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Rationalizing the Right to Life: Pro Choice and Pro Life — Equally Mired In Hypocrisy, Part 2

Rationalizing the Right to Life: Pro Choice and Pro Life — Equally Mired In Hypocrisy, Part 2
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The more extreme wings of the pro-life camp and the pro-choice camp think they’re complete opposites – but I have equal contempt for both of them.

  Deceitful Dogma

As a European, I have always been repugnantly fascinated with America’s obsession with abortion. In Europe, no politician would bring it up as a political issue; whereas many American conservatives I’ve spoken to regard it as “the only” issue that decides which party they are willing to vote for (Ironically enough, most European countries also have significantly lower abortion rates).

This is largely because of a fact I’ve often resisted admitting to; America is a “Christian” nation. Practically all of the anti-abortion activists I’ve met are self-confessed, loud and proud Christians who claim that the reason they want to make abortion illegal is because it’s a sin against God.

Yet every time they say “it says so in the Bible” it makes my sphincter contract.

Because I went to a theological college, am a lector at church and teach Sunday School – and I can say, with not an inconsiderable amount of authority, that the Bible doesn’t say any such thing.

In fact, the Bible’s pretty up on abortion – unsurprisingly, given that even 2,000 years ago the industry was booming. Abortionist was probably the second oldest profession (created to cater for a need generated by the first).

In Numbers 5, God even commands his priests to serve “bitter waters” to pregnant women to force them to miscarry their pregnancies. History’s first abortion clinic?

Most Christians use Jeremiah 1:5, to support the position that the Bible says abortion is wrong. In that passage, God tells David:

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

Christians claim that this shows that God “knows” children when they were “formed” in the womb… but it’s a deliciously flawed interpretation.

Firstly, because God wasn’t talking about ALL unborn Children – just David (who was, to quote Ron Burgundy, “a pretty big deal”).

Secondly, God said that he knew David before the womb – which means that the Bible argues life exists before the moment of conception, rather than at it as most anti-abortion activists claim. This would make sperm as sacred as a fertilized egg – and every time a man masturbated, he’d be committing millions of abortions!

Finally, just read the teachings of Rabbi Balfour Brickner for a really good view of God’s attitude towards unborn children: “Jewish law is quite clear in its statement that an embryo is not reckoned a viable living thing (in Hebrew, bar kayama) until thirty days after its birth.”

“One is not allowed to observe the Laws of Mourning for an expelled fetus,” he writes. “As a matter of fact, these Laws are not applicable for a child who does not survive until his thirtieth day.”

So you know what? Christian conservatives can be against abortion all they want; but don’t try to sell us the dog and pony show about it “being in the Bible.”
It ain’t.

  Ugly Euphemisms

Turning attention back to the more extreme pro-choice people, let’s face facts: They try to wriggle around the truth like Anthony Weiner did when his cock shots went public.

One wise voice on the subject was Judith Arcana, a volunteer for Abortion Counseling Services. She admitted:

“The pro-choice movement has dealt heavily, up to now, in euphemism. The word ‘choice’ is the biggest euphemism. Some use the phrases ‘products of conception’ and ‘contents of the uterus,’ or exchange the word ‘pregnancy’ for the word ‘fetus.’ I think it’s wrong.”

“We should never disregard the fact that being pregnant means there is a baby growing inside of a woman, a baby whose life is ended. We ought not to pretend this is not happening. We’ve lost a lot of ground because we don’t ever talk about ‘babies.’ We don’t ever talk about what is being decided in abortion. We never talk about the responsibility.”

The fact is – and it is a cold, hard, objective, unmistakable fact – that every abortion ends of the life of a potential human being. Every time the pro-life movement tries to coyly step around that fact, I feel bile rising in my throat.

  Sketchy Science

But while we’re on the subject, let’s not ignore the right wing’s equally despicable massaging of the scientific facts. They claim that life begins at the moment of conception; and that’s about as true scientifically as it is Biblically (as in, not at all).

As somebody who has had two miscarried pregnancies, I sadly know between 25 and 50 percent of pregnancies don’t last beyond twelve or thirteen weeks.

Most women don’t even know they’re pregnant when they occur; experiencing a “late” and heavy period that is actually a miscarriage.

So to claim “life begins” at the moment of the conception is to ignore the fact that nature, or God if you so believe, carries about a spontaneous “abortion” of between 25 percent and 50 percent of these conceptions.

But the pro-choice movement abuses science as well – with their claim that pregnancies past 13 weeks involve terminating “bundles of cells” rather than unborn babies. That’s bullshit for a myriad of reasons – not least of which because the statistical majority of pregnancies become viable at that point; making abortion the true “choice” of having a child or murdering it before it’s born.

And as pregnancy progresses – and so-called late-term abortions remain legal – the situation worsens. Combine modern medical science with more liberal abortion laws and you’re left with a situation in which it’s legally valid to kill a child who could survive outside the womb. How is that not murder?

Science is clear on the subject. If you’re pregnant, you’re carrying a baby inside of you. If you are carrying a “bundle of cells” it sounds more like a tumor.

  Let’s Set Shit Straight.

It can be easy to be distracted by the smoke and mirrors of misleading facts, myth and euphemisms used by both sides to bolster their own position. There are some unpleasant realities that neither want to face, but need to in order to move forward and make progress toward better solutions for real problems.

Abortion is murder; but that doesn’t mean we should make it illegal.

Why?

How about because we live in a world of nearly 7 billion hungry people; and bringing life into this world that you didn’t plan is just making the situation worse?

Or what about because forcing women to have children they don’t want or have the capacity to care for is not a good choice for them or their mother? Just look at the case of Casey Anthony; and how mom felt her daughter was an “inconvenience” to her party lifestyle.

Maybe because, more than anything else, there are 2 million unplanned pregnancies every year and if you banned abortion, you’d either shove millions of women into lethal illegal abortion factories, or add another 1 percent to the already overcrowded American population each and every year.

The fact is, there are all sorts of practical reasons why giving women access to abortion makes sense – and the best argument against abortion that critics came up with is the “all human life is sacred” argument.

Sadly, that argument is instantly invalid when the people making it are simultaneously frying death row inmates and dropping 500lb HE bombs on hospitals in Kabul. Abortion is, for the time being, a “necessary evil.”

But don’t let us ever forget that it is that – an evil.

We live in an age in which 80 percent of abortions should be unnecessary, which makes America’s abortion statistics a national fucking disgrace. It’s about time the pro-choice movement and the pro-life movement threw aside their meaningless, petty arguments and came together to find a real solution to how the most powerful country in the world can eliminate this national atrocity.

Abortion isn’t a disease – it’s a symptom of a disease. The real illness plaguing America is an inability to empower people to make informed, deliberate choices about their reproductive rights.

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Comments

KinkyCuttlefish  

For someone who claims they don't like science being distorted you have a very poor grasp of it. Viability is nowhere near as early as 13 weeks. 20 weeks is considered the absolute minimum for viability and only a handful of premature births at that stage have survive (most with severe lifelong complications), 24 weeks is generally the point that a premature delivery has a chance of survival with extensive medical intervention. Without that intervention fetuses less than 37 weeks don't have a very good chance since there is major organ development between 34 and 37 weeks. You can argue all you want that a 13 week fetus is a "baby" but it isn't, it's a mass of tissue that has the potential to be a baby but it isn't one yet. Also, abortions after 24 weeks (the actual point of viability) are very rare and the vast majority of them are for medical reasons including that the fetus will not survive even if carried to term.

08/08/2011

Perhaps I wasn't clear, KinkyCuttlefish. I used the term "viable" assuming you'd be able to put it in context of whether or not a pregnancy would carry fully to term, rather than the notion of a "viable" fetus - as in one that could survive being born prematurely.

As I explained above, between 25% and 50% of pregnancies spontaneously abort prior to 13 weeks. Following that, almost all carry fully to term. Therefore there are more serious scientific implications between aborting a pregnancy prior to 13 weeks (when there are significant odds that it might naturally never carry to term) and after 13 weeks (when it almost always will - what I called a "viable" pregnancy, which is where you got confused.)

Viability is a different issue - but still an important one. A late term abortion is legal, whereas if a women gave birth to that EXACT same fetus at the EXACT same moment of development and it survived birth, and she killed it moments later, there is a crossover in which it would legally be considered murder. Where is the sense in that?

08/08/2011
KinkyCuttlefish  

Late term abortions are rare and almost always done for medical reasons, very few women have them because they want to terminate a pregnancy. The law isn't about science however, it's about individual rights, and in this case the right of a woman to NOT have to be pregnant. You ask where the sense is in the current definition of when a fetus becomes legally a person, the sense is in the fact that no one has the right to force another human being to keep them alive against their will (it's equivalent to forced live organ donation). Now we can make an argument about whether past viability the fetus should be delivered early or aborted, and many women who are against abortion but have complications choose early delivery despite the fact their fetus will not survive rather than an abortion which kills the fetus prior to removing it from the womb, but that's a separate question from the one that's really important: can you strip women of their rights when they become pregnant and the answer to that in a free society must be no.

08/09/2011
RowanMorrison  

There are some points in this article that I like, particularly the theological discussion. I also agree that we need to work on reducing abortions through empowering people to make better choices in regards to their reproductive health.

However, I don't agree with splitting the blame between the pro-life and pro-choice camps. Planned Parenthood and other abortion-rights organizations are also loudly, emphatically in support of increased access to birth control and family planning info, as well as comprehensive sex ed, a proven method of reducing unwanted pregnancies. They actively campaign for and financially support these goals. The pro-choice side is all about fewer abortions--they may not be going to the lengths you want to call abortion a necessary evil, but the common consensus in that crowd is that no one wants an abortion and abortion rates are too high.

So why don't they succeed here in the US? Because many times the pro-lifers here are also opposed to birth control, family planning, condom distribution, and comprehensive sex ed. Many of these people also believe that BC and increased access to sex ed will enable sexual immorality, and that unwanted pregnancies (and STIs) are an appropriate punishment for people that aren't waiting until marriage with their sexuality.

As for the stats that 80% of abortions were avoidable, I'd like to know how so? Based on some stats I've seen, over half of abortions were for women using some form of contraceptive when they got pregnant. So, women that were actively doing exactly what they should, in the majority of cases, still got pregnant--how do they fit in to the 80% of avoidable pregnancies you are mentioning?

I like your general approach here. I just take issue with some of the facts as they are used against the pro-choice camp.

08/09/2011

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