One of the items on The Project last night has got me thinking.
They were addressing the issue of the availability of contraceptive and abortive medication and procedures. There are some in our community who are disappointed that a particular drug has been added to the PBS, making it cheaper and more accessible.
I have no problems with doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other medical practitioners having the freedom to choose not to prescribe medication or perform procedures that contravene their conscience or religious beliefs. It's great, in fact: let's have more respect for people's spirituality as part of their whole person, perhaps even a generous spirit towards a Muslim swearing an oath on a religiously appropriate Sacred Text??
But as medical practitioners explained their commitment to not only not providing these medications themselves, but also not helping a person find someone who would, I began to feel uneasy.
I began to wonder: are they crossing the line of preserving their own spiritual integrity, to imposing their beliefs on others?
Just because you believe abortion is wrong doesn't mean that others haven't examined their consciences and come to a different conclusion about what is right for them. And with such an issue, it is clear that 'right' and 'wrong' are fluid concepts, changeable with each person.
In fact, there is very little about life that is black and white. Death, perhaps, but even then, what do we know?
The rest is very very many colours - and textures, patterns, sizes, shapes ...
It is clear that human lives are intricately intertwined - so that when we hear that a person, even a stranger, has died, most of us will feel some measure of sorrow. When a person, even a stranger, is in danger, humans risk their own lives to preserve the life of another. When a person/s choose/s to abort a child, strangers and friends feel the loss.
But this very interconnectedness of our lives is precisely what makes decisions around when to have children so complicated. Personally, I think the stories of God show enough evidence of God partnering with humans to suspect that God expects us to take measures of responsibility in our living – such as using contraception if we are not ready to parent a child. I think the stories of God show enough evidence that we are intended to enjoy life, and wonder at the conservative fear and shame of sex that lingers in sections of society, which I suspect shapes some attitudes to contraception and possibly same-gender relationships.
Ultimately, we can not make decisions for others. We all have a responsibility to nurture our own wellbeing, to live faithfully and with integrity according to the morals, ethics, beliefs that we have chosen to guide our living, and to not cause harm to others.
Yes, sometimes we must harm someone in order to protect another. And perhaps this is what anti-abortion campaigns think they are doing. But how much harm are humans prepared to cause to women with arrogant, simplistic assumptions about what is right and wrong? Rarely can we decide what is right or wrong for another. Even more rarely can we categorically state what is right or wrong.
We can only love. And that is all God calls us to do.