Thursday, August 5, 2010

An abortion rights diatribe

Last week, as I travelled across the South, I happened to hear a lovely piece of talk radio dealing with abortion rights. The person, whose name I've taken efforts to forget, took the time to lambaste his more moderate "pro-life" colleagues for the minor consideration of permitting abortions in cases of rape, incest, and threats to the mother's life. According to this man (yeah, that's right, this man who will never face those situations), abortion should never be allowed.

I do not think I can overstate his position: abortion should never be allowed. From the moment of conception onward, nothing must be done to prevent that "life" from being born. Under no circumstances should we take steps to end that "life."

If that last paragraph has your blood boiling, I feel your pain. Even now, the sheer stupidity of it makes me angry.
For those of you who may not see the problem here, an example should prove informative.

An ectopic pregnancy is an abnormal pregnancy wherein the fetus begins developing outside the womb. It will not survive and can present a serious health risk to the woman, although death is rare. Treatment for an ectopic pregnancy is surgical removal of the developing cells.

According to our "pro-life" friend, nothing should be done.  Even though the "life" will not survive and the woman will suffer, removing those cells is wrong.  From the moment of conception, he says, those cells are a human life, and to end their life in favor of the woman's is putting ourselves in the position of god.

Now, aside from the cruelty of that position, I'd also like to note the hypocrisy of it. If preferencing one life over another is putting one's self in the position of god, then this man is equally guilty.  Practically every decision we make preferences one life over another. The food we eat preferences our life over those that could have eaten it. The homes we maintain preference our life over those who might have lived there. Should I need to defend my family, I am preferencing their lives over those of the assailants.  Even worse, if we are not living at the barest level, we are preferencing our comfort over the lives of others.    Even this supposed non-preferential stance is selecting the "life" over the woman. Preferring one life to another is a part of existence.

The "pro-life" stance has never been about life. A mother's life may be ended so long as the child is born.  Never mind that that might leave the child alone and unloved, never mind that even should the mother survive in many cases the child will be equally unloved, shuffled off to foster homes waiting for an adoption that may never come. Never mind the suffering of a rape victim who has a constant reminder of that ordeal and the psychological scars it left behind (all respect to those women who can move past this to love their child, but not all can). Never mind the poverty and hunger that a child might endure. So long as that "life" is not prevented from becoming a child, all other concerns don't matter.

 "Pro-life" is isn't about life; it's about suffering.  If you truly are pro-life, start doing something to fix the problems that besiege the lives that are already here. Until those are a thing of the past, don't speak to me about a woman's choice.

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