Let me start out by clarifying what this post is not. It is not an attempt to be combative or even to really argue for the morality or immorality of abortion. It is, I hope, more of an examination of the philosophy behind the mantra of abortion and a reflection on the wisdom or lack of wisdom of said philosophy, for I wish, in all things, to live wisely and I should hope that you do too. Though I think we must be cautioned that wisdom, unlike its counterpart folly, rarely leads us where we are most comfortable and usually asks us to pay some kind of price.
“My body, my choice” is the prevailing chant of those who argue that abortion is permissible. This mantra exalts the philosophy of bodily autonomy, the idea that our bodies are our own and we get to choose what we do with them. I think there are some pretty gaping holes in this argument and that the good principle of bodily autonomy has been abused to mean something it was not intended to, something more akin to bodily tyranny, as if our choices are impervious to any dictates of moral law.
Certainly though, there is an appeal. The right to choose seems an obvious and inherent good and so it is to an extent, but I think we must ask ourselves some bigger questions. In whose world do our bodies exist and are our bodies really our own? In essence, do our choices dictate to moral law or is it the other way around? If we want to know the answer, we must find out if we exist in someone else’s world, for if we do, we are answerable to that someone for the choices we make. If we do, we should care about what He thinks about what we do with our bodies. More than that, I think we should think rightly about our bodies and about how we may best use them.
My husband was telling me that he is going to be talking to our youth group about abortion and he might want me to contribute a woman’s perspective. So it got me thinking. The issue of abortion is framed as an issue of women’s rights. The argument I have heard is that pregnancy is such a burden, such an invasion of bodily autonomy and privacy that no woman should have to endure it against her will. Having now experienced it myself, I can tell you that it is true. The thing I kept thinking while I was pregnant was, “Man, this is a commitment.” I threw up for three months. I was tired from waking up several times a night to go to the bathroom. I gained a lot of weight and felt unattractive. And then there were the contractions and the labor, the literal tearing of my body.
What I’ve come to realize though is that we continue to pay a bodily price for our babies even after they are out of the womb. You start with the painful recovery from labor and the sleepless nights with a newborn. You have stretch marks in places you didn’t know you could stretch. You basically become an on demand milk cow. You get circles under your eyes from long nights and pains in your back from bending over to pick up toys and scrape dried sweet potato off the floor. Your body will literally never be the same again. Children, at any age, take a toll on your body and your life. The bottom line is that people and commitment to people are inconvenient, demanding, and costly.
But you want to know the truth? Our bodies are wasting assets and how we use them matters. We have two choices. We can invest in them and our right to rule them. We can hope in our power over them, but we will be sorely disappointed for at the end of it all, each of our bodies will be claimed by death whether we choose it or not. The grave is no respecter of our independent wills. The other option is that we can choose to invest our bodies in something that lasts or rather, someone that lasts. We can take what is perishable and with it, purchase what is imperishable, the life and souls of our children.
Wisdom whispers to us not miss what is lasting because it is hard and reminds us that everything that is of great worth comes at a great cost. It beseeches us to think beyond the present and into eternity. It beckons us to be like Christ, who gave up all rights to His own body for our sake. So, I would also urge us all to set aside our wills, our comforts and to let our bodies be spent, to be used up for another and so, to not be wasted.