I Am Pro-Contemplation

It really is a choice. Every woman ultimately has the freedom to choose whether she will keep her pregnancy. But it’s also a life. No one can dispute that what is in a mother’s womb is a living thing. So why do we so cavalierly stuff ourselves into one of two warring camps--“Pro-Choice” versus “Pro-Life”?

Yesterday was the 34th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that everyone in the world knows about—Roe v. Wade. The march for life was out in force as well as those who want to keep abortion safe and legal. Neither side had much good to say about the other. But they probably don't really think much about how the other side feels.

I don't like the terms pro-choice and pro-life--because I am both, and I think most people are. What I think we all need to be a lot more of is "pro-contemplation". A pregnant woman should have a choice to abort a child, but it should be done rarely, and only after much contemplation and soul searching.

Not long ago my wife was diagnosed with a blood disorder. It was a very scary time for us until, with medication, the problem was brought under control. With an ongoing but manageable disease, however, she was warned in the strictest of terms by her doctor that getting pregnant would likely be very dangerous for her. At that point, for the first time in our lives, we contemplated that pregnancy would likely cause us to choose something that we would not normally choose. And with that reality, we developed a new-found empathy.

Prior to the Roe decision, abortions were relatively rare, but they were also very dangerous. Because they were illegal in most states, most doctors didn't perform them, and when contemplative women made the ultimate mother's decision, they often suffered severe setbacks to their health. Following Roe, the abortion industry burgeoned. Abortions were no longer unsafe, but neither were they any longer rare. Women became less contemplative that their choice was also the choice to end a life.

Many, perhaps most, women do not approach a pending abortion with a cavalier attitude. But many do. This attitude is incomprehensible to those who focus mainly on the fact that a life is being taken. Many, perhaps most, women and men who consider themselves pro-life do not believe that a mother who chooses to have an abortion will 'burn in hell'. But many do. This attitude is incomprehensible to those who focus mainly on the fact that they are free to make a choice.

I suggest we drop the monikers. They cause far more confusion than they are worth. Together, let's all choose to be "Pro-Contemplation". Instead of focusing on the fact that it's a life, the one opposed to abortion will seek to understand what has brought a mother to the point of choice. And the mother, not pressed into a corner by opposing ideological hatred, will seek to understand the poignancy of the life that is about to be lost.

Next January 22nd, let's have the 1st Annual Contemplation and Reconciliation day.


  1. Great post Frank -- thank you for sharing your personal story.

  2. That's an interesting idea...

    I see abortion as a health issue. Some women use abortion as a form of birth control because they have no self-esteem and no regard for their own health. Abortion is a dangerous form of birth control; it involves either surgery or a medication that causes bleeding.

  3. Elizabeth,

    I've heard that abortions are a lot more common since the Roe v Wade decision. Is this true, and if so, does that mean that a lot of women are getting abortions who really don't need to?

    I'm interested in your point about those who do not have self esteem. I suspect it does not increase their self esteem to have an abortion.

  4. Elizabeth,

    Death rates for legal abortions are less than for pregancy and giving birth -- not that either are high. Pre-legal abortion tended to be a lot more dangerous.

    Abortion is more often used as a last resort and not as primary birth control.

    Frank, according something I just read by Molly Ivins, 1 million abortions were performed the year before Roe v. Wade. I haven't double checked to verify that number yet.

  5. Jenni,

    It does make sense that pre-legal abortions would have been much more dangerous.

    In reply to your figure about 1,000,000 abortions--I remember reading about a Bernard Nathanson a few years back, so I Googled his name and found This, which he says the numbers were closer to just below 100,000 abortions per year, and that they often used the false statistic of 10,000 deaths each year in America due to abortion.

  6. Hi Frank,

    I have been following your comments and blog entries out there in blog land for some time now. Thank you for your thoughtful observations and "cool as a cucumber" responses.

    I really like what you have to say on this particular issue. Pro-contemplation is a good compromise. I call it "Pro-Love" -which is the same thing, I think.

    Everyone needs to be more thoughtful on this issue, I think.

    Thanks for your good words and for standing up for what is right.

  7. Thanks Emily.

    It's like so many political issues. Some how it makes people feel "empowered" or "cool" or something when they can talk down to others who disagree with them.

    I like to try to 'make funny' every once in a while, but I hope I never talk down to anyone.

    If our goal is to persuade people of the validity of our point of view, courtesy mixed with a little **good** humor goes a long way.

    Thanks for your excellent approach in this regard. I'm sorry you didn't get elected to the senate, and I wish you luck in your next run!

  8. Thank you, Frank.

    You ought to run for something. You would do a great job and bring cooler heads to the experience. Doesn't matter what ticket you run on - you should just do it. I always support *good* people, regardless of political party.

    You think I'm joking. :-)

    Just as I thought people had lost their minds when they told me that *I* should run. Utah politics needs cooler heads. Wouldn't we make great achievements in UTah politics and policy if we approached every single issue with thoughtful contemplation?

    I'm tellin you, that's what we need out there.

  9. Thank you!

    I actually am thinking of running, and likely would have two years ago for House 67 if I hadn't been called to Iraq. I had been contemplating (and since talking to Zane B. yesterday I did) putting on my blog header that this is my "platform audit trail".

    I would have voted for you, too! This unbridgeable gulf between some people in opposing political parties indicates that our society is diseased.

    You are "spot on" right when you say "Wouldn't we make great achievements in UTah politics and policy if we approached every single issue with thoughtful contemplation?".

  10. What are Rep. Painter's plans? Is he retiring, or would you challenge him in a primary as an (R) or do you have something else up your sleeve? : -)

    Whatever the answer to the above, I encourage you to go out and do it. You will learn more about yourself than you imagined possible. Good luck. Go out and raise some money!

    I am heading to Utah County in a while, to attend the Utah County Democratic Convention -- that's going to be a showdown, I think.

    See you in blog land!

  11. Thanks for linking to this from your twitter feed.

    I see two main problems with the abortion debate generally: neither side gives an inch, and that inch area can be difficult to legislate.

    When I lived in Idaho a bill passed which said a doctor who performed an ultrasound in preparation for an abortion must notify the mother of it and allow her to see it if she chose. This would seem to fit the pro-contemplation platform well. However the pro-choice movement hated it and spoke out against it.

    Alternately, there are many pro-life proponents for whom any discussion of exceptions made for the life of the mother or cases of rape or incest are non starters.


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