A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

How Do Pro-Choicers Reject "Abortion Addiction"?

An article in the Daily Mail Online, dated October 14, details the exploits of a woman "addicted to abortion." Irene Vilar has admitted to having fifteen abortions in a seventeen plus years period of time. She has written a book on her experience entitled, Impossible Motherhood: Testimony of an Abortion Addict.

Her exploits have created quite a stir, including a controversy within the pro-choice community itself. If one is truly pro-choice, how does one condemn this woman's actions over the years? Yet, at the same time, is anyone with any kind of moral conscience completely comfortable with her decisions? Does "abortion addiction" reveal the extremely flawed logic of the pro-choice view or is it completely consistent?

I would like to hear from those persons who consider themselves pro-choice. How do you respond to this women and her many decisions to terminate her pregnancies? How do you reconcile her behavior with your pro-choice views? I would also like to hear from those who are pro-life. What do you make of Vilar's experience and the current debate on abortion?

I invite all to respond. Let's make sure that we keep the discussion civil.

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Cross-Posted at RedBlueChristian


Chuck Tackett said...

Allan, why be civil when we can be right - at least in our own mind!

The story posted leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. It doesn't really provide much detail but it just sounds opportunistic. I know this really isn't what you're looking for but I don't see this as a very good jumping off point for this conversation. It kills me that she now feels qualified to write a second book focusing on motherhood after only a handful of years actually mothering. But hey, it's the all about me society now so what do qualifications have to do with anything.

The most frightening thing in the story to me was the mention of the report indicating abortions are down to only 41 million. 41 MILLION lives ended BY CHOICE in a year!

However, we call the killing of 6 million Jews over several years a holocaust and the killing of 300,000 Sudanese genocide. How do people not relate these items? I have never understood the explanation that because the baby is a woman's womb she can do whatever she wants to it.

Chuck Tackett said...

I guess another point that could be gleaned and possibly extrapolated from the article is the issue of rebellion and control. Maybe women hold on to the "right" to terminate a pregnancy as form of rebellion and control against the oppression of patriarchal cultures they've had to endure for so long. I still don't accept that position as justified but I can't really say that I relate to how they feel.

Equally I can't relate to the need of men to dominate and control women.

Anyway, thanks Allan for bravely going where few dare to tread in our politically correct world of it's-all-about-me.

doodlebugmom said...

I am pro choice. I can only say I would question the mental competence of the woman you mention. I wonder if she is not addiction to attention and found a horrific was to get it.

And wonder what kind of publisher even would publish her book?

PamBG said...

When you say "pro-choice", do you mean "thinking that abortion for the sake of birth control is morally good or neutral"?

I think that abortion as birth control is wrong. I also think that there are a lot of hard medical situations where the difference between right and wrong is hard to land on conclusively such that I would not want a blanket ban on all abortions. I cannot say with the confidence that many seem to have that a mother must always choose the life of the baby over her own life. Nor can I say conclusively that a mother must always carry to term a child who will certainly die after birth (e.g. those with missing or deformed vital organs).

But, as I think your post points out indirectly, if we believe that a woman's choice has a higher moral value than a baby's life, I don't see how we could make the argument that there is anything morally wrong with multiple abortions. Certainly China has used abortion as a form of birth control in the past.

What I think we need, however, is thinking about abortion and the law that is a lot more nuanced than the hyperbole that often seems to characterize both sides of the debate.

Allan R. Bevere said...


You have correctly understood what I am driving at here. I am against abortion on demand and do not believe that the choice of the woman should be the highest nor central consideration. I agree with you that there are some very difficult situations where an abortion might be a tragically acceptable possibility, but once we make choice the most important determining factor, how do we ultimately condemn a woman's choice of 15 abortions in 17 years?

The same applies in other parts of the world, India, for example, where abortions are taking place because of gender selection. If choice is the decisive determinant, how do we reject the choice to abort a fetus because it is a girl?

Yes, there indeed needs to be more nuance on both sides of the discussion, but clearly basing abortion on an individual choice is morally problematic. Perhaps the way to say it bluntly-- how do those who believe that individual choice is central in abortion condemn the choice to have 15 abortions.

Thanks for getting at where I was going!

Michael said...

Whether this woman was trying to prove a point or whether she is truly "addicted" in any sense of the word is not, in my humble opinion, the point at all. It is a established standard of our American culture, part of the so-called "American Dream" in which we can do as we please when we please. But it is also a culture in which, in pursuit of one's own personal happiness and with carefully selected language, we have dehumanized the unborn child and reduced this child to little more than a medical or social experiment.

I understand the compassion that drives one to support abortions under certain circumstances but truly, how can one say abortion is wrong "except" ... If abortion is wrong here, it is wrong there. A circumstance, challenging though it may be, does not change the fundamental nature of the act itself: an innocent, unborn child is being intentionally slaughtered for the sake, safety, and/or comfort of another. And as the late, great John Paul II once said, "A nation that kills its young is a nation without hope." What else is a child but "hope"?

Michael said...

I hit the wrong button ... to finish: what does it say about a society that virtually celebrates this dastardly act as a "right"?

Allan R. Bevere said...


To allow for abortion in certain extreme circumstances (e.g. ectopic pregnancies) is not the same as abortion on demand.

Do you, therefore, believe that pre-meditated murder and killing in self-defense are the same?

Michael said...

"Extreme" would be according to an ambiguous criteria, defined by what you would consider extreme vs what someone else would consider extreme. "Extreme" is without definition except according to human criteria.

As for killing someone in self-defense, tell me exactly what it is you are defending and expressing if you would kill someone else just to protect your own life. "Those who would lose their life will save it" has more of a practical application than just charitable giving. An abortion could be justified as "self-defense".

The problem with such examples and comparisons is that they appeal to our sense of decency and humanity, but they have weak theological application. Man has come up with all kinds of exceptions for himself. In the end, who is being protected? Or pleased? Or satisfied? Or glorified? How, pray tell, is the Lord glorified with the intentional destruction of innocent human life?

I wish there could always be "black-and-white", but humans don't think in "black-and-white" because what may be clear to you or me is not clear to someone else. So you establish a particular standard. Who gets to make the call?

Allan R. Bevere said...


I do not disagree with you on some of the things you say, but you have missed my point. I am simply saying that we consider context and circumstances in various situations. One situation may not be like another. Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am firmly opposed to abortion on demand. Your comment earlier that if abortion is wrong here it is wrong there did represent black-and-white thinking to me. There are certain rare and extreme situations, such as ectopic pregnancies, where the child will not survive and if something is not done the mother will die as well. In that instance abortion is still not a good thing, but it is a tragic and moral option to save the life of the mother. In some ectopic pregnancies, the body aborts the child on its own, but when that does not happen, intervention is necessary. Are you suggesting that human intervention here is wrong and therefore we should lose both individuals?

I realize that human beings often move the definition of extreme to fit what they want, but let's not reject the notion either just because it is used so carelessly.

Michael said...

Nor do I disagree with you, Allan, but it still boils down to the defining authority and what constitutes "extreme". You use ectopic pregnancy as an example of 'extreme', and indeed it is. Another might use, say, extreme emotional distress. To them it might be, but does it justify the destruction of an innocent life rather than an attempt to preserve a life by some means other than destruction of another?

I don't think I've missed your point nor have I questioned your pro-life stance. However, everyone has an acceptable exception in their own minds and in their own lives and in their own circumstances. It is entirely ambiguous to say that it "sometimes" becomes necessary (our UMC BoD) because "sometimes" is never clearly defined nor agreed upon. That gives "choicers" the out, and it is, in fact, how they are defined.

We are pro-life, Allan. But whose life are we "pro" for? And why must that awe-inspiring and emotionally overwhelming choice be ours?

PamBG said...

This doesn't contribute to the debate at all - or maybe it does, I don't know.

I don't at all think that "my consumer choices" as a woman have a higher ethical value than the life of an unborn baby. But when people start talking like "Her over there might not make the right choice to sacrifice her own life in an ethical world that is grey and messy, so we'll just take that possibility to decide away from her by making all abortions illegal", then I start understanding the pro-choice position.

It's not so much about consumer choice as it is that women are being told that difficult choices are not at all grey and messy areas and that someone else needs to save them from their bad decisions. I wonder how men would feel if women started pontificating on how men "must not" be treated for prostate cancer because it might destroy potential unborn children?

Michael said...

I shouldn't have to point out the obvious, but I will: prostrate cancer is not connected to pregnancy nor the life of an unborn child, so that argument is extremely weak. And to be clear, I'm not necessarily talking about government mandates. My argument is strictly theological. Your government has indicated that you can destroy your unborn child for any reason or no reason.

Abortion is a moral issue, in my humble opinion. Making it a political issue is what makes it "gray and messy". Politically, the "right" to an abortion is guaranteed, and the current president vowed to protect that right for women. His decision - and the throngs of cheers which came as a result - was nowhere near theological. But unlike so many others, I'm not running for public office on the plank of "abortions if you want them". My current office, in my own perspective and within my own bibilcal understandings, demands - in fact, requires - that I speak against abortion rather than waste my energy trying to justify it. Because just as you and I do not agree here, it is clear that what you would demand or require or offer is entirely different from what I believe.

In the political realm, the defining authority is absent. It is strictly a matter of societal expectations and demands. You can justify it all day long in this realm, but you cannot take a Bible with you.

PamBG said...

prostrate cancer is not connected to pregnancy nor the life of an unborn child, so that argument is extremely weak.

I'm not making an argument; I'm making an analogy. You are speaking about bits of my body that you don't have. And you appear to be worried that a woman make a messy moral choice that you might not like so your solution is to take away any possibility of a contextually-based decision for that woman before her plight even begins. Which feels invasive and feels infantalizing. Which is, I suspect, what many pro-choicers react to.

And to be clear, I'm not necessarily talking about government mandates. My argument is strictly theological.

So, can you please parse out your theology of the value of the life of a mother?

To be clear, what *I'm* talking about is "Given that abortion is killing and killing is wrong, what civic policy would a Christian advocate to the government?" My personal view is to allow abortion where the life of the mother is in significant danger. And yes, I agree that everyone's idea of "significant danger" is different and that this would probably need to be spelled out in law and that I might not even agree. But life is full of messy moral choices.

My current office, in my own perspective and within my own bibilcal understandings, demands - in fact, requires - that I speak against abortion rather than waste my energy trying to justify it. Because just as you and I do not agree here, it is clear that what you would demand or require or offer is entirely different from what I believe.

Whereas I believe that Christians live in the civic arena as well as in Their Ideal World. We have to try to work out our faith In Real Life.

As I said, we need some decent discussion on the issue without all the emotion. Seems that's almost impossible, though.

PamBG said...

As I said, we need some decent discussion on the issue without all the emotion. Seems that's almost impossible, though.

I apologize for this comment. I didn't mean to direct this comment to you. Just a general comment.

As a woman, it's hard to hear not only that your life is disposable, but that it "should be" and "must be" disposable. You'd like to think that someone would weep with you if you decided to risk your life for the sake of an unborn child rather than say "Quite right too; and if you hadn't done it you would have been a selfish so-and-so."

Michael said...

I appreciate the apology, but this discussion is clearly over because you seem to have made it clear that a male religious perspective is invalid because males lack certain body parts. You are correct in that a civil discussion is, in fact, impossible given my obvious physical limitations which somehow restrict my ability - or right - to speak to such. In fact, it is a responsibility, not a right.

Yes, Christians live in the civic realm, but we are governed by a much higher authority than that which we can vote in or out of office on a whim and as according to ever-shifting public opinion.


Allan R. Bevere said...


Let me chime in here again. I did not hear in Pam's comments that a male religious perspective is invalid. What I did hear (Pam, I hope I'm not misreading you) was for the most part she is opposed to abortion except where the life of the mother is in significant danger (defined), and that her concern is that there is genuine lack of concern over the life of the mother in such difficult circumstances.

You seem to be unable in this discussion to hear the nuance of what we are saying.

PamBG said...

Actually, I don't think I said that.

But now that you mention it, I thought you said that you had the corner on truth so I couldn't disagree with you either.

Allan R. Bevere said...


I am sorry I got you wrong. When did I say I had the corner on the market of truth?

PamBG said...

Almost certainly you are hearing you differently than I'm hearing you and you are hearing me differently than I'm hearing myself.

I've basically been hearing "Abortion is wrong in every and any instance. No exceptions, no compromises, no grey areas, no pastoral exceptions. If the woman must die, she must die and that's the way it is."

Have I heard that wrong?

PamBG said...

Oh dear, I've now got Allen and Michael mixed up. My previous post was how I'm reading Michael.

Allen, you are correct in summarizing my view as: What I did hear (Pam, I hope I'm not misreading you) was for the most part she is opposed to abortion except where the life of the mother is in significant danger (defined), and that her concern is that there is genuine lack of concern over the life of the mother in such difficult circumstances.

Allan R. Bevere said...


Whew! Thanks for clarifying. I thought we were much closer together on the subject. I was trying to figure out what I had said that left the wrong impression.

PamBG said...

Allen, it looks like you ended up replying to Michael before I did and that sequence created the confusion.

My fault for not including a name or a quotation.

Unknown said...

Hello all, I would like to offer my bit of thoughts as someone who identifies as pro-choice.

I understand the views and arguments of those who identify as pro-life, and have experienced the intense emotion around the conflict. Especially in the religious circle. I also appreciate the thought that has gone into all of these posts.

I firmly believe that this conversation, and most social issues, needs to be separated into civic and religious. For it is my civic view is that options must be left open for people to decide their own choices. For example in the United States we have freedom of religion, letting me choose what religion I want to follow. I appreciate that choice, and believe for me to have that choice, others must as well.

However I realize that our government does feel the need to make some decisions for us to protect us. For example, it is the law that you must wear a seatbelt - for your own protection. It is a law that you can't use certain substances or harm others - again, protection. I can see how abortion can fall into those categories on both sides. Normally in our civic lives, these cases are left up to professionals like psychologists to determine possible courses of action. Personally, I do not believe that abortion "on demand" should be legal, however not for religious reasons - for medical. It is not something good for the body, physically or emotionally. Therefore I would say that being "addicted to abortions" is not consistent with the mainstream pro-choice stance. I believe that most people want to protect a woman's right to choose her own life, not solely be told what she must do with her body.

All ethics removed, I think that the medical community, based on physical evidence, can create a way to give women in situations where abortion would be appropriate as a choice - for protection. As well as those in preventative medicine providing education on proper forms of birth control.

Now as a Christian, I can only hope to show the love of Christ to all I meet. I want to be able to comfort and help those in need - in any case, to find an answer. When that answer is given to you as the only acceptable choice, it is difficult to take. However if through a loving process where you are validated as a person and not look down upon, it is entirely different. I can no more tell someone they must be a Christian because it is right than they must not have an abortion because it is wrong. But I can show them a way I follow and believe to be better. When someone make a choice, they have an opportunity to grow in their faith even through difficult situations. To trust God's voice in life, even through difficult circumstances. Death is always difficult, no matter the circumstances. The knowledge that your child will die, or you will die is incomprehensible to me. However, I can relate to difficult situations I didn't know how to overcome. With the love and support of God and Christians around me, I came to an answer I believe that God wanted. I can only pray that God can use me to be that support to others.

As Christians, we can't force our beliefs or ethics on anyone. It won't be authentic, and it is surely not making disciples. Abortion is something that marginalizes people today. Regardless of the publicity from this story, I believe everyone feels that. But to answer- I can't condemn her. I can't condemn anyone. That's not my place.

As we know, we as humans can't just solve these issues easily. We all feel very strongly that we have the right answer. I don't agree with Irene's choices and believe that she should have counseling. However, in order to protect my civic right to chose, she should have some rights as well. And I also hope and pray that God be with her and surround her with with his grace and ultimate wisdom.

I hope that is helpful to what you were looking for. Sorry it's so long and complicated! God Bless!

Allan R. Bevere said...


Thanks for your thoughts. I appreciate much of what you express.

The only thing I would say in response is that you say "As Christians, we can't force our beliefs or ethics on anyone." Actually, there is no way to avoid "forcing our beliefs and ethics on others. Those Christians who support higher taxes for programs that help the poor are indeed attempting to "force" their beliefs on others. Christians on both sides of the health care debate support policies that will "force their beliefs on others.

So, it seems to me that it is not a matter of whether or not we will influence (you say, "force")others by our beliefs and ethics, but how we will go about influencing others and where that inluence is more important and where is it not an issue.

Thanks again for your thoughtful comments!

Michael said...

Believe me, I get what all of you are saying, and I disagree. It's not that I don't understand your "nuances"; it's that I do not happen to agree. It really is that simple.

As for the perception that I am so cold-hearted that I could watch a woman endure the high-risk pregnancy that would be much more easily terminated - and a child most surely dies - I just don't know how to answer that. You take a "potential" life-threatening situation, and you kill another human being for sure in case the doctor is right that the woman's life was in danger. Of course, you will never really know this because the child's life was snuffed out. The baby absolutely died, but they hold it as a "blessing" that the mother's life was spared. Maybe it was, but it came at an enormous cost that I don't think any of us understands.

The old saying, "give them an inch, and they'll take a mile"? That's where we are, to the point that partial-birth abortion is being defended in some circles. Truly, what makes this particularly heinous crime against humanity more gruesome than just a plain, ol' abortion? And that is more to my point, which I truly don't think you get ... or want to get. You want your exceptions - I say exceptions are the dreaded "slippery slope". And it's getting worse, folks, not better. The government is about to be involved. And because the Church as a whole has not stood firm and consistent, it's going to get much worse. And we of the Church - not the ignorant masses - will be judged first.

Allan R. Bevere said...


It is unfair of you to insert partial birth abortion into the discussion. No one has come close to saying that is an acceptble practice.

Slippery slope arguments are themselves slippery. Every moral issue needs to be nuanced based on the context. That, in no way is compromise; it is an attempt to be faithful to the gospel in the midst of the ambiguities that life can sometimes present to us. A person can oppose anything based on the argument that it can lead to a slippery slope.

You are also confusing those of us accept the possibility of abortion in rare and truly tragic circumstances with those who use such "extreme" language simply to approve of abortion on demand.

PamBG said...


I wonder how you would treat a female parishioner who terminated an ectopic pregnancy - a situation where she and her fetus would almost certainly die? Would you cry with her or condem her?

My gender point was that demanding that a woman put herself at a great risk of death is a difficult message to deliver at the best of times. When it's done by an individual - even a sterile woman - who will never find themself in that situation, it's an even more difficult message to deliver and have it heard.

But I do "get" your disapproval and I can live with it.