I’m a man, and if you think it’s hypocritical that a man is writing a piece about abortion, then I’d agree with you. I firmly believe women can and should be able to decide this issue for themselves without any confusing input from men. No, instead my task here is to call out hypocrisy when I see it. Actually I don’t think I’m calling out hypocrisy as much as I am calling out self-delusion. The issue is, if you’re not being true to yourself, how do you think you can have a meaningful debate with others?
When does human life begin?
I believe many people are genuine when they say that human life begins at conception. I personally do not believe this but I believe many people do and it is pointless to try to convince them otherwise. I wouldn’t even try, because it is not an opinion one can sway with facts. Until science comes up with a soul detector, believing that human life begins anywhere between conception and birth are reasonable beliefs. Both sides of the abortion debate are arguing past each other when they argue this point.
Parallel World Abortions
However, it’s clear from the rhetoric that pro-choice advocates cannot fully wrap their heads around the concept that human life begins at conception. So I’d like to paint an alternate world for these people so we can all share the same belief, because if an embryo or even a fertilized egg is a human being then abortion is murder.
So imagine for a moment a world where it was legal to kill newborn children up until they spoke their first word. You could conceivably do it for any reason, too much of a financial burden, too much of an emotional burden, perhaps it was a child of rape, perhaps it had a horrible accident and is now very disfigured. In short any reason is fine to end the life of a child up till it speaks its first word (say approximately 1 year old).
I think we’d all agree this would be a horrible world and even if the laws allowed doing this, we would struggle forever to overturn them, because it is just plain wrong.
In this world we would picket abortion clinics; we would show pictures of murdered 6 month olds alongside murdered 18 month olds and defy anyone to tell us the difference. (Pictures of dismembered fetuses are common picket signs in front of real-world abortion clinics.) If doctors were to develop a pill that a mother could take that would “magically” end the life of her 2 month old (say by transmitting the poison thru breast milk) we would be horrified and would do everything possible to block that pill from hitting the market. (RU-486 does induce abortion, but it is frequently confused with the morning after pill which blocks ovulation.) And even though some might argue “year old abortions” is “settled law”, we would never give up on the court system and strongly advocate for pro-life candidates in elections. (Almost all Republican candidates talk about overturning Roe v Wade.) If these abortion doctors were mugged, assaulted or even murdered we might prefer to call them war criminals rather than crime victims. We might even force these women to hug and kiss their 6-month old children before they had them aborted. (After all isn’t this the real reason for the trans vaginal ultrasound?) But the question is, is that all we would do?
Return to reality
Back in this world, some pro-lifers go much further. Some pro-lifers are against abortion even for life threatening ectopic pregnancies. (There’s no simple analog of this in my alternate reality world.) Pro-lifers also advocate pulling 100% of the funding for Planned Parenthood when only 3% to 10% of those dollars go to abortions. That’s 90% to 97% collateral damage! By the way, some of this 90% includes breast cancer screenings and pap tests, so the collateral damage here is life threatening. In short, these tactics suggest pro-lifers are using an “all-in” strategy. Saving babies is so important to these people that the friendly fire of reduced civil liberties, un-aborted ectopic pregnancies and reduced funding for breast cancer and pap screenings are acceptable risks.
Pro-life Not Extreme Enough
What surprises me is this is where the pro-life movement stops. Back in my fantasy world, a “war against abortion” would certainly seem to be warranted to stop the slaughter. Most people would do anything and everything to stop the killing of these children. So the question is why aren’t pro-life advocates doing more? Why are they in favor of some rather extreme measures to stop abortion, but not others?
What other methods do I speak of? How about free birth control? How about free access to half-way houses so that women who want to carry their pregnancies to term and put their children up for adoption can do so? How about more widespread sex education?
Let me be blunt about it. If all you had to do to save the life of a baby was allow an unwed couple to have access to birth control, wouldn’t you do that?
Most pro-life advocates are not in favor of these additional of measures, indeed, many are actively against them. They may claim they treat an unborn child as fully human, but they clearly do not for they value their stance on abstinence more than life. And they don’t even realize it.
The pro-life movement isn’t really about life, it’s some odd combination of life, abstinence, puritanical ideals and women’s sexuality. A stance where the life of an unborn child is worth more than the mother’s life and more than an abortion doctor’s life but less than unwed sex. Once the pro-life movement realizes how hypocritical they are being, maybe then the two sides can have a meaningful conversation.