I’m going to talk about abortion now. Not ’cause it’s something I care deeply for or think about that often, but because it’s there, and it’s an issue we’re all gonna have to reckon with sooner or later. Not to mention that it’s complicated as all heck. When approaching this, I realize there’s no way to be honest about how I feel without coming across like I view life as cheap. By the time they’re done reading this I’m sure there are many conservatives who will think me to be the devil incarnate. That’s a risk I’m willing to take, though, for it’s important those in support of ‘‘choice’’ begin an honest moral discussion on abortion——unpleasant journey to the dark side as it may prove to be. . . .

The heart of the pro-life argument regards the rights of the unborn. Limbaugh writes: ‘‘. . . once [abortion advocates] concede that a fetus is life anytime before birth, they’ve lost the argument.’’ The argument’s barely begun. Roe vs. Wade may indeed be bad constitutional law. I’m not knowledgeable enough about the law to argue in those terms. But I am more than willing to admit that a newborn is life from embryo through fetus, and still willing to argue for abortion.

Besides the notion that life has no definite beginning or end but for our primitive perceptions of birth and death, human life obviously begins at conception. You know, when the mother and father do a bit of the old nasty. But from conception, that life-form grows inside the woman and is a part of her body, as she feeds it with the food she eats and subjects it to the tobacco, alcohol, and drugs she uses while pregnant.

Limbaugh alleges that abortion isn’t about the individual rights of a mother, and that women can’t be allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies. His rationalization: ‘‘Can a woman choose to steal, using her own body? Of course not. Can she choose to do drugs? Not according to the law. Can she legally choose to be a prostitute? Again, no, which establishes, as does the drug example, that there is precedent for society determining what a woman can and can’t do with her body.’’

He’s quite correct. But is there a limit to what the government can tell a woman to do with her body? If a woman is pregnant, should she not be allowed to drink? After all, everything she consumes is likewise consumed by her child, and it’s illegal to give alcohol to children. Should a pregnant woman who has the occasional cocktail be arrested on the grounds of contributing to the delinquency of a minor? Or of putting her fetus at risk? Of course not. Thus establishing that a woman’s rights over her body cannot be completely subservient to the life she carries inside herself.

This is not an easy line to define. The very fact that it’s illegal to get an abortion in the third trimester collaborates the precedence of determining what women do to their bodies——in the most sensible regions of my heart, mind and soul I believe such to be of sound reason. And yet when only a couple weeks old, no larger than a thumb, the aborting of a newly-conceived embryo doesn’t much bother me.

Am I only fooling myself, seeing the new life-form for less than it is simply because of its superficial size? What’s the difference between that embryo and fetus that one should be protected from murder and the other shouldn’t?

Depends entirely on your perspective, of course.

No matter what its size, I have no problem seeing either embryo or an old person, or for that matter an insect as life sprung forth from the same essential source. Now this hardly means I feel the same when a human dies as when someone steps on an ant, as it’s difficult to imagine that anything so minuscule could feel or know so much as for the ending of their life to be such a tragic thing. But as the life-form develops into a more complex creature, and is more aware and sensitive to this physical world, the more I feel for its right to life, while still seeing it as just another beautiful creation, like myself or that ant. Or that embryo.

Can abortion seriously be seen as murder when the embryo is so underdeveloped and insensitive to its physical body? Sure it can, just as purposely stepping on an ant can be said to be murder. It’s the taking of a life, but we must perceive it from a more physical perspective.

Limbaugh makes the argument that, hey, that aborted life could have been the next Beethoven, they could be the person who invents a cure for AIDS. But when you consider the potential for life, the number of children people could have if they dedicated themselves to nothing else is stupendous. Think of all those possible Mozarts and cancer cures. That’s the potential every healthy human possesses in their loin. Does this mean people have a moral obligation to have as many children as possible, or that they love life less because they choose to have only a few or no children? This life potential is plentiful not only in our own natures, but also via means of science. Suppose (hypothetically) some geek in a lab figures out how to genetically clone human embryos. The potential that exists there is no different than that which exists for any newly conceived child. Should that scientist then breed as many children as he can in order to release all that potential life? All that potential music and medicine?

For myself, when still so recent a conception as to be unaware of its physical self, then, though unfortunate, the termination of that embryo seems the same as choosing not to use that ever-present potential to create life. Like simple non-conception.

Perhaps the elusive concept of their own non-conception is what elicits some to oppose abortion. It may be just a tad disturbing for people to think about the fact that they themselves were biologically nothing more, nor less, than the union of one of many eggs and sperm. Or, in other words, your parents could not have had you just as easily or even easier than they did have you. Perhaps abortion bothers some people as much as it does because it makes them have to contemplate just how mortal, just how temporary and circumstantial all our lives here really are.

Who knows? Besides, who am I to explain the mindset of those who so passionately oppose abortion? The best I can do is make my own feelings on the issue clear as possible, that it is a sad and unfortunate murder to be sure, but as long as women want this operation they should have the legal right to it.

And I love and cherish life as much as anyone, as do most pro-choicers, I’m sure. I don’t believe for a second (despite the repeated claims of Limbaugh——see below) that there is anyone who supports a woman’s freedom of choice who similarly thinks that abortion is the better of the two choices (unless it’s some population control fanatic)——what most of us believe is simply that a woman should be free to choose for herself which path she takes.

Limbaugh: ‘‘I’m not opposed to abortion because I want to force people to do things my way. . . .’’ No, his opposition is based instead on his love for life. I can believe that. But Limbaugh can in no way believe that for feminists it’s an issue of individual rights.
‘‘. . . believe me, to them it is a question of power. It is their attempt to impose their will on the rest of society, particularly men.’’ And he says that ‘‘abortion is the fuel running their entire political agenda. It is the sacrament of their religion of feminism. . . . [their] objective is to see that there are as many abortions as possible.’’ Again Limbaugh trips up his own position by characterizing his opposition with the grimmest of fallacies.

Hey, I’m all in favor of encouraging women to bear their children. But, while I can appreciate the sentiment of the pro-life movement, often it seems their approach is off-putting to the very women they’re trying to ‘‘convert’’ to their view. It’s easy to hold protests outside clinics harassing those who work and those who go for operations there. This is certainly easier than it is to rationally encourage women to give birth because it’s what they want to do, not because it’s what they’re told they must do by the law or pro-lifers (or imaginary celestial beings).

On the other side of that, it’d be wrong to support the right to an abortion——not only their legality, but their availability——and not equally support services that help mothers who decide they do want to bear their child, whether they decide to keep it themselves or put it up for adoption.

That’s how I feel about abortion, roughly and in so many words.


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