes. Contact him at hbronkar @gmail.com.