Conversations on college campuses and public gatherings nowadays bring us to the issue of women’s rights for having an abortion, once again polarizing opinions in pro-life or pro-choice sides. Pro-choice advocates hold signs “My Body My Choice” and “Women’s Rights are Human Rights”. It indeed seems virtuous to protect the defenseless and silent victims of government policies and harsh treatment of their relatives, but we have to identify them first. Wouldn’t it be obvious that if the unborn is a person, he still remains defenseless and silent? Which comes first: the woman’s choice or a right to life?
In a 2014 article How to Argue Pro Choice: 11 Arguments Against Abortion Access, Debunked, Seth Millstein gives tips on how to speak to “ignorant” pro-lifers. Taking on the first and foremost argument that the unborn is a person, the author counters with: “A fetus can’t survive on its own. It is fully dependent on its mother’s body, unlike born human beings.”
Not all human beings are independent or independent equally. If the value of life depends on the level of independence, than some humans are less worthy of life than others. Following that logic, murdering children (dependents) or handicapped is not as bad as killing functioning adults.
“Even if a fetus was alive, the “right to life” doesn’t imply a right to use somebody else’s body. People have the right to refuse to donate their organs, for example, even if doing so would save somebody else’s life”.
Yet, then you “pull the plug” in a hospital, it is punished as murder. What matters is the intention, or intended consequences. If you, by your actions to preserve your right to your body intentionally kill somebody (who did not intend to violate you simply by virtue of being there), doesn’t it appear to be murder? Also, nobody is asking to donate organs, or violate body’s integrity. The child always has its own body: different genes, blood type, impulses, etc. Wouldn’t performing abortion violate the very body integrity that you’re worried about (that the child didn’t consent to)?
“The “right to life” also doesn’t imply a right to live by threatening somebody else’s life. Bearing children is always a threat the life of the mother”.
Sure, fair point. But who has the capacity to evaluate the threat to life? Is it every pregnant woman, or is it a certified doctor? Imagine if everybody was in capacity to respond to self-imagined threats without consequences. “Hey, I see you walking there, though I don’t know your intensions, I’ll assume you want me dead, and nobody is going to investigate if this was true, so… shots fired”. I mean, cases vary.
“A “right to life” is, at the end of the day, a right to not have somebody else’s will imposed upon your body. Do women not have this right as well?”
NO! What is wrong with you, what will are you talking about?! A child imposes his will? Is it his fault that he’s aborted now? He is not a part of woman’s body, though he is not independent. Not everything that is unintentional from your side is intentional from some other side. And comparing unintentional existence with an intentional violence is ludicrous. #victimblamming
Then Seth bashes the pro-life argument that woman should be responsible for taking risks of consensual sex, one of which is pregnancy: “I’d argue that if a mother knows she won’t be able to provide for her child, it’s actually more responsible to have an abortion, and in doing so prevent a whole lot of undue suffering and misery”. So, can we apply this model to other interactions?
First, if I decide that somebody else’s unborn is going to be miserable in life, and I kicked a pregnant woman in the stomach, killing the child, I would be prosecuted as a vicious murderer (worse than just battery or assault). Why? Because the mother had assigned personhood to the child. But if she decided that there’s no chance the child was going to have a good life, than it is better to kill him with no recognition of personhood from her or the law.
Second, if the value of life depends on how likely is someone to have a happy life in the future, then again, all of us will not be equally worthy of human life. Yes, most of us are destined to be miserable and disappointed. Let’s make it problematic: rich people are more likely to be happy than poor people, does it mean killing the poor is not as bad as killing the rich?
Third, does the baby outside of the womb get more chances to be happy? If the mother decides that her child is destined to “suffering and misery” only after birth, let’s say, a few seconds after it, and kills him. Why is it now wrong to kill anybody, if their mother decides that they are going to be miserable? Or does your mother’s assertion of your future change the value of your life?
The author continues: “But let’s look at this argument a bit further. If you think getting an abortion is “avoiding responsibility,” that implies that it’s a woman’s responsibility to bear a child if she chooses to have sex. That sounds suspiciously like you’re dictating what a woman’s role and purpose is, and a lot less like you’re making an argument about the life of a child […] And that’s a belief that has everything to do with judging a woman’s behavior, and nothing to do with the value of life”.
Yep, call me old-fashioned and sexist, but there is a reality, in which biology dictates how the babies are made. Don’t you dictate a woman what her behavior is when you say that she ought to have no responsibility for her actions in such case? Also, a notion that nobody should judge a woman is a clear double standard, isn’t it sexist. It is completely within a normal unprejudiced conversation to judge both men and women, but taking in mind that both can do the same, except men can’t bear children. Pro-life celebrates that women can do more than men, but pro-choice see the “special ability” as somewhat a curse. Why? Because with greater power comes a greater responsibility, and strangely not everyone is on board. If you truly have agency and do best for yourself, do you have control over it? Apparently, the undertone is that prolife wants to control female sex-lives. Wrong. That is the reason so many men support abortion, “I don’t want responsibility for our child”. Now, it is not dictating purpose because the argument that people have to take responsibilities for their children (at least while they are vulnerable) does not derive the woman from all other opportunities. Not physically, not legally. The undertones of this claim that pro-lifers dictate what the role of the woman is ridiculous. See below.
Next Seth responds to “But I’m okay with abortions in cases of rape”:
“Why only in those cases? Are the lives of children who were conceived by rape worth less than the lives of children who were willfully conceived? If preserving the life of the child takes primacy over the desires of the mother — which is what you’re saying if you oppose any legal abortions — then it shouldn’t matter how that life was conceived.”
Correct, it doesn’t matter how the life is conceived, because all of us will again hold a different value through our lives dependent on how “planned” we were (at least not at Planned Parenthood). Rape and conception by rape are two separate issues, and the child has no intention to be a result of rape, therefore, has no fault in this. The rapist had an intention, therefore he should be tortured and skinned alive for his crime. That is a personal opinion.
I have to agree with his response to “Adoption is a viable alternative to abortion”:
“This implies that the only reason a woman would want to get an abortion is to avoid raising a child, and that isn’t the case. Depending on the circumstances, the mere act of having a child in a hospital can cost between $3,000 and $37,000 in the United States. Giving birth is dangerous, too: In the United States, pregnancy complications are the sixth most common cause of death for women between the ages of 20 and 34″.
However, this justification for not giving personhood to the unborn “because costs” ties value of life to money. The dangers of abortions are discussed further.
“Even before birth, there are costs to pregnancy. In addition to the whole “carrying another human being around in your stomach for nine months” thing, many women, particularly teens, are shunned and shamed for their pregnancies — not only by friends, families, employers, and classmates, but also by advertisements in the subway. There’s also the risk of violent retribution from abusive partners and parents.
In short, there are a lot of reasons a woman might seek an abortion. Adoption doesn’t address all of them.”
Retribution for pregnancy? Who’s fault is that? Are you once again blaming a child for what other people do? Besides, partners and relatives do force pregnant women to have an abortion, there is a pool of abuse too. And if you are disgusted by stigma around pregnant teens, keep an eye on them before they do stupid things, the stigma exists as a psychological mechanism to prevent other teenagers doing the same stupid thing. Now, ask yourself, who are those, who intentionally shame pregnant teens into having an abortion, are they pro-life, or pro-choice?
Well, Guttmacher Institute reports from 2004 and 1987 say that this is a fringe of reasons for abortions. Rape, forced by parents, forced by partner and “don’t want other people to know” (what you can call stigma) are each less than 0.5%. And all of them were decreasing even then. It means they are statistically insignificant in this context.
“When abortion is legal, women just use it as a form of birth control”.
Seth: “Do you have evidence of this? Considering that contraceptives are cheaper, easier, less painful, less time-consuming, less emotionally taxing, and more readily available than abortions, it seems odd to suggest that women who’ve already decided to use birth control would select abortion as their preferred method. It’s more likely the opposite: Historical and contemporary data suggests that women will seek abortions regardless of whether or not they’re legal, but that when birth control and contraceptives are more widely accessible, abortion rates go down”.
And do you have an evidence of this? Some seek abortions, and every year there is fewer and fewer abortions. There was a peak in 1990 of 1,4 million abortions, but at 2013 it is more than twice smaller – 664,000 (sorry, it excludes California). Don’t you assign behavior to women now, with such a broad brush? And what is always left out of the picture is culture or a plurality of thoughts or absence of thoughts that lead to such situations. Less abortions means there are also less leading-to-abortion attitudes in culture, not only that women have more access to contraceptives. Did you know that (according to Center of Reproductive Rights) funding for Title X – available contraception has decreased six times since 1980? No, let’s just imply that women are unintentionally, uncontrollably in need of either contraception or abortion at the same rates, and there is nothing they can do to avoid situations where they need either of them (though talking about abstinence is a taboo).
Addressing the dangers of abortion: “When performed by trained professionals, abortions are one of the safest procedures in medicine, with a death rate of less than .01 percent. The risk of dying while giving birth is roughly 13 times higher. Abortions performed by people without the requisite skills and training, however, are extremely unsafe. An estimated 68,000 women die every year from back alley abortions, which are generally most common when abortion is illegal and/or inaccessible.”
Wow, 68,000 is a huge number, but is it in the US? According to CDC, there were 39 women who died from illegal abortions in the US in 1972, a year before the Roe v. Wade was passed, and since then abortions has been even safer. Is there still a back alley abortion industry? And if 68,000 women die every year, why isn’t it on national news? Besides, nobody wants people to die during childbirth; outlawing abortion de-incentivizes unintended pregnancies in the first place.
But here we go into examples of countries, which banned abortion, which ridiculously throws out the whole “contraception access” idea out of the window, and an idea that there is poverty and famine that started in the region about the same time: “If you’d like to examine the health impact of banning abortion, consider Romania, which banned abortions in 1966. That policy remained in place for about 23 years, during which time over 9,000 women died from unsafe abortions, and countless others were permanently injured. That’s around two women dying every day. When the policy was reversed, maternal mortality rate plummeted to one-eighth of what it was at its peak under the no-abortion policy.”
If you want to compare communist states which went into debt resulting into austerity and famine to the conditions in the US, you are comparing apples and oranges. But the communist USSR, which legalized and supported abortions since 1920, had the same precedent. Stalin came in to ban abortions (though allowed in cases of risk to health) by including in into Soviet constitution of 1936 (Romanian dictator Ceausescu took the idea from him), which was lifted only after his death in 1953. And it was enacted by women delegates to “safeguard women’s health” and “protect from forced abortions”. I am not advocating for Stalinism or any dictatorship, don’t get me wrong. An estimate during this era of austerity claims 4,000 deaths a year from illegal abortions. But since the abortions were legalized again in 1954 and according to official statistics available at Johnston’s Archive, 277,826,517 abortions were performed up to 1991, piking with 13 million in 1967. It was approximately the same socialist society as Romania, with the same availability of other birth control methods and state health care quality (the worst). Again, according to official Soviet statistics, the death rate for abortions in state hospitals was 0.79%, which gives us… 2,194,829 deaths in 37 years or 59,319 average deaths from legal abortions per year. You can see where we come here. If abortion becomes the main method of birth control, the attitudes change significantly, and we see more deaths of women (and only counting official statistics). Though current death rate of 0.01 is 79 smaller, but just is the death rate of childbirth. Although anecdotal, Soviet women could have 3 kids born and 13 aborted. How about planning you parenthood before unintended pregnancies and conceiving less? You see, now it has a lot to do with culture.
“What if Winston Churchill or Martin Luther King had been aborted?”
Seth: “Are you saying abortion policy should be influenced by how good of a person a fetus ends up becoming? If that’s the case, what if Joseph Stalin or Pol Pot had been aborted?”
Exactly, a child is not destined to be bad or good, just as not destined to be happy or miserable. It goes back to “it is more responsible to abort if mother thinks her child is going to be miserable”, doesn’t it? Even Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot had the same shot at being as good as Churchill and MLK, why take away such opportunity from the unborn?
“Many women who get abortions regret their decision later on”.
Seth: “This is a pretty common argument. As with shaming of teen moms, it pops up in subway ads […] This is a bad argument. Should the government ban people from doing things they sometimes regret? Think of everything you’ve ever regretted — not moving after college, dating the wrong person — and ask yourself if you wish there had been a law to prevent you from doing that thing. You probably don’t, because you probably believe people should be able to choose their own paths in life regardless of whether they regret those choices later on. I agree, which is part of why I’m pro-choice.”
First, comparing dating with a wrong person with a realization later in life what you murdered your own kid is idiotic. But regret is a non sequitur. People also regret crimes, such as theft, murder and rape, and government does not deal with regret. Actually, nobody cares about feelings, there’s only legitimate care about preserving the right to life. The law exists not in case that you’ll murder a person and sometime in life feel regret. It exists so you won’t murder a person in the first place, because most people believe he too should be able to choose his own path in life. But yes, I don’t care who, when and why regrets something, the laws should be crafted according to rights and not feelings. Are you still not pro-choice-of-the-child?
But wait for it, the best way to dodge a moral problem still wasn’t here. “Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to pay for things they find morally disagreeable.”
“By that rationale, America also shouldn’t have a military, since that’s funded by taxes, and many taxpayers find American foreign policy morally disagreeable. Also, the Hyde Amendment prevents most public funds from going toward abortions. But that’s a moot point, because these are two separate arguments. Believing that abortion should be legal doesn’t require you to also believe that taxpayer dollars should fund abortions”.
If somebody presents problem A then present problem B and claim it is just as debatable. But no, why should somebody pay for murdering fellow innocent citizens? Military and abortion rights are even two completely separate arguments, because one is defied in constitution, and another one is barely constitutional. Yes, no state should have the right to intervene in relations between a doctor and a patient, you know why? Because 14th Amendment Section 1 “without due process” thing. But it only works until one of two parties recognizes the personhood of the third party. Here and thereafter, it creates situations where people have a different right to life, or a different value before the law.
But sure, the pro-choice advocates in the attempt to silence everyone, who doesn’t feel right in the guts about the procedure, claimed to be pro-science and pro-logic, while both calling pro-life as anti-life (oh, the back alley coat hangers!) and babies as “a bundle of cells”. Well, bad news, if that “bundle of cells” (which is an unscientific name) that was you was aborted, it wouldn’t be that you never came into existence, it would be that by 60% chance you would have started breathing and developing a nervous system before being dissected by vacuum which would end that short existence because by 25% chance your mother just wasn’t ready for you (CDC). Also, to future arguments:
If “tiny” or “just small bundle of cells” defines the right to life, then thin people would be lesser of a human being than obese people.
If “self-realization” and “imagination” defines it, than children and the very old would be lesser than adults, uneducated or dumb would be lesser than educated or intelligent, people in comma or asleep would be lesser than healthy and awake, etc.
If “ability to feel pain” defines it, than people on anesthetics would become lesser than others.
If “looking like a human” defines it, than the Elephant Man is lesser than his abusers.
If “human experience” defines it, than the young would be lesser than the old, people with bad memory would be lesser than people with a good one, and home-stayers would be lesser than extreme sports fans.
You can argue, that what defines human beings on a biological level is what other creatures inherently don’t have – 46 chromosomes is what is common. Even with Down syndrome, because 21st chromosome is presented twice, the rest 46 are the same. Yes, our (human) chromosomes are the best, undeniably. Let’s recognize the achievable goal of having equal rights under the law. Good night!
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