Thoughts on Abortion

This is a repost from a while ago in another section on this site which has since bitten the dust. 


I stopped caring a long time ago about which party line I fall on. 

I have several thoughts here. 

#1) I cannot avoid the conviction that Abortion is murder. I know that it will be debated probably forever, but it just happens that there is something special about the "clump of cells" that is a human fetus. Sorry. 

#2) I cannot avoid the conviction that Abortion is, and do not run for the hills yet, wrong. By this I mean that I believe it is indefensible from an evolutionary, deontological, philosophical, spiritual, social, and moral perspective. Ugh, fine, I'll run this down briefly.

Evolutionary: Regardless of how you believe life came about, both the Creationist and the Evolutionist will agree on one thing: life begets life. Further, the purpose of life is to continue life (the difference lies in why: one seeks to glorify a Creator, the other seeks to glorify the system that begat it... so its creator?). Aborting possible life is an affront and an insult to a system that is FAR, FAR bigger than an individual. 

Deontological: Deontology, particularly Kantian deontolgy, says that something is ethically right if it could be safely practiced by everybody in the world, simultaneously. It is as close to an objective ethical theory that exists and is difficult to combat. Further, it states that each person is not a means to an end, but an end-in-themselves. "Should I smoke meth?" the response: "Should everybody in the world smoke meth? No? Then no." This is a dramatic oversimplification, but the point stands: even if you believe yourself to be an exception to the rule, they are exceptions which prove rules. Like it or not, you're bounded by rules as far as you can see. Likewise, if each life--or entity that is rapidly becoming a life--is an end-in-themselves, then treating them like anything but that is patently wrong. According to this, the most objective of ethical theories that still retain any hint of what ethics is, Abortion is simply indefensible. 

Philosophical: Philo--love, sophia--wisdom. If I asked you, "Is it wise to abort a baby?" I don't know that the answer can be "yes," except in the most extreme of circumstances (In a supremely small number of cases, the very reality of pregnancy is dangerous to a mother's life and could kill her. I am not denying that these cases exist--and are perhaps the only situations in which I could see the answer to the question being "yes"). I believe that genuinely seeking an answer to whether a life--or even just a potential for life--should be ended, perhaps even just for the reasons above this, will reveal the answer, "no." Philosophically speaking, the second I start making decisions based solely on how they affect me, and me alone, is when I cease being the social, transcendentally interconnected human being that I am and instead become a despondently isolated, selfishly motivated independent actor without regard of how my actions shape my worldview.

Spiritual: I do not believe that this needs much clarification. If life is God-given and God-directed, taking life borders on blasphemy. It's saying that you, yourself, are God. 

Social: If humans are social creatures, then human action must be socially--not individualistically--motivated. "Right-for-me" has no place beside any social philosophy that says, "we must band together." And "We must band together" has a more prominent place in liberal, social thinking than ever before. "We must band together to put an end to racism; we must band together to end global warming; we must band together to protect the weak and indefensible" has no place beside "Abortion is something that affects only one person--the mother--and it is her right to choose." You cannot have it both ways. 

Moral: At its most liberal, a fetus is nothing but a clump of cells. A clump of rapidly and exponentially increasing clump of cells. A clump of autonomous, perpetually replicating clump of cells that is driving straight down the path towards being a self-sufficient human being that converts sugar into energy and produces electricity in its brain and possesses something that dogs and elephants and the spider on my porch which I have decided not to kill because my wife told me that writing spiders are good and cool and that she'd be mad if I squashed it. Ending that process, which develops quite out of my hands, by my own hand is unnatural and at its most basic amoral. Amoral here is used in its most politically un-charged way I can muster: it simply says that I am acting without regard to any kind of moral law apart from the one that says, "It is moral as long as I choose it." And that is no morality at all. 

Moving on. 

#3: I am a man, and as such I cannot bear a child. It is not my body which harbors a growing life; therefore, the decision is ultimately not mine to make. However, I do not believe that having male parts disqualifies me from discussing the right-or-wrongness of abortion. Simply because we cannot harbor a gestating embryo does not mean that men play no role in pregnancy. 

#4: Making abortion illegal will not stop abortions from happening. And this, I think, is where I have the most trouble with this debate. Even though I believe I have made my stance unmistakably clear, I don't know that I can defend a choice that will make shady abortion the only option for women who are, ultimately, going to opt for it, for no amount of legislation is going to change somebody's behavior. As for what amount of funding, support, etc. is to be in place for any necessary evil of any kind, I have absolutely no idea; I simply cannot get away from the fact that it is going to happen whether I want it to happen or not. Taking the option away will not take the choice away. 

In light of number four, I think that a solution may possibly be on the horizon. I don't know that taking the option for abortion away is a wise decision, but redirecting national focus and government funding on every other alternative may go a long way. If the same amount of focus that has been spent on facilitating abortions were directed towards proper judgment-free counseling and a huge push for making adoption both more affordable and socially acceptable, then perhaps we may be getting on some sort of sustainable, acceptable track. 

If I may be a bit more pointed, we need to remove the stigma put on mothers who give their babies up for adoption, because, frankly, they are heroes. Millions of families are unable to have babies who want them--millions of homes that are eager for children of their own, who are financially and mentally prepared for the task of child-rearing. I know this firsthand, for I have family members and friends who are closer than brothers who have adopted babies: the joy and love that they feel for their children is not an iota different from a family of "natural" children. I have personally seen the joy of, and celebrated with, families fighting for years to adopt a child finally being placed with one, and I absolutely promise you that they see the birth mothers not as "unfit" or whatever, but as nothing short of miracles. 

Miracles. Ends of years of saving and searching and dredging through the unnecessarily expensive and needlessly complicated hoops that the process is currently strapped with. 

These two opposing sentiments weight heavily and are difficult to reconcile in my head: the hard fact that I would rather a mother set on the idea get a safe abortion than a shady (and I am sparing more gruesome terminology by saying "shady") one, and my desire that adoption services should be made quicker and cheaper--possibly by the funding that once went to seeing babies killed. The situation is complex.

And I am done talking about it. 

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.