Both sides deal in rhetoric and misinformation, and both undermine their own positions in various ways. Look, it may look as though abortion is a polarizing issue, that it's black and white, that you're either over here or you're over there, that there's only one issue. I want to throw out a few points that ought to accompany the abortion 'debate'.
First, there is NOT a current 'danger' that abortion is going to be recriminalized. Did President Bush campaign on overturning RvW? No. Does he think abortion is a terrible thing in most cases? Yup, with a couple hundred million other Americans, he does. Some people like to take the myopic path and associate Bush & Cheney with bomb-tossing anti-abortion extremists. Others like to use Bush's personal position on abortion to justify all kinds of additional anti-Bush sentiment.
Next, is it possible that a person could be 'pro-choice'--in that he or she doesn't seek to restrict the right to choose of other people--and STAUNCHLY, unequivocally against abortion in his or her personal life? A novel idea? I submit that there is a large percentage of the population which follows these lines. This happens to be my take on the issue.
Next, I personally have known bitches who have used abortion as birth control. We have a culture fostered by the various entertainment mediums which seems hellbent on promoting and increasing irresponsibility and 'feel-good' sexual activity. It's not really anything new--but the target age keeps falling. What is with 12 or 13 year old girls trying to look sexy? Is a 13 year old girl ready for reproductive responsibility? One part of me says a 13-16 year old who gets pregnant (other than through sexual assault, obviously) should be barred from abortion and adoption and as punishment for her fucking hedonism and stupidity, should have to raise a child to 18... I'm not exempting the young stud from my indictment, that dumbass should be held accountable as well. Unfortunately, there IS a child involved, and if you were irresponsible and idiotic enough to spread your legs as a child (knowing but blatantly disregarding the fact that copulation is nothing more than an evolved biological imperative to unite the sperm and the egg and create offspring), it is doubtful you are responsible enough to properly raise that child. And yes, 16 year olds should have to acquire written permission from a parent or guardian.
I believe there is a sizable quantity of people running around in this country whose only real skill (and aspiration) lies in the area of sexual activity. Furthermore, and this is key, I believe some of the amateur 'pro-choice' advocates use as justification for all manner of abortions the idea that casual sex, or free love, or carefree sexual experimentation, or dumb bitches sleeping around, or beer-blown testosterone-laden jocks... is natural, is every person's right, is unavoidable (given the fact we are slaves to our emotions and hormones, right?), should have no consequences...
"It's not my fault I got pregnant, my birth control failed."
This is not to say that I want to (or want the government to) tell anyone how to go about making such decisions. I think using drugs and smoking and blowing cash gambling and a hundred other things are on balance pretty irresponsible and dumb activities, but I don't have the right (nor do I think the gov has that right) to restrict others from their vices (provided those activities don't intrude upon my well-being). But it reminds me of the old 'don't help' thing. How many young drug-using people, upon discovering that many Libertarians favor drug decriminalization, have proclaimed themselves Libertarians (ignoring the rest of the belief structure as well as the reasons behind the support of drug decriminalization)?
How many people are 'pro-choice' simply because they know they are too promiscuous, careless, Epicurean, and stupid to ensure they won't impregnate someone or be impregnated by someone? Perhaps for these mental midgets, images of babies with their faces ripped apart and limbs torn off by a high-suction vacuum might be the best medicine. Maybe for the first time it might make some people think about their choices.
Another problem I have with 'pro-choice' as it's sometimes presented is the bright idea of federally-funded abortions. NO!! The day that gets signed into law is the day I either leave for greener pastures or pick up a gun in revolt. It is NOT the government's and taxpayers' job to pay for your mistake and the fact that you don't want to take responsibility for your actions. Then there are people like my bio prof, who favor limits on child-bearing and... forced MANDATORY abortions. Eeek! Federally-funded abortions are the first leg in the slippery slope toward the government having full control over your ability to reproduce (to the point of monitoring the reproductive status of women and forcing abortions). Let's get over this little unpleasantness right now. It would probably be quite beneficial to society if certain people weren't allowed to reproduce. It would probably be beneficial to society if people weren't allowed to do a lot of things. But that is NOT how we operate in this country.
The abortion pill, RU-486 ('are you FOR eighty-sixin' it?), the 'morning-after pill' (though it's not quite that simple right now) throws another curve into the graph. Clearly it has the potential to make abortion easier, less intrusive, less public, and less... thought-provoking. Is this a good thing? Do we want to give people the ability to easily just cancel their pregnancy? To pop a pill at the first sign of a late menstrual period? To use abortion as birth control? To use a drug to make up for a meretricious lifestyle and a lack of maturity? Well, it's an interesting issue. RU-486 only works during the first 9 weeks of pregnancy (by that time, hormone levels are sufficiently elevated that the drug can't prevent proper functioning of the female's reproductive organs). So these aren't abortions performed on kicking, thinking, thumb-sucking unborn infants. My worry is that all the stigma associated with abortion could disappear, that it could become perfectly acceptable, that it could lead to government subsidization of abortion, and that a total disregard for the consequences of indiscriminate sexual behavior could be abetted.
On the 'pro-life' side, you have blind adherence to an ideal and intolerance for those who don't fully accept that ideal. Many 'pro-lifers' are against ALL abortions, from those performed during the 9th month to those done immediately after the first discovery of pregnancy (6 weeks: when the embryo is still around 1 centimeter in length and has no central nervous system to speak of). Many aren't though. Many would be, but realize showing disgusting pictures of real babies butchered into pieces ( : late-term abortions) has more effect than arguing against all abortions any time.
Is there a distinction? Does life begin at conception? At lightening? At the third trimester? Look at US law. The law does not consider an unborn child to be a person. It has no rights. It can't inherit, for instance. Drinking and smoking during pregnancy isn't illegal (although if I believed in Hell, I'd also believe those sluts who came into PJ's 8 months pregnant trying to buy Marlboro Reds and a 12 pack of Bud were bound for eternal damnation). I can certainly understand the concern of some people--there is no doubt savagely shredding a perfectly viable (that is, late-term and quite able to survive outside the womb) fetus is a horrible thing, and could be considered a type of killing. The 'pro-choicers' would do well to see where some people are coming from on that. But the 'pro-lifers' would also do well to realize that not everyone who is 'pro-choice' would consider abortion personally, and many aren't out there trying to say that abortion is in any way a good thing or that it isn't horrible--not everyone who chooses abortion is a heartless monster. Having already explained what I think of some of the 'pro choice' movement, I'll point out my own opinion here that I do believe there is a marked difference in what abortion is which depends on its chronology. An eight week old embryo is 'alive'. On the other hand, it has no central nervous system, no developed brain, no independent movement, and it cannot survive outside the womb for even a minute. An eight month old fetus is the reverse of all these characteristics. Of course there is alot of time in between... but this is where I make my own distinction.
But many 'pro-lifers' go beyond abortion and on to 'reproductive rights' writ large. For instance, amniocentesis is a prenatal genetic testing method which can be used to screen for a variety of disorders such as Down Syndrome, Tay-Sachs, sickle-cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, and hundreds of others. It increases the chances of miscarriage from about 3% to about 3.33% (an 11% increase). In the vast majority of tests done (95%), no genetic problems are detected. Amniocentesis (along with a couple other methods of genetic screening) are ways of providing for the parents information based on facts, not hopes, dreams, or wishes. It is true that test results sometimes convince parents to choose abortion. Often the decision comes after the revelation that the fetus has a crippling or fatal genetic defect and will be severely handicapped in one or more ways or will have little chance of long term survival. These abortions account for far less than 1% of all abortions performed annually in the US (although it must be said that genetic screening is only used for a fraction of pregnancies). Apparently these abortions (which many would consider the humane thing to do) and this small increased risk of miscarriage is too much for many 'pro-lifers'.
The debate will heat up in the coming years as better genetic screening techniques are developed and as more about the human genome and proteomics is discovered. Stem cell research is already a point of contention between many of the same groups who are staunchly anti-abortion and 'pro-choice'. At some point, parents may be able to actually manipulate the genetic traits of their offspring (in order to prevent genetic disorders, or even to ensure straight teeth or perfect vision--which are defects that are attended to today after birth at great cost and intrusiveness). This will cause more bitter debate over the 'sanctity of life' and the role of the soul. Clearly it is not a stretch to say that someone's position on these issues can be inferred from his or her position on abortion. And in fact, what you see is that out there in the real world of lobbying and activist groups, the issues do go hand in hand.
Let's swallow a dose of reality. People are GOING to have abortions because they screwed up and don't want to face the consequences. People had abortions before RvW. They were called illegal abortions. My mother's college friend Carol had a black market abortion. Screwed up her reproductive tract permanently. She suffers chronic problems and is sterile. If abortion suddenly went illegal, the black market for abortions would explode. People would travel to Canada for their abortions (some would probably make it an annual tradition). The 'War on Abortion' would take off. There would be an 'Abortion Czar' fer chrissakes. And our jails would be filled with people who in the eyes of many did nothing wrong. This would be legislating morality. Again, my position is that morality should not be *legislated*.
During my two year stint at the University of Dallas, which is a hardcore Catholic school, I encountered a point of view which didn't seem to make much real world sense to me. Many Catholics are philosophically opposed to both abortion and birth control, even for married couples. If you just gotta have sex like it's burnin a hole in your pocket, is not birth control a pretty logical (and more or less responsible) means of preventing pregnancy, and therefore the possibility of abortion? Isn't birth control the lesser of two 'evils'? A minority opinion was that sex should not be undertaken under any circumstance other than for the purpose of reproduction. The textbook manager at the bookstore (my boss) was part of this hardline subgroup. Hmmm.
Finally, I'd like to say something about statistics. Statistics have been known to facilitate the dissemination of misinformation and biased propoganda. Both UNT camps used statistics to their own advantage. Somebody was just flat wrong on some points, as a matter of course. Somebody was lying (or was lied to). The most disturbing part was the lack of references and sources. This diary is exempt from this complaint of course, as this is an editorial (actually, it's a private diary, not intended for anyone to read but myself).
Conclusion: I'm Pro-Choice... and I think late-term abortion is terrible, abortion as rote birth control is aberrant, and justifying abortion with the idea that humans have no control over themselves and ought to be immune to the results of their own ignorance and indiscretion is offensive. I have no moral qualms against genetic research, genetic counseling and screening, stem cell research, abortion for humane or life-saving purposes, and careful application in the future of benevolent (defect-cancelling) genetic manipulation. I discern a large difference between abortion at 8 weeks and abortion at 8 months which is a personal opinion having to do with brain and CNS development, independent movement, and viability. I also see in a more favorable light someone who is decisive enough to have an abortion *right away* as opposed to waiting until she's got a living person inside her. However, I feel abortion by others is a choice which doesn't 'pick my pocket nor break my leg'. I think indiscriminate and unprotected sex which leads to pregnancy ought not be so acceptable and 'natural' as it has become.
This was not intended to be a coherent or convincing essay (obviously; the writing sucks and is all over the place), just one of my daily rants on a specific topic. I hope I've offended everyone equally. If you feel that you've been left unfairly unoffended, please send me an email with a short message about your opinion and I will endeavour to alienate myself from you as well. I invite all comments.