While in the locker room of the gym this morning I couldn't help but to overhear the heated comments on a news program that was playing on the television mounted in the room. It was the usual blather from political hopefuls who were taking jabs at each other on the question of whether or not they were "Pro-Life."
I've had enough of the Pro-Life / Pro-Choice rhethoric. I would like to propose a sensible middle ground: Pro-Responsibility.
This means both the man and the woman accept responsibility for their choices and their actions.
This means they both act responsibly long before there is any possibility of conception.
Acting responsibly means not allowing sexual intercourse to be a substitute for self-esteem.
It means both parties are responsible for using appropriate and effective birth control if they choose to engage in sexual intercourse and prefer not to have a pregnancy as a result.
It means means that the choice to become pregnant is followed by acting responsibly during pregnancy (e.g., eating appropriately, getting proper medical care, not doing drugs or drinking alcohol).
It means that the choice to be a parent is followed by acting responsibly for raising the child to become a valued and productive member of society.
It still allows for a woman to choose to have an abortion if she is not ready to act responsibly as a parent.
It also allows for a woman to choose to give her child up for adoption.
And ultimately it allows for both men and women to choose abstinence or other appropriate methods of birth control.
It seems that the self-designated "Pro-Lifers" believe that the self-designated "Pro-Choicers" are "Pro-Death." Somehow the Pro-Lifers get so wrapped up in their anti-abortion campaigns and rhetoric that they forget about the number of children born into harsh circumstances: Children born with fetal alcoholism, children born into squalor, children born into a financially stable yet dysfunctional family — None of these is the "life" that so many "Pro-Lifers" ever consider.
Unfortunately, I haven't met too many "Pro-Choicers" who have much to brag about, either. They get so focused on a woman's right to choose abortion that they forget about a woman's right to choose to not have sex in the first place, to say nothing of a man's responsibility to choose to use birth control. They also forget about a woman's right to choose to bring a pregnancy to term.
The problems of single-parenthood, random sexual intercourse, teenage pregnancy, welfare mothers, at-risk children, crack-addicted babies, child abuse, and everything else will not be solved by protests at abortion clinics or by legislation for or against abortion. The problems are bigger than any slogan or sound bite.
I think the best place we can begin is to start with finding middle ground in the concept of Responsibility: Responsible choices, Responsible actions, and Responsible in the outcomes.
Of course, if you want responsible adults, you have to start by creating responsible teens. And if you want responsible teens then you have to start by creating responsible children.
Yes, we're certainly starting behind the mark on this one, but we have to start somewhere. And if we start now, we might have this battle against irresponsible choices and lack of accountability solved in about 6 generations.