Vox Populi 4 – Pro-Choice or Pro-Life

Posted by on November 7, 2010 in Thoughts | 9 comments

Welcome to the fourth in the series of “Vox Populi” articles on my blog, where I ask for your feedback and thoughts on a given topic. Hope you enjoy these short topical pieces, and please leave your feedback in the comments.

Topic 4: Pro-Choice or Pro-Life

I had a discussion on Twitter this past week asking me why I am “pro-choice”. The person on the other end had quite a few things to say to me, the topics of which I will enter into below. I’m not going to name him in case he doesn’t want to be identified.

But let me just say this from the outset. People should have the right to abortion, and especially if the life of the mother is in jeopardy. You may remember when Angie Jackson had a chemically induced abortion earlier this year and live-tweeted the process. She had the abortion because the baby was threatening her life. This is a perfect example of a needed abortion, and one I support whole-heartedly. I also agree with the idea that it is a woman’s choice to do what they want with their own bodies, and since I see no evidence for a soul in humans, this makes the decision less of a question about killing a baby,  and more about not bringing an unwanted baby into the world.

Now let’s get into the conversation I had earlier this week. The person on the other side of the debate is a Protestant. The whole argument stemmed from the idea that the pro-choice movement was akin to modern day eugenics and Nazism. The argument started in response to this article from the Herald Sun in which Bishop Peter Elliot made this claim.

A lot of this person’s arguments stem back to his belief in soul and that each soul is sacred, as according to God’s laws. I cannot reconcile this position, as I’ve said, because I see no evidence to support this idea.

That aside, I found a major sticking point, and one I have trouble reconciling. He asked me if it would be acceptable to abort a baby if it was a girl when the parents wanted a boy. He presumed to think that I would find this acceptable. I said, no this would not be acceptable, because this comes down to an abortion of convenience, rather than a matter of life and death for the mother. He then went on to ask if it would be OK to abort the fetus of a baby that may be genetically inferior. And this is where it gets interesting. Should people be allowed to abort their babies if the child will not be the super-baby the parents wish for?

I think it is wrong to say that it’s an argument about eugenics, but more an argument about where we draw the line on what is an acceptable behaviour. How do we reconcile this idea? I’m really interested in your ideas on this one. What do you think are the other issues that need to be addressed around this topic?

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9 Comments

  1. Well, I don’t have a problem with so-called “convenience” abortions (as if pregnancy, birth and child-rearing were merely minor “inconveniences” to a woman’s life?) If you don’t wanna be pregnant, I think you should get to have an abortion.

    Further, as the mother of a special needs child (and a high functioning one at that) I will say that kids with special needs *have special needs* and usually cost more money, take more time (in specialists offices for one) and need more focused one-on-one attention. Not every person with the potential to be a great parent of an able bodied child also possesses the potential to be a great parent of a special needs or disabled child.

    I definitely don’t think people need to be guilted into having children they feel unprepared to love, care for, and provide for, whether that’s because of the fetus’ sex, genes, deformities, or health concerns. If you can’t love that baby and give it everything it needs to succeed in life, don’t have it.

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    • The guy I was arguing with said that he believed if the couple have sex, then it’s their burden to have to carry and raise that child. God’s will and all that.

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    • I think most rational people would conclude, as you have Martin, that it is completely unacceptable to prevent people from or punish them for having abortions when there is a risk to the mother’s life. However, far fewer seem to go much further. I think it needs to be understood (as Angie has said above me), that a woman’s body belongs ONLY to her. No man, government or even unborn child gets a say in what happens to it.

      You do raise a valid point in asking would it “be acceptable to abort a baby if it was a girl when the parents wanted a boy”. There is actually a growing disparity in China because of this (although often through infanticide, not abortion). Although I think this can be more readily attributed to the social devaluing of females than to the evils of abortion, and should be dealt with as a separate issue.

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  2. I pretty much agree with your points Marty. I believe in a womans right to choose although I have an issue with abortion being used as birth control. When a womans life is in danger, damn right we should do everything we can to save her. I’m reminded of the story from last year of the 9 year old girl from Brazil who was raped by her step father and became pregnant with twins.The Catholic church put a lot of pressure on the family and doctors not to terminate but they did and quite rightly to as the girl would have surely died. The mother of the girl and the doctor who carried out the abortion were excommunicated. http://www.empowher.com/pregnancy/content/9-year-old-girls-abortion-twins-spurs-conversation
    Also if every fetus has a soul, how does that reconcile with miscarriages etc? Why would a god let that happen?
    On another note I dislike the term “pro life”. Most of us are pro life. It seem ironic to me that certain people call them selfs pro life and then go out and murder doctors at the clinics carrying out the abortions. Doesn’t add up to me.

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  3. I’m pro-choice and believe it is up to the individual to make what has to be a tough decision. I’m the father of boy girl special need twins. When their mother got pregnant we did not know she was carrying twins. She told me she wanted an abortion and as much as I wanted to be a father (I was 37 at the time) I knew all I could do was support her decision and not try to influence her with my desires. It was very tough and at the clinic she said to me I can’t do this. I was estatic and a month or so later we learned we had twins who are now closing in on their 18th birthdays. The biggest problem I have with pro-lifers is that they’re only concerned about the fetus at the moment. They’re not lined up to adopt and if they convince a woman to not abort then they’re on to the next fetus. Also many pro-lifers also support capital punishment which I am against so all I see from them is hypocrisy and fanatacism.

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  4. Selecting for gender is wrong because being a particular gender is not being in a diseased state. Did you ask him if he would be willing to give birth to a second child with a horrible disease like muscular dystrophy after watching his first child and three brothers slowly be consumed by the disease and die before the age of 25? This kind of decision has nothing to do with “super babies”. Nobody wants to see their child suffer in such a horrible way and to be honest, not everybody is saintly enough to devote their life to being a full-time carer, especially when there are healthy children in the family who are being neglected as a result of their parents having to devote all their time to the sick child. This has nothing to do with disregarding the ‘special dignity’ of human life. To be honest, there is nothing dignified about watching your loved-one awkwardly flail around and spit their food everywhere. The opponents of this alleged ‘eugenics’ movement need to wake up and smell the roses. How many of them have raised children with a severe hereditary disease? There is nothing dignified in human suffering and it is not ‘convenient’ for mothers to abort a child they desperately wanted but didn’t have the capacity, emotionally, physically and logistically, to care for them while watching them suffer. It is an incredibly painful process for these mothers to accept that in these cases it is more dignified for the child to not exist in the first place. Preimplantation genetic diagnosis has been legal for some time and it’s not as if there has been some mass movement towards eugenics. Talk about being blown out of proportion.

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  5. The whole “abortion on demand is eugenics” is the classic slippery slope fallacy. If A leads to Z through the intermediate steps of B-Y, then A and Z are equivalent. Even if we cannot draw a non-arbitrary line within the sequence, it does not follow that A and Z are equivalent. For example, A sober man and a drunk man are on opposite ends of a continuum. Each intermediate step represents a sip. At some indistinguishable point the sober man becomes drunk, but it does not follow that a sober man and a drunk man are equivalent. Nor does it follow that the sober man will become drunk.

    As for “convenience” abortions, being pregnant is hardly classifiable as simply “inconvenient”. No woman should be forced to continue a pregnancy she doesn’t want. It doesn’t matter why she doesn’t want it. It all links back to the sex as sin and pregnancy as punishment meme.

    That said, accidental pregnancies irritate the hell out of me because we have sophisticated and highly reliable contraceptive technologies that should be broadly available and openly discussed without the useless baggage of guilt and shame.

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  6. Abortion ought to be the right of every woman. We have no right to control a woman’s reproductive life. It’s as simple as that. Abortion should be available without shame and without the interference of nosy busybodies, who I prefer to refer to as the “Orgasm Police”.

    Is it wrong to select for sex? I feel that is a bit of a trivial reason for an abortion, but does that make it wrong? It’s better than killing the babies after they are born or selling them into slavery, so why should my opinion count? Eugenics is that nasty old slippery slope but that’s why we have public opinion, isn’t it? If society disapproves, then people will think twice about it.

    The “Orgasm Police” are working very hard to make it so that every act of coitus between a man and a woman, every orgasm experienced is purpose driven towards procreation and carefully thought out, but human nature, hormones, and stupidity all put that careful thought on a back shelf and nobody is going to be able to change that, through approbation or law.

    From a very cold and callous point of view, there are already too many humans on this planet, straining the ability to sustain us, damaging the planet, disrupting other living organisms, and there are only going to be more humans as long as abortion and even contraception are off the table. The end result is a lot of misery and death of those precious humans from war, starvation, and disease, and a lot of supposed tortured souls released as a result. Why don’t we care about them, who could very well be us?

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  7. I normally use my real name, but for obvious reasons, I’m making an exception here.

    When my girlfriend got pregnant, we discussed the possibility of abortion. She knew it would be embarrassing to have the child as her mother was an evangelical Christian. My response was that I would support her decision, but that I thought strongly that an abortion would be fatal to our relationship. At length, she decided to have the child, and we got married.

    When he was born, I called her mother to give her the news. Her first reaction: “So soon??” Clearly, she was dismayed that the child was conceived before we got married. But that was the very last time she mentioned that issue, and my wife and I have never mentioned it between us.

    43 years later we have two grandchildren. It was the right decision for us, and obviously to this day I am completely against that particular abortion.

    But that said, I have always supported the absolute legal right of a woman to terminate a pregnancy for any reason whatever. It’s not any business of strangers to interfere in any way. The decision is hers and hers alone. Still, I am always hopeful that she (whoever she is) will find a reason to not abort. How could anybody be in favor of abotion on principle?

    I think almost everybody is “Pro-life”. That term is just a red herring to promote a particular religious notion about conception and soul. Whenever I see the phrase “from the moment of conception” I know I’m dealing with irrationality.

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