The US Supreme Court has overturned Roe V Wade and turned the matter of legal abortion back to the states, where it never should have left.
I will not get into legalities. That’s beyond me. I only want to recount my experience not of abortion, but as a young boy raised in an intensely Catholic environment. I was 21 when Roe v Wade came down, and I was appalled and disgusted. At that age, so inexperienced and overly righteous, I had no problem in judging that women, once pregnant, needed to stay pregnant, and either put up their children for adoption, or set aside their lives, futures and careers and raise that child.
How do unwanted pregnancies happen? Poor judgment, strong impulses, changes in circumstances, and probably most importantly, alcohol. Slowly over time my attitudes began to soften. Sometimes pregnancy is an unplanned mistake, and if there is a way out without killing a fully formed baby (or fetus), I thought it best to take it. What is more important – the life of a fetus, not fully formed or sentient, or that of a young woman, who should be allowed to make a mistake and still have a future.
My attitudes towards Christians, especially fundamentalist Christians, hardened. This even as I read and internalized The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James. From that I gleaned that the settling of religion into sentient and intelligent people was a real event, and that from that event people had better lives and more happiness than they would have had otherwise. I was not so affected. Even with that in mind, I thought abortion to be none of the concern of religious people.
So I had bounced from disdain towards pregnant women to disdain towards religious believers. I was still an extremist.
Only age has softened me. I now look at the whole political spectrum surrounding abortion to be comprised of sincere people holding deep beliefs that they come upon often with thought and compassion. Those who oppose abortion on demand want life to be true to beliefs and people to be held to very high standards.
Those who favor abortion on demand have a more humanist outlook, that the life of a woman who has become pregnant either by accident or against changing circumstances or against her own better judgement has to matter as much as the the life of a fetus. Good lord is that a hard choice. Women post-abortion often face guilt and depression taking months or years to get over. I do not envy them that position.
Of course I am troubled, as a man who has caused four pregnancies and five children to exist. Abortion is ugly. If a person looks on abortion as a sacrament, that person is far too hardened for my taste. If a person regards abortion, legal or not, as a hard choice, then it is our role as caring humans to understand and accept and support what ever outcome is chosen. We are not the final judges in these matters, and extreme suffering surrounds every choice.
The Supreme Court did not rule abortion illegal. No doubt Utah will soon do so, perhaps Idaho as well. I expect that California, for instance, will have legal and illegal enclaves and that abortion will go on there just as before Roe v Wade, only less reliable and healthy for the pregnant mother.
I find late-term abortion to be utterly repugnant. I find all abortion to be repellent. But I am a man. I’ve not gotten pregnant, and cannot begin to know the troubles of, say a young teen, finding herself with a living being inside her and torn between the natural unconditional love that a mother feels for a child, and the need to be free to make choices about her own life without interference.
This issue is not straightforward. I’ve been on both sides, and had no business on either. As an non-religious man, I really cannot justify harsh judgment against anyone.