A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Caring for Children After Birth

To the question of the commitments of anti-abortion folks to children after they are born, one evangelical site has a response; look at the acts of charity done by various pregnancy centers and individuals.

But it’s helpful to have a distinction between justice and charity. Justice as moral requirements for a community which includes ensuring that all have access to the basic goods of life. Charity as individual acts which go beyond the requirements of justice.

One shouldn’t be used to dismiss the other. You work for health care reform? Great, but charity at the individual level is still required. Provide blankets for pregnant women? Great, but it doesn’t mean you can side step societal obligations like ensuring kids get an education.

One can't dismiss the moral demands of a just society because one does individual acts of charity. While there folks doing great stuff on all sides, highlighting them doesn’t indicate what most folks are doing on either side, which is most likely nothing.

In any case many clinics do have counseling programs, some of them involve religious clergy to provide spiritual support. And there are pro-choice individuals and groups who work with women through the whole process. I know and count many of them as friends.

Caring for kids; a few do a lot. But to the degree that anti-abortion politics are tied to a view that has argued against societal provisions for kids, this question comes up. And it should despite what some individuals do since it's a justice question.


At 9:31 AM , Blogger andrew said...

Excellent point. My wife made the same points when she stopped by the local "pro-life" organization's booth at the county fair. She asked what any of their members have done to make our society more "pro-life" for children already born -- not just donating money to charity, but working to change society. Of course, they had no answer.

At 9:43 AM , Anonymous Eli said...

I believe neither side spends sufficient human resources to help children. Like you, I can name many individuals, both pro-choice and pro-life, that have dedicated their lives to the high-calling of children’s rights.

With this post I am trying to make two points:
 Money and time does not necessarily equate with solving the issue
 Supporting and helping children, although absolutely critical, just muddies the water when it comes to the abortion debate

Unfortunately, the Western World equates money with well being. Throwing money at the problem seems to be our modus operandi but it does not always work. Did LBJ’s War on Poverty do anything to stop poverty? Did Nixon’s War on Drugs do anything to stop drugs? Billions of dollars spent with a negative return. Have pro-life and pro-choice efforts (marches, pamphlets, education, etc.) really changed the overall focus of the debate that has been raging for almost 40 years?

As an illustration, many people believe spending more money on schools will solve our current educational deficiencies. The following is an excerpt from the article Soaring School Spending by Frederick M. Hess posted in AEI Online (Washington) on April 14, 2004 http://www.aei.org/publications/pubID.20303/pub_detail.asp

“It may surprise some to learn that, in fact, we rank at the top of the international charts when it comes to education spending. In 2000 (the latest available data), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) calculated that the United States spent significantly more than any other industrial democracy, including those famous for generous social programs.

In primary education, on a per-pupil basis, the United States spent 66 percent more than Germany, 56 percent more than France, 27 percent more than Japan, 80 percent more than the United Kingdom, 62 percent more than Belgium, and 122 percent more than South Korea. High school figures were similar.

Despite this spending, the United States ranked fifteenth among the thirty-one countries that participated in the OECD’s 2000 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) reading exam. Ireland, Iceland, and New Zealand were among those that outperformed us while spending far less per pupil. The results in math are equally disquieting: on the 1999 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, the United States ranked nineteenth of thirty-eight participating countries. Most troubling is that America’s standing actually deteriorates as students spend more time in school.”

That being said, the argument of “making life better for existing children” is really not applicable to the debate.

The real debate is which right takes precedence: the right of women to choose what they wish to do with their bodies or the right of the child to enter this world. We can argue about when life begins or when a fetus is viable, but in both cases, the answer is subjective. Whether we are doing anything to help children or providing support for the parent(s), both of which I fully support, just muddies the water. Abortion is very complicated and very divisive issue with no real answer thus making debate fruitless. As with many moral dilemmas, there is no one-size fits all answer, each case must be evaluated on its own merits between the stakeholders and their God. Whether I agree or disagree with their decision is moot.

I believe we need to minimize the need for abortion, not debate the issue. When we quit concentrating on the debate and start concentrating on the solution, both sides win.

At 8:24 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link, but you missed the main point of my piece.

Pointing out a moral wrong does not obligate you to take responsibility for the situation.

If your neighbor is beating his wife, you call the police. The police don’t say, “Hey, buddy, unless you are willing to marry her yourself then we aren’t going to stop him from beating her.” You can use child or animal abuse as examples as well. Most people get the point pretty quickly.

So we can speak out against abortion all day long because it is wrong to crush and dismember innocent human beings.

But pro-lifers do plenty, before during and after.

Remember, giving away other people's money at the point of a gun (i.e., via taxes) is not charity. Giving from your own wallet is.

It is well documented that conservatives give more than liberals and that conservatives are more pro-life. Go check out the major ministries and see if they were started by orthodox Christians or pluralistic "Christians" who deny the deity of Christ, authority of scripture, that Jesus is the only way, etc.


At 12:07 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

no matter what you choose to call a fetus it is a life....excuses and denial do not make it anything else. If you are pro-choice then you believe in MURDER...If you accept murder of an innocent life that makes you just as bad as Satan..and God doesn't want what he makes butchered nor MURDERED.

At 7:31 AM , Blogger WYFRP said...

Excellent points, Dwight. To add to this thread, I'd like to make your readers aware of a new book which examines such issues as the role of government/society after children are born.

The book poses this question...The Commands of Men, or God?

That’s the central question posed by The Commands of Men; Why the Republican Party is So Wrong, According to God’s Word, Law and New Covenant ― released by Wayfarer Press (http://www.wayfarerbooks.com/more_books.html), LLC, Union Lake, MI for campaign season 2008.

While the candidates and parties wrangle over everything imaginable, this book seeks to specifically address which party comes closer to genuine Christianity in its culture and public policies, and is, therefore, the better choice for Christian voters and others of good conscience.

The book begins with the central premise that the Republican Party ― which is the more overtly Christian party ― is not, in fact, adhering to the most important priorities and imperatives of Christianity, but, rather, prioritizes “the commands of men.” Therefore, it is actually the less-overtly-Christian Democratic Party that comes closer to God’s most important priorities and imperatives, based on the party’s philosophies and public policies.

The book is a tool for Democrats, but it’s actually a “workbook” (with more than 400 questions) written as an invitation and a “challenge” for Republicans. While there are thousands of books on Christianity, the book fills the need for something that “throws down the gauntlet,” in a manner of speaking, so as to elicit a response and engage Christian Republicans in such a discourse and debate.

Whether Democrat, Republican or Independent, this book helps readers to sort it all out, put it in perspective, examine it, weigh it, and reach a decision. No person of good conscience should cast a ballot without first reading this book.


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