What we humans share with all creation is our breath. Historically, life was marked by 'the first breath'...and 'the last breath.' For me this is a key element for understanding life and our obligations. Ecology has helped me in my own understanding of the abortion issue. An infant that cannot survive on its own - that cannot breathe - is not 'alive' in the way that its mother is, because it does not breathe; it does not share the air with all life on earth, except indirectly through its mother. I recall the era before the supreme court decision and the reports of women losing their lives in botched illegal abortions. I believe that society's obligation is first to the living.For the last thirty years, I have been an environmental educator and activist. I have sought to bring people together, especially to overcome artificially created divisions, so that we can work together for a clean and healthy environment. Science has changed and complicated our understanding of conception and birth, and enhanced our ability to save lives of younger and younger prematurely born infants. These changes have complicated our understanding of life, but the fact remains for me that concern for an infant in gestation must be secondary to our concern for the mother.
My 18 year old son walked through the kitchen this morning and overheard just a part of the discussion of abortion and the republican party. He turned to me and said, it is interesting isn't it, that the pro-life people favor the death penalty; while the pro-choice people generally oppose it. This contradiction heightens for me the sense that abortion is used as a 'wedge issue' more than it is truly a moral issue. I guess I would genuinely like to understand how people who support war and the death penalty can balance that with their "pro-life" morality.
I would like them to understand that I do not want to see abortions either. But I believe that the state should not be in the role of legislating how a mother lives and the decisions she makes. I believe the role of the state is to support the living, and the more effectively we do that the less there will be an economic reason for a woman to choose abortion.
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