Friday, March 8, 2013

Forty Years After Roe V. Wade

by Dee Newman

The ongoing debate surrounding the moral and legal status of abortion has been championed by two main activist groups – the so-called "pro-life" and "pro-choice" movements. Both factions, with varying results, have tried to influence public opinion and attain or maintain legal support for their positions. Ironically, some "pro-life" advocates have used physical violence (even murder) to try and achieve their objectives, provoking some pro-choice activist to portray all anti-abortionists as extreme and irrational fanatics.

Despite the adversarial positions the two groups have championed, their underlying beliefs about abortion are not as incompatible or conflicting as the two groups would have us believe. For example, those who wish to maintain a woman’s right to choose are no less pro-life than those who believe that abortion is murder and should be illegal. Both groups fervently want abortions to be unnecessary.

I’ve lived on this planet nearly seventy years and in all that time I’ve never met a woman, sane or otherwise, who aspired to have an abortion, who purposefully set out to get pregnant so that she could abort the fetus. Having an abortion is not a pleasurable experience.

Regardless of what both groups may claim, our efforts as a species to demonstrate our value for the sanctity of life have been feeble at best. In reality, we have pretty well proven that when it really matters a significant number of us don't give damn about anyone’s life but our own.

Our shrugging acceptance of the enduring legacy of men, women and children living in poverty in the riches nation on earth, our disgraceful indifference for the plight of those suffering from emotional and mental disorders, our continuing and unrestrained use of war as a means to an end, our irrational devotion to the death penalty as a so-called deterrent to crime, our reverence for the right to bear arms in order to defend our person and property, not to mention the killing of other sentient beings for “the sport of it”, our despicable treatment, disregard and exploitation of other sentient beings shows us that, whatever we may tell ourselves, the life of others is expendable, easily sacrificed to advance our own interests or even fulfill some needless desire.

We proclaim that we believe in and adhere to the Golden Rule – do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Yet, in reality, our actions reveal a very different devotion. Exploitation rather than reciprocity has become our code of conduct. We seem more incline to screw others before they screw us.

As someone who has spent his entire adult life as an advocate for all existence, who fervently believes that it is morally wrong to allow our wanton desires to interfere with the basic needs and interests of others, I have often been challenged to justify my moral perspective on a woman’s right to choose an abortion.

Let me first say, if I were a woman (which I’m not), I hope I would choose (no matter the circumstances of my pregnancy – inconvenient, unwanted, life-threatening or rape-induced) to give birth rather than to abort the child developing within my body.

You see, I believe, in spite of the fact that few of us are, most of us want to be heroes. We picture ourselves as someone willing to sacrifice our own well-being and even our life for the interest of others. And yet, when push comes to shove, our actions frequently do not live up to our stated principles and/or our imagined esteem. Fear and self-preservation too often determine our actions.

With that said, adherence to the fundamental principle of morality (the Golden Rule) does not require us to be heroes, to give up our interests for the interests of others. It only requires us to abandon our wanton desires for the interests of others – to stop screwing others before they screw us.

A woman who is pregnant is in an extraordinarily unique position. She has another’s interests developing within her interests. No one has the right to demand that anyone to be a hero, to give up his or her interests for the interests of another. I guarandamntee you that if men could bear children abortion would be an unquestionable and inalienable right, protected by a constitutional amendment if need be.

In conclusion: It would be easy to continue to shout accusations at one another. I’m sure it would make some of us feel righteous and morally superior, but would it do anything to solve the problem?

Suppose both sides got together, stopped demonizing one another and decided to accomplish the one thing they have in common – a desire to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

The alternative is more of the same – dissension, resentment, anger, hostility and of course – more abortions.

1 comment:

mythopolis said...

Provocative reading Dee, thanks. The video was also interesting. Of all the ways that humankind and societies have advanced and evolved, the exploration of earth, sea, and outer space, and so all continues to be somehow outer-directed. Scientists, naturalists, explorers...all speak of 'the last frontier'... or the 'next frontier', and yet, all those 'frontiers' are 'out there' somehow. Yet, moral or ethical grounds or realms are the frontiers we seem to find impossible to explore. And that is unfortunate, since, if these were the first explorations instead of the last, we would have a better sense of how to explore and live within the world out there. We've only begun to explore or scratch the surface of 'the outer regions of inner space', a phrase I borrow from Joseph Campbell.