My Thoughts on Abortion
Every time moral-infused issues come to public discussion, it becomes apparent how disconnected people are in this hyper-connected world of ours. Issues like gay marriage, gun ownership, and abortion, are grounds for some of the most frustrating discussions you can have (or witness) online. Either side of the argument will find its ground and stick to it. Discussions then develop into shouting matches, where neither party is interested in actually discussing anything, but merely making sure their opinion sounds loudest.
As a natural skeptic and reason-driven individual, I can see both sides of the argument, formulate an opinion based on the evidence and data I have, and express it in a clear, direct way. Sometimes, this leads to getting hate from both sides of that argument, with both sides, again, shouting past me and the other, only to reinforce and reiterate their opinion, which more likely than not, is based on their worldview, their moral code, and their values.
Abortion is a really tough topic to discuss for that reason. One side argues that it’s a women’s rights issue, the other that it’s a human’s rights issue. Regardless of all the poorly articulated and horribly biased statements, I think the main issue in discussion when talking abortion is a simple, if difficult, one: is the fetus a human being.
First, let me address the moralists. If you come at this issue from the perspective of morality, please consider what defined your morals. As someone from a Judeo-Christian background, I will address the religious argument by saying that it is NOT the job of civil laws to define or regulate morality. If God has determined something to be wrong or evil, He is also the one who called upon Himself its judgment. It’s not your place or job to judge others based on what you believe their sin is. Furthermore, I believe very strongly in the absolute separation of church and government. I will fight for religious freedom to my last breath, but I will shout even louder about the detrimental nature of trying to regulate other people’s morals and values through civil laws and policies.
Second, I will address the feminists and women’s rights activists. Through the ages, we have improved medical and social care in our societies. Pregnancies that were deemed risky are now becoming normal and common. Infanticide has dropped dramatically. Prenatal care is getting better and better. As an example, many nations defined “24 weeks” as the threshold for abortion, based on the science data that implied that a fetus had a high probability of survival outside the womb after that time. Here’s the kicker: that number has consistently been going down! There is now science data that supports a high(er) probability of survival outside the womb as early as 22 weeks! There are even recorded cases of babies surviving before that. Considering the development of medicine and prenatal care, in particular, there’s no reason to believe that threshold isn’t going to go down further. It’s not beyond reasonability to believe we could have babies “ grown” entirely outside a female host in the next 100 years. If that’s the case, the argument can be made that a fetus may be a human from conception. We just don’t have the means to determine or support it from that point quite yet.
That is the issue that we should be discussing: should we determine that as long as there’s a heartbeat there is life? We use that to determine death, so why not life? My suggestion is that we do in fact determine that a fetus, at any age is a potential human life. It’s survivability is diminished, if even possible, prior to a certain (constantly evolving) timeframe, but survivability is not a great measure of life. If that was the case, a newborn would should have “less rights” than a fully matured human, based on their ability to survive on their own!
First, and more importantly, decriminalize abortion. This is not the same as legalizing it. I think that it’s a pretty well-established fact that the vast majority of abortions are not done “casually”. There’s a sense of gravity in the act itself, no matter the mother’s stance on the subject. But gravity isn’t a replacement for avoidance.
Secondly, create a protocol that focuses on trying to find alternative outcomes for an unwanted pregnancy. I would suggest a peer-reviewed 12-hour course presented over 2 days, 6 hours each, 1 week apart. A bit like what’s done in Driver’s Ed, just expanded to cover medical & psych eval. At the start and end, the mother would be presented with a set of options:
- Continue with pregnancy with the goal to keep the child
- Prepare for adoption at term
- Request child and social support/follow-up, if lack of resources and conditions is main reason for abortion
- Continue with abortion.
The course should focus on what we know scientifically, and updated as that changes. We do know that there’s evidence of life from basically conception, even if we can’t support it yet. We know that an abortion is a highly traumatizing experience for everyone involved. We know that it involves killing a living creature. We know that there are multiple reasons why someone would have decided to go through with it.
The goal should ultimately be to avoid abortions, not criminalize them. As a society, we should be creating the necessary conditions so that an abortion is not even a consideration. That’s what civil laws and regulations should pursue, not sending traumatized mothers to prison.
War on Drugs
A lot of this thinking stems from the positive outcomes of the change in drug laws in Portugal. It might be the libertarian in me talking, but it’s a similar issue: laws should punish people that are already suffering from serious social and health issues. Drugs are normally a cause, not an effect. Decriminalizing drugs worked really well in Portugal. The threshold is now the amount at which point it constitutes trafficking, which remains a crime. But consumption is seen as a social and health issue, not a crime. Drug users are led through med & psych eval, offered clean needles and encouraged to consume under medical supervision, in purpose-built private rooms, with the goal being recovery and reinsertion in society, not seclusion and exile.
I have my own moral code and values. I do know that it’s based on my upbringing, belief system, and experiences. But I also know that not everyone had the same privileges and affordances. I rather help others by bringing them up, than push them out of society. I think that it’s ironic how we have established that diversity and inclusion is a beneficial aspect to our society, but we insist in removing certain people from these fundamental discussions based on their race, gender, belief system, etc… Ironic, no?