On Abortion

FoetusThe problem with the abortion issue is the way it’s being argued. The people who belong to the Right To Life group usually see this as a religious issue; That religion states once conception occurs, aborting the fetus is murder. They view themselves as good faithful religious people, simply following the tenants of their faith and of God. End of discussion.

The Pro-Choice group are usually people who start from a different point of reference. They begin at the point that women have as much right to make choices about their body as men do. The constitution clearly states that all people are created equal, and to restrict women would be the same as saying that men and women are not equal. The fact that it’s about abortion is not the central issue here. It’s about equal rights.

The basic problem with arguing abortion from any vantage point comes down to the issue of how does one argue a secular position with a religious position. The truth is you can’t. No matter what you say from a secular point of view, the religious position always claims, by divine revelation, tradition, and other God related influences, to take precedence over the secular position.

It also illustrates a similar problem that a secular society has in relating to a religious state where a particular religion is tied into the way the government defines it’s role. How does a secular society negotiate with a religious state? Especially when the religious state sees the secular society as being blasphemers against the will of God by not bringing God into the way they conduct their business.

The abortion issue is one of those issues that I define as a moral dilemma, for both the society and the individual. No matter what position is taken, pro-life, or pro-choice, there will always be dissenters who will disagree. To think that society will evolve to a point where it will eventually find some kind of resolution that will satisfy both is to be deluded by a hope that there is always a way to compromise on some issues, when a religious position is involved.

The founding fathers had their reasons for making a clear separation between church and state. They knew that if you allow religion to have any control in government, you always ran the danger of one particular religion becoming more influential over other religions, and eventually exerting their influence at the expense of other religious beliefs. That is precisely why people came to the “New World”, to escape religious persecution.

This is not to say that religion should not have some influence in a society or even a government, but the problem is agreeing on the extent of it’s involvement. There are certain common fundamental values – ethical conduct, for example – that can be accepted as important in almost every society, and can find it’s way as part of some governmental foundations as long as it’s not identified with only one religion. The Ten Commandments is a good example, as long as it’s not identified as solely a Judeo/Christian religious belief, but is applied in ways that incorporate the values of other religious-based philosophies.

However, once you identify any religious tenant as belonging to one particular religion, the risk of monopolizing the religious purity of one religion over another is always a concern. Then the justification for trying to exert influence on the population to accept one over the other becomes part of what a government does whether directly or indirectly. To alleviate that possibility, the founding fathers wanted a clear separation of church and state.

In today’s political reality, the United States has to deal with countries who anchor the whole foundation of their government on a religion. The political problems that this has presented are incalculable. How do you compromise with a country that claims they have the will of God behind them? Most of these countries, by and large, are not democracies. They are hierarchies and the population follow what they are told by the powers that be that define what it means to be a faithful to the religion.

We need to find new and different ways to negotiate with religious societies – as well as the abortion issue – instead of continuing to frame the debate as a secular position vs a religious one. The only possible evolution we can hope for is a different venue for society to deal with some of these highly charged issues than the way it has in the past.

It is my opinion that religion has no place in government. In any government, anywhere. I do not believe in the validity of a religious state because it’s a way of negating any possibility to disagree or even negotiate with a position a religious state deems is the direct will of God. No religion has a monopoly on the truth, or on the right to claim that their positions are right simply because they claim their religion has precedence over others. This has been the basis of religious persecutions for centuries, and no religion in existence today has been above this crime.

As strong as this position sounds, it is strictly my opinion, but one that I firmly stand on despite any criticism that I might get, or expect to get, mostly from the religious point of view.