Abortion Politics: Do You Really Want Kids To Think, or Just Believe?

19 08 2008

“Why Should You Discuss Abortion?” was the topic at conservative evangelical dad Scott Somerville’s old blog. Here are some of my comments in that discussion:

I understand Scott to be saying this discussion is about how we can better educate homeschooled kids on the issues, not for arguing the issues ourselves.  Better! 🙂

So, holding tight to my “belief” that Scott does really “think” about tough issues, and means to encourage all homeschooled kids to do the same — I accept that he’s brought this up hoping to deepen their reasoning and understanding of how sex, religion and politics intersect and affect real lives.

In that positive and collegial spirit, and with great respect for every family’s right to accept or reject the input as they see fit, let me offer a couple of education resources that might be hard to come by otherwise, for conservative Christian homeschool kids. First, my own willingness to answer their questions and describe my own current perspective as a stay-at-home mom and unschooling non-partisan who believes that without respecting free will, nothing can be moral, that coercion and power imbalance can poison even the most moral human ideals.

And that choosing love in your own life can redeem even the most immoral. That applies to friendship, education, marriage, motherhood, public service, work, war and peace, and I think I’m prepared to argue, to salvation itself. 
Isn’t free will a basic tenet of Christianity?

So secondly, here are the two nonfiction books I recommend most highly for broadening homeschoolers’ education on this issue and starting to “reconcile” our polarized politics in favor of greater humanity and compassion for all life. Dworkin’s elegant legal argument is my best pick, and the new history of American girls who didn’t have abortions is my 16-year-old daughter’s pick, out of all we’ve ever read. (And we read everything!)

Oh, and there’s one we both admire for its complex and senstive power of story ,I guess it’s technically fiction although not really imo — the Cider House Rules by John Irving.

The Girls Who Went Away: The HIdden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler

Life’s Dominion: An Argument About Abortion, Euthanasia, and Individual Freedom by Ronald Dworkin


Steve writes:

“JJ apparently thinks we should be free to commit all sorts of crimes. We are, but not without consequences.”

That wild first premise doesn’t lead to the second! But the second is true enough — trouble is, it’s about crime, which tells us nothing useful about legal freedoms like privacy and choice, including law-abiding moms and potential moms.

Scott and I are both scholars of First Amendment law, in which there’s a bright line drawn between “prior restraint” of free expression (which our Constitution doesn’t allow) and allowing the law to impose punitive consequences for certain expression because our government deems it NOT free — in other words, you won’t be prevented from violating the law before the fact but you’re on notice of what is violative, and that there are legal consequences.

So, any citizen with a voice or a pen or a keyboard is “free” to violate the law by inciting violence, making death threats, libel etc, — free in this sense meaning they can’t legally be restrained from all communication before they violate the law in the first place — but not “free” in the sense that there is no legal price to pay after they DO commit a tort or crime.

It seems like Steve believes a range of of private female behaviors, choices and decisions are free only in the first sense but not the second, that various reproductive, pregnancy and contraceptive choices are actually capital crimes akin to murder?

We all know that’s not what we’re talking about here. The pro-life movement interprets God’s law when it calls abortion murder, not Government’s law.

And the difference between God’s Law and Government’s Law makes all the difference in how well America can preserve and protect both freedom and life. Confusing the two is getting fully born and free people killed throughout the world, all in the name of some doomsday divinity doctrine that we’re told is futile for free, thinking men and women to resist.

Freedom is not the enemy here, and virgins are not the prize!

Evangelical homeschooled teens who care so deeply about “life” need to understand that difference before they protect even their own life and freedom from totalitarians, much less mine, or future life potential for anyone male or female, born or unborn, Muslim, Christian or Jew.


Sorry I had to run, Favorite Daughter needed a ride to her community college class – I want to address Steve’s point about “natural” consequences as well as social-government consequences.

While I thank any man for his concern about my welfare (even teenagers) and any woman for her support, the fact is that there are all sorts of physical consequences that threaten women’s health. We’re learning through science that most physical conditions are correlated with particular habits, beliefs, behaviors and practices — not just sex and reproduction but eating, drinking, sleeping, exercising, kinds of health care or lack thereof, general lack of resources like education and income. Marriage, friends, even getting enough hugs per day (ten is optimum, did you know that?)

I personally face significant and potentially life-threatening “natural consequences” myself resulting from choosing to BE a mom, rather than choosing not to be a mom.

Am I being punished by God or nature then, and should I have known better and chosen differently? Should pro-life homeschooled children learn about THOSE consequences while they are getting this other set of scientific “facts?”Where were the loving, caring folk to counsel me AGAINST pregnancy and all its life-threatening natural consequences?

I really hope pro-life homeschooled teens are learning to think through such fallacious arguments; the Well-Trained Mind curriculum and other critical thinking programs available for home education. For example, I suggest a pro-life essay topic worthy of our finest young students might be to read this female professor’s polemic called “To Be A Mother” and then articulate the best-reasoned argument against it they can, if any:

What do you think about this approach from bioethics-philosophy professor Hilde Lindemann?
(Here’s one excerpt, but it’s an elegant argument that needs to be read in full to appreciate, much less attempt to refute.)

“They want to hold pregnant women – who are innocent of any wrongdoing –to a punitive standard of specific performance, sentencing them against their will to the many kinds of hard work, physical discomfort, and outright danger that my daughter has undertaken to bring her wanted child into the world.

No other class of people is held to this standard in peacetime. No woman should be held to it either.

. . .consider distributing the gender burden more evenly by enacting a law that forces all able-bodied men to donate a kidney to someone who will die without one. That way they too would have to do something with their bodies to support someone else’s life–something a little like the creative and purposeful work that women do when they sustain a pregnancy…”




3 responses

12 11 2008
Dale McGowan’s Guide to Thinking Parent Blogs « Cocking A Snook!

[…] Abortion Politics: Do You Really Want Kids to Think or Just Believe? […]

7 02 2009
Bill Gates’ Change Checklist: Mosquitos, Education, Sleep « Cocking A Snook!

[…] of course, but also they are based on smart, creative, pragmatic change, and what I might call “pro-life through choice” thinking. He is quite literally saving the lives of millions of women and children worldwide, and […]

1 10 2009
Education Freedom and Religious Freedom In Conflict? « Cocking A Snook!

[…] Do you really want kids to think, or just believe? […]

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