Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thoughts on Abortion

In light of the election, I've decided to do (what I hope is) a quick post about one of the more heated moral issues.  I don't want to stir up raw feelings or anything of the sort, but I do want to express my own views on why I believe what I believe.  I'd also like to hear your thoughts on the subject as well.

When it comes to the legal discussion of abortion, I like to say that I'm pro-choice and pro-life.  Here's why.

I want to start by saying that, to me, the concept of abortion is appalling.  I think that a woman killing an unwanted fetus for the sake of convenience is one of the basest, most inhumane behaviors I can think of.  If you are old enough to have unprotected sex and get pregnant, you are old enough to carry and bear the child that you (and someone else) created.  Adoption is an incredible option if you are unable to take care of your child emotionally or financially.  I know it's hard to be pregnant for many people, but you knew that the risk of pregnancy was there before you had sex.  All actions have consequences and part of living in the adult world is living with the choices that you've made.

That was my little choice in there.
I want to continue by saying that no one, and I mean no one, on this planet has the right to tell me what I can, cannot or have to do concerning my own body.  It is my body.  It's the only thing in this world that no one can take away from me.  The government can take away my house, my family or my clothes if they so choose.  They can't take away my body and therefore have no control over it or what I choose to do with it.

Did anyone else hear about the ruling in NYC where restaurants and other eateries can't sell sodas that are larger than 16 ounces?  To me, this is an example of the slippery slope thinking of mandating what people can and can't do with their own bodies.  If the government can tell women that they have to carry the baby that they made in their own body, then what's next?  Can the government then force women to not get pregnant?  Or force people to get tattoos?  Or forbid someone from eating more than 2000 calories per day?  Or tell people that they will now be forced to run at least five miles per week in the name of doing what's best for them?  That kind of forcibleness translates into a form of slavery.  If my body is subject to the discretion of public leaders, then I am essentially a slave to them.

So where do we draw the line?  Which belief is more important?  Should we protect the life of unborn children or protect the freedoms and liberties of the women who are already alive?

In my opinion, abortion should not be made illegal, and here's why.

First of all, abortion rates are much higher in countries where abortion is heavily regulated.  Why?  Because women will not be told what they have to do with their own bodies if it's not in line with what they want to do for themselves.  Even if their desire is irrational, uneducated or selfish to us, it's their desire to be free from the burden of an unwanted pregnancy and they will go to any lengths to make that happen.  I have no doubt whatsoever that a similar atmosphere would manifest itself in this country should abortion be made illegal.

It doesn't have to be this way.
Second, I believe that it would significantly increase the number of false claims of rape and incest in America.  Many pro-lifers who support making abortion illegal have said that they'd offer one caveat; abortion should be legal in the cases of rape or incest.  (Richard Mourdock may not agree, but most conservatives do.)  If abortion would be made illegal in the US, I truly believe that we would have far more instances of "The Girl Who Cried Rape".  It's already difficult to prosecute rape because of the he said/she said nature of the crime.  It would be detrimental to real rape victims as well as to (criminally) innocent men who happened to father an unwanted child.

I want to reiterate how desperately I wish that women didn't feel the need to terminate unwanted pregnancies for the sake of conveniently wiping out the very real consequences of their poor judgement.  However, we simply can't force people to handle their bodies to accommodate our own moral beliefs.  We can only do that with our own bodies.

That's my view.  Tell me what you think.  Do you agree or disagree?  Why?  Keep it nice and give me tangible reasons; I'd love to hear them.  I also have a question for my Republican friends that maybe some of you can answer.  Why is it that Republicans preach about the virtues of smaller government involvement in individual lives but have this burning desire to have the government require women to carry their unwanted babies full term?  I'm truly curious.  Anyway, feel free to share your ideas!


Jordan and Amanda said...

I love it when you write stuff like this, btw. And I have to tell you, I totally agree with you. On everything. I think it's horrible that women use abortion as birth control (and I am SO tired of hearing how making abortion illegal is "punishing" women...). That being said, if I truly believe that women who have been raped or the life of the mother is threatened should have access to birth control, then I have to believe it needs to be legal in all cases. What would happen if a women was raped and wanted an abortion? Would we wait until the rape was proven? And the pregnancy has progressed to a point where it makes me absolutely sick to think about an abortion? No, abortion needs to be legal so women don't have to prove they've been raped. They need immediate and quick access.

I also believe that the life of the mother should be held higher than the life of the unborn child. Jordan and I have talked, and I realized if a pregnancy seriously threatened my life, I would choose to have an abortion, simply because I have a responsibility to my current children. And the idea that a women would have to die from an eptopic pregnancy because ending the pregnancy is "wrong" is also a horrible thought.

Sorry, this is probably all over the place, and my only excuse is that I have a 6 week old, but I totally agree with you on all counts. I'm glad we're friends. :)

Joe said...

I think a simple...or terribly complex, place to start far along do you have to be before it goes from being "miscarriage" or "fetal demise" (medically defined terms for "natural" abortion of the growing life)?
If my wife is 5 weeks pregnant and is told to take progesterone supplements because if she doesn't something bad could happen. And my wife decides ... Nobody will tell me how to treat my body! So she doesn't and then she miscarries a week or 3 later.... Did she just have an abortion? If abortion is illegal will we put women in jail for a few months and fine them 100s of $$ if they make decisions like drugs or other toxins and it leads to the loss of their unborn child at 4 weeks.. 4 months... .?
There is an artificial line where society and science have decided you can and can't kill something. It's a difficult topic and one that pulls every parents heart strings. Such a sensitive topic but one that our generation needs to discuss and either leave alone or make some hard decisions on.

Joe said...

The personal take for me was, my wife and I were pregnant about 4 weeks, but definitely pregnant and I got in a car accident that wasn't my fault and she miscarried the next day. Once legislation making it against the law to abort is in place then we define when you became technically pregnant and at what point life begins and start invading more into individuals lives. I know for myself most reasons for abortion seem shallow and inadequate. I am obviously not a woman to boot so my opinion is even less important (in general... So says my wife :)), I just don't want to let the government start regulating more of our lives, as you stated above.

Jessica Havican said...

Tiffany, I really appreciate you writing this. It has me thinking a lot about how I feel about abortion. I'll be honest, I saw it mostly from the view of killing an innocent life; not about the downward spiral of government controlling our lives and ultimately enslaving us. HOWEVER, I am simply NOT ok with "late abortion" unless under very extreme circumstances. Now I have some things to ponder....

Philip and Micaela said...

I completely agree with you! While the thought of abortion disturbs and sometimes horrifies me, I know that there are times when it may be necessary. And although I never really thought about the implications that illegalizing abortion would bring about, you have a point. It could make so many other things worse, not better, for us as a society.

I'm not sure about the Republican view on why this is OK but other government involvement is. I do know, though, that while I do believe it is important to not force our values and morals onto other women, I do not want to have to pay for someone's abortion just because she decides that having a baby is inconvenient. That's the main issue that I have with the government being involved in this issue.

Hulme Family Awesomeness said...

I find the same problem in this discussion as I find with most discussions on abortion: There is nothing mentioned regarding the father of the child.

It seems to me that the sexual act is a willing choice (in most circumstances) entered into by two parties, similar to a legal contract. The physical union of two people has the possibility of creating new life which both parties have an interest in. You can say whatever you want about how fair it is that the woman carries the child, and perhaps it can be argued that she has a greater interest in the child. Still, the father has an interest here, and it seems illogical to ignore his say. The statement that no one can tell you what to do with your body is in part invalidated by a personal chose to enter into a sexual agreement.

You might argue that there is no contract from a sexual union, and legally I think you are correct. But to see how wrong this feels, think of all the women who rightfully feel upset when a man is unfaithful to them, particularly after they have entered into sexual relations. There is no clear contract, but society at large recognizes that there is obligation.

Personally I do my best to love and respect all women, but I don't think that this should come at the cost of loving and respecting men. There is a push in our society toward a cultural emasculation of men. How many people do you know who complain that men in general are not doing their duty, are not taking care of their families, are not keeping commitments in life and in their relationships? I believe that suggesting that men have no say in the question of their unborn children is an attack on fatherhood and is one of the causes of the dissolution of the family in America. When you tell men that they have no say in their families it is no wonder that they choose to leave them.

Tiffany Tertipes said...

Thank you for your thoughts, Jared. I do agree that we need to discuss the role of men in this debate more. I thought about putting some discussion about that in this post, but it seems that this issue ties in well enough with the points I made earlier. You could essentially substitute "the father of the unborn child" for "the government" throughout my post.

An unborn child cannot live without the body of its mother. It can, and does, live without the body of its father. This is why men don't have a say in abortion decisions. It's not about who created the child; it's about who's carrying it and will give birth to it. It's the long nine months of being legally disabled. It's the stretching and scarring and tearing and bleeding. It's the pain. It's everything that women have to go through to bring a new life into the world that makes it her decision and her decision alone. It's not about the DNA that you contribute, because women do that, too. I'm sorry if that sounds unfeeling, because I don't wish it to, but that's really what it boils down to.

It's true that sexual unions, for the most part, imply some sense of obligation to one another, even outside of marriage. You said, "The statement that no one can tell you what to do with your body is in part invalidated by a personal chose to enter into a sexual agreement. " Personally, I would love for this to be true. Legally, it cannot be. Men know that by having unprotected sex, they can get a woman pregnant. They also know that if they do, the woman has complete control over whether she is willing to continue being pregnant. It's unfair to say or imply that only woman know what they're doing when they have unprotected sex. Men know this, too. They also know that their rights regarding pregnancy do not exist because they do not have the capacity to be pregnant themselves.

I definitely think that once a baby is born, more needs to be done to allow fathers all of the same rights and privileges as mothers, most especially is cases of single parenting/divorce. A lot of times, courts will favor the mother in custody hearings. I do agree with you that fathers are many times given a secondary role & that it shouldn't be that way, but that's a whole new topic to discuss.

I love this line: "Personally I do my best to love and respect all women, but I don't think that this should come at the cost of loving and respecting men." That is so true! David & I discuss this frequently. However, I think that in this case, giving a man equal say in what a woman can or can't do to her body would elevate his will above her own. When you are talking about abortion, it's either something you do or something you don't do. There is no middle ground. You can't simply give a man a say in the matter. Either the woman can decide for herself, or she can't. Either a man can decide for her, or he can't. I don't think particular issue disrespects men. I think that other issues in the world do, but not this one.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Araignée said...

Sure, it can be a hard life (dropping out of high school, often little support from the father), but honestly, when in history has a mother had fewer opportunities to have a successful and fulfilling life? Abortion is rarely a "need" in today's world (speaking for first-world countries in particular).

Along with some of the comments above, I am in a sense pro-choice: one makes the choice when one decides to have sex. True, women tend to bear the brunt of an unintended pregnancy, but that's (literally) the nature of the game. That's one of the blessings and "curses" of women: they can bear children.

To me the question is whether or not it should be regulated by the government as opposed to religious/moral leaders. I think there's a serious problem when the government encourages or supports any policy that discourages population growth (in both moral and practical aspects): abortion (with a few exceptions), gay marriage, children tax breaks, etc.

In essence, by promoting laws that put the individual above the public good or removing incentives that result in large nuclear stable families when at all possible, our society shoots ourselves in the foot. By and large, abortion tends to be a selfish act done for reasons of convenience; instead, people need to learn responsibility for actions whether or not they expected the end result. Some call it "reproductive rights" and demand contraception and/or abortion as part of this. A right comes with a responsibility, and taking away the consequences of ones' choices isn't protecting ones' rights; rather, the right is to do what you will with your body, and the responsibility lies with you for the child.