Sunday, February 01, 2009

Is abortion ethical?

1. Life began when the earth cooled. It is continuous. Ova are alive. That doesn't make them people.

2. Aborting an embryo will be equivalent to killing a person when failing to build a house is equivalent to demolishing it. You don't live in a blueprint, do you? Turning a blueprint into a house takes time, materials and work. So, too, turning a fertilized ovum into a full-term fetus, ready to be born.

3. Abortion is "icky." Abortion is regrettable. You think that it's unethical. Other people do not. So let's say that it's debatable.

4. If it's debatable, or could be regretted, then the person most affected by the decision should be the one making it. Students should finish their education, but we don't chain them to their desks. In Ontario, they can drop out at 16 and, if they aren't learning, they can petition to leave earlier and be given permission. We don't chain them to their desks. We don't say, "You failed physics so you're condemned to being a janitor for the next ten years."

5. Unfortunately, a lot of the anti-choice rhetoric seems based in a desire to punish women. "She had sex so let her bear the consequences." The intended consequences were fun, not child-rearing. That's like saying that people fly airplanes in order to crash. Or banning skiers from medical care after a tumble because "they knew they were taking a risk." It's both small-minded and short-sighted. The person who is really punished by forcing an unwilling mother to give birth is the child.

6. It is not a solution to say, "Have the baby and give it up for adoption." Having a baby is physically demanding and somewhat risky. The people who make much of the risks of abortion fail to mention that childbirth is 13 times more likely to kill you. Thus, four women who die of abortions represent fifty women who had abortions instead of dying in childbirth. Need I point out that, except for conscripting soldiers, we don't force people to take risks against their will? That's a strong ethical argument against denying women abortions because you think it's unethical.

7. As Gloria Steinem pointed out, the basis of the "abortion debate" is denying women the status of ethical beings and legal adults who can make up their own minds about important personal decisions.

8. And, no, I'm not speaking up for "the child." The man on the street has no right to use my body against my will. Neither does an embryo. Even if it was in there reading the New York Times and thinking about which bank to knock off first when it developed hands and feet.

9. The "special connection" between mother and zygote is physical dependency. You take that to mean that there should be an emotional connection as well. That's an assumption on your part which assumes your conclusion: that she should want to keep it. Like the assumption that women are "more moral" than men, it imposes a different standard on women than on the rest of us and expects them to act in a less self-interested way. Then they get less praise for being unselfish and more condemnation for acting in their own interests.

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