Anytime a highly emotional topic is addressed, a serious test of civil discourse occurs. Abortion is an emotional topic and will be a big test of our ability to have a dialog. I am more interested in creating dialog than the topic, although I have a high interest in abortion. I chose a tough topic so we would have to work at dialog.
Today I am going to state my opinion. I commit I will properly listen (or read) yours. I will acknowledge your strengths and my weakness before attempting to discuss any perceived weakness I may see in yours. I ask you to do the same.
Our society must learn civil discourse and proper dialog—let’s show them how to do it.
My personal opinion begins
My opinion is based on a combination of factors. First In a perfect world two consenting adults enter into a sexual relationship of their own free will.
We do not live in a perfect world. In my opinion, if a woman’s freedom of choice is removed from sex, then she has the right to exercise choice at a later time. Therefore, I believe a woman who is raped, or has choice denied by coercion or other means, should have the legal choice to have an abortion if she wishes.
Crucial point # 1
At this juncture the issue gets more complicated and my thinking less certain.
In a perfect world two consenting adults who enter into a sexual relationship of their own free will would accept the consequences for their choice. The primary consequence is the possibility of pregnancy. If pregnancy happens, my personal preference would be for both parties to accept the responsibility for the pregnancy through to birth. We did and several of the people reading this blog are thankful for our decision.
Again, the world is not perfect. If the two adults practiced birth control and it failed, do I have the legal right to deny the abortion of a zygote? If the person was seeking to deny the growth of a child by practicing birth control before the formation of a zygote, should a woman have the right to deny the growth of a child after the zygote is formed but before the zygote becomes a viable child?
I have come to believe she has the right to practice birth control in that manner. Although it is not my personal preference, I believe a woman should have the legal right to practice birth control by the abortion of a zygote.
Part of my decision is practical: To bring an unwanted child into the world and to create an environment that fosters illegal abortions are not actions of love.
Part of my decision is intellectual: practicing birth control denies life to far more potential children that the destruction of a single zygote.
Crucial point #2
Now it gets even more complicated. In my opinion, at some point the zygote becomes a viable unborn child. A woman still has her right to choose but her choices are no longer about her alone but about them.
I base that opinion on years of personal observations of pregnant women. At some point in the pregnancy an unborn baby gets restless, moves and kicks. At that point I have never heard a woman conceptualize the situation as she was kicking herself. I never heard any woman say “I have to stop kicking myself.” I have never heard any woman believe she could control the kicking or movement. They always attributed the actions to something separate but inside of them. “My baby is restless tonight.” “Do you want to feel my baby kicking?”
To underscore my observations—a friend of mine, who I know to have a more liberal approach to abortion than mine, sent me an excellent essay from the New Yorker. In it were four quotes which I believe support my view. He would probably disagree.
- I sewed my son his first snowsuit when I was pregnant with him.
- … he was coming out of me.
- … had to unzip the baby out of me.
- I lost a baby. I hadn’t even known I was pregnant.
In all four quotes, the language makes it clear she did not conceptualize the ‘thing” inside of her as another part of herself, rather as a baby. She knew he was something separate but inside of her, and dependent on her. She had rights, but so did he. Even in a miscarriage she wrote of a “baby.”
Additionally I have never heard any woman after seeing a sonogram say. Do you want to see pictures of me? It has always been. Do you want to see pictures of my baby? Every woman has been aware, she no longer is one but two.
The concept is even extends to when the child is not responsive or is miscarried. As shown in the fourth quote, a miscarriage was conceptualized as the loss of a child not simply shedding pounds of herself.
At this point the woman still has the right to choose, she does not lose that even after the child is born; I believe the consequences for the choice should be the same as after the child is born.
A woman can choose to kill a child because the child is handicapped, disfigured, or has an unwanted gender or race. She has a choice; she can choose to kill; however in most civilized societies, she faces serious consequence for the decision. I believe the same should hold for the unborn viable child.
As we advance in technology we will undoubtedly advance in our ability to identify characteristic of the unborn child making the issue an even more important and difficult ethical situation.
I believe discrimination on the basis of handicap, gender, or race is wrong for the born, I extend that right to the viable unborn. Killing an unborn viable child on the basis of handicap, gender, or race should have serious consequences.
Determining viability is not something about which I am certain, but I believe the third trimester is a conservative decision.
My invitation to dialog
Well there you have it—my view. I gave my reasons but without much detail. Never having given serious thought to my position, the experience was a good exercise for me.
You may be more liberal: you may be more conservative — I still want to hear what you think.
I repeat my commitment to properly listen (or more accurately read) your views. I will acknowledge your strengths and my weakness before attempting to discuss any perceived weakness I may see in yours. I have uncertainties. I look forward to hearing from you.
Until next time,