Reflections on life, marriage, and a young woman who is constantly learning how much there will always be to learn!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Abortion Discussion 1

A discussion about abortion at Happy Feminist's blog a couple of weeks ago has prompted me to read and think more on this issue recently. I found it enlightening to be challenged directly by abortion rights advocates (as opposed to indirectly, through reading or observing others' debate), and thought some of my readers (assuming I still have any after my long absences of late:op ) might be interested in what I've been learning.

Though I had to abandon the discussion on HF's blog due to time constraints, I think it's better to share my thoughts here anyway. The blog comments format just isn't conducive to presenting a cohesive argument during a discussion! (Especially when you are the minority opinion: by the time you answer one question, somebody else is posing some other minor detail for consideration, and on and on it goes, with the main points of the argument often being neglected...) So here are some thoughts in one nice large lump:

In general, abortion rights advocates (ARA) don't want to dwell on consideration of whether or not the unborn child (of course, they prefer the term "fetus", so in discussion with them I mostly defer on this point) has "personhood" (i.e., is a member of the human race who has inherent dignity and rights as such). I raised this question multiple times, which I hold is THE foundation of the abortion debate, but it was: a) ignored; b) I was told that it wasn't important; or c) my fellow commenters refused to see it as a non-subjective question. (One notable exception was Happy Feminist, who actually agreed with me that this question was essential. She posed a 2-part question: Is the fetus a person with rights; and if so, to what extent do these rights supercede those of the mother?)

Since I failed to get much engagement of my question in the comments section, I asked for articles or websites from the pro-abortion rights side that seriously consider it. One commenter provided me with a link to one essay, and then recommended that I go looking for others (which I did, but ended up finding and getting caught up reading a bunch of good articles written from the pro-life perspective instead!). Here's some analysis of the ARA essay I was given:

At the outset, let me say that from a pro-choice point of view, the status of the fetus is a peripheral issue. Regardless of whether a fetus is a human being or has rights, women will have abortions anyway, even if it means breaking the law or risking their lives. Even women who believe that abortion is murder have chosen to get abortions, and will continue to do so.

OK. So the author is going to address the question "Is a Fetus a Human Being?", but she's letting us know from the outset that she doesn't consider it an essential question. Why? Because women will have abortions regardless. My thought on that is: I guess we shouldn't have concerned ourselves with whether the Jews were people or not because Hitler would have killed them regardless. Or whether the slaves were people or not because their masters would have used and abused them regardless. I don't really know how to respond to the argument that we shouldn't have certain laws or positions because people will thwart them. That's true of any law or position, is it not?

That's why we should leave the decision up to women’s moral conscience, and make sure that they are provided with safe, legal, accessible abortions. Because ultimately, the status of a fetus is a matter of subjective opinion, and the only opinion that counts is that of the pregnant woman.

Again...why is this matter subjective? Are the rights of any other humans on the planet considered subjective? Try this on for size: "That's why we should leave the decision up to slave-owner’s moral conscience, and make sure that they are provided with safe, legal, accessible slave-buying options. Because ultimately, the status of a slave is a matter of subjective opinion, and the only opinion that counts is that of the slave-owner." Sounds patently ridiculous, does it not? Because these days we understand that slaves ARE people with rights. We didn't come by that conclusion subjectively by considering the feelings and needs of the slave-owners. We had to consider the slaves objectively, separating THEM from the expediency and economic benefits that the institution of slavery provides. In the same way, don't we have to consider the unborn OBJECTIVELY, separate from the expediency of the abortion institution and the yes...even the feelings of the mother?

For example, a happily pregnant woman may feel love for her fetus as a special and unique human being, a welcome and highly anticipated member of her family. She names her fetus, refers to it as a baby, talks to it, and so on. But an unhappily pregnant woman may view her fetus with utter dismay, bordering on revulsion. She cannot bring herself to refer to it as anything other than "it," much less a human being. She is desperate to get rid of this unwelcome invader, and when she does, she feels tremendous relief. Both of these reactions to a fetus, and all reactions in between, are perfectly valid and natural. Both may even occur in the same woman, years apart.

I agree that all of these feelings are natural. Sometimes I feel like driving 100mph in a school zone. Sometimes I get mad and feel like screaming at somebody or kicking my dog. Does that mean my victims deserve that type of treatment? Does "natural" necessarily mean "right?" The flaws of such relativistic thinking are a whole separate discussion.

However, anti-choicers insist not only that a fetus is a human being, but that this status is an objective scientific fact. Unfortunately, they are assuming the very thing that requires proving, thereby committing the logical fallacy of "begging the question."

Assuming the very thing that requires proving. Such as that fetuses are NOT human beings? Yes...please...let us do look at the facts!

Biology, medicine, law, philosophy, and theology have no consensus on the issue, and neither does society as a whole. There will never be a consensus because of the subjective and unscientific nature of the claim, so we must give the benefit of the doubt to women, who are indisputable human beings with rights.

Methinks these assertions that the status of a fetus are subjective and unscientific require proving...

Anti-choicers must claim that fetuses are human beings, of course, or they really have no case against abortion. Since this claim is the cornerstone of their position, it should be critiqued in detail, from philosophical, legal, social, and biological perspectives. Even though it has little relevance for the actual practice of abortion, the assertion that fetuses are human beings has a potentially great impact on the rights of women.

OK. Please commence with your evidence!

(To be continued...)


Blogger zan said...

Wow. The writer of that article is so confused. The "fetus" has no relevance? We wouldn't be having this discussion if the fetus wasn't there!

I am impressed that you can debate with these people so well.Since, I have children and have experienced pregnancy I try to stay away from those kids of debates. They just make me so angry.

I am getting tired of pro-choicers bringing up Lifetime Channel examples of unfortunate women. I think there is way too much sympathy for the woman in abortion. They won't even consider that the fetus is a life. Isn't killing people a bad thing? If it is, than shouldn't we make sure that we aren't killing anyone?

One thing I found out recently is that there are more pro-choice men than women out there. Makes sense to me. They can sleep around irresponsibly with troubled girls and not have to have any responsibility for their actions. And yes, I think that girls who have pre-marital sex, willingly, are troubled. You also don't see many women abortion doctors. They are almost all men. Even the founder of Planned Parenthood thought that abortion was terrible and was a weapon men would use against women.

I love the slavery comparison. You do such a great job arguing your point. Your poor husband must never win a single argument with you. ; )

5:16 PM, November 21, 2006  
Blogger aus blog said...

Pro choicers say conception is NOT when life begins,and a clump of cells is just that and not a living human being.

Here's an angle they need to concider-

Soon after you were conceived you were no more than a clump of cells.
This clump of cells was you at your earliest stage, you had plenty of growing to do but this clump of cells was you none the less. Think about it.
Aren't you glad you were left unhindered to develope further.
Safe inside your mother's womb until you were born.

8:48 PM, November 21, 2006  
Blogger Samantha said...

I believe that the majority of the people who support abortions are people who have never been pregnant or had to face the decision. Many just argue for arguments sake or because they want to support a feminist agenda. I've known women who have had abortions, who aren't Christians, who believed it was just a fetus, and now 20 years later still suffer the emotional wounds. They know that although the fetus was dependant on their body, their was still a created life which would inevitably become a fully functional human-being. That's a no-brainer.

Also, I hear the rape and incest card thrown around alot. Pro-choicers often use this to gain sentimentality among the masses. I researched this issue awhile back and found that only 1% of abortions procedures are done as a result of rape or incest. Studies show that 70% of women who become pregnant as a result of rape choose to carry and give birth to the child as opposed to having an abortion.

The only situation I am cloudy about is if it comes down to choosing between the mothers life and the baby's. I'm sure this is very rare, but never-the-less happens.

10:00 AM, November 22, 2006  

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