One of my religious conservative friends on Facebook linked to a blog post entitled 10 Questions a Pro-Choice Candidate Is Never Asked by the Media. There’s a bit of redundancy, but overall, they are pretty good questions. Abortion is a very slippery topic, and, although it often detracts from arguably more important issues in politics, I think it’s a very good litmus test for how advanced a society has become, in much the same way capital punishment or gay marriage is. Personally, I quite enjoy being asked probing questions of my morality and world view because it forces me define it better and better understand my underlying philosophy and its arguments. So I thought I would have a go at these ten questions.
- You say you support a womanâ€™s right to make her own reproductive choices in regards to abortion and contraception. Are there any restrictions you would approve of?
- In 2010, The Economist featured a cover story on “the war on girls” and the growth of “gendercide” in the world â€“ abortion based solely on the sex of the baby. Does this phenomenon pose a problem for you or do you believe in the absolute right of a woman to terminate a pregnancy because the unborn fetus is female?
I don’t particularly like it, but I’m not going to infringe on their right make decisions about their own bodies. Maybe if the abortion abolitionists stopped making life so damned difficult for women, these gender selecting parents might choose to have more daughters.
- In many states, a teenager can have an abortion without her parentsâ€™ consent or knowledge but cannot get an aspirin from the school nurse without parental authorization. Do you support any restrictions on parental notification regarding abortion access for minors?
It’s a sad state of affairs that we can’t talk about sex and contraception with our kids such that, when they do make an uninformed decision, some lawmakers think they need laws protecting them from our parental wrath. The decision and distribution of information about an abortion is ultimately up to the pregnant woman, regardless of her age. If you’re such a horrible parent that your daughter is terrified of telling you about her abortion, then you don’t deserve to know.
- If you do not believe that human life begins at conception, when do you believe it begins? At what stage of development should an unborn child have human rights?
At birth. Biologically, the life never stops, so how can it start? The egg is alive, the sperm is alive, and the resulting gamete is still alive. Consequently, where you draw the line for “before this moment this life didn’t exist” is completely arbitrary. Why not when the sperm is still in the testicle? Every ejaculation kills millions!!! Or after the child turns 18 years old? Equally ridiculous. I can understand the argument for conception in terms of “a living cell with this specific DNA”, although I don’t think that DNA processes are that clear cut, as mutations occur all the time. Are cancer cells a separate human life with rights? The biggest problem with defining human life and rights as beginning at conception is that the logical moral and legal consequences (e.g. do we prosecute miscarriages?) are extremely damaging to all women. If we begin human rights at birth, all those thorny moral issues slough off like the placenta.
- Currently, when genetic testing reveals an unborn child has Down Syndrome, most women choose to abort. How do you answer the charge that this phenomenon resembles the â€œeugenicsâ€ movement a century ago â€“ the slow, but deliberate â€œweeding outâ€ of those our society would deem â€œunfitâ€ to live?
- Do you believe an employer should be forced to violate his or her religious conscience by providing access to abortifacient drugs and contraception to employees?
No, but I don’t believe employers should be forced to provide any healthcare at all. However, if we’re forcing coverage of Viagra or vasectomies, in the interest of fairness, we should provide the pill and abortifacient drugs, too. It will keep costs down, too, because contraception and abortifacients are somewhat cheaper than the healthcare costs of a birth and child.
- Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. has said that â€œabortion is the white supremacistâ€™s best friend,â€ pointing to the fact that Black and Latinos represent 25% of our population but account for 59% of all abortions. How do you respond to the charge that the majority of abortion clinics are found in inner-city areas with large numbers of minorities?
As long as abortions aren’t forced on any women, there’s nothing morally wrong about the clinic distribution. The best way to prevent abortion is to educate women (and men) on how to avoid unwanted pregnancies. That’s probably what is failing in poorer minority communities.
You know what a smart white supremacist would do? He’d ban contraception and abortion, specifically in the targeted racial community, which would result in a massive, poor population with dysfunctional families where desperation would lead to violence, reenforcing his message that the targeted demographic is uncivilized or dangerous.
Oh wait, that’s what abortion abolitionists do!
- You describe abortion as a â€œtragic choice.â€ If abortion is not morally objectionable, then why is it tragic? Does this mean there is something about abortion that is different than other standard surgical procedures?
It’s not like pro-choice people think abortion is Morally Wonderful. No one walks jauntily into the clinic and greets their abortion doctor with a cheery smile. It’s tragic in the same way that it’s tragic when firefighters have to do controlled burns of forests ahead of raging forest fires in an attempt to put out the bigger fire. It would be nice if the original fire hadn’t been lit, but, like in all decisions, you have to weigh the potential outcomes, for all involved.
- Do you believe abortion should be legal once the unborn fetus is viable â€“ able to survive outside the womb?
Yes. See #1. You can do whatever you want with something inside your body. Period.
- If a pregnant woman and her unborn child are murdered, do you believe the criminal should face two counts of murder and serve a harsher sentence?
No. See #4.
I’m curious what my readers think of my views. Am I a depraved Nazi baby killer? If you disagree with me, do my arguments still make at least a little sense? This is not a black and white issue, by any means. It’s really very, very gray, but to me it feels more right to side with the woman over the uterine parasite every time. What do I have wrong?