Friday, October 26, 2012

Drilling Down into Abortion Fight

The controversy over abortion in this country has been brought to the forefront recently by the inane and outrageous comments of some in the GOP. Although the Republican Party Platform condemns abortion in all cases, some party members even go beyond that. Last summer, for example, Senatorial candidate Todd Akin of Missouri said that he was against abortion even in cases of rape because women who were victims of “legitimate rape” probably couldn’t get pregnant because the female body has a way to shut it down. More recently, Indiana Senatorial candidate Richard Mourdock said that even a pregnancy that resulted from rape should be continued because it is “what God intended.”

It is hard to understand how anyone could hold such outlandish opinions, but it is even harder to understand how so many of the GOP rank-and-file voters could rally behind these meatheads and still give them their vote. But when I give it some deeper thought, there are a couple of reasons why they might still get elected. For one thing, Republicans who vote for them might disagree with their extreme views, but they want to see GOP control of the Senate. They think that by abandoning the candidate it would mean the Democrats would retain control of the Senate. A second reason that GOP voters might support the loony tune candidates is because they, themselves, are also loony.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying anyone who agrees that abortion is wrong is loony, even though I do disagree vehemently with their position. What I’m saying is that anyone who takes a moral stand against any action and then tries to affect public policy based on their moral compunctions, especially when those compunctions are far from the mainstream, might be considered to be a bit loony.

Those who believe that abortion should be illegal because they believe that life begins at conception and that the termination of pregnancy by the woman is tantamount to murder claim that they are only sticking up for the unborn baby because it can’t stick up for itself. Drilling down through all the rhetoric, though, we find that there is only one underlying point that is being arbitrated between the anti-choice and the pro-choice groups. Anti-choice people (I refuse to use their euphemism, pro-life.) believe that the fetus is a living human being with all the rights and privileges afforded to those who have actually been born. I say that opinion is misguided. I would even go so far as to call it a bullshit notion. Here’s why.

Pro-choice proponents counter by saying that the fetus is totally and utterly dependent on the woman who is its host – the mother. Anti-choice people say that even after it is born it is utterly dependent on the mother, too. But it is not. That is a fallacy, a red herring. Once that umbilical cord it cut, the mother can, if she wants, give up that baby without even looking at it. The baby is certainly dependent on someone to provide it with the necessities of life, but not necessarily on its mother. It’s dependent upon some human but the mother can choose not to be that person.

But when the fetus is growing inside a woman’s body, it is dependent on THAT woman alone because it is actually attached to her. The fetus and its host are inseparable. The host of that fetus, if she desires to keep it, must make many changes in her life to accommodate the fetus inside. Therefore, the woman should have much more say in whether or not she wants to continue supporting that fetus, who, up until a point at least, has no ability to have any input.

Now, once the fetus reaches a certain point, where it could possibly survive outside its mother, then the fetus should be given greater consideration. Maybe, beyond that point, the mother’s health or life should be limiting factors. That takes place around the beginning of the third trimester. But before that point is reached, the host mother should retain complete control of the decision-making process.

Anti-choice people who are Christians might claim that the fact that the fetus has a soul, supplied to it by God at conception, should limit the mother’s choice in the matter. But that comes down to a matter of theology. They have a right to that opinion. But that opinion is not shared by all and it is not an opinion that I agree with. Since I do not believe in a biblical soul, I find those views to be a little archaic, even silly. But I respect the rights of others to have those opinions. What I don’t respect is the desire of the religion right to turn their theology into public policy.

I have a big problem with anyone who tries to instill their religious views into public policy. How is that any better than the other way around, if I advocated electing someone who would support mandating my opinion onto everyone else, regardless of their beliefs? What if I believed that all women on welfare should be prohibited from having a baby and if they got pregnant the government should enforce an abortion? I don’t really believe that, but hypothetically, I could take that position. That position would be equivalent to the anti-choice crowd trying to force their belief system on others through legislation. They believe abortion is murder therefore everybody else must comply with their belief. It makes no sense.

But even here in 21st-century America, we’re still dealing with senseless people advocating senseless policy based on some anachronistic religion that shouldn’t have any application in modern life. That’s my opinion; far be it from me to enforce it on anyone.

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