Posted by: Dan | November 17, 2004

Harm-Reduction and Abortion

I support the idea of “wet” shelters and safe-injection sites. I support giving out condoms to prostitutes. I think that they are all part of the larger picture that is necessary in a society that has embraced harm-reduction as the model under which it operates. Thus for every dry shelter we need a wet shelter, for every drug treatment program we need a safe-injection site or needle exchange program, for every organisation that helps prostitutes flee the sex trade we need an organisation that helps prostitutes survive within the sex trade. Our society is structured around band-aid solutions and so we need everything we can to prevent people from abuse or illness or death. We recognise that we're not doing anything really effective at the level of the big picture and so we focus in on helping people survive in the immediate present.

However, I notice that, in the circles in which I move, a lot of Christians that I talk to favour safe-injection sites while opposing abortion clinics. Now, I've been thinking about this quite a bit over the last few weeks and I think that this is actually a double standard.

The same arguments that these Christians have embraced in the areas of homelessness, addiction and prostitution are arguments they have rejected when it comes to abortion. Abortions will continue to happen regardless. Abortion clinics are places where women can go and have an abortion without risking infection, serious injury or death. Therefore, even somebody who believes that a fetus is a living person, should, based on the arguments mentioned above, support abortion clinics. From that perspective a child is dying but the mother's life is being saved.

Funny how Christians seem more ready to humanise drug-addicts than they are to humanise women.

Here's the thing though. I am not entirely convinced that the harm-reduction model as a whole should be so fully embraced by Christians. I believe that harm-reduction is a necessary model for secular society but I believe that Christians should be addressing things at a much deeper, more big picture, level. If Christianity is about becoming fully human, than we should be offering something completely different than all these options. What may end up being the best approach in secular society does not have to be the best Christianity has to offer. Unfortunately, as with pretty much every other area of life, North American Christians seem to have lost any sense of their distinct identity.

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