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The topic of abortion is a very difficult one for me. I have been on either side of the divide multiple times in my life. I have never had to make the decision for myself, and so I am just supposing I can be a fair essayist without the perspective of facing the decision. I am so ambivalent about abortion. I cannot help but think that it is awful the way we find it so easy to kill people in the United States. I think of capital punishment as awful for how it detaches us from our own humanity. I think of abortion in this way, too. We are precious to God among all the creatures on earth. However, I try to put myself sometimes in the place of the woman or girl who is pregnant and perilously close to setting herself on a path to lifelong poverty with the birth of a baby. The birth could so profoundly change the trajectory of some women's lives because they lack the resources that some of us can take for granted. Whether to take a pregnancy to term is not devastating for a woman or girl with great family support of her, reliable financial means, an education, and the emotional strength to withstand the stress of the unwanted pregnancy and either raising the child or living with the pain of giving the baby for adoption. I cannot make that choice for someone else. Unambivalently, I believe that in the case of rape, incest, or a real threat to a woman's health, she should be able to make the decision in her best interest without taking grief from other people. I offer you the example of the woman with serious mental illness who has a pre-school child. She cannot stop medication for her illness without risking becoming ill and hospitalized or dangerous. She should not place the unborn child at risk of developing under the physiologic influence of these medications in her body. This is a serious medical decision. I do not belong in this decision. My religion does not belong in her decision.

Yet, I surely believe that for some the choice to abort a pregnancy is absolutely cavalier. How repugnant. But, I accept that I am not in control of her, though some part of me wants to be. What will be the life of a child born to her? What about the loss of life in abortion? Surely, this unborn spirit will not go to hell. I have felt the closeness of God in dark times in my life. I feel God's compassion and forgiveness. It is not my impression of God that the unborn spirit is more loved than the living. I think the unwavering placement of greater value on the unborn than on the living woman and those who her pregnancy will impact is the imperfect judgment of human beings. Why do we try to insert ourselves so aggressively in the lives of others? Haven't we all felt that God deals with us in our right and wrong actions? So, though I would prefer that the person who cavalierly took a decision for abortion had not done so, I pray that God will touch her privately and show her another way. I genuinely hope that people who are so anti-abortion will have compassion for that woman who chose abortion and will pray for her to be in prayer about that decision even after the fact. God has forgiveness for her, if she was wrong, and has support for her, if she was right.

I think that as we think about abortion, we should also think about the death penalty. Must we do this? Is is so impossible to feed and cloth and impress humanity upon the murderer? Can we not challenge him to come to God? Why do we kill this person? Are we trying to send them to hell before they can repent and come into the graceful embrace of God?

I am concerned that the vehemence hurled at people who get abortions or perform them is not from the spirit of holiness. What we hear sometimes is absolutely hateful. I cannot reconcile to that approach to disagreement even on something one feels passionate about. I would say that people on both sides of the debate need to accept that we do not know everything. We are not God and we are not the person that has to make a decision and live with it.