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I applaud Pastor Paul Thompson and members of the Eastland Baptist church for taking the time to make the subject of abortion part of the public policy discussion. They could have just felt disenfranchised and refused to let others know how much they cared. I assume that they were not pleased with the outcome of the council’s vote. However, I will attempt to state their case while also suggesting alternatives to government action. Certainly, they are correct that a change in community sentiments is easier to achieve than changing national sentiments.

If I am not mistaken, most Baptists believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God and that its words are without error in explaining the mind of the God who created the universe. They see God as an entity who controls time, history and, especially the creation of the human species. Their understanding is that God has infinite ability to care for every creature in a personal way; becomes upset when the creature goes against God’s direction; but accepts repentance for wrongdoing.

Following that belief, they see life as beginning at its creation; the moment cells begin to divide to form a human being. They are joined with other Christian denominations as well as a few other organized religions in some form of that belief. I understand that the only interpretation they can put on abortion, which interrupts the creation of a human life, is that it is against God’s plan. Their logic is irrefutable, except when someone starts with a different belief about the mind of God.

There is evidence of a wide range of beliefs, not only about the mind of God, but if, indeed, there is a God at all. That makes it impossible to construct a public policy which bans the personal decision of a pregnant woman to terminate a pregnancy.

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Anyone who holds human life as priceless has a hard time deciding to have an abortion no matter how far along the pregnancy or their underlying moral principles. Deciding when life begins, or ends is not precise. Is it truly “the breath of life”, or the division of a cell? While a small minority of people ever have to make a decision about the termination of a life, it is certainly easier for people who have considered the many parts of the question, “What is living?” A ban on abortion only makes the decision more complex.

A woman is aware very early in life that she is capable of bearing children. Whether she decides to have children or not, she cannot deny her biological role in continuing life on earth. When she is faced with the prospect of the responsibility of a child which she, for whatever reason, is not prepared to care for, her decision is influenced foremost by the role placed on her by biology at her creation. It is not easy to abandon that role. Given that an abortion is not a preferred choice in almost anyone’s mind, what can our community do to make it a rarely taken option?

May I make a suggestion for the community? Since banning abortion is not an option and the majority of people think it is an undesirable outcome at best, what can we as a community do to support women who are placed in the position of making a decision? Can we do more to make sure that women do not have unplanned pregnancies at all? I invite interested parties to organize public discussions about the subject. After considering as many points of view as possible, surveying the programs currently in place, and exploring creative ideas which come out of the discussions, let us as a community construct practical goals.

Note that I did not say laws. The Supreme Court has said abortion is a private matter. I suspect they will uphold sensible regulations concerning abortion. But maybe we can make a difference for a woman who must approach the decision of continuing or abandoning a pregnancy. Can we honor and respect life and still allow a woman’s choice?

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Linda Brugger retired from the Air Force and is a former chairwoman of the Twin Falls County Democrats.

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