Pope Francis declared that, "Unfortunately what is thrown away is not only food and dispensable objects but often human beings themselves, who are discarded as unnecessary."
No surprise here. The teachings of the Roman Catholic church prohibit abortion for any reason. The basis is clear, killing a human being is morally wrong. And the church considers the point of conception to be the beginning of a human being.
Even though I am no longer a practicing member, I was raised and educated Roman Catholic and I still believe abortion is morally wrong for any reason. But even though I abhor the practice, I don't think it's my place to dictate how another person lives her life.
Here I'm reminded of a saying, to which I cannot give attribution, "conviction is a luxury of those who stand on the sidelines." That is, when we are faced with life and death issues, sometimes one moral wrong prevents an even greater evil.
So abortion seems to be the classical issue that illustrates our conflicts when it comes to the interpretation of freedom of religion.
Does it mean to practice or not practice our religions as we choose or does it mean to require others to conform to our beliefs? On the surface, most would say it means that we can believe or not believe whatever we choose. But upon deeper thought, the second issue of requiring others to conform to our beliefs becomes more problematic.
Hobby Lobby is the case in point. The owners object to the requirement to provide health insurance coverage that will pay for "morning after drugs," which supposedly cause abortions. Even though it can be argued that these drugs are not a form of abortifacient, they do prevent pregnancies.
On the one hand I must respect this company's willingness to defend its values. I would be hypocritical if I didn't. I've written thousand of words about corporations whose only value are to make more and more profits.
Whether I agree or disagree with them, the owners of Hobby Lobby have a long history of running their business in accordance with their Christian beliefs.
On the other hand, I see their stand as one that requires others to conform to their religious principles, which leaves me with concerns.
In the end, I come out in favor of the law, which states they will provide access to the drugs though insurance and allow their employees the right to decide for themselves.
My reasoning? Health insurance is a form of compensation as is the money they pay their employees. To be clear, what is the difference between providing access to drugs that employees might or might not use to prevent a pregnancy and paying them their salaries that might or might not be used to purchase a gun and kill someone?
In both instances, employees are being paid compensation which is theirs to use however their consciences dictate.
The more troublesome issue for me is the current moral state of society. I cannot think about abortion without thinking about how we are the only modern country to still have capital punishment, legal concealed carry weapons, more incarcerated people than many of the countries we consider to have backward cultures, more gun violence than any other modern country.
We glorify violence in our entertainment, consider it fine for children to witness thousands of killings on TV, video games and in movies before they are 15 years old, but find it objectionable to see a woman breast feed a baby in public, no matter how modestly she does it.