Last night I watched the vice-presidential candidates debate the various issues – the same ones that always come up, as if there were no other, more important debate-worthy issues. The moderator, Martha Raddatz, Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent for ABC News, tried to bring out the individual man in each of the debaters in the manner she formulated her questions, but they both seemed reluctant to reach into their own hearts and provide truly personal answers to these questions.
I would like to discuss the question of abortion, as I wonder why this question always rises to the top of the political arena in American politics. In a country which was initially formed on the premise of a separation between religion and state by statesmen who were notoriously non-religious men, I wonder how we arrived where we are today. I see placing a feminine issue such as personal control over one’s own body and sexuality into a male dominated political arena as just another area where the feminine, creative part of ourselves is demonized. I never hear female politicians speak up about the rights of women to control their own bodies. Planned Parenthood is constantly attacked, most recently by the Catholic Church, who threatened to withdraw support from the Susan G. Komen Foundation because of their supposed support to Planned Parenthood, which the Foundation denied. It is okay to protect women from breast cancer, but not from unwanted pregnancies. These individuals in religious or political institutions never offer to help the women or families who choose to end unwanted pregnancies, either financially or otherwise. In addition to this fact, the Catholic Church opposes birth control, even in AIDS-ridden countries, putting adults and children at risk. Where is the compassion for those orphans? Are they not as important as the unborn embryos? And where is the compassion for parents with low-income and single parents who do not have sufficient means to provide for their children? We all want to give our children the very best opportunities in life, no matter where we live, regardless of our educational or socio-economic background. I don’t see in the American arena of U.S. politics and religion much real support for families and children.
I feel it is completely inappropriate for politicians and clergy to try to legislate this very personal arena of life. The question is not at all where life begins. Life is a cycle; it does not begin or end. While we would all like to defend the rights of the individual as much as possible and protect children from harm – that is our job as adults and parents, still, I see a problem in involving politics and religion in these questions. When we try to legislate in general moral terms and apply these terms to individual lives, we will inevitably run into problems. There has to be a boundary to protect the individual’s right to be an individual. This is a tricky area, and I think this is why abortion keeps coming up on political debates. Where does the individual begin? Who will speak for the individual who cannot speak for him or herself? Those are valid questions.
Life and the source of life is a great mystery of which we are all a part. I believe our souls are all immortal, and that each life we live on this planet, and perhaps even in other spheres, is pre-chosen in its form, duration, place, and time. If my soul chooses to come to Earth to a particular family just for a very short duration, never to be born, there is a reason for that appearance, however brief. We are all here to learn, and not to judge ourselves or to judge other people. The value of life is not based on how long it lasts, but on the fact that it is. Period. Abortion is not to be taken lightly, to be sure. A woman in her heart will always include her unborn children among those who came to Earth full-term and whom she raised. Those souls who chose not to live out a full life-time in that particular body do not die to life. They simply incarnated a shorter experience. This does not mean that this short life-time did not have meaning to the embryonic self or to their parents. Life is so much larger, more complex, more beautiful, more poetic, and more meaningful than we give it credit.