Tuesday, October 5, 2010

40 Days, and strange pro-choice rhetoric

Have you ever been reading an essay or blog post about abortion, in which a self-professed pro-choice person says something like this: Abortion is a painful and difficult decision for a woman, but I/we fully support her right to choose abortion...

It may not be worded exactly that way, of course. But everyone from our current president to known pro-choice politicians to women's rights' leaders have said something somewhat like this.

I've asked the question before, and I'll ask it again: Why?

Why is abortion a painful and difficult decision for a woman?

From the pro-life perspective, it's easy to answer that question: abortion is a painful and difficult decision because a woman is deciding to kill her own unborn child. She is deciding that the unique human being growing inside of her does not deserve to live. She is deciding to become the mother of a dead baby, a baby killed by her express wishes and for whose execution she must pay--not only in money, but in whatever physical or mental or moral anguish accompanies her child's grisly death, and her own role in choosing that death for him or for her.

But from the pro-choice perspective, again, I ask: why? Why is abortion a painful and difficult decision if you don't believe that the unborn child is a child, or a person, or a human being with her own unique DNA and her own unique, if tiny, body growing inside her mother's womb?

I mean, speaking as someone who has had an impacted kidney stone removed, I can tell you that the stone itself was painful and difficult to deal with--but the decision to have surgery to remove it was a no-brainer, especially since I'd already been hospitalized for a week (owing to the fact that I was a bit less than two months postpartum at the time) and the darned thing refused to budge no matter how much fluid was circulated through my body. I suffered no mental or emotional difficulty in deciding to get rid of a clump of minerals that had formed in an extremely inconvenient location. I knew that they were not living cells, that they would not, if carefully left alone for a period of time, grow into a mighty boulder, and that in fact they were not supposed to be in my body at all.

So why on earth should a pro-choice person, who thinks that a "baby" magically springs into being either a) at birth, b) in the third trimester sometime, or c) around 20 weeks or so of gestation find the surgical removal of a non-baby, non-person, non-living, piece of biological waste material a painful or difficult decision at all?

The answer seems to be that all but the most stridently pro-abortion people (like the one who told a pro-life sidewalk counselor I'm acquainted with "I know it's a baby, dear--and I don't want it, so I'm killing it!") pretend to themselves that an unborn child is anything but a child when they talk about "terminating the pregnancy" or "the product of conception" or "the tissue clump" or any of the other million euphemisms they may use to distance themselves from the reality of the unborn human being's prenatal existence. But in dealing with the aftermath of abortion, with the women who express their anguish or emotional turmoil or deep regrets, the pro-choice advocates have to back away a little, and use soothing rhetoric which they hope nobody examines too closely, the strange pro-choice rhetoric which says with bland demeanor, "Well, of course, abortion is a painful and difficult choice for women..."

It's only painful and difficult if you're killing a human being. Which, of course, in every abortion, you are.


Lindsey said...

You make a very good point.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I've been waiting a few days for everyone else to comment - it seemed only courteous. But, I hardly think I can pass this by and retain any integrity for my own pro-choice convictions. It is a question well stated, which must be answered, if it can be answered.

Abortion is, of course, an invasive surgical procedure. Surgery is not to be undergone lightly, for any reason. There are always hazards and risks. But that's not a full answer in itself.

Perhaps there is something between a kidney stone and a baby. A kidney stone is not a natural part of human existence. It has natural chemical causes, but it is the result of an imbalance in natural metabolism, not a natural and usual part of being human.

It is natural for a woman to become pregnant. I know, there are feminists who deny it, with slogans like "biology is not destiny." Its not destiny. There are many perfectly sound and respectful modes of human life for women in which pregnancy plays no part. There are women who take religious vows of chastity, while still virgin, there are women who choose to live single in the world, there are women who are missing some essential prerequisite for pregnancy, but still live fulfilling lives, married or not.

I have never been a woman, and don't ever expect to be one, so I can't ever feel "what it is like" to be a woman, but biologically speaking, pregnancy is a natural part of a woman's life cycle. I have it on good authority that many women find it fulfilling and rewarding.

So, a woman who is pregnant, and chooses not to have a baby, is foregoing, indeed interrupting, this natural part of her life cycle. Even if the result is not the murder of another human being, it is not something to choose lightly. In fact, she is interrupting this natural process after engaging in one of the most emotionally absorbing life functions necessary to become pregnant. If there is love in the earlier stage, that will be reflected in the later stage... and if not, the reverse.

Then, there is at minimum some uncertainty as to WHETHER what is removed is in fact a human being. If it is, then a murder is in fact being committed. The best medical evidence available in 1973 suggested that the tissue growing in the womb "quickened" at a certain point, became functionally alive. We now know that the process of fetal development is much more subtle and continuous than that. It would be wise to err on the side of caution.

From a pro-life perspective of course, the best way to err on the side of caution is not to take any risks at any stage after conception. I don't believe that is necessary.

I can start at the beginning and say, fertilized zygotes miss the uterine wall all the time, and never know what they missed. Not a baby. The natural process, at that point, is a numbers game. Some will make it, some won't. Nature doesn't care. God knows that some will make it and some won't, maybe God doesn't worry either. God designed the process, after all.

Working my way through blastocyst -- a batch of almost undifferentiated cells with no will or consciousness, embryo, the early stages of fetal development, I can confidently say, that's not a baby. But it is becoming more like one every day. The last month or more, there is no doubt that early removal removes a baby, who could live outside the womb with normal care. The closer it is to being a baby, the more one should care about that.

So, if there is no reason at all, don't interrupt the process. If there is some reason, but not an urgent one, make up your mind early. If the baby literally threatens the life of the mother, then, regretfully, it may have to be destroyed, even very late in pregnancy. Finally, if a woman is going to FEEL like "I killed my baby," then, whatever one might argue empirically, it would be a very bad idea for her to abort, and nobody should try to talk her into it.

I could give more specific examples, but that is rather a lot of words to impose on someone else's site.