Really pro-life or just anti-choice?
Last week I read a most enlightening article on a friend’s Facebook page, re-shared from a friend of hers. It asked the question which is the title of my entry. The person who wrote it identified himself as a pro-lifer and then went on to propose that in the long run this most recent decision by the Supreme Court (in favor of Hobby Lobby not allowing its employee healthcare plan to pay for certain types of contraception) is actually detrimental to the pro-life movement. He elaborates that he believes the “modern pro-life” movement has adopted philosophies that actually fly in the face of the principles that essentially established the movement in the first place, way back when in the earliest days post the infamous Roe. V. Wade court battle that made abortions legal in this country. Unfortunately, amid the heated rhetoric and the endless public debate which is grossly dishonest on both sides both the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice” have truly lost their meaning so this article wondered how many people who identify themselves as “pro-life” are actually in favor of not only the child being born but then the child’s continued well-being all the way to adulthood and how many simply call themselves pro-life because it aligns with other socio-political beliefs they also hold. He then went on to argue that the pro-life movement ought to be supporting the ability for people to have more access to more forms of contraception if they truly want to reduce the number of abortions.
Pro-choice on the other hand is the firm belief that regardless of the circumstances of conception, the individual whose body is to be affected by the gestating fetus should have complete freedom to choose in what way she will handle the pregnancy. The debate rages on as those who fight against the viewpoint argue that “life begins at conception” and therefore any and all abortions are “prenatal murder.” Those in favor of the option to choose indicate that advances in modern science now allow us to see every single development of the gestating fetus. This gives us the unprecedented ability to determine at what stage the zygote transitions from a collection of multiplying cells to an actual living infant. This has led to laws at the state level that add to, but do not take away from, the federal statute outlawing only those abortions that would happen after said transition.
Now, I could go on for pages and pages about how both sides have their positives and negatives; how there are people on both sides who likely do not believe in or care about the debate and just have a selfish and greedy stake in their chosen horse continuing to run the race, but worst of all how there are uniformed government officials who continually and publicly make fools of themselves by commenting on the issue with an air of intelligence while expressing most foolish and obviously ignorant, often times wildly offensive, arguments both for and against. I have no desire to debate the issue let alone defend the viewpoints of one side or the other. What this article helped me to do was to articulate why this entire debate frustrates me so much. I feel like I cannot be the only one who is angered by both sides; who wonders how supposedly intelligent, empathetic people can seem so obtuse and ignorant. The conclusion that I arrived at after reading this article was quite simply that the whole debate is flawed and though both sides genuinely only the best of intentions, if we continue to argue in this way the issue will never get resolved. I would even go so far as to say that it’s possible there is someone, maybe several someones, who deliberately obfuscate the issue as they stand to benefit as long as the argument remains unresolved, but that is an issue for another entry.
Let me explain how I believe the debate in its current form to be flawed. Not that long ago I was introduced to a book series that gave a unique perspective on the issue of abortion. It imagined a future United States of America where a second, bloodier-than-the-first, civil war had erupted over the abortion debate and the only way it was ended was by finding a compromise. This being the future, a scientific solution was found. Thanks to new developments in medical science that eliminated all difficulties associated with organ transplants and gave anyone the ability to receive any body part from anyone else, a group of people interested in bringing a peace to the hostilites this: Life is sacred at all stages of development however not everyone in this world is a useful and contributing member of society, therefore children between the ages of 13 and 17 could be “unwound”: while still alive the child would be dismantled body part by body part so that life didn’t (theoretically) end and those parts would go on to save the lives of people in need. As I describe the process here it sounds grizzly and disgusting and how or why anyone could ever come to accept such a horrible premise seems impossible, yet the author does a very good job of painting a picture of a nation so weary of war that any end to the fighting was considered ideal. As the books go on we discover that it was not originally proposed as a realistic solution, rather it was intended be the most horrifying compromise one could imagine. The intent was to shock both sides into seeing reality: the number of lives lost waging the war far had begun to exceed the number of potential lives prevented by legalized abortion. However, it was proposed, accepted and despite some minor protests, the horrific war had ended and people grew used to the idea. Soon people became accustomed to the idea of always on hand spare parts. Additionally, the vain with enough money began engaging in cosmetic surgeries that would replace their unwanted, physically unattractive parts for plumper lips, bluer eyes, and so forth. Worst of all, a black market was also created where the parts of poor foreign visitors and runaway children whose families didn’t choose to unwind them, among others, found buyers.
The reason I tell you this is because of the message I believe the author was trying to convey. (Please bear in mind the following is only my interpretation.) In a world where contraception exists and where we have some of the most powerful and amazing tools at our disposal for the purposes of education, American society still chose not to change its attitude or treatment of the act of sex and child-birth and rather decided to harvest the bodies of young people for the purpose of socioeconomic improvement. I hope I have illuminated it well enough here because I still feel as though my point isn’t clear. In a world where over 99.9% of unwanted pregnancies could be prevented through the widespread adoption of contraception, this country still found another, and far more gruesome, solution to the issue of unwanted pregnancies!
So the conclusion that I have arrived at is that the argument is flawed because we’re even having the argument at all. Realistically, abortions don’t even have to happen, but in the current state of our society they are utilized to solve a larger problem that, by many accounts, no one wants to address.
Two dogs fuckin’? COVER THE CHILDRENS’ EYES AND REMOVE THEM FROM THE AREA IMMEDIATELY! Barely visible nipple during the Super Bowl Half-Time Show? THE WHOLE GODDMANED GOVERNMENT LOST ITS MIND!! Mandatory sex education in public schools? HOW DARE YOU TRY TO TALK TO MY CHILDREN ABOUT SOMETHING THAT I AM NOT AT ALL COMFORTABLE WITH TALKING TO THEM ABOUT MYSELF!!!
I feel like on one side we have people saying, “We’re just animals man, why deny our natural urges, just do what feels good,” to justify the having of sex whenever, wherever, with no judgement. The other side isn’t any better though with its mantra of, “Sex is horrible and dirty and Jesus sees you sinning and unless you want to have a baby don’t ever do it and you better not enjoy yourself then either!”
Friends of mine commented on this article on my Facebook page. One argued that unless you’re absolutely in need of birth control for medical reasons, government money, either in the form of an entitlement program or through the government provided healthcare insurance, should not be used to pay for your recreational sex protection. They point to Sandra Fluke’s testimony as an entire generation of people saying, “Sex is just something that happens and we can’t help it if we’re gonna do it so the government needs to protect me from myself because clearly I cannot be trusted to do the same.” From that perspective, it makes sense. However Sandra Fluke going before a board of government officials to elaborate on this need is just another sympton of the same problem that we’re using abortion to resolve. The counterpoint was made, “whose business is it of yours what anyone does with his or her own body?” I’m not defending either viewpoint, simply pointing out that this too is just one more sympton of the underlying problem.
Another friend asked me why I thought no longer treating sex as something dirty and shameful and as something to hide would have any effect on the number of abortions and then admitted they couldn’t finish the article because the perspective disgusted them. I am more than happy to explain why I think that. I grew up knowing very little about sex except what I could puzzle out on my own (i.e. men have a prong, women have a hole, obviously the prong goes into the hole, babies don’t come out of the butt, so that must be where babies come from) and stumbling upon my dad’s collection of adult magazines didn’t help much. My parents tried to have the “birds and the bees” conversation with me but to my best recollection, all I got out of it was, “You’re at an age where you can have sex, sex makes babies and we’re not ready to be grandparents, don’t have sex, don’t make a baby, or else.” That’s it. It was never talked about otherwise. When I finally did have sex and I had serious questions about it, I felt like I couldn’t go to my parents and talk about it otherwise I would be in some major trouble. Masturbation never came up once. I attended a parochial school from kindergarten to eighth grade. I received religion classes in addition to my standard elementary education. The debate over abortion was never actually up for discussion although once, during a teachable moment my history teacher opened the floor. Granted, we were all 12 years old and midwestern kids most of whom had never left the tristate area. He brought up a fellow student of ours who was a few years our elder however who would happily argue the pro-life stance with anyone and she had an answer for every reason someone might give to justify an abortion. Some of her answers could appear quite reprehensible when given out of context of her devout religious beliefs. I suppose some of them may have been reprehensible beliefs or not. When religion gets involved it only makes it more difficult. Some of it is very naive, or outmoded or just straight up irrational, but regardless it’s not making the problem any better.
Let me point out something: prohibition doesn’t work. It’s been proven. Why do you think alcohol prohibition was reversed in this country? Do you think the war on drugs has really had a positive affect on the number of users of illegal substances? Do you really believe that abortions never, ever happened prior to their legalization in this country? Do you really believe that were we to outlaw them again tomorrow that would change anything? Look at the amount of T&A in the media right now; the amount of free pornography available to anyone with just a tiny bit of technical knowledge; and the glorifying of untraditional pregnancies and child-raising in our culture right now (16 & Pregnant, Jon & Kate Plus 8, the whole Octo-Mom media circus, etc…) and then tell me that we have a healthy relationship with sex in our culture.
This is the core problem we need to solve. This was the point the original article was making. While we’re busy discussing fair pay between the gender’s, we’re apparently incapable of actually even discussing both genders as equals on the personhood level. The Supreme Court decision on the Hobby Lobby case ended up supporting the employer in their right to deny certain types of contraception, but out of 20 types that are mentioned in the healthcare insurance plan, only 4 were taking off the table. Certain types of contraception prevent conception altogether and do not actually interfere with “fertilized eggs” or “zygotes” at all. I truly hope that I disparage no one by mentioning this, but there are also many teenagers currently, girls AND boys, who are so spoiled that having to deal with anything difficult, which would include a pregnancy that resulted from being irresponsible, as unfathomable.
One side in their rhetoric has accused the Supreme Court of putting the rights of women behind the rights of corpses, while the other side “simply cannot understand why anyone else would be upset that they used their religious beliefs to justify their actions” (no sarcasm added). What neither side failed to mention was that the Supreme Court is a group of 9 individuals whose job it is to interpret the law and the Constitution. While it’s not uncommon, let alone unlikely, for the personal beliefs of the Justices to affect their ruling, ultimately they ruled the way did because they felt it was the proper interpretation of the law. Meaning, regardless of your feelings on the ruling, if the ruling yielded an unwanted outcome, the law needs to be changed, not the ruling.
How much knowledge on either topic is the average person even aware of though? I had to read multiple internet articles to find out both of those things which tells me that for most other people it would likely be the same. Meanwhile the media is quick to point out when a right wing politician says something so incredibly sexist and ignorant as to likely widen the gap between the two sides. They are quick to point out when Planned Parenthood officials get caught doing amoral shit without giving context. Are some politicians out there saying simply what they need to say to the people they need to say it to just so that they can re-elected? I’m sure there are. Are there unskilled and unqualified people working inside government funded organizations doing things they shouldn’t be? I can almost guarantee that is happening. One side proposes that severe restrictions be placed on one’s ability to get an abortion. The other side blocks a proposal to allow counselors to speak to the women before undergoing the procedure because evidence has shown in some cases that women later regret having it done. In every instance tempers flare and people have knee-jerk reactions and then their discussion sidetracks the larger argument and detracts from any potential solution the issue may have been approaching. It should not be stopping the discussion for rational, reasonable adult human-beings who are trying to solve the problem and yet we’re letting it.
I’m not claiming I know the answer to this problem. I’m saying that we’re not being honest with ourselves if we continue to behave as though abortions themselves are the real problem we’re trying to solve. The rational, reasonable, adult human-being voices need to be louder. We need to quit letting angry and uninformed guide the conversation. We all need to grow up and learn to talk about sex like grown ups and not children who titter at “dirty” words.
In closing, if you feel that I have misrepresented any perspective or facts here, please feel free to address me on them. I tried to remain as middle of the road as I could and simply highlight the problems on both sides, because I truly do believe that we won’t see a resolution without both sides working together. The unfortunate reality is that in the current sociopolitial environment, that won’t happen anytime soon. I consider myself to be a pro-lifer but I also would never dream of telling a woman what she could or couldn’t do with her body, so that makes this whole topic rather complex for me anyway. As I’m sure it probably is with most people, but “most people” aren’t the ones making the headlines.