Jasus I'm gonna have to call a halt to all this nonsense soon, I'm like a spent Salmon. Droning on interminably about subjects that don't interest anyone is really taking it's toll. I figured last post was a bit heavy so now for some light relief,
today's topic: Abortion.
I hate the abortion debate. I hate both sides. I hate their tactics and I hate their sloppy reasoning. So, I thought, ‘Why not a bit of sloppy reasoning of my own?’
Hell of a topic Man, where are y’goin with this one?
Right. It’s a divisive subject involving two extreme points of view. I think both points of view have suffered in clarity as a result of the efforts of their respective advocates.
Not that I’m objective. I’m not immune to the opinions and attitudes that surrounded me as a child when I was most receptive, I’m not. My opinions are very strongly coloured. My family have had an enormous impact on my attitude, not only because of their opinions, but also because of how our family came to be. That’s my personal history and it’s important to state it. I’m not going to talk about right and wrong, wrong and right are terms that aren’t helpful on this one. Everybody thinks that they’re right; I’m just looking for ‘what alcoholics frequently refer to as: A moment of clarity’.
People will say that a blog is the wrong place to do it. Why risk alienating all those legion of readers you don’t have? (Morning Dave, morning Miriam). Because, after all, let’s face it, this is something that people feel strongly about; people get very emotive on the subject and accuse those who don’t agree with their viewpoint as either ‘child murderers’ or ‘religiously fanatic subjugators of women’. Well Dave and Miriam, I’ll risk it. I’ll risk it in order to say:’ people!- this polarity isn’t helpful. It’s inevitable perhaps but not helpful’.
The whole thing has become muddled by the strength of emotion on either side and you can see how muddled it is, by this stage, with a simple examination of the evolution of the names of either camp:
The issue was originally ‘Abortion’ and people were either pro or anti, but Pro-abortion doesn’t exactly sound nice, so that side met up, had a chat, and decided on a bit of re-labelling, the artists formerly known as Pro-Abortion would now only be answering to ‘Pro-Choice’ .
Which is fine, and only fair I suppose, when you had such an ugly name for your point of view to begin with; but the problem was that it really bothered the Anti-abortion group because the connotation had now become that they’re weren’t Anti-abortion any more, they’re Anti-choice which sounds just as bad as Pro Abortion did, (even though it stands for the opposing point of view).
The Anti-choice people waved their fists, at the artists formerly known as Pro Abortion, with rage and indignation ‘Well we wont be Anti-Choice for long!’ they cried, and spat on the ground, True to their word, the Ex-Anti abortionist and Ex Anti-choice group all met in the beer garden next Wednesday afternoon all wearing their new T-Shirts for all to see and, let there be no doubt about it , they had had the last word alright; from now on their group would be known as ‘Pro-life’ . ‘Nyaaaa!’ they sneered at their enemies, sticking out their chests and pointing at their new name, ‘What does that make you!’
Perhaps not entirely factual, but something like that happened and it put me off both arguments, and made it hard to think about.
The abortion/life/choice issue
Pro vs Pro.
I don’t like the whole idea of renaming things. The whole idea of renaming things is bogus, (that’s no way to manipulate my thinkin’). So for the rest of this article, I will be talking about this issue from my own point of view and using the terms ‘anti-choice’ and ‘anti-life’ to describe either camp. Out of spite.
Right. What it comes down to is that you place a stick on the ground somewhere in between sex and birth and say ‘This is where a human begins’.
It’s only fair to judge the more religious folk by the bible, so I will say, ‘Judge a tree by the fruit it bears’ when I’m dealing with this lot, and lets be honest, the tactics of some of the anti-choice brigade are without empathy or decency and are particularly offensive. A heterosexual couple I know lived in Australia. They lived in a nice place, but it was next to a clinic, as a result they became targets for the sort abuse directed at a heterosexual couple approaching an abortion clinic, every single time they approached their home. That pretty much made up their minds on the issue. You can say that religion makes people feel empowered to be emotionally manipulative or downright rude, under the auspices that they are ‘saving a life’ I suppose. But I have always felt that ugly behaviour belies ugly attitudes, and is not much of an indicator that people are led by reason or compassion. It certainly doesn’t seem very ‘Christian’.
The anti-lifers, on the other hand make much of their opponents ‘hidden agenda’.
‘The continued suppression of women, and the maintanance of a patriarchal society’ we are told, is the only real reason that the anti-choice element are out there with their horrific photographs and their offensive behaviour. Really? The only real reason? Hmmmnnn…
I think people who behave abominably outside abortion clinics aren’t excused by the strength of their convictions, and I think that those who claim that those same placard-wavers are behaving that way simply because they want to oppress women, are avoiding the issue.
What is clear about this, and it should be said, is that everybody thinks that they’re doing the right thing. They are either helping end centuries of oppression, or saving childrens lives. They may have been led to this point by either religon, (which often masquerades as reason) or feminist theory (which is certainly a religon of sorts to many individuals) but this is where they are now and they are both convinced that they are doing the right thing. Okay, so what’s the real difference?
The anti-lifers, in general all agree that there should be a cut-off point after which abortions can no longer ethically be carried out. So, for anti-lifers, there is a theoretical, or actual, moment, which occurs between conception and birth, when whatever is growing inside the lady becomes a sacrosanct human life that we are talking about here, people. In this concept, they are in complete agreement with their anti-choice opponents.
But the anti-choice people on the other hand, are a bit more sneaky and schemy. Like the anti-lifers, they agree that there is a point whereby whatever is growing inside the lady is a sacrosanct human life that we are talking about here people, BUT ,they place that point earlier; they place it the point of a single fertilised egg.
‘Nothing sneaky and schemy about that, how straightforward could you get?’ I hear you cry, and that’s true, but it doesn’t explain the emphasis on the more advanced stage of development in their posters and literature. Shouldn’t we be seeing single eggs instead of the large headed but nonetheless human-shaped ‘lickle babies’ of the logos and pamplets? We don’t see single eggs you see, because single eggs aren’t much use for manipulating peoples emotions, also, if you look at a single egg you might be prompted to say to yourself ; ‘Without the advent of science and microscopes to show me the meaning of this,- would I have any concept of it at all? Mustn’t trillions of trillions of these things have died throughout human history without causing anybody any more trauma than a single cycle of menstruation?’ And then maybe ask yourself ‘ Well if that’s the case,- what’s all the fuss about?’. That’s the risk when you only show people single eggs.
Then again, the anti-life people have their sneakiness too. They link the argument to gender. They negate the standpoint of the many millions of women, who, for whatever reason, are anti-choice, (and pretty much dismisses too the men while they’re at it). Women all over the world differ in their viewpoints in this, and while there is no doubt that the fact and practicalities of pregnancy are a far greater issue for individual women than for individual men, that does not make the issue, of where life begins, a ‘women’s issue’.
For ethical purposes, and this is an ethical not a women’s issue, there is really only one question:
Human life, what is it? And what makes it human?
Pat answers from Feminists or Theologists won’t do; any line we draw, from the moment of conception until the moment of birth, (or even death) will be in some sense arbritary; growth rates are different, but the best approximation of where we can honestly place it, will be found by ignoring Religious and Feminist dogma and investigating this question first, as exhaustively and dispassionately as possible.
The answer might be two years, the answer might be two cells; I don’t know, but I do know that the arguments of anti-choicers and anti-lifers aren’t helping to find it one bit.
Read this and then count to ten seconds before you lose the rag:
Women have yet to attain true parity with men, even in countries were terminations are legally available, therefore I believe that the period of legal termination should be raised even higher; to two years of age. I believe that this is logical, after all, we do not consider chimpanzees human, and yet in terms of, understanding, sensitivity, intelligence, self-knowledge or the ability to feel pain; they are perfectly comparable to a human being at the same stage of development. If we are to operate from the maxim that “the ‘potential’ to make a human, does not a human make”, then we must look for other criteria, (after all, a single fertilised egg has ‘potential’ and people have lost innumerable amounts of them over the years without so much as a twinge). Let us have a more realistic approach to what humanity really is. Let us take into account how much time and development it takes for an organism to change from a soft pink gurgling animal into something provable to be a sentient being with a level of cognisance that can only ever attained by members our own species. I’d say about two years.
Right about now anyone who has read down all this way will say I have gone too far and that clearly I’m trying to make anti-lifers look ridiculous but I’m serious about this. I’m serious about it as a concept anyway.
In the film ‘The Mission’ the colonialists who are systematically exploiting South America come into conflict with Jesuits who have converted, (and now wish to protect), some of the indigenous people. In court, the colonials argue that the Indians are soul-less savages, and as evidence of this, refer to the fact they have been known to kill their own children.
The Jesuit replies that this is indeed the case, as it has become a rule among the Indians that parents may have no more children than they can carry to safety quickly, in case there is a sudden attack in their area by slavers.
You wouldn’t expect to find the Jesuits approving of abortion up into the seventeenth trimester, but there you go.
Now look, it’s only a film but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t illustrate a real point. Watching that film, I didn’t feel that I had any right to judge these, probably not entirely fictional people, as child killers.
It was horrible to think that anyone would ever placed be in a situation where they had to make a choice like that, but I do think, that in the desperateness of their situation; I do think it was their choice to make. Nobody would feel the pain of it more than they themselves did. I think it’s interesting that the Jesuits were the ones to point out the practicalities of it. There was at least an element of choice, and in this situation, the Jesuits felt that the parents were entitled to make it.
Now you can say that it was only a ‘fillum’ and in the real world, or more accurately the first world, no-one has to worry about slavers. You can point out that the people having terminations aren’t the most vulnerable in our society, (the poorest of the poor seem to have no problem at all in having children they cant afford). You can say that the people having terminations are people who want to have terminations. But if I, just in theory, understand how a Jesuit can, out of compassion, accept the validity of the movie Indians choice, can I negate the validity of anyone else? I don’t know if I can.
As already stated, in their clear advocacy for parents choice, the Jesuits are clearly in the camp of the anti-lifers. And they have a point, it’s just a pity that nobody in the anti-life camp has the courage to ever argue it. Perhaps they feel, like the anti-choice people do about pictures of eggs, that it is not as important to illustrate their position as it is to put a positive ‘spin’ on it.
What anti-choicers are really saying is ‘This is a baby’.’ It took science(not religon) and microscopes(not revelation) to find out about it, but we know about it now, and this is a baby. From the time it’s born all the way back through a nine-month gestation to conception, it’s a baby’.
What the anti-lifers are really saying is ‘Oh no it isn’t, it’s not a baby, it’s a biological event perhaps; but you wouldn’t even understand it properly if it wasn’t for science! You’re only against it’s termination as excuse to oppress women!’
Then the anti-choicers say: ‘You come here and say that!’
Then the anti lifers say: ‘Don’t you wave that placard at me in a threatening manner!’
And before you know it, my two anties are there, rolling around the floor and scratching each others eyes out like the old pros that they are.
Just an opinion mind you.