Monday, January 19, 2009

Life?




This morning, I felt led to write about one of the most polarizing topics out there: abortion. I am among the ranks of those who believe in a moral and Constitutional right to life, ie. that abortion is wrong. And yes, I believe it should be illegal. I'll admit, I'm nervous to broach the subject with you all, but I hope you'll take a second to hear me out.

I bring this up because yesterday was Sanctity of Life Sunday, today is MLK day and tomorrow is a day that to some, means the beginning of a bettering of our quality of life. Since this has been an issue burning a hole in my brain/heart for a few months, what better day than today to talk about it? Indeed, I believe that one of the worst things about the subject is that no one talks about it, at least not outside their own circles. Why is this such a taboo subject if this is something that is legal? Sure, it makes people uncomfortable to get into "confrontational" spaces, but if you believe in something so strongly, shouldn't you be able to back up your beliefs? I was the same way for years, a proud (as long as no one confronted me about it!) believer in the right of women to choose. It took actually talking about it to change my mind. Talking about it doesn't mean our voices need to be raised, or that we need to resort to pompous rhetoric to get our point across, two things which have sadly, marked much of the discussion I've ever witnessed on the topic.

Once I learned about what abortion is, what it looks like, whom it affects and who's doing it, I realised that there is no way that I could oppose the war in Iraq, oppose the genocide in Darfur, oppose the violence against women and children in the Democratic Republic of Congo, without also opposing abortion. In all of these cases, someone is deciding whether a life is significant enough, worthy enough, convenient enough to exist.


I take a lot of inspiration from Nat Hentoff, the legendary journalist and author, whose fierce columns and books protecting the First Amendment have made him a hero to those who believe in free speech. He's a Fulbright scholar, winner of numerous journalism awards, whose work has been published in the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and from 1958 until just the end of 2008, the Village Voice. He's Jewish, civil liberatarian, aethiest, left-leaning... a model Democrat except... he's pro-life. His 1992 article is a cogent dissertation on why he thinks abortion is wrong, how it isn't that rare to be liberal and pro-life, and what happened to his career after he declared himself a pro-lifer. I highly recommend it.

So, here are the two main reasons I oppose abortion:
1) Life & conception.
This is the most fundamental point, as I'm sure you know, so this one is a bit long. Some pro-lifers believe life begins at conception. Hentoff says this:

"Nor, biologically, does it make any sense to draw life-or-death lines at viability. Once implantation takes place, this being has all the genetic information within that makes each human being unique. And he or she embodies continually developing human life from that point on. It misses a crucial point to say that the extermination can take place because the brain has not yet functioned or because that thing is not yet a "person." Whether the life is cut off in the fourth week or the fourteenth, the victim is one of our species, and has been from the start."

I, being a believer in God, believe that life begins BEFORE conception. In the Bible, God says to the prophet Jeremiah,

"Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you..." (The Message version).

I believe God had those plans for each one of us before we were conceived. Therefore I believe, that even if it appears to just be a blob of tissue, that blob has human potential! I see it as a classic case of believing that we, as humans, know better: who are we to decide that just because we can't find something "human" in that blob right now, that it isn't? Everyday, we're getting better medical technology that helps us see more of what happens in the womb: babies laughing, playing with thier noses, yawning... who's to say what technology will help us see in that "blob of tissue" in the future?

Don't even get me started on late-term abortions, when the baby looks like a baby for Goodness' sake, on its way out of the womb. (Shudder). If you don't know what I'm talking about, take a look at this, although I would turn the sound down because the music is distracting. Bear in mind that this is probably a baby at only 20 weeks, not the full 38-weeks; this baby is only midway through development, at the moment when the mum is really starting to show (so people can't mistake you for being fat anymore!). It's graphic folks. Eat your lunch first. This is what it really looks like, and if you support it, then you shouldn't be afraid to see what it is that you're supporting. It's the same thing as showing photos of all the mutilated bodies of victims in the Congo or in Darfur.

If you can agree with me that life does (or even if you can bring yourself to say "may") begin at conception, then aborting that life is nothing short of homicide.

2) Choice.
For a long time, I counted myself as the pro-choice pro-lifer; I believed that abortion was wrong, but that it wasn't up to me to make a woman's decision for her. That was until Bren said to me, "Yes, but what about the baby? Shouldn't someone be making a decision for him or her? If that baby could talk, wouldn't he or she choose to live?". Similarly, we don't allow someone to murder someone else just because it's his choice. We don't say, oh well Jeffery Dahmer was just following his gut on that one. When women kill their children, we don't say, well that was her choice. Why is it easier to outlaw those people's choices?

Hentoff points out that the first thing white slaveowners did was dehumanize black slaves by calling them "n***ers". The Nazis dehumanized the Jews too, calling them an inferior race and blaming them for Germany's economic woes. The Janjaweed call the Darfuris, "black" (laughable since the Janjaweed themselves are black too). I think we've done the same thing by calling the unborn baby a "fetus"; suddenly, he/she has lost all human characteristics, so that it doesn't feel like murder when that life is eliminated.

*******

We've been really lucky to be around so many pregnant bellies in past months, ones so huge that there's no mistaking what's inside, and ones who are so delicately small, that you could be mistaken for thinking they have gas (!). In both circumstances the mothers and fathers have been equally excited. Their joy gave me pause: we have allowed ourselves to believe in a relative truth, that whether we think of it as a baby or a fetus is determined by our excitement at its imminent arrival... take two babies, of the exact same gestation. If you aren't excited about it, if it's a product of rape or incest, if you don't think you can afford it, it's a fetus. If you and your husband planned it, if you have the money for it, if you tried with fertility drugs for months, then it's a baby, a human being. The truth is the truth is the truth! It's either a baby or it isn't.

Well, that's what I think. If you disagree with me, I highly encourage you to write to me! I am happy, if not eager, to hear what you think.

-x-

aarti

53 comments:

Rosesq said...

Well written Aaru, I salute you.

Mum

keven said...

what about the morning after pill? what about two people that meet in a bar get wasted have sex and the girl gets pregnant? What about someone who was on the pill but still got pregnant? What if someone does not want a child? As you can see I think abortion can be the correct thing to do. I feel sorry for anyone that has to go through it but sometimes FAMILY does not come into it. How would a baby feel about being a mistake?

aartilla the fun said...

i love you keven. thankyou for responding you brave soul!

well, here's what i think. i don't think that the child should have to pay for the mistakes of the parent. if the couple doesn't want the child, then there are literally hundreds of parents waiting to adopt (i saw a list of 300 parents waiting in orlando alone...). a child won't feel like a mistake unless the parents make him/her feel like a mistake. no one is a mistake is what i'm saying -- the circumstances of their conception might have been a mistake, but their soul is not a mistake. say for example, that *i* had been the product of a one-night stand. does that mean that my existence is less worthy than say, that of someone born to a couple who planned for them?

what do you think?

keven said...

i don't think anything is less worthy of existing but I do know that having a child is a HUGE responsibility. Abortions are a sad event. I do not know if it should be legal or not. I feel sad for the feelings of people after. I just read an article about depression after having one. In your faith how does someone repent for even having one? Are they damned?

keven said...

sorry if i ramble :)

aartilla the fun said...

that's a great question keven. and no, you don't ramble.

i agree with you. abortions ARE a sad event, and the statistics show that women often do fall into deep depression (and worse, sadly) after doing it. to me, that's their conscience (aka God) kicking into high gear...

yes, you can seek forgiveness after the fact... but you have to be really really truly sorry for it, not willing to justify it in any way. that's the "good news" thing you may have heard about Christ; that He died to take away our sins. once you repent (which means turning away from your willful mistakes, willful transgressions), you are forgiven. and that, my friend, is an amazing feeling!

-x-

keven said...

I wish I had faith... that is something I do not posses. Abortion is brutal. I think I can justify to many reason that one would have one to not allow it to be illegal. I will check back because my brain is mulling over the issue more and more.

Lana said...

I disagree - I don't believe a baby has the right to choose if it is relying on the mother to live...until it breathes its first breath I don't believe it has any rights.

shinfain said...

but doesn't seem sort of arbitrary? A babies lungs are operating around 20-24 weeks inside. So do you mean breathing oxygen? So one has to breathe oxygen on your own to be human? Doesn't that, by necessity of definition, dehumanize people who need machines to breathe? And children need their mother - or someone, anyway - to survive much longer than just coming out of the birth canal. So then you don't have rights until you're self-sufficient? Until a child gets to talking age? And even still in gestation, a childs survival rate at 24 weeks, born prematurely, is over 50%. Then, ultimately, we're letting the ability of science and technology determine our moral stance... in the next twenty years, that time "needing" the mothers womb could be halved...

still seems sort of random, to me, though, in a land where one of our "National Holy Texts" on which we base all our decisions, says, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"

I don't think anyone, from age 4 to 104, would say a child is "created" the moment it slips out of the canal or has its cord cut or it gets out of the incubator and starts breathing oxygen on its own...

shinfain said...

bren beat me to it. :)

aartilla the fun said...

woops, that last comment was from me.

Laura McLaughlin said...

i do think that if it were outlawed people would do it anyway, thus causing the unneccessary death, and/or maiming of many frightened woman. it's true there is adoption but from what i hear it's not incredibly easy to do so...and sadly not everyone gets adopted.

what about rape too? that would be asking an awful lot of someone who has just been through a traumatic experience. i think religion should best be left out of it since there are so many beliefs and opinions and not one of them is totally right (sorry!)

it's a tough issue obviously, but i honestly think it should be legal and it's up to the individual to deal with the ramifications...or not.

although my last thought is that i was technically a mistake...and yes the conception part was...not my soul...but if my mom and dad had decided to not have me, i personally don't believe that my soul would have been destroyed...i believe there is no death, it's just an illusion.

oh well, that's my two cents.

mandi said...

I think we need better sex education, more access to birth control, and family planning in poor communities as well as developing nations. I've spoken to many women over the past year and have heard story after story about how they learned about sex and their own bodies. And NOT ONE SINGLE woman I've spoken to (and it's been dozens) learned about sex from their parents. One woman was given a book by her mother and told to read it. Then when her sister was a little older, the mother paid the girl to tell her sister about it! Good sex education in schools is crucial, but it has to begin at home. Telling kids not to have sex is like telling a dog not to lick it's own butt. I just read a statistic earlier today (I can find out where if anybody cares) that stated that religious youth who pledge abstinence are as likely to have sex as religious youth who do not pledge. BUT they are less likely to use condoms or other forms of birth control.
I think it's important to keep abortion legal and safe; we don't need to go back to those good ol' coat hanger days. I think it's equally important to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies through early sex education and easier access to birth control.

Laura McLaughlin said...

excellent point mandi

aartilla the fun said...

hey laura and mandi -- thankyou for your thoughts! gosh, there's so much to address!

here's the thing about women and coat hangers... i just don't think it's right to allow people to hurt other people, no matter what their size (i'm against the death penalty too). no, i don't want women to hurt themselves with coat hangers or chemicals or whatever. but there isn't just one individual involved here, there are two. and if you're making me choose, if you're saying that should a pregnant woman not want her baby that the only two options are:
(a) a woman hurts herself permanently/dies;
(b) the baby is torn to pieces
then unfortunately, i'm going to choose to protect the baby. i don't think there's any way that you can watch video of an abortion (did you guys watch that?) and be ok with it, no matter what the consequences for the women who are seeking it out. everytime you look at a baby, don't you have an inherent, knee-jerk sense of protection over him/her? i guess that's where a lot of this comes from.

adoption is tricky, but should you be willing to give up your child whilst he/she is in utero, you are almost guaranteed to find a couple that wants it, since most childless couples want a newborn. in fact, you can even have that couple help you pay all the medical expenses until the day you give birth, and if you decide at that point, you want to keep him/her, you can.

interesting that you should bring up the religion thing laura, since i only mentioned the Bible once in my post. indeed, i specifically profiled a man who is an athiest. in any case, i think it's impossible to keep the idea of a Creator out of this debate (a) because we live in a country founded on the principle of a Creator and perhaps more importantly, (b) because our sense of right and wrong, our legal and penal system, all of that has been borne out of a post-10 commandment world (thou shalt not murder). therefore the very fabric of our society is based on so-called "religious" values.

i agree with you mandi about increasing sex education and awareness. the feminists for life just published a very interesting study that shows that our society isn't set up to support women in crisis pregnancies, so women don't feel they much of a choice; abortion seems to be the easiest, or sometimes, the only answer. furthermore, abortion itself is a largely unregulated industry so actually, rather than being a safe option, women run the risk of getting hurt or worse inside a clinic, with no real repercussions because the government isn't involved. that for sure needs to change. but i don't want all of that to distract us from the truth of abortion, which is that it is one person deciding that it's ok to harm another.

Laura McLaughlin said...

whew! aarti i guess i was commenting on the thread between you and keven regarding your faith and forgiveness etc...

it's a passionate subject to be sure.

rustyboy said...

"You're not a human...'til you're in my phonebook."

- Bill Hicks, on abortion


My take? Making abortion illegal won't stop people from having them. I don't *want* people to abort their unwanted children, but can I stop them? All of them?

rustyboy said...

Oh, and the rape and incest thing? Or the awful, "I'm sorry but your child will not have a quality of life outside of an oxygen tent" news?

aartilla the fun said...

whew is right! sorry! i just realised how long that was. :) sorry about that. there was so much to reply to! and yes, laura it is a passionate subject (i brought up forgiveness ONLY because keven asked). i hope i'm doing a good job keeping this a calm debate though and i love you intensely for taking part. :)

russ -- hi russy! thanks for commenting!! here's what your comment made me think: murder is illegal and we haven't stopped people murdering each other; but i'm assuming none of us would want to rescind the law against murder?

shinfain said...

if you went to a maternity ward and looked at all the little squealy babies squirming and whining and being all cute fresh-humany... and then i told you one of them had a biological father who raped the mother resting in the other room, would you be able to pick them out? would be there any difference? if i was a child of rape (and not just a second-generation bastard:), would i be worth any less at any portion of my development? IF the child within is actually a child (a point on which i know not all agree), does attacking them a viable revenge solution on the first attacker? I've looked, too, and i've never found a tale of regret from anyone, anonymous or otherwise, who bore their children from such horrific circumstances to term...

and down-syndrome kids and bubble boys like john travolta or jake gyllenhaal... we all learn from suffering. i know i have. and it's pretty Nazi-style thinking to get into that area of eugenics and enforced Darwinism and deciding who might best be left out of the equation for whatever quality of life we psuedo-clairvoyantly think they're going to have.

and then there's always this guy... holy canoli...

shinfain said...

p.s. most comments ever on a aartilla post... where was all this heat on the Dragon Vs. Tiger Soup?

rustyboy said...

Hiya aarti n' Brend! Proud to be posting in this, the mostest postested-upon blog entry so far! Or is it??

Suicide? Illegal. That hasn't stopped anyone from tossing themselves off a bridge, nor will it ever. Just as the desperate, 16 year old girl who is ashamed of being pregnant finding some unsanitary hole in the wall to get her guts scraped out because of fear and an illegal procedure.

Which begs a question from something you said earlier: Would you rather some poor, scared, 15 year old, pregnant child die trying to abort her baby in her bedroom? You said before you'd side with the baby, yet, here's a frightened and uninformed child dying herself.

Bren: No, I could not tell the difference between a child born from a loving relationship from a child as a result of rape. But that's not my point. Imagine: You're a woman, and someone assaults you, violently and wrongly in an alley. You now nurture the unborn child of this horrific person inside your body for 9 months, care for it, then either raise it or birth it and give it up for adoption? I'd think that might be torturous and/or impossible for any number of women.

As far as raising a child with Down Syndrome goes: I pray that no one I know needs to deal with this situation. i won't even pretend I can talk about "learning from suffering" on this because, frankly, my experiences don't even come close to deciding if I can raise a child with Down Syndrome.

Finally (gasp, pant, gasp): Incest. I know that's the tough one for pro-lifers, but it's real and serious and all-too-easily skirted.

shinfain said...

yay! or maybe... yay.

the conversation rages on...

so true, we can never stop anyone from harming themselves. suicide, totally in there. drugs, check. heck, destructive relationship... will always go down. both the informed and the uninformed will do it. make it illegal. they'll still do it.

statistically speaking, LESS people will do but can you stop everybody? No.

would i like to stop people who are going to harm themselves, in ignorance or in full knowledge of the consequences of their actions, and, in doing so, harm or kill others? yes please.

incest. reprehensible, nasty business. i've played with a kid whose dad was also his uncle. unlike my assumption, he looked nothing like the slack-jawed yokel who washes himself with a rag on a stick i thought he might. and his mom was a mess... obviously. and this child was, not surprisingly, the only viable joy in her life at the time, a reason to go on. a lot of pressure on a kid? sure. but ultimately a transformative and joyful experience and symbol of what beauty and majesty can come out of utter trash... the rose in the sidewalk, so to speak...

bio-chemically, the endorphin rush and attachment pheremones and other chemicals that occur during childbirth and the bonding and inexplicable joy many relate upon staring into the mashed-together face of a child you've bourne can have a healing effect beyond anything explainable.

and, statistically, rape/incest cases are a reported 1% of abortions in this country.

now, is the thought of that degree of powerlessness and violation, both in theory and sick, cold, rough reality so much that one good thing could come out of it all? That a child-less couple could become a family? That ones own life could be blessed by a child, regardless of how it got there. We've all been fascinated by a childs' fascination, seen the gloomiest of the gloomy warm to the clench of a tiny fist on their fingers... and, again, if this is life we're talking about, is taking a life gonna really heal the heart of someone who's been through what she's been through? or just add another misery on top of a misery?

man, i always write too long...

keep in mind, this is all from someone who finds babies kind of boring.

Patty Jean Robinson said...

Oh, so much to comment about.... Trust me, I'm a little scared to step out here....

I think I am middle of the road, and please forgive me if my thoughts don't make sense.

First of all, I couldn't do it. The way I feel, once I knew I was pregnant, that baby is mine, all mine! It's got to feel magical!

But I couldn't choose for someone else. I couldn't force my opinion on someone else. I don't know their circumstances, I can't make that judgment. It's down to the woman herself and how she feels. It's her call and her right to choose whether or not to give life. (Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't there somewhere in the bible, "I brought you into this world, I can take you out"principle? Placing the choice and the right into the parents' hands?) It's her body, it's up to her.

But, I want people to know their options, about adoption. I also think if you're going to have sex, you better step up and face some responsibility and abortion should never be a form of birth control. You made your bed, now lay in it. I think that birth control and safe sex should be talked about everywhere it can be talked about. I think the more informed you are, the better you can make the choice to have sex, and the more informed one would be if she became pregnant. I don't think abortion should be an option until it fell under extreme circumstances.

I know there's an amazing percentage out there of women who regretted their abortions. There was a time I was in bathroom at Chevy's, and I heard two women come in and both confess to the other that they had abortions and both regretted it. Tripped me out to say the least!

I didn't watch the video, Aarti. I know I couldn't stand it. I don't like watching the news about the wars, and there are movies I refuse to watch because of the gore-fest -despite I know it's not real. But I know it all exists due to factors that are beyond my control, and it doesn't mean I condone them.

I think the way to proceed nowadays is to keep abortion legal, to keep debating as much as possible in as many forums as possible. Also, what I think is key here, is that you and Bren are promoting the debate, and you're doing so in the best way possible - that's it not about hate, that you're encouraging people to disagree and TALK and there is no judgment here. I think parents need to step up and talk to their children about sex and birth control. In every extreme case, I'd wish for the woman to choose life and give the baby up for adoption. And the key word in that sentence, to me, is "choose." I can't take away their God-given right to choose.

There's me in a nutshell. I couldn't do it, I wouldn't do it. The truth is that abortion exists, just like war, suicide, incest, rape - will it ever end? I don't know. But I also know that love and compassion exist and we need to work hard to make sure that people do know that. And maybe one day that will be all that is left.

Oh this is so long! Sorry. Thank you for encouraging the debate, I think this is the most I've ever talked about this subject.

aartilla the fun said...

patty! there's so much i want to say but for now, i just want to say thankyou for commenting and i'm so glad that we are all talking about it. so many people hold onto their views without fully exploring them. i applaud all of you and i'm honored that you thought enough of me to keep talking with me about it.

i'll probably think of something else later. :)

-x-

Laura McLaughlin said...

well the last thing i want to say is that for me it just comes down to this: making abortion illegal means choosing the rights of an unborn individual over the rights of a living individual. Ultimately you can't force anyone to do something with their own body that they don't want to, that would contradict an individual's right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, morals and/or religion do not necessarily have anything to do with it for many many people (and i know the thought of that is horrific for some).

Everyone's life experience is different, there are a billion and one reasons that people do things that "statisics" do not support.
It is a very personal choice (and should remain someone's choice), one that I don't think most people run into lightly.

There's one scenario that i am not sure if anyone touched on, forgive me if they have...but what of someone who has a health condition and they are careful to not get pregnant because it would be a high risk pregnancy and carry a very good chance they might die...say that person is pregnant. You are saying that person should suck it up and risk dying and leaving their spouse with a child to raise (no matter how cute they are or how great it feels to bond)...they should give up their life because their precautions didn't work? That seems pretty harsh...and if it were me...it wouldn't help matters if people were showing me scary videos and/or pictures of babies. Does that promote education or just spread more dread and fear?

Thanks for listening.

Sheila said...

Hello everybody! I guess I’m a bit late to the discussion, but thought I’d thrown in my own $.02. Actually, it’s a long post. More like $2.35. ;)

Obviously this is a difficult topic, and can become emotionally charged, so yay to all of us for being able to discuss it without letting that getting in the way. :D I personally went the opposite way to Aarti, in that I started out staunchly pro-life and then over the years, through study and much soul-searching, came to be very much pro-choice. And yes, I’ve been unfortunate enough to see some of the pictures and videos. And no, I’m not a machete-wielding crazy who just wants to kill me some babies! The sad truth is that while we as a people have a variety of strong feelings on the subject of whether it’s alright to abort a pregnancy, and if so, when, we just don’t have enough hard facts to make a cut and dried decision about where to draw the line between right and wrong. Therefore I believe it is important, however I personally feel about abortion, to allow each individual to make the decision that best suits their situation. I do not believe that ending a pregnancy should be viewed the same as any old birth control option, but I do feel it should *be* an option.

On the question of “when does life begin?”, how far down do we want to split hairs? Technically eggs and sperm are alive before they join together. So does that make every woman who has her period a murderer? Does that mean every man who masturbates, even for medical reasons, needs to be forgiven? Or because sperm and eggs are considered part of the individual’s body, does that individual get to decide if those things die or go on to produce a breathing, crying baby? To me, the question is less “when does life begin” and more “when does that life become a person?” And that we just haven’t been able to accurately quantify either scientifically or morally.

I do believe that there are many instances in which abortion is both the responsible and morally correct choice. As others have mentioned, rape, incest, the mother’s poor health, all of these and more are reasons I feel are valid. I’m not saying that a child born of rape can’t be a blessing, but I do think that it can just as often be a source of great pain to someone who’s already had their dignity and their life taken from them. I think those women should be allowed to decide what is best for them in that case. I understand the “who will look out for the innocent child?” argument, but on the flip side, who will look out for the innocent rape victim? I have to admit, I’m a bit biased, in that 15 years ago my teenaged white cousin was raped by a black man. This branch of my family lives in the deep south, in the Bible belt. Being a teenager, the family would not allow her an abortion because they believed it was murder. I no longer remember why, but they had some sort of moral problem with adoption, as well. But guess what, they also had a “moral” issue with black people, so while they did not allow the girl to get rid of the child, they also went on to ostracize both her and her child. I’m not saying this is reflective of every situation, but surely in her case I would find it hard to look her in the eye and tell her she’s better off for having taken the pregnancy to term. And yes, it can be argued that perhaps all this persecution is good for her character and perhaps her son will grow up to be a great man who’ll make amazing changes in the world. Of course, there’s just as much chance he’ll grow up to be the next Hitler.

I’ll go one step further and say that while I disagree with those who flippantly say, “I don’t care if I get pregnant, I’ll just get an abortion,” I think that pregnancy born of trauma shouldn’t be the only “acceptable” reason to abort. If someone has been responsible and careful to avoid pregnancy and has still ended up conceiving, I personally don’t think I have the right to tell them they can’t get an abortion. Honestly, for myself, I don’t believe it’s necessarily wrong. As Laura said, what of those for whom it’s medically dangerous? What about those who can’t afford to have a baby, what of those who are likely to pass on genetic defects? Not all of these issues are solved by adoption, which isn’t the easiest of processes, and still requires a woman to drastically alter her lifestyle while she is carrying the baby and her body forever. I feel that a woman has the right to not be *pregnant* if she doesn’t want, and I don’t agree that the fact that she’s sexually active means that “she’s asking for it”. To me, that’s like saying someone has asked to contract HIV simply because they had sex, no matter how careful they have been to avoid it. Perhaps if there were birth control methods generally available that were 100% effective (and no, tube-tying and other more drastic measures don’t count, as doctors are reluctant to perform them on women who haven’t already born children), I might feel differently, but as long as having sex at all is still somewhat a spin of the roulette wheel, this is my belief. This belief is strengthened further by all of the health benefits that science has discovered are associated with sex. I feel it’s actually wrong to tell someone that they’re only allowed to obtain those benefits if they’re willing to go through with pregnancy, should one occur. That’s one hell of a copay!

Moving away from the moral issue slightly, there is also the natural issue. Nature has its own natural abortion in the form of a miscarriage. It’s easy to say, “Well, that’s generally out of our control, so it’s different,” but to me it’s not really. Isn’t miscarriage our bodies deciding that a pregnancy, for whatever reason, should end? These same animalistic, instinctive bodies that continue to carry around organs they don’t even use are okay to make that decision but not the part of our bodies that do the conscious thinking, our brains? And what of absorption? It is not uncommon for mammals, including humans, to absorb unborn fetuses, which seems to me to be another form of natural abortion, the ending of a pregnancy. With dogs and wolves, it’s believed to be a self-preservation reaction in times of danger or inadequate resources. To my mind (and I know others may not agree), this is nature’s way of saying, “Woooooah, you can’t afford a baby right now!” or “Is this really the kind of environment you want to raise a child in?” I personally think that is a very responsible decision on the part of Nature. Again, why is that decision okay if it’s made by hormones and not when it’s a product of conscious, often careful and caring, thought?

Speaking to the issue of guilt after an abortion, it’s certainly true, many women do feel depressed and guilty. I immediately have to wonder, though, how much of that guilt is put there due to social pressures? Society makes women feel guilty for being overweight, too, but that doesn’t mean we *should* feel guilty about it. If a woman was never told that having an abortion was wrong, would she feel the same level of guilt? I don’t know the answer to that, but it does make me think. Putting the social aspect aside, how much of the depression after an abortion is simply due to the body’s hormones returning to “normal” once it is no longer pregnant? In women who have carried to term, we call that post-partum depression, and we consider it a natural, if unfortunate, aspect of pregnancy. It scares me not a little to think that natural hormonal shifts can be labeled “guilt” or “pricks of conscience”, as if the person experiencing them has earned the right to feel miserable. To me, that smacks of women centuries ago being told they are evil because they menstruate and have PMS.

In short (well not really, I suppose), these are just some of my personal reasons for believing that abortion is not necessarily wrong. I know not everyone will agree with me, including some of those who are also pro-choice. That’s what makes this such a hot topic and so difficult to resolve to the satisfaction of the majority. But like others have said already, that’s exactly why we need to discuss it, to understand where other people are coming from and why they feel the way they do. Because as long as it remains a taboo, fearful subject, as long as people are afraid to talk about it, as long as both sides ignore the nuances of the issue in favor of blanket “right” and “wrong”, we will simply continue to vent our energies in squabbling unproductively. And really, this is just one issue. There are so many other important things we could be spending that extra energy on.

Patty Jean Robinson said...

Wow.

I really love all of us.

To have a debate with intelligence and heart is SO refreshing, it does the world good.

Thank YOU, Aarti for starting this.

bodaat said...

Ok, my turn but I'll keep this short more so because I'm on my second glass of wine.

I am stuck in the middle. I would never get an abortion myself. I do belief that a baby's life begins upon conception. When the egg makes jolly with the sperm, to me, that is when a baby's life is born. It may only be two cells but that is the definitive beginning of birth (to me).

Do I believe that abortion is taking away a life? Yes I do. If I believe that life begins at conception - ending it purposefully anytime after conception is killing. Because I define it that way it makes it crazy hard to be pro-choice. I am pro-life. Wow, did I just say that out loud??

Part of me does believe that I should not impose my beliefs on others. Just because I do not believe in abortion does that mean somebody else has to act in such a way? But at the same time...we all don't think it's okay for killings to occur anywhere in this world. And because I define abortion as such, I should stand up for being pro-life and pro-life only.

But it's hard. I agree with my big sis. It is hard to stand amongst the crowd of pro-life folks and not look like a total (insert typical pro-lifer adjective). But struggle as I might with being true to my heart I can not honestly stand here and say that I am pro-choice.

I do believe that an unborn child has rights. I also believe that abortion has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with a general respect and love for all life - 2 cells strong, 16 cells jumping, 32 cells hip hopping, etc...

bodaat said...

and ps - I guess that I'm not really stuck in the middle any more.

aartilla the fun said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
shinfain said...

i would like to add i'm psyched people are talking about it, too... one of the freakiest aspects of this is how little it's discussed, how the laws we even have now (babies born alive, etc.) are paid no attention to... it's a damn near unregulated industry... cause people are trying to avoid inflaming conversation or something? but i think it's actually one of the more important things we, as a society, have to figure out. and we're back and forth, dang near split down the middle on it as a nation...

IF (and i use "if" in full knowledge of who i am yakking with, friends and loves of my life) this is life (and, yes, without morality or religion in the picture, the sanctity of life is a relativistic conceit but i'll assume it for the sake of argument) that we're talking about, that's around 1.2 million lives per year the US government is (and most of us, including myself) winking at. makes hiroshima AND nagasaki look mild (conservative estimates there are around 225,000). And, pragmatically speaking, though neither me nor you would probably want to even admit this (and i even want to say i disagree), it's a simple yay or nay proposition at its core... it's a human. it's not a human. functionally, it's a 50/50. it's a coin flip.

all the other stuff - it's a shame, it's brutal, it's too bad, it's not preferable... falls away.

but it's a dang serious quarter toss. it's either just a surgical procedure, no different than having a tonsil removed, in which case we've got 1.2 millions of these surgeries happening. or an age-ist genocide. (and, of course, don't get me started on the racial/eugenics implications of clinic placement, racial percentages, etc... i could fill a dead prez beat with that whole sick mess...)

but to repeat my initial refrain, letting it be common discussion in the culture (instead of, say, michelle obama's inauguration ball dress choices... fetching, by the by:) is, i feel, supremely healthy. so yay, us... we're healthy. and i don't use "healthy" as a euphemism for "fat."

aartilla the fun said...

Sorry guys – we have been running around today so I didn’t have time to write back.

I don’t think you guys really want to read an entire comment from me responding to each and every thing you’ve said, so I’ll just boil it back down to the basic thing to me that defines where you stand on this debate: where does life begin. I’ll stick to science.

Despite all the medical advances, we still can’t make people without a sperm and an egg coming together and doing their little jig. So no, Sheila, in my opinion, those are not living things, because they don’t have all the dna/genetic material necessary to forming another life unless they meet up with their counterpart in the opposite sex.

What marks the beginning of pregnancy is the meeting of those two little buggers; a union that creates a complete set of unique genes, the blueprint for a unique individual. Everything after that clash of genetic material is development of a human life. In fact, by the time most women discover they’re pregnant (around 3-4 weeks), her baby already has a heartbeat. A heartbeat. The very essence of how we decide whether a person is dead or alive. Therefore, ALL abortions stop a human heart beat. The brain is formed and functioning by 6 weeks, which means all abortions after that point destroy a functioning human brain and a beating heart.

That’s the scientific truth of the matter. That truth does not change whether the baby is a product of a fertility treatments, rape or incest. That baby is just as worthy, no matter what the circumstances of its creation in the womb. The only difference between that life and mine for example is that babies, in the womb, are the most helpless and voiceless members of our society. That's why it's important (to me) to stand up for them; it takes a village to raise a child right?

So when you say Laura, that “we are choosing the rights of an unborn individual over the rights of a living individual,” my answer is that being “unborn” doesn’t mean that you aren’t “living”.

It’s interesting that rape and incest keep coming up because they make up 1% of abortions in this country, health issues make up 6% while unwanted/inconvenience is listed as the reason in 93% of cases.

Also, my intention behind directing you toward “scary” videos of abortion was not to manipulate you, any more than I did when we made the documentary about the genocide in darfur. Go to the website (www.sandandsorrow.org), in fact, go to any website about the crisis in darfur (or the congo, or Uganda or Gaza and so on), and you’ll see heartbreaking, gut-wrenching photos and videos, that will make you scared and disgusted and probably regretful that you'd ever seen them. But, not showing those images would be an injustice to the people who are the victims of the genocide because we would be hiding the truth, hiding the crimes committed unjustly against them… it’s an attempt at showing the truth of what’s happening there, because you’ll likely never find yourself there in reality. That is my sole intention in guiding you to that video (and I’m sorry that I couldn’t find a less “dramatic” version but hey, you can put lipstick on a pig…) is to say, listen, if I was pregnant, and I decided to have an abortion, this is what I would be in for. This is the reality of what abortion is.

So, that's my $5.00 worth. It's so hard to keep these pithy!! :)

Patte said...

I have stayed out of the discussion & have just 'listened in'.I really appreciate everyone's thoughtfulness & respect. It seems to me that each of you has expressed an inate awareness that abortion is akin to doing surgery or experimenting on someone without their consent/permission. Of course, it's worse than that, because the intent of the surgery is to murder the innocent person. To me the most important argument against killing a baby is that God created us in His image & likeness. And, He placed a moral hedge around human beings,through our conscience, commanding us "You shall not murder". This commandment is not mysterious. It is entirely reasonable. God is God & we are not. He is the Boss of us. We are to love one another, as we ourselves desire to be cherished, protected & loved. We are to be faithful to protect the lives of those around us, especially the most vulnerable & defenseless in our midst. Those without a voice. We are not to tolerate the shedding of innocent blood, ever.

About rape ... We just got these tracts. I wish I knew how to cut down on the amount of letters to direct you to this tract/article entitled:
Raped & Pregnant
Three Women Tell Their Stories
but I don't know how, so here goes:

http://www.lastdaysministries.org/Articles/1000008605/Last_Days_Ministries/LDM/Discipleship_Teachings/Raped_and_Pregnant.aspx

I've been helping & loving & caring for moms (that I meet outside abortion clinics) through their pregnancies for about 16 years. By the grace of God, we provide these mothers with financial, emotional & spiritual support. It is a privilege to be with these women as they give birth & love their babies. Some choose forever adoption families. It makes such a difference to these mothers when those around them refuse to support doing any harm to their children but stand with them & help them have their babies. I encourage you to look for ways to be a blessing to women who are struggling over their pregnancy. It is NEVER being a blessing to encourage someone to do something that is evil. NEVER.

Remember this: Love never fails. Love means doing the good, the true & the beautiful. It is always life-affirming. It often involves suffering & sacrifice & some hard work. But most things that are important & noble do, don't they?

I have more to write but will leave you with that article for now. Hope to check back again soon.

Patte said...

Here's a better way to get to the Rape article:

http://tinyurl.com/c9gr5j

Maria McLaughlin said...

Well I think I should have a choice... When I was pregnant with my first child and faced with being a single mum it absolutely didn't cross my mind to have an abortion, I knew I couldn't do it. But I had an education, a house , a good job, I had a great network of friends and supportive family. I wasn't prepared for it by any means but I was in a situation where I could handle it. If I was in a different place in my life maybe abortion would have been an option that I would have considered. But I guess that is just the thing that everyone is different and to have a child is a huge responsibility. If I was 16 or had been raped and had no support around me maybe my decision would have been different.

Patte said...

We all have the 'choice' to do what is right or what is wrong, even if it's illegal. People sin against their conscience & they WANT to be able to sin freely without taking responsibility for their actions. Child molesters have the 'choice' to molest a baby. Rapists have the 'choice' to rape a little girl. Of course, the 'choice' of the victim is being denied. But, thankfully, at least if the child molester or rapist gets caught, they will receive a measure of justice for their evil actions against the innocent children. And, hopefully, they will incarcerated & be prevented from harming other children. It would seem ridiculous if a child molester admitted; "I want the choice to have sex with little kids". Duh! We KNOW that he wants the choice. So what?! Some things should not be dismissed as 'choice', like whether to have chunky or smooth peanut butter. Abortion should be illegal just as child molestation & rape. Children are always owed protection from those who are determined to brutalize them. This is what should happen in any decent & just society. We are not brute beasts under the rubric 'survival of the fittest'. As human beings we are to have pity & compassion on the weakest members of our society, our babies. Those who are stronger should never be able to harm those who are weaker without threat of legal ramifications. It may be a 'choice' to dismember or deliver a pre-born infant into a toilet, but it's an immoral act to make a choice that denies an innocent human being their life. And it should be illegal.

mandy said...

I am offended and disgusted that Aartilla places doctors, who take the hippocratic oath (to care for others and reduce pain and suffering) and who carry out abortions in clinical, safe environments, in the same category as, in essence, the sadistic, inhumane, political murderers involved in many of the conflicts referred to.

I am also disgusted that she equates medical terminology (fetus) with what the Nazis, slaveowners and janjaweed termed their victims, whom they tortured and degraded repeatedly causing them untold, constant suffering.

She refers in her earlier ravings to the difficulty with this topic and how society does not address it. She refers to the "unnecessary rhetoric" that surrounds it. I would invite her to re-read her own postings.

I would like to engage in this debate but the manner in which this argument is presented is simply offensive and ill-considered and I would ask Aartilla to be as considerate to the cognitive, thinking, emotional beings reading her postings as she is to the incognizant pre-birth 'fetus'/'baby'.

shinfain said...

search "doctor felony," if you'd like to disabuse yourself of the, actually, quite strange notion of the hippocratic oath being a dreamcatcher to keep all the nasty ills of humankind at bay.

AND, since you brought up the oath, let me quote it.

"I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion."

that is from the original... pessary has gone out of fashion...

here it is, translated differently

"Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art."

from an updated version

"I will neither prescribe nor administer a lethal dose of medicine to any patient even if asked nor counsel any such thing nor perform the utmost respect for every human life from fertilization to natural death and reject abortion that deliberately takes a unique human life."

that's around 1.2 million instances a year of someone not only committing murder (and getting paid for it) but also violating an oath (if they mysteriously never read the original in medical school, they shouldn't have graduated).

so genocidal corollaries are, in fact, right on... a "nod" from an organized group saying "it's okay, ignore what you know. ignore what perhaps you should have sworn to do. they're not human beings, really. they don't count." and then they do and get paid for the grisly work.

ill-conceived thinking?

hoist by your own petard.

and you cannot deny the use of "fetus" in popular conversation about children growing in the womb is quite frequently used as a distancing mechanism... talk to most mothers with swollen bellies and they will say "he," "she" or "the baby" when referring to who is in there. if everyone knew what "fetus" actually meant, maybe this would not be the case, cause "young one" (not, yunno, "not yet one") is actually quite sweet.

but again, as with the oath, many folks like to recontextualize modern thought to suit their own selfish desires...

JAMIE said...

Wow! I came in late in the game, but what a read. I almost didn't comment, as I felt Mandy's post was starting to turn this from a healthy, open debate into something ugly, but I have decided not to let her stop this healthy open debate. Kudos to you both, Aarti and Brendan, for sharing your views in a very educated and compassionate manner. You have given me a lot to think about. I only have a couple of points I would like to make...

There is a BIG difference between aborting a baby in the first trimester (up to 12 weeks) and the second trimester, like the one in your video (24 weeks I believe). I believe most doctors will not carry out an abortion if the pregnancy is in its 2nd trimester as it is unsafe and akin to giving birth, therefore, why not just carry the pregnancy to term and give it up for adoption anyway. The reason I support keeping abortion legal is that young girls who feel they don't have a choice will risk their lives to have abortions if illegal. Tom Head author of Civil Liberties: A Beginner's Guide
said, "In places that ban abortion, abortion will move from the clinic to the bedroom. In most Latin American countries, abortion is illegal with a prison sentence of up to 30 years for women who have abortions--but there are still about four times as many abortions in Latin America as there are in the United States. Why? Because women who can't have abortions at clinics are still perfectly capable of shelling out two dollars for a black market abortifacient. And there are many, many abortifacients--ranging from common herbs to mass-produced anti-ulcer drugs. The police can't keep marijuana off the streets; they would have even less success with abortifacients. Bedroom abortions are much less safe than clinic abortions--approximately 80,000 women die every year from do-it-yourself abortions--but it's not as if having an abortion is anybody's idea of a good time to begin with, and many women will still be having abortions regardless of the legal or physical risks. This is why many people who do not personally approve of abortion still strongly identify as pro-choice." It is undeniable that pregnancy is life-changing and can jeopardize a 15 year-olds life, even if she were to give it up for adoption. Many young girls do not know to get proper pre-natal care and this gives the infant severe health problems to start out with. This would be considered neglect if the child were out of the womb, so should the teenage girl be arrested for forgetting vitamins, doctor appointments, etc? How far should we take the controlling of a young girl's life and body?

With the question of adoption, there is the age-old scientific debate of nature vs. nurture. What if a girl bears the child of a rapist? Is the mis-wiring of the brain that pushes a person to rape and kill genetic? I know a woman who adopted an 8-month old baby, loved him, nurtured him, and he grew into an abusive drug addict.

I value life and am also against genocide, the death penalty, murder, etc. It is tough to determine the rights of an unborn baby vs. a born person. The baby needs a woman's body to grow inside of. If the woman decides that her body is not a suitable place for a baby, it is her decision. Babies should be born wanted, nurtured and with every chance at a healthy life as possibe. Some women, drug addicts for example, should not have the responsibility of caring for an unborn or born baby. Child protective services cannot take the child from an unfit womb.

These are some of the thoughts that came to my mind upon reading this amazing, thought provoking blog. Thank you so much for your courage in posting this. Sorry if I have missed the debate boat, but I would love to chew on this a bit more with you folks!

Laura McLaughlin said...

I think that we've found the ultimate reason why this issue is tip toed around...it never fails to bring out the let's just say...less then nice qualities of "some" when they discuss it.

We should all treat each other with respect and love and really listen and hear one another, despite the fact that we may or may not agree.

It takes courage to stand up and say what you really believe, and if you really believe something, stand by it...but don't make someone else feel bad for doing so.

I don't want to point the finger at anyone but there was one recent post that kinda paraphrases what Aarti said in her post and twists the words around and is very offensive in her comments (oops i said "her") then claims to be offended.

It is Aarti that should be offended...and you know what? So am I, "person that I don't want to name out loud"...because the fact that you can sit there and read the entire post/thread and then all you can manage to summon up is a bunch of venom...well I hope you heal whatever hurt is inside you and learn not to lash out at others for expressing their opinion.

If you'd care to participate in the discussion, try a little patience before you construct your response.

Sheila said...

Beautifully put, Laura. I have nothing to add except my support for Aarti and for everyone else who has contributed to this thread out of a desire for respectful and thoughtful discussion.

Jamie, I have to tell you that your comment about child services being unable to rescue an unborn child from the womb of a drug addicted, negligent mother really struck me. I'm misting up, even. I'd never considered that before.

aartilla the fun said...

wow. it means a lot to me that you guys support me :) that has warmed my heart. i love the fact that we can disagree heartily and still back each other up. you guys are seriously seriously... awesome.

i am about to run out the door mandy but i will write something later. for now, i just have this to say to you: i know this is a passionate issue for those on both sides of the debate, and i have done my very best to refrain from bombastic and abrasive language. i would ask you to do the same, to refrain from launching personal missiles against those with whom you disagree; as you can tell from everyone who's written here, we're trying to stick to a civil, fact-driven debate.

-x-

Laura McLaughlin said...

ok...i am here to say that i am wavering in my opinion that it should be legal...i've thought about it over and over since this debate...and the thing that troubles me about having it be legal, is that what is to stop things from going more steps further down the line, where it becomes possibly mandated by the government. i all ready knew about this person, but reading this blurb gave me reason to pause:

"In the United States socialist writer Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood and the mother of the abortion movement, called for a radical eugenics approach as early as the first years of the 20th century. She wrote of the need for "a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is already tainted or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring. It is a vicious cycle; ignorance breeds poverty and poverty breeds ignorance. There is only one cure for both, and that is to stop breeding these things. Stop bringing to birth children whose inheritance cannot be one of health or intelligence. Stop bringing into the world children whose parents cannot provide for them. Herein lies the key of civilization."

..it worries me.

aartilla the fun said...

laura -- that is so brave of you, and i am so impressed that you have been thinking about it all these days... i have heard of that quote before and it is indeed VERY scary indeed. i assume that we'll never get to that point, but i never thought that our civil liberties would be squeezed as much as they have been up to this point. so i agree with you -- the slope is indeed slippery.

i love you hon. you are such a thoughtful, supportive, multi-faceted, honest, strong yet humble woman.

mwah.

-x-

aartilla the fun said...

i meant to respond to jamie's comment a long time ago. i'm so sorry mrs. m... i had a bit of debate fatigue, but that's not fair to you because i know you put a lot of thought into what you had to say, and i should have graced it with a response.

you said "I believe most doctors will not carry out an abortion if the pregnancy is in its 2nd trimester as it is unsafe and akin to giving birth, therefore, why not just carry the pregnancy to term and give it up for adoption anyway."

i hate to say it but that's not true. over the christmas holidays, we visited an abortion clinic where late term abortions ARE performed (every wednesday). in fact, the doctor at that clinic was ordered by the state to shut down his clinic for performing third-trimester abortions (which are illegal in FL):
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/50145.php
his clinic is back up and running, and is still carrying out late-term abortions.

also, when performing these late-term abortions, yes, as you said, the women are instructed to LABOR (given drugs to bring on labor), are often instructed to give birth in a TOILET, and the baby (who may or may not be alive once born) is then... gotten rid of. I know this sounds inflammatory and shocking; it is shocking to me too. but that doesn't mean it isn't true.

i agree with you -- half of the abortions performed in the US are at the 9 week mark. but, even at that stage, the "tissue" yielded looks like a baby: http://www.ehd.org/prenatal-images.php?img_id=223

i ache for those women who would seek an abortion if it was illegal, even to the point of killing themselves in the process... i really do.

but just as i would never let my son/daughter hurt another child for something that child did to them, no matter how hurt my child is... i couldn't let an innocent child be killed in order for another older child to be at peace. especially when there are an estimated 1-2 million infertile couples looking to adopt. i'm not diminishing the pain and suffering of carrying a baby to term in a society that does not support women in that situation; but i know that it's always been easier for me to bear suffering when it's been in order to help someone else...

-x-

Laura McLaughlin said...

i wish that we could come together as a society and address the issues that lead a person to desire an abortion in the first place.

because to me the heart of the arguement isn't when life begins, it's WHY does the woman want to abort? that's where i think people get mired in personal beliefs...because one person can think their reason is totally acceptable and someone else will not.

It's why i originally thought "let the person just take responsibility for their own life and make a decision, but know that they have to deal with the ramifications of doing it. but perhaps that is a BAD thing...because people can justify anything if it's something they really want to do...or not want to do...we'd be amazed...i can see the point of standing up for the unborn who has a chance at life, over the person who is playing god if you will.

if we talk about it like it's a medical service that is being performed, like a wart removal or something...then it DOES distract you from remembering it's a human we are talking about.

it probably appears like i'm flip flopping...but i'm just going back and forth over it because it is a very important issue.

back to my original thought...we need to come together and help one another more...change our priorities...let a kinder more selfless world emerge.

ok that's enough...thx for listening.

x

Shane said...

I think the rape victim argument is the shock-point of pro-choice just as the late term abortions is the shock point of the pro-life. Both attempt to turn a scientifically and ethically debatable (since it is debated even here) issue into a black and white issue.

We have opinions on when life starts but we don't really know with certainty and anyone who professes certainty just reveals their personal opinions over-riding tangible evidence.

Before we can ever say with certain when life began would be when we can also say with certainty when life ends, and there are countless arguments there: those with a heartbeat but clearly with no thought in their brain and their soul long, long gone.

aartilla the fun said...

hi shane -- thanks for commenting. are you the shane that i know?

i agree -- those are two the most intense ends of the debate (rape and late-term). i suppose that both sides consider those issues the moments when the issue of choice/life is most in jeopardy.

we don't know for certain when life begins nor when it ends, sure, but we are getting closer and closer every day. and in the case of something as precious as life (and at the risk of appearing weak in my fundamental argument, i'm not sure where i stand yet on when life ends)... i would rather err on the side of caution, and stand to protect life than assume that life doesn't exist just because i/mankind don't yet have the capacity to figure it out.

katie said...

I know I’m late coming to this party. I just started reading Aarti’s blog this week… I was drawn in by her adorable cooking show and stumbled upon this post, one of the most intelligent and moving discussions of abortion I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Thank you so much Aarti for starting a civil dialogue on this often inflammatory subject.

Though I would most likely not ever have an abortion myself, and though I would council almost any woman against having one, I do not believe early term abortion should be made illegal, and this is why: The argument of “when does life begin” is still an argument based on beliefs, primarily religious beliefs and I don’t think that a law should be made to enforce a religious belief.

I personally believe that life begins at the first breath. Genesis 2:7 says:

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

The Hebrew word for “soul” and “breath” have the same root.

To me, birth is a rite of passage that a soul must endure to become human. I believe that the womb and heaven are intertwined. Conception is absolutely a sacred thing, but so is the moment of birth. The reason an unborn baby is different from a person on a breathing machine (an example given earlier) is that the baby has not endured birth, has not earned the same rights as the person who has been born, has not made the sacred journey to join the living on Earth.

There are many beliefs surrounding the creation of life and but we don’t and probably never will have any solid answers about when the soul enters the body.

Our laws should only apply to things we KNOW – things we can use logic or experience to prove or disprove. We KNOW there is a certain amount of time after the breath stops and the heart stops after which a person can never return. This we KNOW. And we KNOW that there is a certain period before which a child taken from its mother’s womb cannot survive. This we KNOW. And this is what the law calls life. Legally, if you end a life between those 2 moments, then you have killed the person. If you stabbed a dead body, you would not be a murderer. Just the same, if you abort a fetus prior to the 20th week you are not a murderer. Neither can breath, neither is alive, neither is a person. They are just a corpse and a fetus.

If science progresses to the point where we can bring back a corpse or support a fetus any earlier, then the laws surrounding abortions and corpse mutilation should change. But until then we should let laws protect life as we know it and let our morality protect life as we believe it to be.

Thank you again Aarti for this conversation. Writing this out has really allowed me to explore and solidify some things I have believed for a long time but have never had the opportunity to articulate. This was a really cool experience.

And know that I hope pro-life and pro-choice can work together to reduce the number of abortions both through a focus on comprehensive sex education and support for women who find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy. I absolutely agree that we should error on the side of protecting the unborn children, I just don’t believe we should do this with laws, but rather by appealing to people’s better nature and providing them reasonable, affordable, emotionally supportive alternatives to abortion. I wish pro-lifers (and this is a generalization here) would take the energy they are currently putting into legally banning abortion and pour it into creating services for women who choose life or could be convinced to choose life if they had the proper kinds of support.

Laura McLaughlin said...

i am here to say...that today...months later...i am here to proclaim, that i am one hundred percent...unequivocably...totally...ohso completely...now and forever and i mean this with my entire heart and soul...

against abortion...and it's where i will remain.

:)

aartilla the fun said...

wow. laura. i'm speechless.

Patte said...

=)

 
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