Lesson 12: Conclusion (Part 1)

InVitro fertilizationLooking back over this series, it is evident that abortion has become the focus of society’s struggle with modern technology. The most evident form this has taken is through the “Make America Great Again”(MAGA) movement. However, there are all sorts of reactions to the way technology has challenged traditional values. Many conservative Churches describe it as a decadent secular society denying Christian truths.

I think it is helpful to recognize the situation is primarily the result of rapid advances in technology, not evil plotting. These are usually passed over with very brief acknowledgements but no in-depth studies. There is also a great deal of inconsistency, and even hypocrisy involved as almost everyone takes advantage of technology’s intervention in former ways of doing things.

For instance, it is assumed immoral not to intervene with medical technology in the case of premature birth or terminal illness. Indeed, we are constantly modifying what used to be regarded as a natural life. My wife has had a hip replacement and I had a heart bypass. In the past, she would have been crippled for life and I dead.

However, the intervention becomes controversial when it comes to conception and abortion. Some of this has to do with humanity’s obsession with sexual issues, but even more with the unique circumstance of a woman carrying a child. For nine months, two literally live as one. A great deal of the current discussion ignores the singular nature of pregnancy.

A quick look at the possible intervention of technology in a pregnancy involving rape offers some insight. In the past, it was natural to carry the child or perhaps we should say it was necessary to do so. Today, many of us regard it as immoral not to use safe technology to prevent such an unwanted pregnancy.

That of course opens all sorts of questions. Anyone who has done family counseling knows many women contend with unwanted intercourse from the aggression of their boyfriends and husbands, failed birth control, one-night emotional trysts, etc. How do these unwanted pregnancies differ from rape?

It is tempting to seek an easy answer such as claiming God wills the absolute protection of all life and therefore opposes abortion of any kind. But as we found in examining “What is life?” and “When does it begin?”, the easy answer ignores all sorts of real issues. It also leads to adherents resorting to ad hominem arguments about huge numbers of women using abortion as birth control and abortion clinics being money making industries. Sadly, using God in this fashion has prompted many to think they have a duty to preserve what they regard as a Christian culture even if it means giving up democracy.

I have been writing of technology intervening in what was once regarded as the natural order of things, because I think it offers a realistic perspective on what is happening. It is not that we have destroyed traditional values but rather that we have established new situations that demand using these values in new ways. It also helps us see trying to establish absolute laws takes us to places we do not want to be. For instance, it follows that outlawing all forms of abortion implies that we should outlaw any kind of contraception and artificial medical fertilization as well.

The Gospel offers the good news of a freedom applicable to all human situations. It brings hope to the most difficult circumstance. Our task is to find the courage to follow where it leads in this new age.

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