Pagans and Abortion: A Happy Balance
Article ID: 3607
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 4,802
Times Read: 11,347
Author: Melissa Zupan
Posted: September 1st. 2001
Times Viewed: 11,347
So do what you will be the challenge
So be it in love that harms none
For this is the only commandment
Of magick of old be it done!
Doreen Valiente, Wiccan Creed
Only one moral tenet exists for Wicca, Harm None, the basis of the Wiccan Rede. The simplicity of the Rede embodies so much of the Craft's structure in that everything is open to personal interpretation. Thankfully, the Rede is not a commandment stating what one can and cannot do, but rather the gentle hand of the Goddess nudging the Witch in the right direction. However, the Goddess ultimately leaves the choice up to the Witch's personal discretion. With this characteristic freedom of choice that is found in the Wiccan Rede, it is easy to see why some Witches adopt the Pro-Choice view on abortion. However, the Rede's direct message is to Harm None. This message embraces all creations, including the unborn. Because of conflicting viewpoints within the same sentence, let alone people, a happy medium must be drawn; a balance must be struck. Artificial abortion should not be practiced, but the right to practice it should be fought for.
Abortion in most cases should not be practiced because it obviously harms someone, the baby, as it denies him the right to fulfill his incarnation. However, some Witches may counter this view with the opinion that the baby is really not a baby at all, so therefore it cannot be harmed and abortion under the Rede is acceptable. They may give reasons like 'the fetus is just a lump of tissue, ' or 'it is only a part of the mother's body.' These people are mistaken. From conception the 'lump of tissue' has all the genetic material it will need to guide a future person's growth and development through life. At only 42 days of existence, the 'lump of tissue' has begun to develop all it's own organs. By the end of the first trimester, nothing new grows or develops in this 'lump of tissue, ' all the organs only mature and refine themselves. The baby is also not a part of the mother's body, as it has its own, distinct genetic make-up, independent from its mother's. One analogy to describe this view is that a car may be parked in a garage, but it is not part of the garage. Clearly this child is a separate entity, an independent life, and should be respected as such. If Witches give offerings and meditate with a tree just to take a branch to make a wand, surely they have more respect for life than to just mindlessly abort it.
While most Wiccans do have the utmost respect for life, some fall back on reincarnation to justify their belief that abortion 'just is not a big deal.' It is relatively easy for these Witches to say that abortion is all right because 'if the baby is ready to be born, the Lord and Lady will just send him lunging down someone else's tube.' Or perhaps these Witches will say 'abortion is okay because the baby is obviously not ready to be born. If he was ready, then Spirit would stop the mother from getting an abortion all together.' In addition to being crude and callous, these people are also dead wrong. If the baby was ready to be born, then Spirit had a good reason to send him to his mother and father. Perhaps it was a not-so-subtle hint that they needed to start focusing on family, or perhaps the baby was to learn something special from them. If the baby was not ready to be born, then he himself would have gone back into the veil, and the mother would have miscarried naturally. Abortion is a big deal, and blind usage of reincarnation does not lessen its gravity.
Although abortion is a serious matter, the mother's right to choose abortion in extreme circumstances is equally as serious. Whether militant pro-lifer's admit it or not, cases do exist in which abortion is the only viable solution for some parents. Of these cases there are three main categories. The unborn child may suffer from mentally and/or physically crippling birth defects, the pregnancy may be the result of rape or incest, and the pregnancy may place the life of the mother in serious jeopardy. Of course in the cases of birth defects and pregnancy as the result of rape or incest, adoption seems like the logical alternative. After all, there are waiting lists of hundreds of people wanting to adopt babies with spina bifida, Down's syndrome, and cerebral palsey. Still more hopeful parents are waiting to adopt healthy babies, some of which result from rape and incest. However, adoption just is not an option in some of these pregnancies. The women may have older children. Naturally, the giving up of one child would raise questions with the others on why they were special enough to stay. Questions as serious as this are what send people to therapy. The women may also be psychologically fragile and the carrying of a child from a particularly terrifying conception may be enough to send them to the point of no return. Naturally these examples are highly specific, and not the most common reasons for abortion. But even though the solution is not by any means ideal, it comes the closest in these cases to solving the problem.
Abortions resulting from these problems are relatively rare. Statistics show that 1% of abortions performed are performed because of fetal abnormalities. An additional 1% are performed due to rape and incest, and 3% are performed because of health problems to the mother. However, even though these cases only make up 5% of the total abortions performed it is for this small amount of women that the abortion laws need to be preserved. A parallel, though a rather clichéd one, especially for this topic, can be made to the preservation of religious freedom. The founding fathers of America did not give freedom of religion to the majority, as the majority needs protection from no one. They gave it to the underdogs, the religious minority of America. Even though Wiccans only make up .37% of religious practitioners in America, their right to practice is the same right the Christians have to practice. The same goes for the 5% of women who have real, unavoidable reasons to abort their pregnancy versus the 95% of women who abort for convenience.
Abortion should not be practiced except for in the three afore-mentioned conditions, and the right to abort should be enforced for these cases. All babies, even those in the three cases, are human from conception and must be treated as such and with great respect. The tenet of Harm None extends to all, even the unborn. Even though the structure of Wicca places much emphasis on personal choice, Wiccans cannot entirely adopt the pro-choice movement as their own because of their only moral code, 'An if it harm none, do what ye will.' But hopefully, with the open minds they are so well known for, they can adopt the pro-life stance while recognizing there are always going to be exceptions, a minority, for which abortion must be protected.
Statistics on abortions performed and fetal growth times have been taken from www.abortiontv.com.
The percentage of Wiccans in America was calculated from the '99 Witches Voice approximation of 1, 000, 000 and the latest USA population count.
Location: Olympia, Washington
Author's Profile: To learn more about Melissa Zupan - Click HERE
Bio: I am a 17-year-old anxiously awaiting my senior year of High School, which starts August 20th. So far I have not pledged myself to any tradition, finding the freedom of being a solitary much to my liking. However, I would still like to have some type of correspondence with other Wiccans or Pagans. Blessed be!
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