Pro-life or anti-choice

So, as usual, I can’t read a post on Greg Laden’s Blog without going off on a tangent. I suppose my thoughts are just typically quite scattered when I am reading blogs, but anyway, the following is my stream of consciousness after reading aforementioned post:

I’ve often wondered how someone can claim the title of being “pro-life” as if the opposition is “pro-death” or “pro-murder.” It certainly seems like a loaded term in and of itself, but how in favor of life are these individuals in the first place? Are they really “anti-choice” or merely “anti-abortion?”

How do most “pro-life” groups define “life” and why do they define it this way? Many, as far as I can tell, define “life” as the moment of gamete fusion, but this ignores a great deal about the term “living” versus “nonliving” in biology. Oocytes and spermatozoa are both living cells. While they are incapable of proliferation individually, and thus cannot “reproduce,” they are capable of all other characteristics of “living organism.”(1)

Some religious organizations are opposed to any contraceptives (hormonal, physical, or surgical) thus making individuals either sexually frustrated or overburdened with children (or both). Additionally, abortions and contraceptives have been quite common over the course of human history ranging from herbal abortifacient blends to the insertion of metal implements into the uterus to extreme abdominal pressure. The survival rate of children to adulthood has also increased dramatically in the past millennium. Perhaps we should consider exactly what it means to be prolife anti-choice in light of the current situation.

We are currently faced with the problem of the human population. While not all areas of the globe are covered with humans like my back yard is covered in Solenopsis invicta, we have still managed to begin scouring the planet of biodiversity and resources. It should be pointed out that humans have been responsible for a great deal of the loss of biodiversity in the past century and continue to be the greatest threat to life on Earth. To continue with our population increase will certainly not help matters.

I shall not resort to the slippery slope that is “argument from possible consequences,” and shall, instead, migrate back to the present. What motives do the anti-choice have for preventing abortion? Aside from the intrinsic views of their religions that women are progeny factories, I have yet to come across any substantial argument against abortion. The argument about embryos being “human” is to intentionally misunderstand biology in an attempt to define human with the sole purpose of creating a tautology within the argument.

P1) We shouldn’t kill another human
P2) An embryo is a human
C) We should not kill an embryo

What is missing here is WHY is an embryo defined as “human” and what characteristics is this person using to assign such a label? Is there any specific reason (other than for the argument) that an embryo would be considered “human?” I don’t think there is. Often, anti-choice individuals resort to another point, which is equally spurious. This point is one of vitalism, the notion that humans possess “souls” and that these “souls” are given at the moment of fertilization. I hesitate to ask, but what happens for a miscarriage? What about embryos which do not implant into the uterus? What happens to the “soul” when an embryo splits into monozygotic twins? How does this soul interact with the body? For that matter, what does it do? Since we have absolutely no evidence of a soul, we should assume the null hypothesis that said soul does not exist.

(1) It could be said, by inclusion of the “reproduction” qualification, sterile hybrids are not living organisms.

I’ve stated my opinion on the notion of abortion several times before. To reiterate: I strongly support the right of any human to control the number of offspring he or she wishes to have. The decision to have a child rests solely upon the individuals that will care for this offspring. This means the woman housing this organism for 40 weeks has a particularly strong say in the matter if she does not wish for her body to be the feeding ground of said developing organism since she is required to alter her behaviors for said offspring.

As for the coverage of contraceptives of any form by health insurance companies, they should be as required to cover abortion procedures and contraceptive pills as they are required to cover vaccinations, emergency medicine, and prenatal care. Any reform which refuses any of these is not medical coverage, but criminal.


3 Responses to “Pro-life or anti-choice”

  1. 1 MichelleSedai
    November 17, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    i wish there was a “like” button here like they have on facebook. I like your last point on health care especially

  2. November 17, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    Agreed on health care. I have to say the whole process of insurance controlled health reform is making me sick to watch as it unfolds. I would also put in a mention of the fact that a lot of people who believe in a “soul” (of some sort, even the traditional sort) also agree with the pro-choice option. I think you make the point, if I read it correctly, that the notion that “life” happens at conception is off-base, because the things that combine in conception are already alive. My own personal opinion is that to have an abortion is to extinguish some form of life, but simply being alive results in extinguishing life. Every time a person eats (even vegetables), we have taken some life from one thing to nourish another life. The women I have known who have had abortions have all put it this way, too. It’s a hard decision, but it’s ultimately about balancing lives more than anything else, including the quality of life that the fetus would have had, and it seems a lot of abortion decisions are really about preventing a life filled with pain and hardship. This is a hard decision, but as you note, one that people have been living with for thousands of years. It’s also a decision our “animal” relatives also make, in much the same way, by balancing a concern among many lives. There is a way to respect and understand the sacredness of all life, even as we make these kinds of hard decisions. The anti-choice moralists are the ones who seem to have less regard for the life of the living. Anyway, I must move on… Nice post.

  3. 3 jaredcormier
    November 17, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    It is so wonderful when I can have someone else reach my point without ever having to precisely say it. It makes me feel as though I effectively articulated my ideas even though I know I probably botched them beyond any hope of repair.

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