This may be my most controversial post yet. Abortion is a touchy subject. Before I start I want to be clear, I’m not condemning anyone. The past is the past and we can do nothing about it. With that said, I’m decidedly pro-life with some very specific caveats which I will go into later.
First a short history of my views on the subject. As a teen in high school I was pro-choice. It was really none of my concern. At least that’s how I looked at it. I even remember a Mormon guy in my English class asking me “What if your mom aborted you?” It’s a question I dismissed out of hand. Later after high school I listened to two people debating abortion on TV (don’t remember the channel or program) and the woman kept saying we needed to have abortion for equal rights. It occurred to me that the current laws around children and abortion created a situation of unequal rights. You see, a woman, after sleeping with someone could erase the consequences of the choice she made through abortion. She would have no responsibility at all because she decided she didn’t want it, after the fact. The man, on the other hand, had no out. He made the same choices before conception but could do nothing to remove the responsibilities of those choices like the woman could. Essentially she could force him to have a child while she was free to discard the child. That isn’t equitable. Either both had to have an out or no one should.
At the time I was ok with the idea of something like a legal abortion. Where a guy can pre-emptively decide he wanted no children so he was “aborting” his child in a legal way. He can’t force the woman to have a physical abortion but she cannot force him to be any more responsible than she can be forced to be. It’s not entirely equal, she can still have the abortion and he can’t choose to keep it on his own, but it was as close as possible. Later in my mid-twenties I started to think that this way was not good either because it denies the child a father.
At this point it became more difficult to isolate my thoughts on abortion from my burgeoning faith. I’ll talk specifically about abortion but aspects of my faith may be there (though not explicitly). Essentially in my late twenties my thoughts about abortion changed. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that I became a father at that time. You see, I realized that I was a father at the moment we found out my wife was pregnant. People would ask me what it felt like to be a dad after my first son was born. I honestly would reply it was no different. I had been a father for 9 months already.
This is where the problem of the pro-life position really hit me. If he was my son while my wife was pregnant, then a fetus is a a human being regardless of the legal status. My feelings about him doesn’t objectively make him something different. Our laws even recognize that a fetus is a human as when a pregnant woman is killed it’s often treated as a double homicide (see Laci Peterson). Either it is or it isn’t a human being. If my feelings don’t change that, neither do anyone else’s. Objectively it’s a completely separate human. It has its own, entirely unique DNA, its own circulation, its own blood type, etc. Objectively it has to be nothing other than a unique human.
If it is a human being it is worthy of protection. And that’s basically where I’m coming from. I’d also like to deal with some of the objections I’ve heard to my view. Know that I don’t think everyone who is pro-choice holds all of these (or even any of these in particular) positions. They are just ones I’ve heard. Don’t think I’m trying to pigeon hole anyone.
It is moral because it’s legal.
This one seems crazy to me. There are a lot of things that have been immoral that have been legal. It was legal to rape your wife at one time. It was still immoral. This is the same. It is a human and deserves rights.
It isn’t a person.
In a legal sense that is true. But then again, at one point in history, neither were slaves (I didn’t say African Americans because not all people of that decent were slaves).
A zygote can’t have rights.
This is a bit disingenuous. The zygote becomes a fetus in very short order. By the time you know you’re pregnant you are way past zygote stage in development.
What if the woman’s health is in danger?
While I still don’t like the idea of abortion it seems unreasonable to me to force someone to risk their life for someone else’s. I think in this instance a woman should be allowed to choose. Statistics show that only 12% of women getting abortions report a physical problem with their health as their reason. This is probably (though not absolutely) not only situations where the woman’s life is in danger.
What about rape?
This is a tough question. I don’t want to cause any woman to suffer. And I don’t want the human inside her to die. I certainly don’t think the woman who seeks an abortion after being raped is doing something monstrous. It’s an understandable reaction. I honestly don’t know what public policy should be in this instance. I do know according to statistics that only 1 % of all abortions report rape as the cause. This might be low. It is hard for someone to admit being violated in that way sometimes. On the other hand, it does sound like a reasonable justification for the procedure.
No one has a right to use my body.
This is true and untrue. Let me make an analogy. No one has a right to my money (after taxes of course). However, once I decide to have a child, that child does have claim to some of it. It has a right to be brought up and taken care of. That will cost my money. I’ve given up my autonomy. The same is true when you have consensual sex. You are (potentially) giving up your autonomy. You are making a choice to risk pregnancy. We all know how reproduction works, and we all know that birth control isn’t 100% effective. I honestly don’t care what two consenting adults do (despite my beliefs on morality). We have been given free will and we can exercise it. But when the natural consequences come of that choice, you shouldn’t be able to avoid them. I’m not even advocating making people raise children they don’t want. There are plenty of people who would adopt your child if you didn’t want to keep it. True that comes with 9 months of being pregnant, but your comfort and convenience shouldn’t trump another’s right to life.
On average people say one (or more) of the following reasons for having an abortion
- Having a baby would interfere with work/school other responsibilities
- Cannot afford a child
- Don’t want to be a single parent
Those just don’t sound like good enough reasons to kill a human to me. And all of them are solved with adoption. I’m sure some people will tell me I have no right to an opinion because I’m not a woman. But half the humans being aborted aren’t either. I’ve read estimates between 800K and 1.2 M abortions are done in the United States each year. That’s a staggering number of lost lives.
One thing I do know is that name calling, emotional epithets, etc. don’t help move the discussion along. Not for me, not for anyone. Fortunately I’ve had discussions with some reasonable people (and some very unreasonable people). Let’s try to remember that while we all have the same facts, we all come to them with our own baggage and we are all just ordinary people trying to make sense of life.
One final thing, while I welcome any opinions or views in response to this post, I will not allow vulgar language on this blog. Also if you’re just ranting it’s also likely I won’t approve your comment. I don’t want to censor anyone’s views but if you’re not adding anything of value I don’t see the point to adding fuel to an already incendiary topic.