On Abortion

Apr 7, 2008, 5:20 pm by Paul Stiverson

I’ve been reading The Audacity of Hope, and in Chapter 6 (Faith), Barack says (about abortion), “I explained my belief that few women made the decision to terminate a pregnancy casually; that any pregnant woman felt the full force of the moral issues involved and wrestled with her conscience when making that heart-wrenching decision…” I believe this statement to be true on the whole; however, in the fictional work Fight Club (the book, not the movie) the character Marla Singer mentions to Tyler Durden that she wants to get pregnant and have his abortion.1 I’m sure there are women out there who do have such cavalier feelings about abortion, but it is safe to say that this is not the majority opinion (and not the subject of this post).

I’ve had the great pleasure of knowing people on both sides of the abortion fence, and—more often than not—I’ve been able to have civil discussions with them on the subject. The most common protest against abortion I’ve encountered is the “Life is sacred” arguement (coming from the pious). And it is true that life is sacred, I don't think that anybody would condone killing a newborn baby (excepting the murderous types), but there is a marked difference between a fetus and a newborn baby. The problem with this argument is the ol’ when does life start question; but I don’t think that will be resolved in this post. Honestly, the previous argument is the only one that is even remotely valid. Other arguments are easily defused with a small dose of science or common sense.

To the pious: It seems that terminating the pregnancy would be a pretty sweet deal for the fetus; it gets to skip being born into a household where it isn’t wanted and go straight to heaven. Isn’t that the goal of your life? How could it be a bad deal to get into heaven without that whole “giving your life to Jesus” thing?

The other side’s argument is “It’s a woman’s choice,” is (as I see it) a bastardization of the original message of Margaret Sanger—the founder of Planned Parenthood—who believed that a woman should be free to not be a baby factory. She argued that women had the right to use birth control, so they could elect to not get pregnant (also that they should be free from being told that they cannot have children—I’m not so sure that Margaret was on board here, as she was pretty racist, but nobody is perfect).

It is probably pretty clear by now that I support the legality of abortion, but it is an action that I don’t find morally defensible. I support its legality because it is better than the alternative situation where women attempt to self-terminate.2 What I really want is the elimination of abortion through improved education; I think it is a good thing for young people to know what goes where, and how to be safe and responsible. It is pretty clear that current sex education programs are pretty lacking, some would argue that telling kids about condoms will promote promiscuity. Maybe it will/does, but safety/security through ignorance/obscurity is a pretty bad policy; I would rather every teen be fucking safely rather than most of them fucking unsafely. And let’s not mince words here, teens have sex, and they always have (yes, even in the ’50s), and it is mighty hard to un-ring that bell no matter how deep your head is in the sand.

Notes:

  1. That line was originally in the movie but was changed to “I haven’t been fucked like that since grade school.” Source
  2. There is a good article where an abortion doctor outlines his experience in a trauma ward devoted to women who tried to self terminate. Link

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1 Comment

Lew Says:

Apr 8, 2008

I have heard both Fight Club quotes, I thought they were both in the movie. Guess I need to watch it again (for the billionth time). I totally agree with your posts. Obama is my guy, he always amazes me with his frankness and honest. Plus I share many of his views, including the sex-ed ones.

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