loudsilence99 : Whenever the issue of abortion comes up I want to have a full discussion so that we know what we are all talking about.
So what is the debate on abortion really about?
Often the debate is about life and when life begins. Well, strictly speaking, it begins when the egg is fertilised and begins to divide. Even so, this is a matter of debate. Scientists use the concept of viability. They talk about the pre-embryo, the fertilised egg before it attaches to the uterus wall. Once it is attaches to the uterus (6-12 days after fertilisation) the ball of cells is termed an embryo and becomes viable – there is now the possibility of survival to birth. However, if we use the first definition – that life begins at fertilisation – then we wouldn’t have the pill and IUDs, which often work not by stopping ovulation but stopping implantation.
Deeply religious people have an extra issue. There is a Biblical precedent against the withdrawal method and (arguably) condoms – the Genesis story of Onan spilling his ‘seed’ on the ground. So this leaves two contraceptive possibilities: firstly, female contraception involving implants that put women through a temporary menopause so that ova are not released; and secondly, male contraception designed to prevent the sperm formation, sperm motility or ejaculation. The former can create problems with women’s bone health and so the only moral solution is to legislate so that all post-pubescent men in Alabama must take male contraceptives until they are trying for children (with agreement of their female partners). This goes for male senators too.
In order to avoid men having to take some serious responsibility for contraception Alabama senators have come up with the concept of an embryo being viable when a heart beat is detected at 6 weeks. There is no scientific evidence that this is when life or viability begins. It’s just a fudge because banning contraception would be seen as politically unacceptable.
Hang on a minute, someone might say. That’s not what it is about. It’s about not having sex outside marriage. People should be self-controlled and abstain.Who says? Isn’t that the point of view of the American Baptist Church? Okay, they do have the right to religious freedom but do they have the right to impose their religious views on other Christian denominations, other religions and other people of no religion? Well clearly not. If they impose their views they take away the religious and non-religious freedoms of others. Such an action would be unconstitutional.
Hang on a minute, someone might say. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about preserving life. Well, if it is about preserving life then let’s be consistent. Life may begin at the first dividing cell but it rarely ends at when a baby is born. It usually continues for many years. So if life is sacrosanct then we have to save lives whatever a person’s age. That means we can’t have babies, toddlers, children, teenagers, young people, middle-aged people or old people anywhere dying before their time. We can’t let anyone anywhere in the world starve. We can kiss goodbye to the arms trade. We can’t use the excuse of borders or protectionism or profit or being American or British or protecting our own families at the expense of other families. We can’t put the environment at risk because if we do then people might die elsewhere due to crop failure, storms, floods, forest fires or sea-level rise. This is a whole lot of responsibility.
Hang on a minute, someone might say. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about sweetness. Unborn and new-born babies are so sweet that we can’t let them die. But aren’t toddlers, young children, older children, teenagers and adults beautiful too? And what about babies of different colours and creeds? What about disability? Do human beings have to be attractive in order to be saved? And who decides which babies are the most attractive – the legislators or the mothers? (Of course, if we don’t take care of people until at least adolescence then there won’t be any more babies, sweet or otherwise.)
Hang on a minute, someone might say. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about innocence. Unborn babies haven’t had the chance to sin yet so we protect them. Once they are born they are as sinful as the rest of us so its okay if they die. (Catholicism has created the concept of original sin – even the dividing cell is sinful – and then all the usual sort of sin after the child is born. It’s a shame the Catholic Church hasn’t spent the same amount of effort preventing child abuse as it has in disapproving of abortion.) This does rather explain why there isn’t the same outcry when children die in school shootings as there is over abortion. Surely the same people should be equally vociferous about both.
Hang on a minute, someone might say. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about men controlling women. Women should be barefoot, tied to the sink or the bed or the nursery. They are mere vessels for men’s babies. Well, most of us wouldn’t agree with this. What is underlying it all is a question of rights. It depends whose rights are more important, those of a man, those of a woman (or in some cases a young person who may have gone through puberty but may still be a child) or those of an unborn child. Certainly, if all men fathering a child in Alabama had a 20lb weight sewn to the front of their abdomen, had emetics to make them sick in the first 12 weeks, had to pay for new clothes to accommodate the weight, nine months later had the weight surgically removed, and then had to pay child support, there might be a more equal discussion.
Hang on a minute, someone might say. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about preventing death. Well if this is what it is about then there is a problem. Childbirth is a riskier than usual time for women – the more babies, the greater the risks. Complications and death can happen. Also, pregnant women who do not want or cannot cope financially or emotionally with a child or are made to feel desperately ashamed of their pregnancy may choose illegal backstreet abortions or try to abort the fetus themselves. In these cases both the woman and her unborn child will die and particularly women who are vulnerable, poor, ill, young and/or despised. What happens if the mother’s life is at risk due to carrying a child that is the result of rape or incest? Is it morally right to allow a conscious being (the mother) to die in order to preserve the life of an unconsious being (the embryo)?
Hang on a minute, someone might say. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about pointing out other people’s characteristics as a distraction from our own. If we make abortion or homosexuality or being black, or not believing in a particular religion or not being in our financial clique or not sharing our political views or not being from a Western country a sin then if we are male, straight, white, Christian, rich, Republican and American we can pretend that we are not actually worse than everyone else. We can even make sure that we are seen as so virtuous that the fact that we’re not prepared to give away any of our billions (to pregnant women, ill babies and starving children) will be entirely overlooked – as will that boast about grabbing women by the pussy. Then everyone will vote for us as US president next time.