Tuesday, March 07, 2006Abortion Statement
So, let's lighten the mood around here for a minute and talk about abortion, shall we?
This is one of those subjects I'm always reluctant to undertake on the blog -- not because I don't think most of my readers are sympathetic, not because I'm fearful of condemnation, not because I'm not confident in the correctness of my position; but only because there's a level on which the question can never be answered completely. Rationality will get you 95% of the way to a definitive answer regarding abortion, but that last 5% is untouchable by logic. It's the same 5% that values human life over the lives of animals; the same 5% that makes us value our friends and families over strangers; the same primal 5% that wants to protect the helpless, even when there's no "rational" reason to do so. It's this last little bit that makes the question so hard to deal with.
But still, deal with it we must: abortion is over in South Dakota; Mississippi is likely next; Tennessee is flirting with the idea as well. "No abortion, no exceptions for rape or incest; women are beholden to the wishes of the men who impregnated them." This is what the pro-lifers want for us. They say it's about life; I call bullshit. It's really about sex, and it's about keeping women in their place.
(That I should even have to point this out, 30 years after the second women's movement, is tragic.)
Let's consider the problem.
The religious declare that their faith forbids them to kill or to be party to killing. (We'll set aside war and the death penalty for the sake of argument -- that would put the lie to the claim before I've even gotten to have any fun with it.) God, they say, creates every human being and imbues them at conception with the dignity of Humanity and the right to live. (Again, we'll set aside that not everyone believes that, and that in the United States we are all protected from the faith of other people, for the sake of the argument.) Thus, aborting a fetus is murder, and as people of faith, they are required to condemn abortion. The argument isn't really backed up by their larger behavioral patterns, but it's straightforward enough in its own way. The assumption we're left with is this: abortions must end, in order to preserve the dignity of every Human Life.
With me? Of course you are, you're a clever little sausage.
One of the first problems we run up against is that so far we're dealing only with theory, not reality. Science has no opinion on the dignity of Human Life; history has no opinion on the dignity of Human Life; the Bible itself metes out a harsher punishment (death) for eating shrimp than it does for killing an unborn baby (a monetary fine.) And then there's fact to contend with: humanity has never existed without abortion. It has always been with us, it will always be with us (have you noticed that women are already starting to dig the old knowledge up and share it amongst themselves again?) and without safe, medical intervention it carries risks quite apart from the risk of offending the gods. American abortion law (as it still tenuously stands) was never about the Life of a fetus; it's about the Life of a woman.
Women used to die from abortions. Women were mutilated by abortions. It happened every damn day. Our laws were written to protect life -- the life of women doing something that women have sometimes been forced by circumstance to do since our species developed an understanding of the processes involved. It's a difficult ethical question, nobody denies that -- which life is most worth salvaging?
In an ideal world, of course, the choice would be rendered unnecessary. And that's the rub. See, the weird thing about our current crop of pro-lifers is that it's not just about "stopping abortion" with them -- it's about stopping contraception, too -- contraception, of course, being the best, easiest, safest, cheapest way to prevent abortion. The republican administration is quietly blocking the approval of effective emergency contraception for over-the-counter sale, and red states are lining up to allow pro-lifers to deny not only the morning-after pill but ALL contraception to women. They combat Planned Parenthood clinics whose activities are much more about preventing pregnancy than about providing abortions. They battle against meaningful sex education in public schools, denying young men and women the facts they need to prevent disease and pregnancy.
They would rather see women forced to give birth and their babies forced to grow up in poverty than prevent pregnancy in the first place. They would rather have teenagers get sick, get pregnant, and live in ignorance than give them condoms with which to protect themselves. And yet, they say, this is about the dignity of Human Life. Their proposed laws are about preserving Human Life. That's what they say.
When we have a society in which:
- no child goes unfed or uneducated
- every child has a doctor to go to, clothes to wear, and a safe home to live in, regardless of the economic situation into which they were born
- every Person of Faith has personally put as much effort into protecting existing children as they have into protecting children who have not yet even been conceived
- every child, of every color, religion, and nationality is regarded as the same as our own children
- no woman is forced to choose between caring for her child and caring for herself
- every father is held responsible, and assumes an equal share of the burden of being a parent
- every woman capable of conceiving a child is given full, easy, and private access to every available method of preventing an unwanted conception
- every baby can be born into a family that wants it and loves it and has the resources with which to raise it
- and every parent is afforded the full protections of parental leave, and given every necessary tool to see to the wellbeing of their offspring...
... when you Good Christian People get that lot taken care of, when you acknowledge and address your own personal role in the "murder" of every aborted fetus -- hell, when you even make a significant, good-faith effort in that general direction -- then I'd be happy to re-visit the subject of abortion with you. That sounds like a world that could be free of abortion, and it sounds like an all-around cool place to live. That sounds like the kind of change we could all get behind. That's the kind of change that would have a huge impact in preserving the dignity of Human Life -- every Life, of every Human Being. I look forward to working with you on the project.
But until then, you can keep your fucking cross out of my uterus, thanks very much, you fucking hateful, hypocritical liars. Your laws don't protect life, they just shift the death to someone else: to the poor; to the women who "deserve" death, mutiliation, poverty and the cruel punishment of laboring while shackled to their maternity bed; and to their children who incur a lifetime of deprivation for the mistake of choosing the wrong womb in which to be conceived. Your laws and your philosophy are the half-assed, easy way to "protect life" -- the way that doesn't require anything of you except to be a self-righteous asshole. Truly protecting life and human dignity requires sacrifice, introspection, practicality, and the co-operation of entire societies -- things that you are clearly not prepared to engage in. Protecting life is harder than you and your fundamentalist God-cum-Sky-Buddy can even bear to think about. Your way is the coward's way, and I have no use for it. So you can expect to see me spitting on your so-called "Christian" laws from now until the day Jesus comes back and slaps that smirk off your face. |