January 28, 2006

More on abortion

I was skimming today's paper and just had to respond to one of the letters in it, yet another screed on abortion. I totally cribbed from Chris Tessone on this one:

Abortion debate is in the air this week; Stacy Monti's letter echoed Kathryn Lopez's article and others, and the anti-choice activists once again make their emotional but vacuous arguments that don't address the real problems.

First, "choice" is equated with abortion, as if once presented with the choice, a woman couldn't help but choose abortion. (Ms. Lopez' column is especially egregious in this regard.) Just because the option is there doesn't mean she has to take it. "Choice" means you have more than one, and women who feel guilty about having had abortions don't get to blame their freely-taken choice on the fact that it was legal. People who believe abortion is wrong are always free not to get one.

Next comes the rhetoric about murder. The Bible, which the anti-choice activists are usually so happy to quote, says otherwise. Immediately before laying down the "life for a life" punishment for murder of an adult, it very specifically gives a different punishment if the victim is unborn: "the guilty one shall be fined as much as the woman's husband demands of him, and he shall pay in the presence of the judges." (Ex. 21:22) Money, awarded as damages in a civil lawsuit. And that's if someone attacks a woman and kills the fetus; it says nothing about if the woman terminates her pregnancy voluntarily.

We hear emotional appeals about "tiny babies known only to God". Religiously speaking, what's the problem here? When a soul goes straight to heaven, is that not a cause for joy?

The equation then drifts from "abortion = murder", which is misleading and arguable, to the vague "supporting legalized abortion = murder", which is simply false. If anything, the reverse is true. Many studies in many countries have repeatedly shown that legality doesn't correlate with frequency; people just get abortions anyway. But places where abortion is illegal, including many places the US has forbidden from conducting abortions, have a high incidence of women being maimed or dying from complications from abortion. Culture of life? I don't think so.

To quote a friend of mine, we Christians "are called to a much less adversarial and judgemental relationship with the people around us, and we should be even more eager to use this approach when the question involves young women who are routinely marginalized by our society." I don't like abortion, and I wish more women would choose not to have them. But even more than that, I wish our society didn't put so many women—and young girls—into situations where they felt that was their best option.

Hopefully, it should be published sometime next week.

"Help control the local pet population: teach your dog abstinence." --Stephen Colbert

Posted by blahedo at 4:07pm on 28 Jan 2006

I don't like abortion, and I wish more women would choose not to have them. But even more than that, I wish our society didn't put so many women—and young girls—into situations where they felt that was their best option.

Indeed. Many people seem to lose sight of that aspect of the debate. I would hope that almost everyone on both sides of the debate want as few as possible abortions performed. Abortion is not a good choice, but in many situations, the other choices are worse.

There are a few anti-abortion Christian groups who are focused on trying to reduce and/or mitigate the reasons why some women get abortions. I've heard of groups who will help house a mother-to-be, make sure she gets adequate health care, and assists in the adoption process after birth.

We don't hear about such efforts often, which is unfortunate. It is the yelling protestors who make the news, typically.

Teaching abstinance isn't anywhere close to a complete solution either, in my view. Some people are very good at turning off their lizard brain instincts, but not everyone is. And that isn't going to change.

Posted by ansible at 6:20pm on 28 Jan 2006
Freakanomics by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner [Amazon.com]

Not sure what this book has to do with abortion? I highly suggest you read it and find out.

Personally (and particularly as a male), I can't see how I should have any say in what any woman chooses to do with herself or her unborn baby. For that reason alone I'm pro-choice, but that's beside the point at the moment. To be blunt, I have absolutely no interest in actually arguing pro-choice/pro-life myself, but I don't mind absorbing others' ideas. To that end, the linked-to book has what I consider to be an intriguing correlation with the legalization of abortion that's worth a look. If nothing else I'm sure it'll get someone around here riled, and I just love to instigate a good argument.

Posted by Brian at 7:17pm on 28 Jan 2006
Brian -- I think it's more complicated than that; anyone should have a say in how their (potential) offspring is treated. It's just that, given biology, a woman's right to bodily integrity trumps a man's interest in his potential offspring. Posted by Kimmitt at 9:28pm on 28 Jan 2006
I could not have said it better myself, Don. Thank you for writing this and sending it to be published. *two thumbs up* Posted by julietta at 1:25pm on 31 Jan 2006
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