Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Agency and Responsibility

This morning I prayed with my wife and then gave her a hug, hoping it would last while I was gone. I do this before I leave for work, usually between 4:30 and 5:00 AM. Maryann is typically asleep for our "couple" prayer, but today I realized that I wasn't nearly as alone as I may have felt.

During the prayer, my thoughts moved from one family member to another, finally resting on our little unborn child, Benjamin. I gently rested my hand on Maryann's stomach and felt the sweet and reassuring tapping from our little boy in utero. I loved the comfort that came from those few bumps—I imagined he was giving me the best hug he could, hoping it would last while I was gone. I think it will.

En route to work, I listened to a talk by Elder Oaks, The Weightier Matters. Perhaps with the love bumps from my baby boy still fresh on my heart, the discussion on agency and responsibility as illustrated through the example of abortion seemed particularly captivating. Coupling this with the residual feelings of happiness from the recent celebrations and rememberings of Father's Day, and the following question surfaced:

If current cultural acceptance and availability of abortion stems, primarily, from the firmly-held belief that choice is in no way to be compromised or infringed upon, how far can this logic be spread?

A hypothetical young couple engage in activities that result in the woman becoming pregnant. Neither feels ready for parenthood in any regard—emotionally or financially—and weigh their options separately.

The potential mother may have educational or career plans that are not compliant with motherhood. Perhaps she doesn't even consider the father of her child to be husband or long-term relationship material. She views the pregnancy as an unfortunate mistake, and seeks solutions to solve her problem.

Many impartial observers would conclude that abortion presents the perfect cure-all to this situation. Now, without discussing in detail the various views of abortion, consider the popular viewpoint that the mother has the "right" over her body and her future. But what of the father?

The father doesn't want to settle down. He was primarily interested in the relationship from a pleasure standpoint; his lifestyle cannot afford fatherhood. He tries to quietly distance himself from the situation and disappear.

If after careful consideration, the mother decides to carry the child full-term, deliver, and raise the child herself, what can she expect from the father? Most people scream that the father is responsible to support his child [and I agree]. Interestingly, while states are usually in charge of child support regulations, the Federal Deadbeat Punishment Act (great name) makes delinquent dads responsible on a federal level.

Return to the decision process of abortion. Abortion proponents push the slogan "Pro Choice" so strongly that many discussion and debates are wrongly slanted towards a debate on whether or not a woman has the right to her body and future after become pregnant. Little consideration is paid to the legal, moral, or medical pros/cons of abortion. In many cases, financial reservations seem sufficient to lead individuals to decide to abort the pregnancy.

If financial freedom is such a large weight in the topic, what of the fathers who are responsible to pay child support for children they would like to be free from financially? Is there a way for fathers to "abort" their wallet from the situation? Should there be?

High Road:
These thoughts and questions seemed to show to me the morally dangerous ground for allowing abortion rights to mothers solely on the stance that freedoms would be limited by not allowing a woman to "have control over her body," but at the same time denying deadbeat dads an equally easy escape from responsibility.

I am in no way an advocate of deadbeat dads not being responsible. Similarly, I am quite against the pro-choice movement's beliefs. I am pro-love, pro-family, and pro-babies. Being pro-responsibility is becoming increasingly lonely today. Perhaps chronic fear of heights keeps many from the high road. This doesn't have to be. Let's keep the discussion on rights focused where they should be: on rights. However, responsibility cannot be withheld from the scenario if meaningful results are to be obtained.

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