Abortion: Not Just About Preserving Life

By Andrew Tsou

The term “pro-life” is a wonderful PR move, implying that anti-abortion factions have morality and the best interests of the public on their side. But do they really?

A March 22 article posted on huffingtonpost.com described the passage of a bill in South Dakota that would force women desiring an abortion to wait three days before the procedure can be completed, as well as to “undergo counseling at pregnancy help centers that discourage abortions.” A few weeks earlier, in a March 2 article in The New York Times, it was noted that “the bill’s Republican sponsor sa[id] it will better protect women from being pressured into having abortions and inform them of other options.” This implies a certain weakness in the female spirit, one in which women must be protected from “pressure.” Hmm.

There is a conventional view that holds that some controversies, mainly those labeled “moral” issues, cannot be resolved via logic, given the inherently subjective nature of such topics. For example, the ever-popular subject of abortion regularly comes down to a simple question that can never be adequately resolved.

Because “human life” has never been properly defined (and probably never can be), there will always be debate on any issue that deals with the taking of life, and whether that life should be considered “human” or if, indeed, “human life” inherently deserves to be protected.

However, there are elements of the debate that can be objectively considered. For example, no one, unless they are exceedingly ignorant, is denying that a fetus qualifies as “life.” The question is whether that “life” can be taken or not. Certainly we, as a species, are not allergic to the concepts of taking life; if we were, we would assuredly starve to death. Even within the realm of taking human life, there are a plethora of exceptions.

The website of the National Right to Life Committee contains an article (with certain quotes bolded for emphasis) attempting to make the case that one argument against abortion is the pain that an unborn child can feel. This seems to imply that, if the fetus could be effectively anesthetized, abortion would be permissible. Of course, it would be difficult for anyone to claim that such an organism actually needs to be protected from pain. There is a significant difference between feeling pain and registering pain. Surely it’s more painful (due to the tyrannies of memory and sensation) to fall down a set of stairs when you’re ten years old than when you’re an infant; when you’re extremely young, you’re simply not as conscious of pain as you are later on.
In actuality, there are situations in which life should be taken for the greater good (for example, in dire survival situations that, admittedly, rarely exist outside of hokey movies). If a child is unwanted, and his/her parents are unable to financially provide for it, all parties would probably be better off with an abortion; this includes taxpayers, who would presumably have to fund welfare checks and the like for our future young family.
You don’t have to agree with this, of course. There are some factions that are opposed to abortion, save with certain exceptions. One of these positions is, in fact, the most illogical of all. Whatever side of the debate you’re on, you can see that the purists on either side have points. If one believes that a fetus qualifies as human life and you believe that human life should never be taken, you’re pro-life; that’s it. Similarly, if you don’t believe that a fetus is human, or if you believe that it can be acceptable, in certain situations, to take a human life, then you’re pro-choice. However, what about people who identify as pro-life, save in the case of rape?
This position quite simply makes no sense, unless the person holding it is intent on holding women responsible for the heinous crime of daring to have sex. If you believe that a fetus is human and that all human life is sacred, then the genesis of that fetus is irrelevant, no? The simple fact is that the fetus exists, and to allow its existence to rest based on the actions of its mother is absurd. Essentially, a law that prohibited abortions save in the case of rape would serve to punish women for being “irresponsible.” The sanctity of life would have nothing to do with it; such a law would only serve the purpose of keeping women in their place.

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