Re: “I am pro-choice because all evidence shows that restricting abortion increases the rate of abortion.”

There are pro-choicers who don’t consider the unborn baby a human being. A fetus is not a human life, they say, so they have no rights. And then there are pro-choicers who do recognize the unborn’s personhood. They also acknowledge that it’s unfortunate that an innocent life is terminated during abortion, but consider it a necessary evil. Statistics show that lifting restrictions on access to abortion reduces its occurrence. Besides, would you rather abortions be performed by trained, certified physicians, or by shady back-alley providers?

The first justification calls for a discussion on whether personhood is inherent or earned. In this post I intend to specifically address the second.

It’s safe to infer that these individuals feel abortion is on some level immoral, though most prefer to call it “unfortunate” or sad.” At least, I assume so because they do want it to be rare. What I’m perplexed by is this “logic” of allowing something as a means of reducing its very occurrence. It reminds me of the movie The Purge: In a dystopian society, the government has instituted an annual 12-hour period called “The Purge,” where all criminal activity is permitted. The justification? Because of this, overall crime-rate is now at an all-time low.

Reactions to this analogy have been varied. I’ve heard “I don’t see how that’s ‘dystopian’ if it works!” (to which I have nothing to say), while others have taken great offense. The latter group is not wrong to point out that abortion is a real-life situation, not some fantasy, non-existent scenario. Regardless, it seems to me an analogy that successfully highlights, without any sugarcoating, the inherent moral contradiction in saying that you want restrictions lifted so as to reduce the incidence of that very act. Or is putting lives on the line supposed to be some sort of reverse psychology tactic? As Rush Limbaugh aptly put it, “The message that President Obama delivered…was: morality is immoral. . . . Why work to reduce the number of them occurring if there’s nothing wrong with it?”

I’m in no way denying facts and statistics. Call me an idealist, but there has got to be better ways of reducing the occurrence of abortion that don’t force us to deny our conscience as individuals and as a nation. Have we looked hard enough? Rather than let Planned Parenthood drive up demand for its own profit, have we even tried to reduce demand for abortion? How about pouring more resources into…

…quality sex education (granted, content is highly debatable) + access to birth control (since the non-religious are unlikely to opt for abstinence) + better maternal healthcare and work benefits + better physical, emotion, psychological support for crisis pregnancy moms + reducing stigma against pregnancy out of wedlock in and outside the church + applauding the courage of women carrying their unplanned pregnancy to full term + actually recommending adoption as an option + …

I don’t know, I’m no public policy expert, but there has got to be ways to reduce abortion that are less morally lazy than expanding access to it.

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47 thoughts on “Re: “I am pro-choice because all evidence shows that restricting abortion increases the rate of abortion.””

  1. I agree with your suggestions. Education being key. Knowledge is power. Without understanding how pregnancy happens, and how your life changes if you become pregnant, people will be believing misinformation, and that increases the risks significantly. And there is a lot of misinformation out there, especially when it comes to teenagers trying to understand how it all works between themselves. There needs to be clear, honest resources readily available to all people. Access to birth control and proper instruction how to be sure it is used effectively is important too.

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  2. Wholeheartedly agree with most of what you say here, bar the point that increased access to contraception and ‘quality’ sex education would necessarily help the situation. In the UK, sex education has been introduced to children at earlier ages, and with a wider scope year upon year now, and all it seems to do is increase the sexualisation of the young. Of course this all depends upon what you mean by ‘quality’ sex education.

    Re contraception, one could make a fairly strong argument that it is the widespread contraceptive mentality that has led us to where we are now (e.g.; a permissive and promiscuous society that, at the most extreme, sees abortion as just another form of contraception). Humanae Vitae, though much villified in various circles, seems to me to be particularly prophetic on this point. Once the procreative and unitive aspects of sex were separated, the doors were opened for everything we are dealing with now.

    Anyway, this is a great post, and as I say, I completely agree with everything else you have said.

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    1. Thank you for your input! “Re contraception, one could make a fairly strong argument that it is the widespread contraceptive mentality that has led us to where we are now.” Though I don’t completely agree with the Catholic stance on contraception, I agree with you 100% on this point. We don’t need statistics to reasonably expect premarital sex, sexual permissiveness, and promiscuity to increase the number of unwanted pregnancies. I think it started with The Pill, which I don’t think is bad in itself, but women were so blown away by their newfound power and control over their bodies and went too far with seeing abortion as back-up contraception. But, I don’t know, maybe I’m being too pessimistic but if it’s already this hard to change people’s mentality on abortion, would adding sexual permissiveness to the plate mean fighting a losing battle?

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      1. Thanks for the reply, and apologies for the length of mine! I must admit that I empathise with your position, which if I have rightly interpreted it (please correct me if I’ve read too much into what you’ve said), is that sometimes it seems like we’re fighting a losing battle over abortion, and it would be easier to mitigate the problem by increasing access to contraception and thus decreasing the number of unwanted pregnancies. It is really hard to keep one’s chin up (so to speak) over this issue, and sometimes I do feel like making concessions in that area.

        But ultimately, I can only see that giving in on the contraception issue will not only be doing thing’s on the secularist’s terms, but also to increase the problem. Forgive me for mentioning Humanae Vitae again, but I really do feel that it was an extremely prophetic document in this regard. In section 17, Paul VI said this (back in 1968):

        Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

        This change in societal attitudes has indeed taken place, and I do feel the Church is right in refusing to play along with the world re contraception as it would only serve to deepen this attitude. Furthermore, Paul VI also warned about how far this process could go:

        Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.

        Again, we are starting to see this state intrusion into family life wrt contraception and abortion already. Another thing to remember is that, prior to Margaret Sanger’s influence, all of Christendom was agreed that contraception was a no-go area, and would lead to chaos. She deliberately courted liberal Protestants (particularly Anglicans) on this, convincing them that it was a necessary part of the popular socialist agenda at the time (you can read about this here – ) and then it went forward from there. It is time to turn the clock back I think. I agree with organiccatholicmom here – Sanger’s influence has been huge and highly destructive (though she would have called it a success).

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    2. Excellent comment. I agree 100%. Unwanted pregnancies are the result of a lack of morals and the breakdown of the family, not a lack of birth control. Widespread use of birth control has simply made it easier to let go of morality; the most heinous result being abortion.

      Everybody should study Margaret Sanger, the foundress of Planned Parenthood. Her writings are available online through a project sponsored by the department of history at New York University. Many people will be shocked to know what was actually on Sanger’s mind when she (almost single-handedly) campaigned for legal contraception in the United States.

      She wrote often about controlling the “criminal element” and the “intellectually unfit” of society through contraception and sterilization. She wraps this sinister motive in a cloak of trying to alleviate the “burden” of poor families who are “saddled” with more children than they can comfortably handle.

      I’d like to see statistics showing that birth control has eased the burden of the poor. I say it has only made it worse, because it has allowed the family to completely break down, thereby leaving many poor mothers on their own to raise fatherless children.

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  3. The quantity of abortion is in decline, because hearts are slowly but surely being changed. To those people to whom you refer in your excellent post who think abortion is “sad,” but should be legal, I ask simply “why?” If the clump of cells in a mother’s womb carry the same moral weight as, say, a gall bladder gone bad, what’s the difference? By characterizing abortion as sad, the human abortion advocate tacitly acknowledges the humanity of the growing being in the womb. Hearts are changing, especially in the young, because they can see the humanity in the womb at such an early stage, thanks to modern science. Human abortion is more than sad, because each one ends a human life. It leaves victims in its wake, none more than the mother who knows what she did.

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  4. Here’s my take. And I’m NOT pro-abortion. It’s not as much about sexual immorality as it is murder. Aborting a baby causes the death of a separate human organism. I don’t care the size or number of cells. Its like a guy saying he only date-raped the girl at the party a LITTLE bit. People who want to rebel against God and live in sin will find whatever excuse or technicality fits the situation.

    It comes down to a heart issue first and foremost. Is killing a person wrong? Then don’t kill people.

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  5. Should a twelve year old girl who was raped by her father be forced to carry that child to term, especially if there is significant health risks to the girl?

    If you answer yes, you have just put forth a potential human’s rights before a living existing human’s rights.

    If you answer no, you have now justified abortion under certain circumstances. Now it becomes a matter of who gets to decide where the line is drawn.

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    1. The child in the womb is not a “potential” human being. She IS a human being, Joe. A “potential” human being goes by the term “a twinkle in her father’s eyes.” There is nothing “potential” following conception.

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        1. Acorns aren’t developing. They don’t start rooting and producing shoots until they’re in contact with soil, but at that point you probably wouldn’t call it an acorn anymore. An acorn can be likened to an unfertilized human egg, not to a living and growing baby in the womb.

          “You just have to imagine really really hard,” you say. But remember that a newborn doesn’t look like a kid, who looks different from an adult, who looks different from a senior. We must not let appearance be the determining qualification for personhood. The baby in the womb may look “different” but he/she looks the exact way he/she should be looking at that stage of human development, a process we continually undergo from birth till death.

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          1. We must not let appearance be the determining qualification for personhood.

            You can assign whatever level of personhood you deem necessary. It does not negate a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy when she sees fit.

            It is her body and her resources being used, thus it is her choice.

            How far did you really want to advocate for forced birth?

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            1. Advocating for life is not the same as advocating for forced births.

              The right to life is the basis and foundation of all human rights. There’s no reason to decry any human rights violations if this fundamental right isn’t even being respected.

              Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In that order, life being the most important right. For this reason one’s claim to “liberty” or personal happiness should not be granted if it costs another’s life. I’m still confused as to how abortion qualifies as a constitutional right in light of this. A woman can very well get an abortion if it’s true that the baby was akin to a growth/tumor, but it’s not. Most pro-choicers recognize the baby as a human life.

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            2. Sir, at the moment of conception that is no longer her body inside, that is another human being with the Constitutional (and I believe God-given) right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Yes, it is using her resources, but if she doesn’t want the child or cannot afford to expend the resources necessary to raise it, then she has other options that do not involve murder. When I am married I will gladly adopt children who cannot/will not care for their child. I know I am just one man (in the future just one family), but if I can make a difference for one child that will be a victory, and perhaps I will set an example for other Christians around me to follow. I think abortion would not be the hot-topic issue if we as a church (all doctrinal and denominational differences aside) would step up to the plate and do our job in this world…

              Sorry for the long rant, everyone…

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          2. karenzai, you may want to save this comment for your piece on rape/incest, but after reading JoeC, i felt compelled to write.

            in the case of rape, incest, or any sort of physical or mental abuse, the victim will only heal after forgiving his/her abuser. carrying anger, hurt, pain, confusion, grief, and fear for the rest of one’s life is NOT equal to healing.

            when we make the conscious and determined decision to forgive and place our lives completely in the hands of God, the miracle of healing begins. forgiveness is a decision; an action. it does not depend on feelings or the lack of feelings. the sooner we make the decision to forgive, the sooner we will be free of the slavery of the past.

            encouraging anger or hatred towards one’s abuser or aborting a child created by rape does not foster healing in any way whatsoever — it only helps keep a person enslaved in the past.

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    2. Joe, this post is about tackling a specific pro-choice argument, which you are not addressing. I will elaborate on “the rape exception” in a post of its own. But in the meantime, I would like to point out that less than 1% of all abortion cases are for rape victims. I’m in no way downplaying their suffering, but just highlighting that you are bringing up a very, very atypical case. The trauma of being raped often triggers PTSD and/or depression, and many physicians would say that there’s no basis for believing an abortion would make things better. In fact, it is far more likely to worsen matters (even in “normal” abortion scenarios, 60% of women who go through an abortion suffer from PTSD later on). Physicians say abortion is never necessary to save a woman’s life (including C Everett Koop, former Surgeon General of the US) but I don’t know if this applies to a 12-year-old girl. Either way I believe the physician has a moral and ethical obligation to do his best to preserve both lives. Lastly, you might want to read about the principle of double-effect applied to medical ethics — it’s logically and morally sound and it changed my mind about the “life of the mother” exception.

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      1. Please do not misrepresent the evidence-based mental health community on this issue. Scientific and medical groups, including the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the U.K. National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health “have found that induced abortions do not cause mental-health problems, and that the risk of mental-health problems is equal whether an unplanned pregnancy is carried to term or terminated via abortion.” The weight of the scientific literature is not on your side.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_and_mental_health

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        1. Hi Mike, thanks for bringing this to my attention. I apologize for not doing thorough research before making such claims. I shouldn’t have made a generalized statement when I was actually referring to one particular study (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15448616), which also came with caveats (“Posttraumatic stress reactions were found to be associated with abortion. Consistent with previous research, the data here suggest abortion can increase stress and decrease coping abilities, particularly for those women who have a history of adverse childhood events and prior traumata. Study limitations preclude drawing definitive conclusions, but the findings do suggest additional cross-cultural research is warranted.”).

          That said, there have been women commenting about deeply regretting their abortions, observing the psychological effects of multiple abortions in other women, and one even losing a loved one to depression and suicide after keeping her rape and abortion secret for years. Though perhaps not conclusive/representative, reading these anecdotes remind me that there are women who experience deep hurt after abortions (voluntary or not). I do feel that if a woman comes into an abortion clinic visibly conflicted about an abortion, they should receive thorough counseling (I deplore those Planned Parenthood employees caught on tape using lies to encourage confused ladies to abort, and while I suspect this happens a lot more often than we know, I have no evidence, so I can just hope it doesn’t.)

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          1. Check Rachel’s Vineyard and Silent No More for thousands of testimonials from women who were quite adversely affected by having an abortion.

            Wikipedia should never be used as a source. It is not reputable. In fact, one of my college professors this semester said we would receive a failing grade on our research paper if we used Wikipedia as a source.

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  6. I think abortion is bad for society, but I do not equate a two day old baby with a two day old fertilized cell. I am all for sex education and good, reliable contraception. Unfortunately, we have many in the pro-birth side who want to take it a step further and ban contraception.

    I would have no problem providing good contraception to all, and I think it should be for free. If your kid turns into some sex addict just because they have contraception available, then someone failed as a parent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. STRAW MAN WARNING!! Joe, this is a tired ruse. I have not heard of a single politician, theologian, or pro lifer calling for a ban on contraception. You’re trying to change the subject. Back to the real issue: prove to me why a life form with human DNA that is growing lickety-split into a sentient human being as quickly as you and I are regressing into senility is not a person. Even more, make the case that sentience is a requirement for personhood.

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      1. Tom, I was referring to people like you. Are you denying that you regularly blog about the evils of contraception and how they actually promote unwanted pregnancies?

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      2. Regarding “prove to me … Even more, make the case that sentience is a requirement for personhood.” , I don’t have to. The majority of people and the law are on my side. Until that changes, the burden of proof is for you to prove that it is not a requirement.

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  7. I’m looking at this through a biblical lens. Many of the solutions offered here in and of themselves are good, however natural man can’t do what is good –Romans 3:12. To a pagan culture they’re a kind of band-aid approach that would at best have limited efficacy. Sexual immorality, co-habitation, calls for a ‘lifting of restrictions’ and a host of other prescriptions are all just symptoms,/em> of the real problem — Romans 1:28 and man’s attempt to overcome on his own what he cannot — 2 Corinthians 4:4. When natural man is not just running counter to Gods ways (sexual promiscuity) he’s busy trying to cover his tracks in the process (morning-after-pill, abortion, sexual education etc). Proverbs 16:25 says, ‘There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.’

    The suppressing of the truth and exchanging it with a lie — Romans 1 is found when we directly address the issue of the alleged restrictions on abortions and the promulgation of the idea that “Statistics show that lifting restrictions on access to abortion reduces its occurrence”.

    3000 abortions per day are performed in American alone – that’s 1 in 3 pregnancies that are terminated. And annually on a global scale it is in the tens of millions worldwide. In truth, there are no restrictions just a whole lot of equivocation.

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  8. In your original blog, you wrote:

    ‘Statistics show that lifting restrictions on access to abortion reduces its occurrence. ‘

    I would be interested to see these statistics and how / where they were derived. I have never seen anyone make an argument for pro-choice in this way.

    I personally think abortions are down because of better sex education and more available contraceptives. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/05/us/study-finds-free-contraceptives-cut-abortion-rate.html?_r=0

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    1. I would believe that statistics show that putting restrictions on access to abortion increases the risk of complications. Ohio recently closed down a bunch of clinics through some “creative” politics and now botched chemical abortions ** are on the rise in Ohio. Since women no longer have a local clinic, they rely more on less safe methods.

      **Mifepristone (formerly known as RU-486) is a medication that blocks the action of the hormone progesterone to cause abortion.

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    2. I have talked to people who say what you quoted, and also those who say “statistics show that making abortion illegal increases abortion.” Either way, both are morally contradictory justifications for lifting restrictions.

      This line of argument was brought up at least twice in responses to a question I posted on Quora. They received quite a number of up votes.

      http://www.quora.com/Abortion/In-just-one-sentence-why-are-you-pro-life-pro-choice

      I believe it also came up somewhere in the comment thread of this post: https://karenwriteshere.wordpress.com/2013/11/20/pro-choicers-will-you-please-answer-this-one-question/

      I did point out to the commenter that correlation does not imply causation. Even if causation could somehow be established, I stand by my stance that this would be a “morally lazy” policy decision.

      Statistics or no statistics, that’s not the main point of this post. Through this post I’m trying to appeal to the logic of pro-choicers who claim to want abortions to be both readily accessible AND rare. Which is what Hillary Clinton says. Obama too.

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      1. I do not see a problem with that logic.

        Let’s do everything we can to avoid unwanted pregnancies, but let’s make sure they are accessible to all to avoid what happened in Ohio or to avoid having to rely on someone like Dr. Kermit Gosnell.

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  9. I agree with the premise of your post. Abortion should never be anything other than a last resort. The stress it puts the person undergoing the procedure should be justification enough, without going into arguments about whether abortion is equivalent to murder. But as someone who has been in the close presence of people whose mistakes have resulted in unwanted pregnancy, who are in neither a financial nor emotional position to have a baby nor to bring it to term, forcing the unwilling or unable mother to have the baby seems to me the worst of all possible solutions. The other programs you mention should all be made far more extensive and widely accessible to reduce the likelihood of women being put it that position, but access to abortion must exist as a last option.

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  10. I suspect the claim that abortion goes down when restrictions are removed is false. On a very closely related claim from the pro-abortion side–that maternal mortality goes down when abortion is legalized–the evidence is in. It is false. You can read about this here: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/new-study-rejects-claim-that-where-abortion-is-illegal-maternal-mortality-i/
    Chilean public health experts tracked maternal mortality through many years in Chile to find the illegalization of abortion under the Pinochet regime had no impact on the maternal death rate.
    The same story linked above also shows why pro-abortion data to the contrary is so specious.

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  11. And let me add: if you read the story, okay, my story, carefully, you’ll see the Chilean American researchers asserting that the pro-abortion data behind the claim that legalization lowers the abortion rate is cooked: the numbers the pro-aborts give for illegal abortions are hugely inflated, probably 10-fold in Mexico’s case. So the much lower figures for post legalization abortions there are due to the fact that the government is compiling accurate numbers. It’s not that suddenly there are one tenth the number of abortions being obtained now that it is much easier to get them (an absurdity). It is that the pro-abortion side made up the illegal abortion numbers as part of its campaign to legalize abortion, and pseudo research organizations such as the Guttmacher Institute provided the ammunition. The late Dr.Bernard Nathanson, an ardent pro-abort who became an ardent pro-lifer, has reported that the same trick was played in the US with bogus claims of ten thousand illegal back alley abortions yearly, when in reality it was a few hundred illegal abortions performed by quite capable medical doctors operating on the sly.

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  12. Great post! I agreed with most of what you said, but I did disagree with your comment about removing the stigma toward unwed mothers. I don’t believe that same stigma is there, because there are so many girls getting pregnant inside and outside the church. Sex outside of marriage, is sin. When was the last time we heard that preached in a church? People live together, have sex, get pregnant, and then are glorified for keeping the baby (which, for the record, I am 100% Pro-life, so hear me out on this one). In the church, we’ve become so anti-abortion, that we now glorify someone’s selfish decision to not control their body, get pregnant, and remain selfish (in most cases) by keeping the baby instead of giving the child up for adoption to a good family. I’m walking through this situation now with a young girl in my parent’s church. She’s keeping the baby, but the entire pregnancy has been a way for her to gain attention. It hasn’t been from a heart of repentance. People threw a baby shower for her – what kind of message does that send? I may sound incredibly harsh, and I don’t mean to. But it aggravates me that celebrities and churches alike have begun glorifying unwed mothers. Maybe if the stigma were still attached, more girls would be selfless and give the child up for adoption and more good, adoptive families, would have their hearts filled. Maybe if the stigma was still there, girls and guys alike wouldn’t be so quick to jump into bed with the closest moving person. Just a thought.

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    1. Thanks for sharing a different perspective! It reminded me that things are not always so simple. It makes one feel conflicted, doesn’t it, that we do not want unwed moms to abort their babies out of shame, yet it could also be disastrous if we end up glorifying such pregnancies. I’m wondering, though, if destigmatizing unplanned pregnancy doesn’t necessarily involve glorifying it. Within the church context, Christians make mistakes all the time, and sometimes that might mean premarital sex, but what we don’t want is for the church to be last place girls run to when they find themselves in a crisis pregnancy. A blog reader recently shared about how her own sister, after already keeping mum about being raped (which isn’t even her fault), also secretly sought an abortion for fear of condemnation by her Christian circle. She ended up depressed and eventually ended her life. So I do think that the church should teach that premarital sex is wrong, but also be clear that no matter what kind of mess our sinful selves get into, God’s grace and mercy is always more than sufficient. I was inspired by the ministry of Embrace Grace, you might be too! Check out http://www.iembracegrace.com

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      1. Very good points. Thanks for responding! I agree that God’s mercy should always be evident. I also agree that someone who became pregnant when sexual relations was not mutual, is most certainly in a different category. They should absolutely be showered in mercy, love, and grace. Someone in that situation, who has chosen to keep the baby, should be celebrated and honored in every way. I agree that the church should be preaching on what is considered to be sin along with teaching about God’s grace. Finding a line between accepting God’s grace and abusing it though, is where I feel we need to be more balanced. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. I really appreciate it! I’ll be sure to look at that website too. =)

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  13. Thank you very much for this post, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, though abortion is a topic I usually stay away from. I myself am pro-life…

    Also, thank you very much for visiting my blog.

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  14. “access to birth control (since the non-religious are unlikely to opt for abstinence)”

    The funny thing is that both the religious and irreligious don’t like abstinence. I think that birth control could be useful in preventing pregnancy in the first place. I don’t know much about it but I think educating people about it is a step in the right direction.

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