05 March 2008

The Fact That I'm Pro Choice Does Not Mean I'm in Favor of Killing Babies

First off, a hat tip to my friend Alex, with whom I had the discussion that spurred the idea for this post.

Of all of the Democratic talking points, the position on abortion is the one I've always had the most trouble with. Don't get me wrong, I am pro choice, but I think we on the liberal end of the spectrum tend to attempt to paint ourselves as the complete opposite of whatever the right wing religious crazies want regardless of what is right. I think when it comes to abortion we should stress much more strongly than we in fact (or at least I) are not in favor of killing fetuses as a form of birth control. I think almost everyone agrees that procedures such as partial birth abortion are absolutely reprehensible and that there needs to be some sort definitive line drawn at some point in a pregnancy as to when an abortion should be allowable and when it should not be. I believe that it should be prohibited once the fetus has reached the level of mental complexity such that it is capable of suffering. We may not at the present time be able to identify that moment with confidence, so my suggestion is that we use the existing body of peer reviewed scientific research on the matter to find the best conservative estimate of when this takes place, and then draw the line an arbitrary amount, two weeks to a month, before that point to be certain we don't overshoot into what can be considered immoral. This line could then be updated to remain constant with the contemporary body of scientific knowledge.

I think from there we should attempt to encourage women to think very carefully about their decisions as I believe for some having an abortion probably does carry long lasting emotional effects. We are emotional creatures (particularly women…ok just kidding…well, not really) and even when reason may tell us otherwise there is an inclination to act with the maternal instinct to care for a child, even if at the point of abortion it exists as nothing more than a large mass of cells. Intentionally acting against this instinct may bare with it long term emotional effects for some women, and while I don't think it is the government's or society's job to protect them from themselves I think it is necessary that the fact that some women do undergo these feelings of guilt be made known to any woman considering having an abortion.

I think this fairly well summarizes my position on abortion, and I think if society continues on the path towards the emergence of reason and rational thought in public policy this will eventually become the law. With my beliefs I feel it is accurate to say that I am both pro life and pro choice. I am pro life because I believe that an abortion should be used as a last resort only. It should not be used simply for birth control or for sex selection, but only for cases where the mother cannot provide for the child and carrying it to term and putting it up for adoption would be for some reason not possible, or in cases of rape or incest. I am pro choice in that so long as it falls within the realm of what is morally acceptable, the final decision lies with the woman. It is her body and it is her choice.


Anonymous said...

You are pro choice - you understand that when a woman realizes she is pregnant she should have all choices available to her - the choice to carry to term and have the social and financial support to care for her child AND the choice to terminate her pregnancy. Pro-choice supports ALL the possible choices a woman can make - birth or termination.

You cannot force pregnancy on a woman, which is what the pro-life position is for - the only choice for pro-lifers is birth and therefore they are the forced pregnancy brigade. They don't support measures to reduce the abortion rate (contraceptives and sex education), they don't support measures for social services to help mothers, they are simply there to ensure that the woman gives birth. It does not matter that pregancy takes a toll on the woman, or the woman may have 7 other children, or the woman cannot support her child, or the woman is not emotionally stable to care for her child, or the woman who is an abusive relationship and realizes that her child would be at risk, or the woman who chooses to continue her education to give her future children a better chance, or the woman who made a mistake and cannot have a child for any reason.....pro-lifers do not care.

Own the label - you are pro-choice.

Read sites like Pandagon and Feministe for better understanding of the pro-choice position.

Jackson said...

Absolutely. Within the frame of the labels we have attached to our positions I am definitely pro choice and I won't pretend otherwise.

My point is that all of these labels are ridiculous. By the dictionary definition of pro life, as in "in favor of life," I think I could call myself such, but we've attached an added meaning to those two words that stands for so much that is so wrong. It is unfortunate and it is likely that it will not change until this debate ends and these terms become meaningless.

Perhaps I am just being idealistic in thinking that it should be obvious to people what being pro choice really means. That we in the pro choice population support the only moral choice and any suggestion that abortion should not be an option goes against everything basic rights in this country. No, I know I'm being idealistic, but I think this world could use a few more idealists.