My friend’s Facebook post gave me pause: ‘if you are celebrating the overturning of Roe versus Wade, unfriend me’. Of course, I wasn’t celebrating, but I wasn’t angry either. I can’t imagine celebrating any side of the abortion debate-it doesn’t seem like the right thing to do.
Yet, people are celebrating. When I watched Bill Burr’s stand-up routine where he mentioned that abortion should be legal, he had to calm the audience’s cheers. Then, when he let them know that he also thought abortion was murder, he had to calm down the other half of the crowd. It would be nice to have a clear mindset on such a personal, painful life-or-death choice. Being an absolutist that dismisses any arguments from the opposition seems easy, but is it right?
I believe a wide swath of American people have been shouted out of participating in this discussion and the arguing at the extremes is endangering the chance at finding a solution that will avoid the greatest amount of pain.
Probably one of the most common pro-choice arguments is the idea that by regulating abortion, the state is violating a woman’s person-hood, or her privacy by mandating what she does with her body: “my body, my choice”. I’m a man, and certainly don’t look to mandate or prevent any procedure on anybody else, regardless of gender. However, I think one of the few legitimate functions of government is to protect the life and liberty of individuals — especially those who don’t have a voice of their own. If a woman is carrying an individual, then it should be reasonable to discuss the government’s role in protecting this individual.
Many people seem convinced that early in a pregnancy, the embryo amounts to nothing more than a clump of cells. Many women’s pregnancies fail at this early stage without much concern from the rest of society, so we must not care for this embryo as much as we do for a baby that’s been born, right? That’s probably true, and if we were to place an equal value on these embryos as we do a baby, would we start incurring investigations into miscarriages? Would society see it fit to mandate diets and lifestyles that increase the likelihood of a healthy birth? Is this what we want government to do?
But, you could also see that an embryo may technically be a clump of cells, but so are you and I, and so is that piece of food stuck in your teeth. But it’s disingenuous to argue that there’s nothing special about an embryo-it has the unique potential to be a member of society. I think it’s best to look at these clumps of cells differently than we do a tumor or a bit of apple, but how differently?
I’ve also heard the argument that babies are pests that are draining energy from their host and the mother should have the right to eliminate it just as she would wash her hair of lice. In most cases, the parents took part in an activity that started the life, so, for me, this isn’t a convincing argument. The sperm didn’t spread through chance, but, in the vast majority of cases, the parents took part in the activity that produced the child.
This brings us to the uncomfortable discussion of rape. Should this horrible act be lived out every day by the mother? Should she have to care for this child? Should she have to carry the child to term? It’s an awful thought. Answering these questions negatively means that the embryo is not worth as much as the child, because if you allow the abortion in this case, then it follows that the fetus is not as valuable as the child because nobody argues for the killing children of rape. But if you answer ‘yes’, then somebody who was assaulted has to dramatically alter their life due the actions of a rapist.
What about ectopic pregnancies or other life-threatening cases? Right now, according to Healthline, no state currently bans it. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Ben Shapiro, a right-leaning commentator, argues that no serious argument includes banning these pregnancies and points out they were performed before Roe Versus Wade was decided. If Ben Shapiro is a good representative of the pro-life movement-could we say that this is common ground?
If you are one to believe statistics, Pew Research took reports from the Centers from Disease Control and the Guttmacher Institute and they say that there are about 630,000 or 930,000 abortions respectively, every year. These numbers don’t include abortions done outside a clinical setting, including over-the-counter Plan B pills. These numbers seem surprisingly high, and suggest we have a lot of work to do in educational arena. How are this many people accidentally getting pregnant?
This sizable number of annual abortions is troubling even if you want unfettered access to the procedure. There is something wrong with the way we raise our children if we have this many unwanted pregnancies. We all know how pregnancy works and how to prevent it. Biology provides a strong persuasion, and maybe we’d make some headway if we had honest discussions about prevention, peer pressure, sexual drive, and all the factors that drive unwanted pregnancies. I think as a society, we want all of our children to be wanted. Maybe more common ground?
Other numbers to consider from this report: about 90% of abortions occur in the first trimester. For 58% of the women, it was their first abortion and about 8% of the women had four or more abortions. This report does not break down the reasons for the abortions and the study I found is cited by the Guttmacher Institute that surveyed 1209 patients. This found that over 70% of abortions are the result of perceived effects on the ability to work or study, it was too expensive or it would otherwise negatively impact their lives. I don’t see where rape or incest was a factor, but I’m not denying that it happens, as 1209 seems like a small sample size.
I’ve also heard the argument that we don’t care enough for the kids who are already here and in the foster care system or in broken homes. Certainly, that’s the case, we are not living up to our potential when we allow children to go unloved. But you should also at least acknowledge that for those who equate fetuses with children, killing them is not a way to fix our lack of care for the underprivileged. After all, while we may sentence these children to a difficult life, we don’t murder them.
This rambling episode offers no real solutions, but rather, is my argument that we should learn to discuss difficult issues rationally, and without fear or hate in our hearts. Absolute dismissals of genuine concerns about bodily autonomy or the convenient disposal of human life will never allow us to reach a safe place for mothers or children. We must continually strive for the highest ground and encourage our adversaries to take that road with us.