Letter: Pro-life or pro-choice?

Published 8:30 pm Tuesday, September 14, 2021

States continue to pass laws restricting abortion. The intent is to reverse the 1973 Supreme Court Roe vs. Wade decision.

I consider myself pro-life.  Our children are adopted.  They were conceived before Roe vs. Wade. Had their lives been aborted, one small-town in Iowa would not have a primary care physician and a medical clinic in San Diego would not have a nurse. Society has benefited because they were born.

Shortly after the court decision, I was enjoying a Big Mac at a McDonald’s in La Crosse.  Two college co-eds were openly discussing their sexual relationships with their boyfriends. One said to the other, “Don’t worry about getting pregnant. You can always get an abortion.”

Soon thereafter, we moved to southeastern Wisconsin.  The editor of our local paper, a woman in her 30s who was not a parishioner, sought me out. She was pregnant. Her significant other wanted her to get an abortion. She had one performed previously and still carried a heavy burden of guilt. But she feared being abandoned by her partner if she failed to follow through. What should she do?

By the mid-’80s we lived in greater Milwaukee. A Jewish rabbi friend invited me to attend a synagogue discussion on abortion. I learned that in Jewish theology the fetus (or unborn child) is understood to be part of a woman’s body. It was an “Aha” moment for me. I had wondered why the Bible does not speak directly to abortion. (Genesis 2:7 implies human life begins with one’s first breath; whereas, such verses as Isaiah 44:1 and 49:1, taken in context, likely refer to the foreknowledge of God concerning the birth of Israel as a nation.)

In 1989 we moved to Nebraska. An adult forum on abortion was held in our church. A retired nurse stated the frustration and anger she experienced caring for women who arrived at emergency due to botched “coat hanger” abortions. She continued … women with financial means can afford to travel elsewhere for an abortion. It discriminates against poor women who do not have that option.

Issues are not as black and white as you, I, or others might think. Life, unfortunately, is often complicated.

Can Christians who ask government to protect their religious freedom end up denying another’s freedom to practice what they believe?

Does a woman have something to say about her body? A boy who impregnates his girlfriend can walk away leaving her with the choice of adoption (not an easy decision) or an 18-year responsibility. A husband can abdicate his role as father.   

If one believes an embryo is a human being and abortion is murder, will that add to the emotional and spiritual trauma for the woman who miscarries? 

If we insist pregnancies go full term, will we share responsibility for the care and well-being of the child as a mentor and/or supporter of welfare programs?

My life experiences raise more questions than answers.  What does it really mean to be pro-life?       

The Rev. Kenneth Jensen

Albert Lea