A Higher-Wisdom Resolution
The 19th century English writer Samuel Butler wrote: “Truth ever lies/In compromise.” An anonymous wit added: “Now what could be subtler/Than the wisdom of Butler?” Those two couplets describe the situation facing both Pro-choice and Pro-life advocates. Each side of the issue has a profound truth on which they’ve based their position, and those truths are, with regard to abortion, diametrically opposed. An extreme faction of the Pro-life group has resorted to dynamite and sniper fire as a form of vigilante justice outside the legal arena, with a consequent destruction of lives and property of Pro-choice people who believe, rightly, that they have a moral basis to act as they do.
It is not a “lie” for either side to recognize the sacred principle on which the opposing group has based its position. Rather, it is a greater truth if the opponents will compromise in recognizing a law—namely, no abortion after the second trimester or the time of fetal viability—which can abate the social dissension now raging in our land. Political compromise is by definition less than completely satisfying for the parties involved, but it does provide a greater good for opposing factions than continued warfare. It is, I maintain, an enlightened approach—a practical higher-wisdom compromise. Moreover, this idea of a greater good is not my own creation. The principle of “the greater good” is recognized in both spiritual and political traditions; it applies when opposed “goods” produce situations such as I’ve described above. I am simply recognizing its appropriateness here.
The essence of freedom is having a choice. A person is free to the extent that he or she can exercise choice. In America, that freedom of choice is regarded as an inalienable right. We Americans speak of the right to choose our destiny, to live our lives as we choose.
However, rights always carry responsibilities; otherwise, liberty becomes mere libertinism. Choices must be responsible choices, ethical choices, moral choices so that their consequences do not produce harmful effects for others (such as choosing to drink and drive or to dispose of toxic waste improperly). In many cases, probably most, abortion is not a responsible choice; it is merely the last in a series of irresponsible choices.
Incidentally, we should work and hope and pray for the day when the medical community is able to remove an unwanted fetus without killing it and then implant it in another womb. On that day the abortion issue will be settled by women (or their technological surrogate, an artificial womb) who voluntarily have a fetus implant, carry it to full term and then give birth to a wanted baby.
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