- Cullman, Alabama


April 1, 2014

EDITORIAL: A private matter on display

CULLMAN — Following the arguments generated by legalized abortion leave many people in this generation walking away from the issue with a sense of confusion.

Any legislative session in Alabama, or in any state or Congress, seem to the average observer to focus on specific little arguments that quickly become political mountains of erupting lava.

The latest showdown in the Alabama Legislature, a gift from Republican Rep. Ed Henry of Decatur, proposes to extend the waiting time for a woman to get an abortion from 24 hours to 48 hours. Current Alabama law requires women to receive information, either in person or through certified mail, about abortion alternatives and possible adverse outcomes before having an abortion. Henry said women need more time to make a decision. But the representative is simply presuming that women dash off to abortion clinics the moment they realize they are pregnant.

Perhaps some day lawmakers will understand that abortion is not an act of rash decision. And maybe proponents and opponents of abortion will both realize that a medical procedure that is invasive and deeply personal does not belong in a political arena to be batted about like a ball.

Since the arrival of Roe v. Wade just over 40 years ago, the abortion issue has evoked fierce political divisions and intense public debate. Is the act murder? When does life begin? Is abortion only the right of a woman to decide? The questions and arguments go on and on.

If abortion had not been pushed into the political spotlight a generation ago, the arguments  — some profoundly ridiculous — would never have given uninformed politicians a platform to spew nonsense at the public. Instead, the abortion issue gave rise to court cases and the sprouting of ominous abortion clinics where fetuses are destroyed by the thousands. In all, it’s a scene that speaks poorly of American society.

Decisions about abortion should have been, and should always be matters discussed by those directly involved and their family physicians. Or, in the case of those without regular doctors, an appropriate qualified physician who handles indigent cases.

Left as a medical issue involving women and their families and respectable practicing physicians, abortion would not today be an industry with political ties that give opportunistic politicians a pulpit for division and demagoguery.

Yes, the issue of life is highly important in any society. There are moral arguments tied to most actions in life. Nevertheless, the evolution of the abortion issue into clinics that earn a living in the same manner as an industrial-age factory is alarming. The rhetoric from the other side has done nothing more than fuel proponents of abortion with a greater determination to keep clinics flourishing.

The truth concerning abortion is that in some cases it is a health issue for the woman expecting a child. The truth is that individuals wouldn’t need state-mandated consultations and literature if they could consult privately with the physicians of their choosing without fear of government intrusion or ridicule from extremists on either side. And the truth is also this: people are freewill agents. For better or worse, people make decisions about a lot of things based on what they believe is best. Keeping abortion private, where such decisions and actions can be determined by individuals and responsible doctors outside of public view would eventually reduce the political and partisan tension that unnecessarily engulfs the issue.

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