In the debate over the right to destroy an unborn child in the womb, called abortion to sanitize it, the term “choice” has always mystified me. Other than the right to kill another human, women have always had a choice of whether or not to conceive, or whether or not to bear children. Why should they be demanding this “choice” now, when they have always had it? Perhaps the word is a misnomer for what is being asked. True, there are some men who violate a woman’s choice, within marriage or without. This is called rape, and if the campaign is for the right to choose not to be raped, then I think the vast majority of people would be in agreement with that. However, that does not seem to be what is being asked.
Human life takes place over an extensive scale of forms, ranging from embryo, fetus, and baby to toddler, school aged child, adolescent, youth, middle aged, elder – I may have forgotten a few stages. The common link is that at all stages, this life is human. It cannot be rabbit, or frog or bird, or even simply non-living “tissue”. It can be only human, and it is alive, be it embryo, fetus, baby or grandparent. Each stage has different requirements for life support. A born person, for example, needs food and water and air. Deprive them of that, and they die. Depriving them of that as an act of personal will is killing them. Human life in the womb requires the womb itself to provide it with food, water and air until it is born. Deprive it of that, and the human life dies. Depriving it of that as an act of personal will is killing that life. A part of that debate seems to be whether it is OK to kill some stages of human life, and not others. In other words, it is assuming for ourselves the right to say that some human lives are valuable and others are not. Especially vulnerable are those at both ends of the continuum and in general any who are weaker, poorer, in greater difficulty or causing inconvenience, however innocently, to others.
Then there is the argument that abortion is healthcare. Healthy for whom? Even assuming that the woman undergoing abortion does not experience any emotional or physical aftereffects, which more often than is reported is not the case, it certainly is not healthy for the human life being aborted. Side effects of abortion can range from physical damage to the mother to persistent severe emotions of grief and regret, which can be difficult to express to a truly listening ear. Sometimes abortion can even affect a woman’s future fertility. However, abortion is a kind of care. It allows the effects of copulation and conception to be avoided, the costs of raising a child to be avoided, the interruptions to a career path to be avoided. It is convenience care, which is rarely talked about. It is the choice to conceive a child without the attendant responsibilities of that act. This we allow, by allowing the killing of the human life that results. Do we allow the irresponsible use of, for example, marijuana, even though killing another life is not required to expiate us from that irresponsibility?
To prove the assertion that abortion is healthcare, some will cite the example of women whose life is in danger by continuing to carry their baby. They are at risk of dying from pregnancy, and with them, their unborn child. Is it right then, to kill the child to save the life of the mother? The right of self defense is accepted by the vast majority of people, and of the institutions that they form. It is an event of great sadness that an unborn life attacks the life that shelters it, threatening its very being. In this case, termination of the pregnancy would fall under the right of self defense, not the right to choose to kill one’s child. Still, there are mothers who would sacrifice their own lives if there were any chance that their child might live.
Then there are those who assert that children conceived through the horrific act of rape be aborted. Whose fault is the rape? Who should pay the penalty? It is certainly not the child who is guilty of being conceived, and who deserves to die for that act. Yet, we wish to blame the child by aborting it, and make it difficult to convict the rapist, who, even if convicted, more often than not receives a light sentence, is set free to do it again, does not have to pay child support, and who, often, is ALSO given access to the child, to the distress of the woman he raped. No wonder women who choose to protect the life of their child then choose to have it adopted. We don’t need more killing; we do need more certain ways of identifying a rapist (increasingly those ways are becoming available) and by penalties that ensure further rape will not be committed and requirements to provide financial support for the child conceived, without automatic visitation.
There are also those who cite the need to rein in a growing population. Yet, none of them suggest the surest way of preventing conception, which is abstaining from copulation. We have a right, they say, to one of the most pleasurable acts existing, apart from the fact that that act of copulation is not only immensely pleasurable and promoting of emotional bonding, but also is present for perpetuating human life. It is a two-stranded phenomenon. It is a phenomenon which has existed from the beginning of human life as a two-stranded phenomenon, immensely pleasurable to ensure that it occurs for the purpose of the continuity of human life. Abortion attempts to separate those strands. If children and human life are separated from the act of copulation, then what is left is no longer glorious, sacred if you will, no longer the powerful, creative act that has existed from the beginning. It is at best a temporarily satisfying means of mutual masturbation. Is this what we are willing to engage in killing to acquire? Better to avoid the conception itself, even if that means abstinence. Abstinence is certainly a possible way of life, one engaged in by people by choice, in community and independently. What are we doing, asking for the right to kill to create that which is less valuable
Ladies, not just from religion, but from knowledge from the beginnings of when we became aware, you are life carriers. It is how you were created or evolved, whichever word you choose. It is the essence of your being to carry and protect the life within you, and to nurture and guide it when it is born. If you do violence to that life, you do violence to yourself, and the nature or essence of your being will be harmed thereby. Men, you are callers-forth of life. To you is given the privilege of calling forth life within a woman. It is your being to protect and provide for that life, within its mother and without, and also to teach that life when it is born. If you do violence to that life or to the woman who carries that life, you do violence to yourself, to the nature or essence of your being. Those who upon reflection cannot see that, talk to those who are parents or hear the experiences told by those who have aborted.
Increasingly, people are now praying and working for a world that is peaceful, non-violent, and which contains the means for life for all who inhabit Earth. How can we expect to achieve this if we ourselves are violent, if we condone the killing of others, if we judge some humans to be less worthy of life than other humans? Let us begin the great task of birthing a gentler, more just and welcoming world by the gentle, welcoming birth of our babies, instead of the continuing violence.