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Blogging For Choice Day
Seriously
flewellyn
So, today is Blogging For Choice day, and I thought I would talk a bit about why I am pro-choice. Those not inclined to reading political discussions can skip this entry.


Why am I pro-choice? This is something I've spent a lot of time thinking about. As a man, I will never have to choose whether or not I will get pregnant, or stay pregnant: biology has made that choice for me. So my stake in the debate is somewhat less than that of a woman, to say the least. Regardless, I do have strong feelings on abortion. I believe abortion, contraception, voluntary sterilization, and any other measures women may opt for to control their reproduction must be available, affordable, and accessible, without any equivocation or justification required of women who seek these services. No waiting periods, no requirements for spousal (or parental!) consent or notification, none of that.

So that's my position. Obviously, I'm as pro-choice, pro-reproductive rights, as you can get. But what are my reasons for being pro-choice? Well, I think it might be more informative, to start with what my reasons aren't.

First, I'm not concerned with whether or not life begins at conception. That whole argument is silly. Yes, of course, life begins at conception. Once the sperm fertilizes the egg, and the resulting zygote has a complete genome, it is, by any biological definition, alive. It is as much a life form as any bacterium, protozoan, or other monocellular life. But in my book, the answer to that question is both trivial and entirely irrelevant. The question of when life begins is not even interesting: whether it begins at conception, at some period during gestation, at birth, or at 40, does not change my conclusions, because it just doesn't matter.

More interesting, but also not part of my primary reasoning, is the question of when that developing fetus becomes a human being. The reason I don't concern myself with it is that ultimately, it's a religious question: when does the fetus have a soul? Different religions answer the question differently: Catholicism pre-20th century tended to say that the fetus became human when it "quickened", when its movements were first noticed. Modern fundamentalists say, of course, that it's human from the point of fertilization. Judaism has traditionally held, for several thousand years, that it's not human until it comes out. Given that we live in a secular democracy, religious questions cannot decide public policy. Otherwise, we have a law respecting an establishment of religion, or preventing the free exercise thereof. So I have to look elsewhere for my answer.

I'm also not pro-choice because of population growth concerns. After all, the country with the largest population, China, has strict population controls, and often compels women to have abortions. I don't support that any more than I support denying women access to abortion. Population control is important, and I think that if women control their own reproduction, population will drop naturally, but I don't consider that a primary reason to support choice.

What it ultimately comes down to, for me, is simply the question of the most fundamental right any person has: the right to body integrity and self-determination. A zygote, an embryo, a fetus, may well be alive, may even be human, but until birth, it's dependent on the body of another human being for survival. It uses the woman's blood supply, her nutrients, space in her body, to develop, and does not directly contribute to her health and well-being (in fact, can have deleterious and sometimes fatal effects); in the strictest biological sense, it's a parasite. It may well be welcome, and if so, no problem! But it is using the body of another human to live.

No matter what other issues come up, to me, this is the central one. Women are human beings. A woman must have the right to determine who and what can use her body, for what purposes. That is a fundamental human right, indeed, the most important one. If someone else can come along and tell her "Hey, you need to devote your body's resources to serve my needs", then she is not a free person. Compelling a woman to carry a fetus to term, when she doesn't want to, is the most egregious kind of slavery, as it denies her the right to determine how her body is used.

Given this fact, I could not come to any other conclusion but that any and all means available to control reproduction, must be available to women. Without questions or qualifications. To do otherwise is to enslave half of the human race.

Glad I wasn't too incoherent, then.

Not incoherent at all. :-) And this kinda snuck up on me; I need to get my own entry done. lol

I certainly hope that none of the pro-lifers have ever called Terminix, or used antibacterial soap.

A lot of them support Dubyah dropping bombs on Iraqis and cutting school lunch programs.

Hear, hear! Very well put :)

Well stated - thanks for posting on this today!!

This is great -- very well put.

Ver, very well said! In favct, since you said this so much better than I could have, on my "Blogging for Choice" post I'd like to just cut-n-paste this; giving you full credit for it, of course. May I?

No, but you're welcome to link to it. :-)

I am anti-abortion, and although you didn't change my mind on the subject, this is definitely the most well put reasoning for abortion I have read/heard. I am definitely pro contraception and voluntary sterilization. Those are very wise choices for someone who doesn't want to have a child.

However, if a human life is started through consentual, unprotected sex it's hard for me not to see stopping that life as murder. It's certainly changes things when you get into rape and incest and, yes, I can see why a woman should have control over her body as well. It's a very difficult and touchy subject indeed.

I sure understand your point of view.

The only thing I would say is, even if you view a fetus as having equal rights to a born human, there are situations in which killing a human being, though regrettable, is justified, and not murder. Self-defense and defense of another, for instance.

This is the primary argument that Rabbis have used for the past, oh, 2000 years or so (I read of it in the Midrash, forget where), that women had the right to abort a fetus that threatened their health or lives: it was considered justifiable homicide.

Well I agree with that actually. Noone should have to go through with a pregnancy if it may kill them.

Word. Also, the commitment begun at fertilization doesn't end at the point of birth- it continues, with incredible emotional and fiscal demands, for about two decades. And no person should grow up unwanted.

Do I like the concept of abortions? Not really. But I believe that keeping them safe, legal, and affordable/accessible is crucial.

I semi-agree with the people who call abortion murder, since it ends or prevents a human life, but I think using that as an argument for why abortion is morally wrong is absurd as long as we have the death penalty and willfully engage in wars. As a culture, we say that some forms of killing are right, and necessary, yet abortion isn't covered by that.

Amen. Very well said. I especially like how you took apart the "when does life begin" arguments and showed them to be hollow. I'd never heard the issue approached from that aspect, and it was refreshing!

I *heart* you so much for this right now. Best WIN of the internet forever.