I’m not sure what makes this topic so difficult to write about, but I must have thrown out a half dozen drafts by now. I think part of it is the fact that with my position on religion, I’m pretty clear. I don’t believe in a god even though it’s human nature to believe in the supernatural, and I accept science as the best tool as have to explain natural phenomena. That’s pretty simple. The topic of abortion? That’s a little harder.
I suppose one of the reasons is the fact that since I’m a guy, I’ll never face the prospect of an unwanted pregnancy firsthand. I’ve thought about it from time to time, and even though I consider myself “pro-choice” under the current vernacular – and would want the option available – I personally don’t know if I could (hypothetically) decide to go through with an abortion. Obviously I speak for myself in that regard, since I can consider myself lucky in the fact that I have a family that would support me, decent medical insurance, some money in the bank, and a good job that would allow me the proper support mechanism to raise a child if I so chose. Many other people in this country don’t have those luxuries, and such things are obviously determining factors in what would potentially be a difficult decision.
The other reason I lack an absolute moral certainty on this is because there are, after a fashion, two lives involved. Yet, I consider the situation – a living, breathing woman pregnant with a developing fetus inside of her – and I conclude that the needs of the mother far outweigh those of the life she’s carrying. While a pregnancy is obviously a woman’s responsibility, it’s also her right to handle as she deems appropriate. If that means carrying to term, so be it. If it means ending it immediately, so be it. It is a situation that has no equal; there is no other in which one living thing – developing or not – is wholly and exclusively biologically dependent on another. As such, the person upon whom this life depends has the right to determine – at any point – whether to be party to the arrangement.
QUIZ: one of these is not like the others *:
I admit that years ago, I used to be more or less against abortion. I was never passionate about it, but I generally opposed it because I believed life was life, and that was it. I hadn’t considered up to that point the issue of exclusive biological dependency, the fact that life is a continuum during pregnancy, and that at some point, even those who claimed to value “life” will inevitably be forced to make a decision about whose is more important. I also had naively assumed that those politicians who opposed abortion were fighting to enact (or HAD enacted) nationwide comprehensive sex education, free access to birth control, and low-cost pre- and post- natal care for woman and child to ensure that they had the best chance of surviving in a difficult situation. You know … “pro-life” policies.
Over the last 10-15 years, I learned to my unending frustration that many of the people who want to make abortion illegal are the same ones doing everything in their power to make it happen not only more often, but essentially turn it into an epidemic. They’re desperate to try and convince people that hormonal birth control causes abortions. (Hint: they don’t.) They want “conscience clauses” allowing medical providers and pharmacists to subject other people to their personal interpretation of Christianity. They push for the completely ineffective and dangerous “abstinence only education” – advocated by religious groups – in which entire segments about birth control and STDs are not covered at all. They constantly try to de-fund Planned Parenthood – a provider frequented by low-income women with few, if any, other options – by lying about the focus of their work to the voting public. They instead push for Christian-funded “crisis pregnancy centers”, most of which provide no medical services and knowingly lie to their clients about the “dangers” of abortion. They spend their time fighting to criminalize a method of abortion because of its grisly nature, not understanding that it was the safest among a limited number of options. (As a result, abortions are still legal under this new ruling, but more dangerous thanks to a decision ruled by emotion and not medical necessity.) Many of them also move to prevent additional funding to go to low-cost medical care or welfare services. After all, why should my tax dollars pay for someone who keeps having kids and doesn’t bother to get a job?
Instead of doing anything to improve the situation, you instead hear flowery biblical rhetoric about the “sanctity of life”, and noble, life affirming yet intellectually bankrupt legislation like “personhood amendments“, thereby magically putting fully grown adults and fertilized eggs on equal footing … despite the fact that we’re talking about single cells, 30-50% of which never implant, and 10-20% of those that do subsequently miscarry within the first 12 weeks.
None of these things do anything to protect life. Instead, they end up punishing sex by making the entire process of intercourse, conception, and either abortion or pregnancy and childbirth much more dangerous to the mother and her child. They force children and teenagers to enter puberty without the knowledge they need to make educated decisions about their sexuality and how to stay safe WHEN – not if – they become sexually active. Women who want to gain access to a legal abortion are held up by waiting periods, unnecessary (and potentially invasive) additional procedures, protesters, and the ever dwindling number of abortion providers such that they either give up or end up having one much later,m when it’s more risky. Those forced to carry to term have no resources at hand to get the care they need to ensure a safe pregnancy. When they finally give birth, they are on their own, since the conservatives’ job of protecting the sanctity of life is apparently over.
Why should I agree with their claims that they “value” life when everything else they say is riddled with lies and misinformation? This is not a “pro-life” position no matter how they try to spin it. It is nothing more than a religious-based obsession with demonizing female sexuality by any means necessary. This is about forcing an ancient – and not even widely acknowledged – interpretation of morality on other people, and being satisfied that you’re right regardless how many people are hurt in the process.
On the other hand, I’m confident that if guys could ever become pregnant, abortion would be enshrined in the constitution the very next day.