Blog For Choice Day: a reply

A warning to regular visitors that this post is not the usual fluffy, “Isn’t it shocking that a knight of the realm can get away with using a split infinitive” type of post, but a reply to a pro-abortion post on a friend’s blog, which inspired me to attempt some type of redress. Hopefully, although I take a very different view, we can remain friends, despite me, apparently, being misogyny incarnate.

Of course in the interests of balance I would encourage visitors to read the original post first, not least because I attempt to reply specifically to the points made. I would also recommend her blog as a very good source of comment on a range of issues of social justice.

Yes, the language, editing and use of sound at this point in the film, “The Silent Scream” are suspect (warm fluffy music accompanies ultrasound scans, horror film blasts announce photos of foetal remains, and there is a hysterical attempt to argue that American women shouldn’t have abortions because some clinics are a front for the Mafia!) Stylistically it gives off the uneasy air of an 80s time-share promotional movie, but behind the obvious partiality, the images alone question the “just a collection of cells” argument.

IVF does allow childless couples to have children which they otherwise wouldn’t, but because of the low success rate of the technique, multiple embryos are routinely implanted, and the weaker ones usually aborted later. It is this which pro-lifers find objectionable, and I’d be very surprised if an official Catholic newspaper referred to fertility treatment as ‘evil’.

I’m also surprised that at school you’d “only ever heard ‘pro-life’ arguments”, as exam boards demand evidence of assessing multiple points of view, and results are everything nowadays, even more so than fundamentalist dogma.

You say “Things just aren’t as clear-cut as the anti-choice lobby like to suggest.” But you later claim that “Those who are anti-choice are anti-women” and “Women must always be given the right to choose what happens to her body. It’s as simple, and as complicated, as that.”

So it’s only the arguments against abortion that aren’t clear-cut?

The issue of abortion is about balancing the rights and needs of women against the rights and needs of unborn children. If you’ll allow me my own example, as a former teacher I have worked with (at least one, to my knowledge) teenager who was conceived by rape, and although this person had a difficult reality to deal with, they were an example to me that being aborted is terribly detrimental to an embryo’s health, soul, mind and life.

Those who oppose the death penalty are anti-choice. Those who oppose gun ownership are anti-choice. Those who support laws against drink-driving, fly-tipping, prostitution, tax evasion, just about every unlawful thing going, are anti-choice. In a liberal democracy we submit to laws which limit our choices when the result of those choices could deny someone else’s rights. We do this because we demand the same legal protection of our rights.

When applied to human agents the above paragraph is fairly uncontroversial (unless you’re a member of the NRA or live in Texas). Hopefully if we can agree on that, then maybe we can agree that the only point of contention worth discussing between these two positions is whether an unborn foetus counts as a human life, and is therefore subject to the same protection, or not.

You define the cells inside the woman’s womb as “[living] off the woman’s body and nutrients, and without her it would not exist or live.” Changing medical provision means that the point during pregnancy at which this definition ceases to apply (whilst always difficult to say with certainty,) is also changing. Can it be that the criteria for what counts as a baby is not defined by the state of the foetus, but of the medical environment that awaits it? If so, what if it became possible to bring a foetus to term in an artificial womb? Would that rule out all abortion?

This is a slight red herring of course, because your argument is that the right of the woman to decide is absolute, presumably regardless of the viability of the foetus, as you don’t say otherwise. If this is the case, then it’s unclear what is the distinction between terminating a foetus and drowning a new born baby. Both may provide some advantage to the mother at the cost of the offspring.

Assuming you don’t actually approve of murdering babies, can you clarify at what point the rights of the child should be considered, if not at conception, if not at viability in the absence of the mother (which due to medical improvements tends towards conception anyway), then only at birth? Surely there’s more to it than “in the womb – bad, out of the womb – good”?
I’m not trying to be controversial for the sake of it. Despite sharing your unease about the Catholic position on many other important issues, I am genuinely confused as to how the pro-abortion argument is so prevalent in a civilised society, as it seems to be predicated on favouring the needs of the strong over the needs of the weak. From my limited perspective as a man, feminism springs from the injustice that women are disadvantaged at the hands of men due to institutionalised laws, traditions, prejudices, etc.. which stem from the historical ability of man to subjugate women due to relative physical dominance. Hence the truth that abortion is a feminist issue because men can and do culturally, emotionally, and in many cases geographically, escape the physical reality of pregnancy, at the expense of women. But abortion is also a “foetusist”, or pro-life issue because women can and do emotionally and medically escape the same reality, by exerting their physical dominance over the embryo.

In the same way that it could be considered crude to describe feminism as being anti-men, could the same be said for describing being pro-life as being anti-women?

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~ by bouncysteve on 27 January, 2007.

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