Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Anti-Abortion and Pro-Choice

On the Rush Message Board's political forum, an abortion debate was started where I said that I was anti-abortion, but pro-choice. Several people (mostly pro-choicers, I believe), questioned how one could be BOTH pro-choice and anti-abortion. Here is what I wrote in response....

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My feelings on abortion changed after my wife had our first daughter. Prior to that, I had always just considered myself pro choice.

But after having trouble getting pregnant, and then after experiencing the birth and being a father, the very idea of killing an unborn child became morally repugnant to me, particularly when I considered how many people want children and can't have them.

I believe the moral decision for a woman to make with an unwanted pregnancy would be to carry the child to term and give it up for adoption to parents who want the child and will care for it and love it. Except in cases where the mother's life or health, or the child's life or health, are in danger, I can't imagine ever encouraging a woman to get an abortion.

That said, however, I do not believe the government should have the right to legislate such highly personal decisions, and I realize that it's easy for me, as a man, to talk about what I believe the "moral" choice is for a woman with an unwanted pregnancy. It would be very tough to carry a child to term that you didn't want and planned on giving up to adoption, when getting an abortion is so easy to do.

Furthermore, I don't believe that abortion is "murder" in the same sense that killing another human being is murder.

Finally, I find it highly ironic and sad that a group made up basically of old white men (i.e. the government) wants to tell women what they can and can't do with their own bodies.

That's how I can be both pro-choice and anti-abortion.

I support a woman's right to choose, but I personally am morally opposed to abortion except in cases where the child or mother's health is at risk.

11 comments:

Exist~Dissolve said...

Scott--

On one level, I agree completely. Legislated morality creates only dysfunctional and destructive societies. As your own example illustrates, moral decisions are driven by an inward orientation toward a certain value--it is not something that can be compelled from another. I think time, money and legislation would be better spent attempting to discover, address and remedy the circumstances which lead women to desire/need abortions, rather than simply attempting to outlaw the practice outright (as if the latter would actually stop anything...).

On the other hand, the government does, nonetheless, constrain (some would say severely) the things we "can and cannot do" with our own bodies. Obviously, this is not unique to American society, as all civilizations and cultures throughout human history have created parameters for embodied behavior, whether personal or societal (this is, of course, assuming that such a clean bifurcation can be made, which I would suggest is impossible).

With that said, I think it is ironic that nearly god-like freedoms are extended to pregant females to do, at a whim, what they desire with a potential human life (potentially one of these human lives that will eventually be extended the same nearly god-like powers...) within them while other members of our society are not permitted the same freedoms to do with their "own bodies" what they freely desire to do. This is not necessarily to say that this means abortions should not be allowed, but rather that our ethcial reasoning about abortion is horrifically inconsistent in light of the restriction of freedom which we place on other members of society.

Scott said...

Elaborate on what you mean, E.D. (haha, I called you "E.D.").

What sort of restrictions are placed on other members of society to not do what they choose with their bodies?

Are you talking about things like drug use?

Exist~Dissolve said...

Scott--

I see restrictions on just above everything. We are prohibited from walking around naked, driving our cars as fast as we would want, sticking various chemicals in them, screwing non-humans, etc. Of course, the defense of these restrictions is that one's actions are not done in isolation--rather, as integrated parts of various communities, every action we perform affects others in a tangible and irrevocable way.

As this is true, I do not see why these considerations are set aside in regards to the cult of the female body. As a woman's termination of a potential life (which would seem to be much more serious than me walking around naked, at least to some people ;) ) has enormous consequences for the communities in which she lives, I hardly see why the lowest common denominator under consideration can be that of a "right to one's own body." After all, as I've pointed out above, not only is this logic not applied to those who are not pregant women, but moreover it fails to give any consideration to the community impact which this decision will have (which consideration normally informs all other forms of ethical reasoning).

Exist~Dissolve said...

Edit: "just ABOUT everything"

Scott said...

I guess I fail to see a tangible connection, except possibly with the thing about nudity and bestiality.

Certain drugs, speeding in cars, not wearing a seatbelt, etc, harm not only the individual, but have a specific and measurable impact on society. People who don't buckle up, speed, and/or don't wear helmets on motorcycles, are more likely to get seriously injured in wrecks, and when these sorts of injuries increase, it increases medical costs, which is felt by everyone.

Same thing with illegal drug use.

An abortion, on the other hand, does not negatively impact society at large. One may argue that it ends a potential human life, but otherwise it has no economic bearing on society. Other people are not affected by this personal decision.

Now, as I alluded to, the same arguments could be applied to nudity and bestiality laws.

So, I suppose I'm all for those too. :)

deine schwester :) said...

But Big Ben just FORGOT his helmet. ;)

Exist~Dissolve said...

Scott--

An abortion, on the other hand, does not negatively impact society at large. One may argue that it ends a potential human life, but otherwise it has no economic bearing on society. Other people are not affected by this personal decision.

I would disagree that an abortion 1.) does not negatively impact society at large and 2.) other people are not affected by this "personal" decision. The notion that there can be personal decisions that do not affect others is clearly not tenable, for every one of us are connected to others through various interlocking webs of relationships (which permeate "society at large"). Just as my "personal" decision to buy a car, eat lunch at Subway, or not water my lawn invariably affects others (even if in subtle, imperceptible ways), so the decision of the woman to abort a fetus has consequences which extend well beyond her own "personal" sphere of choice, whether or not she ever realizes these.

Again, I am not saying that this is necessarily a reason to outlaw abortion. However, it does (I think) substantiate my point that as in other forms of ethical reasoning, the consequences of the woman's choice on society (which is necessarily actual and cannot be brushed away by an appeal to psuedo-individualism) must be seriously considered.

Scott said...

You're just being pedantic now.

:)

Yes, if you choose not to water your lawn, that may upset your neighbors. But they don't write their congressman asking for legislation when that happens. They just have to deal with the fact that you have the right to not water the grass on property that you own.

Exist~Dissolve said...

scott-

You're just being pedantic now.

:)


Would you expect anything less (or more)? ;)

Yes, if you choose not to water your lawn, that may upset your neighbors. But they don't write their congressman asking for legislation when that happens. They just have to deal with the fact that you have the right to not water the grass on property that you own.

Sure, they may just have to "deal with it" (although I've known more than one person who has successfully involved the city council in taking care of deliquent neighbors and their neglect of their property). But my point is that their existence does (whether in the process leading up to decisions, or in the afterward "analysis" of the same) factor into ethical reasoning. Therefore, if this "fact" is true in regards to a neighbor's annoyance at an unmowed lawn, should it not also be taken into account in regards to the biological existence (or forced cessation) of fetuses?

Again, I am not saying that this necessarily means that laws should be passed one way or the other. I am only advocating that the ethical reasoning about abortion cannot be reduced to an argument about atomistic, individual choices as these clearly do not exist and are, it would appear, merely the phantasm of the modernistic Ego.

Scott said...

I got your phantasmic modernist ego right here, boo.

Anonymous said...

Well, one impact I can see on society is that maybe that's one less mouth that would have to be fed by welfare. I don't mean to sound blase and I'm not saying abortion is some kind of a solution to that whole can of worms (the welfare system) so don't take it that way. I'm only pointing out that that is one area where I could see a specific impact such as ED is talking about.

I object to this garbage about the "cult of a woman's body." Just what I expect from a man! :) Seriously, though, until you are a woman in a situation of having an unwanted pregnancy you just cannot understand what it is like. (Especially if that pregnancy came about by rape.)

I will agree that making abortions illegal won't stop them. The folks who want the ban believing that abortion is murder in the usual sense don't stop to think that if abortion is made illegal then there are 2 lives at risk, as the woman will then being seeing some back-alley hack with a coat hanger instead of a doctor to do the deed. Either that or they say that the woman would deserve it if she died since she was destroying an innocent baby. And that is moral? Who do they think they are to judge anyone?

Overall, I agree with Scott. The focus should be on preventing the need for abortions. I don't think it is a choice that should be taken lightly, but it should remain a choice.

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