This is where I’m stuck: one of the main authorities that opposes abortion is the Catholic church, citing “sanctity of life”. The church historically has been led by men, not meant to live intimately with women; instead, they are supposed to be celibate. They are not meant to father children or to raise them. Therefore, their exposure and understanding of women and children is limited. My mother probably did not want to have 6 children in 7 years, but my parents were good Catholics who did not practice birth control. When my father died, the oldest child was 7 and the youngest 7 months. The priest’s counsel to my mother was “go to mass every morning and read the Bible every night”, not saying how she was to get the older children off to school. With the help of my grandmother and uncle, she raised us, but she suffered, overwhelmed with sorrow and financial difficulties.
During this same time period, there was a crisis of sexual abuse of minors – boys and girls, by priests all over the world. The abuse was hidden for many years, and the offending priests often allowed to continue, even if transferred. The silence allowed the abuse to become widespread. Families who appealed to the church for help – often impoverished, single mother homes with troubled children, are the very ones who the priests found easiest to access and to molest. During the worst years, those children grew up holding their secrets and their shame, resulting in addiction, emotional illness and suicide. This was the sacred life that was to be saved, only to die in another way, after long suffering and anguish.
Where is the mandate to priests or other faith leaders, or politicians, that says “we as a group, or a society” have to help a baby born into this world, no matter the circumstances? If life is so precious, why is the child poverty rate in this country so high? It seems to me that lack of abortion rights leads to more childhood hardship. It seems to me that it’s not really about children at all, but about controlling women and their bodies, and keeping some people from making advancements in life.
If the definition of viability cannot be completely established or agreed upon, who is the real “authority”? It’s not in the Bible, nor given to those who interpret the Bible. It’s not in the Constitution, nor given to those who interpret the Constitution. It is possible that some politicians use the issue of abortion to fuel righteous fire in those who seek desperately for some moral certainty in a world of so much uncertainty? How is it that many oppose covid vaccines on the grounds that they are sovereign over their own bodies – yet oppose abortion rights for others? And on what grounds should the ultimate “authority” not be the person who is pregnant?