One Person's Opinion

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Monday, March 31, 2003
It sounds like nobody could disagree with it. And it certainly is the governing principle of many peoples' reproductive lives in this country. Further, you can't seriously support equality and autonomy for women and yet criticize them for choosing to have their babies.

And yet.... every child is not a blessing to every mother. Sometimes, an abortion is the right thing to do. To choose an extreme example, remember the Nicaraguan 9 year old rape victim?

The reason this comes up is this Eve Tushnet item I ran across. She links to an anti-abortion blog, which then links in turn to a pro-abortion site, There has, for some time, been a branch of the pro-life movement that focuses on ministering to women who regret their abortions. Certainly some women do regret their abortions; it is a morally complex decision, and in any event, society hangs a huge guilt trip on women who have the procedure. The I'm Not Sorry website is aspiring to be a counterweight-- a group of women who are glad that they had abortions. I'm not sure that I'm Not Sorry is entirely successful-- it's easy enough to start sitting in judgment of the reasons the women give for their abortions, which really isn't the point of the site. But what is most interesting is the anti-abortion blog's reaction to the site-- the blog's author basically dismisses many of those who aren't sorry about their abortions as childless women, and says that women who that tend to have children tend to regret their abortions more.

I don't know whether this is true or not, but I don't see particularly why it should be true. That's where I was going with the title of this post. It is simplistic to say that an unplanned child is simply a surprise blessing. Anyone who familiarizes him- or herself with the practices of any of this world's extreme patriarchal societies, or the history of women in the United States, understands that the ability to plan motherhood is a necessary condition for gender equality. I realize that many people have seen their lives blessed by children that they didn't plan to have. But it is that unplanned pregnancy that leads to a woman quitting her job, dropping out of school, marrying the wrong, abusive guy, going on welfare, or taking any number of actions that end up retarding her future opportunities. I, of course, am not female and have never been pregnant, planned or otherwise. But I would certainly think that there is many a woman out there who has had planned children and who is very glad that she wasn't forced to have that baby that came around when she wasn't prepared to become a mother.

And I think the misunderstanding of this point subtly colors the way we view abortion. Nobody wants to say that some children shouldn't be born. But really, the concept of children as a "blessing" really adds nothing to the abortion debate. After all, if every child is a blessing, why use contraception or even abstain during ovulation; why pass up a chance to add a blessing to one's life every chance one gets? Everyone, or at least everyone who is being remotely cautious, at least tries to time procreation. Though nobody will admit it, just about all of us understand internally that having children at certain points in one's life is not really a blessing. (If you really disagree with me on this point, what do you think about the 9 year old Nicaraguan?) And once you get past that point, the abortion debate gets back to whether it is morally permissible to destroy an embryo or a fetus.

There's more than one way to love children. And a woman who utilizes family planning, including abortion, to ensure that she brings her children into the world under the best possible circumstances, to me, is acting in a profoundly moral way. She is wanting the best for her children. But some pro-lifers seem to labor under the illusion that such a woman should feel guilty. There's no reason why she should.

you refer to embryos as "things", and the notion that they are living human individuals as being a "theoretical claim" or "delusional" and that the thought of life beginning at conception being at odds with science and philosophy.

I ask you, once a sperm and egg unite and the chromosomes form up, can we possibly deny the organism being alive, and that the genetic code it possesses would be found as human if tested, and that it would be a code similar yet distinct from the parents?

There is no valid scientific denial that the organism resulting from conception is other than a living human individual. Accepting the truth, the real questions then becomes "under what circumstances may a living human individual be justly slain", and "under what circumstances may one human be required to provide for the life of another".

From your statement: "I don't want to die because of somebody else's debating society claim about when a living being attains rights", I surmise that you feel it is acceptable to slay another living human, specifically in this case a human innocent of any wrong doing on it's own behalf, in order to extend your own life. Your justification therefore subsists in convenience and personal gain.

There are those would attempt to confuse the issue by injecting the unscientific concept of "personhood", which generally means "an individual that "the collective" values enough to assign rights to". This however is the wishy washy delusional view with no basis in science. It is a comforting groupthink agreement made up to sooth the emotions and egos of those who would slay other humans out of convenience or personal gain.

Care to debate this further? Where can I contact you to discuss?
I must appologize, the previous comment should have began with:

I wanted to respond to your comment on and this seemed like the most relevant thread I could find.

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