I am writing in response to what is a lightning rod issue to those on both sides of the ongoing debate regarding abortion access in our country and our communities. Specifically, I am referencing the story “Island Lacks Abortion Access” printed in the Oct. 19 Gazette.

It is true that our Island lacks abortion access — but our Island also lacks access to other medical services as well, yet I find it interesting that these weren’t mentioned. For example, two years ago I was diagnosed with Grave’s Disease, a thyroid disorder. I need an endocrinologist, but there isn’t one on the Island — so I must pay the cost of the ferry and go to the Cape. As I was told when my family and I moved to the Island late last year, “welcome to Island living.” I wish to be sensitive to women who find themselves having an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy, but I felt that I needed to bring some clarity to this issue of access raised in the Gazette.

As a Christian whose faith informs of the sacred nature of human life — especially defenseless, voiceless human life — I thought that I should attempt to breathe life into the statistics cited in the story. It reported that the closest clinic to the Island, in Attleboro, provided 1,840 abortions 2016, according to state Department of Public Health data. The story also reported that in 2016 Planned Parenthood in Boston provided 5,955 abortions, the most of any provider in the city, a total of 7,795 abortions.

To place these numbers in perspective, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reports a total of 1,990 opioid-related deaths in 2016. The rising opioid epidemic and the tragic human cost in lives has been rightly called an emergency, but its magnitude pales in comparison to the number of human lives that were “terminated” via abortion in Attleboro and Boston alone.

By way of further comparison, Dr. Matthew S. Goldberg writing for the journal Military Medicine, states: “Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) — began on March 19, 2003. In the ensuing 6.5 years, the U.S. military sustained over 3,400 hostile deaths. 800 non-hostile deaths,” a total of 4,200 deaths in 6.5 years due to modern warfare. While all these lives lost in the opioid epidemic and war are human tragedies, it is heartbreaking to know that last year, more defenseless, innocent human lives were terminated in Attleboro and Boston than in the first six and a half years of the Iraq War.

That said, I must also point out that the 7,795 human lives lost via abortion last year, also (not accounting for twins) represents an additional 7,795 women’s lives. While I cannot imagine the multiple levels of anxiety an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy would create, I do want to say that there are caring, faith-based ministries, services, and clinics available in southern New England that can, and will help. I realize that this route will be considerably less convenient than opting to terminate a pregnancy through abortion, but I beg you to consider the thought that inconvenience should never, never be a reason for ending an innocent, defenseless human life.

Rev. Matthew B. Splittgerber
Vineyard Haven

The writer is pastor for the Vineyard Assembly of God church in Vineyard Haven.