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I am a Christian. That is a belief. My "Mission Statement" is to Love God and to Love My Neighbor as myself. Those are values, which come as natural and explicit results of my belief in a Living, Loving God.

I believe that each abortion is a tragedy - the end result of a tragic situation. But abortion itself is not a value. It is an action. Outlawing abortion is an action, also. But values are clear and defined in their intent and scope. Actions carry many collateral consequences.

My father and step-father were both conservative Republicans who would be in their 90s, if they were still alive. They were also good friends, going back to their Obstetric residencies together in the 1950s. Abortion was illegal then. They had both seen the results of the law. Most people think the downside of outlawing abortion would be orphanages and teenage mothers and social embarassment leading to quickie adoptions. My fathers saw septic complications from back-alley abortions. Young women dying needlessly. Girls, who saw no other option, committing suicide. This "collateral damage" was an integral part of their professional lives. They were both invariably socially conservative, but neither had an issue with abortion. That's because their experience had changed them. Changes this value.

They also knew (and apparently most of the medical community knew) which physicians did abortions. They considered many of them highly principled men (all OBs in that day were men) who chose one tragedy over another.

They also pointed out specific cases. Families I knew (back in the way-way pre-HIPAA era) who were outspokenly Pro-Life but had fallen into sudden silence on the issue. They invariably had teenage daughters.

My mother, who had four healthy children in her first 4 years and 2 weeks of wedded bliss, was afraid that she had become pregnant a fifth time. I know that my mother loves each of her children very much, but she still maintains today (at 92) that she would have "flown to Europe to have an abortion" if that had been the case. She could afford to. Most women - especially young, unmarried women - could not afford that.

I am the father of two beautiful, adopted children. In each case, their birth mothers had considered abortions, but chose to carry our children to term. I thank God for them and pray for them every night. My children are both in their 20s now, and I am not silly enough to think that they are not sexually active. I don't know what would happen if my daughter became pregnant. But I do know it wouldn't be my choice; her life is not mine to control - even if I were foolish enough to want to try. That lesson I have already learned.

Although some of these observations are "vicarious learning" they provide food for thought.

The problem with tragedies is that the root cause comes well before the painful end. If abortion is at the end of the chain, why do we focus our attention there. Wouldn't proactivity be more effective? Or is that un-Anerican?

If a law doesn't stop abortion (and it won't) does it at least slow it down? If so, what are ALL the collateral costs involved - including lives lost and ruined, careers destroyed, tax dollars spent on enforcement? Has anyone honestly done this math?

Is outlawing abortion the solution to abortion or just an action we take in a desperate attempt to enforce our values?

If my values differ from yours, what do we do? More to the point, WWJD? Or should I say: WWJI (What would Jesus Impose?) I can't honestly remember Jesus imposing anything but Love on anybody. No call to Arms. No political agenda.

I see His heart breaking and I see him sitting down to eat with prostitutes and tax collectors and abortionists and pregnant girls and girls not yet pregnant. And I see Him changing their hearts.
I see Pharacees making laws.

These have been some of my experiences. They inform how I view the world and other people and God. And myself. And I know that I am called - we all are called - to take action on our values. I am just not sure that outlawing abortion is a right action to take.

Bill Berger