Next week, Alabama residents will have the opportunity to vote on whether the Alabama constitution should be amended to affirm, in part, “the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children.” You can read an excellent summary from Ballotpedia that explains in plain English what supporters and opponents of the measure are saying.
Another component of the amendment is even more controversial: a provision that the entire Alabama constitution does not secure or protect the right to an abortion or the funding of an abortion.
Predictably, debate over the merits of the measure has been fierce. It has been bitterly partisan, as well. A host of Democratic state lawmakers oppose the proposed amendment, while a handful of Republican lawmakers support it. The opponents have hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional funding, primarily from Planned Parenthood, according to Ballotpedia.
In no particular order, here are three reminders for adoption advocates based on this conversation culminating on Election Day 2018:
Reminder #1: Human life runs like a stream in one direction. I live not too far from the Mississippi River, and I can tell you that there are a series of locks and dams that allow barges to move up and down. But barges don’t move in a direct, uninterrupted line from one place to another, as airplanes do. Instead, you start. You stop. You wait some more. You pick up again.
Human life isn’t like that. The Bible is clear that humans have value from the moment of conception: “Did not he who made me in the womb make him? And did not one fashion us in the womb?” (Job 31:15, ESV)
We don’t develop into a human over a period of weeks or months. We are people from the first point of existence.
Reminder #2: Embryos are frequently left out of the conversation. This legislation is vague in its affirmation of human life. Critics argue this gives mean-spirited lawmakers virtually endless license to prevent women from receiving medical treatment and, yes, abortions. I would argue the amendment, while laudable for its support of human life, fails to spell out protections for embryos specifically. Opinion writer John Archibald made this point in a recent column for AL.com. Nor is there any mention of Alabama’s desire to uphold families by promoting adoption as a valid alternative to abortion, embryo destruction or other practices that end young life prematurely.
Reminder #3: Policy will never mend broken hearts—only people can do that. For those of us who have seen firsthand the joy of adoption and the capacity it has to mend families, well-intentioned amendments such as the one proposed in Alabama are a reminder that as valuable as constitutions can be, they do not of themselves save lives. Only people, you and I, can do that.
We can share adoption as a necessary and valid option for couples facing infertility. We can comfort those who have experienced life-changing decisions, even though we will never fully grasp the depth of their pain and the other emotions they feel.
Whether you are voting to elect leaders, adopt amendments or enact measures, cast your ballot in line with the values you know to be true. Then go to work to help the people around you see why those values matter.
It’s up to you.