Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Dialogue About Abortion: Part III

(This is a dialogue between myself and a long-time poster regarding abortion. Read Part I here, and Part II.)

From: Jim in Cleveland
Sent: Monday, October 22, 9:30 PM


You throw out factual arguments about Post Abortion Syndrome. Fine. Maybe you are right in saying we could both cite studies and neither side will concede to the veracity of the others’ citations. For me, medical reasons, and even psychological reasons, are tertiary when it comes to arguing against abortion. I do, though, find it difficult to believe that anyone can argue that women who have abortions do not, in general, suffer any negative effects as a result, especially psychological effects.

Instead, I will focus on your paragraph about my theoretical daughter.

A number of years ago, I wrote a short piece that appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News that compared arguments for abortion to arguments for slavery in the ante-bellum South. After that article appeared, I had a female co-worker come up to me and angrily tell me that when I had a daughter, I would understand. That I knew nothing, and how dare I argue about something I know nothing about.

Well, I will point out two things. One, if that logic holds, that one must personally experience something to have a legitimate opinion, then I would say to you that if and when you have a child yourself, you may feel differently about the life growing inside you. I do not know if you have kids or if you ever have had an abortion, but I do know women who were pro-choice, and still are, but when the time came for their decision, said, “I could never do that.” In other words, personal experience works both ways. Holding that baby after he or she is born is an emotional experience just as strong, if not stronger, as wishing the easiest life for your own child.

Two, now I do have a daughter. One of the most important things I have tried to pass onto my kids, as flawed a parent as I am, is to accept responsibility for your actions. This may be the part when you roll your eyes, but it is something I feel strongly about. If my son were to get a girl pregnant, I would be devastated if he told me his choice was to avoid responsibility by paying for an abortion. Similarly, if my daughter told me that she would be terminating a life so that she could go to college on time, I would be gravely disappointed.

You object to women being seen only as “birth-givers,” as if all pro-lifers care about is the baby. But the baby is there, isn’t it? How can it anger you for pro-lifers, who believe that baby is a person and not just tissue, to argue that the person has a right not to be killed? Might doesn’t make right. Going to a doctor might mean you won’t have to put off college, but it disregards the rights of at least one human being, and that doesn’t count the rights of the father, who may want the baby to be born as well.

What it boils down to is your belief that the unborn baby is a “theoretical” person. But when exactly is it no longer theoretical? Seconds before “it” goes through the birth canal? Minutes? Hours? Days? Months? When a pro-abortion advocate can show me when that moment transpires, I will agree abortion is right before it.

From: NewsCat
To: Jim in Cleveland
Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 11:44 AM

I guess I should explain to our readers that when I proposed this dialogue I did suggest, in the interests of keeping it readable, that we limit our responses to roughly 500 words each. I did go over that limit last time and I said you were free to go over it yourself. But now, in keeping with my own editorial structures I’m going to try to only respond to a few points.

The reason I used the “imagine you have a daughter” scenario, which admittedly has its flaws, is that I was hoping to get you to actually place yourself in a woman’s position who finds herself pregnant and does not wish to be. I don’t know if you have ever followed the link on my blogroll to Abortion Clinic Days but it’s a blog by two abortion providers about the women and situations they encounter every day. I wonder if you read their descriptions of their patients would you feel like you have easy answers to give (just always carry the pregnancy to term!) if you were actually talking to them in person.

As a man, you will never find yourself faced with their choices or situations. I think the closest approximation I might be able to summon is how, is picture a friend telling you about a devastatingly callous relationship he/she has. You know this relationship is no good and you give them advice – “just break it off” “forget about him/her.” Which might be all well and good. But the truth is that its easy to be dispassionate when handing out relationship advice if its not your emotions involved. You, as the outside person, knows exactly what is the “logical” course of action to follow. But you aren’t the person who has to follow the advice either.

That’s how I often see anti-abortion types who talk about abortion. They may provide lip-service to the idea that the answers aren’t easy but then by advocating always carrying pregnancies to term they imply it is. But they’re also not the people who are ultimately invested in the decisions being made.

So they can offer dispassionate rules for behavior (do not have an abortion, must give birth) but such talk does not require any further action on their behalf. Someone who advocates banning abortion is not offering to help out every woman who will then give birth because of such laws. It’s merely a mental exercise on their behalf. And I guess I would rather anti-abortion types have the mental exercise of being vaguely troubled by abortion then pushing for a change in laws that will make others have to change their behavior but not create any new responsibilities for those who push for banning abortion.

So I guess that’s my response to your part about “responsibility.” Who’s responsibility are we talking about here? Who do you have to be responsible to? God? Your own conscious? The child you might not believe exists? If you advocate for a war that then goes badly do you have a “responsibility” to give a lot of your own money and time to helping the victims of the war? Or do you get to just shrug your shoulders and think “well I thought it was the best thing to do at the time” and go about your life.

I was going to ask if you use the word “responsibility” as a way to convey the sense that sex has “consequences.” You don’t seem like you are saying you believe pregnancy is a “punishment” for sluts who have sex, but you must be aware that such an attitude exists.

From: Jim in Cleveland
Sent: Wednesday, October 24, 4:06 PM

Sympathy for women who have unwanted pregnancies is appropriate. This is especially so in cases involving rape. I support any agency that provides women assistance, including adoption agencies and the Family Resource Center. However, appeals to pity, or argumentum ad misericordiam, lead to incorrect conclusions. Specifically, two wrongs do not make aright. Because a woman is in an often terrible situation, it does not justify an abortion.

If a man commits embezzlement, and is convicted, it is a shame for his family that the father will be lost for a time. The difficulty that family will go through will be great. That should not preclude him from his just punishment. In the case of an unwanted pregnancy, a new life should not be viewed as "punishment," but it often is by the couple who had sex, and thus are responsible for that life. That is what I mean by responsibility, by the way. If the baby is born, it is the responsibility of the parents to raise that kid. Responsibility should not magically begin at birth, but at the time that human being is created. Thus, it is not about a slut facing her just punishment, but about understanding that the life that has been created may very well bring unexpected joy, and that that person has a right to not be treated as a piece of trash to be thrown away(or have his or her brains sucked out, for that matter).

It is irrefutable that, as you assert, because I am not a female it is impossible for me to fully understand what it must feel like to be a woman faced with such a difficult situation. However, in using that line of thinking, I would submit that you would not and could not know what it would be like to be a fetus whose life is extinguished by pre-term abortion. Those persons cannot tell their stories on blogs.

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