I’m not going to make any friends with this essay; I already know that. Emotions run high on the abortion issue and I’m going to say things that people on both sides of the debate are likely to find intolerable. But someone‘s gotta say it, so it might as well be me.
First off: I’m pro-choice. Sorry, that ain’t gonna change. I’ve heard every pro-life argument repeated countless times and none of them have changed my views yet, and are unlikely to do so in the future. But I definitely understand the pro-life position, and I acknowledge that many people are pro-life on solidly grounded moral principles. I have no beef with that, and I have no interest in trying to convince anyone to change their minds.
Recently, Sharron Angle, Nevada’s Republican nominee for Senate, was savagely criticized by the Harry Reid campaign (her Democratic opponent) and by liberals in general when she reaffirmed her belief that even rape victims who become pregnant should carry their babies to term and not have abortions:
Interviewer: What do you say then to a young girl, I am going to place it as he said it, when a young girl is raped by her father, let’s say, and she is pregnant. How do you explain this to her in terms of wanting her to go through the process of having the baby?
Angle: I think that two wrongs don’t make a right. And I have been in the situation of counseling young girls, not 13 but 15, who have had very at risk, difficult pregnancies. And my counsel was to look for some alternatives, which they did. And they found that they had made what was really a lemon situation into lemonade. Well one girl in particular moved in with the adoptive parents of her child, and they both were adopted. Both of them grew up, one graduated from high school, the other had parents that loved her and she also graduated from high school. And I’ll tell you the little girl who was born from that very poor situation came to me when she was 13 and said ‘I know what you did thank you for saving my life.’ So it is meaningful to me to err on the side of life.
Now, the Reid campaign and left-leaning bloggers went ballistic upon hearing this, either intentionally misconstruing Angle’s statement to imply that she is in favor of rape, or at a minimum denouncing her position as cruel and fundamentally immoral.
But, despite being pro-choice myself, I had the opposite reaction. Angle’s unwavering philosophical consistency was a rare treat to behold in this nation of fickle politicians. Because Angle’s hardline stance is to my mind the only valid pro-life stance.
We’re All Lying
I think both sides of the abortion debate are lying and have been lying since the argument first arose. Anyone who wants to forbid abortion “except in cases of rape or incest” is, frankly, full of crap. And here’s why:
If you truly are “pro-life” in that you believe abortion is murder because the unborn child is a full-fledged human being, then you wouldn’t so casually allow the child to be murdered simply based on its parent’s misbehavior.
Most people who are anti-abortion adopt the label “pro-life” based on the shared notion that the zygote/embryo/fetus, no matter what its stage of development, is an undiminished human being with full human rights. And that’s a principled position which I can respect — if you stick to it consistently. But if you start making expedient exceptions, then your dishonesty has been revealed. Because if you really and truly believed that an embryo was a full human being, then you wouldn’t allow it to be murdered simply because its father was a bad man.
Say, for example, a man goes out and robs a store. Do the police then go to that man’s house and throw his son in jail as punishment for the father’s crime? Of course not. Not only would that be unconstitutional, it would be illogical as well. Well, what if a man goes out and rapes someone, and gets sentenced to life in prison. Do we as a society then go to the man’s family and also throw his children in jail for life? Again, that would seem insane.
Why then, if we are to accept the supposition that unborn children have full human rights, would we sentence a (pre-born) baby to death (abortion) simply because the baby’s father is a rapist? How does that make any more sense than the scenarios I described above?
Allowing a rape-and-incest exception to any abortion ban essentially means we are willing to punish the children for the sins of the father. And that’s not the way our society works.
That is, unless there was a hidden rationale behind the abortion ban which had nothing to do with the belief that embryos are children. If the “pro-life” stance was sometimes nothing but a ruse, a false front to disguise the real reason for being anti-abortion, that would explain why some “pro-lifers” are willing to murder unborn babies under certain circumstances.
And I have always believed that the hidden rationale is obvious: It’s all about sex.
Many politicians and regular folks feel (accurately, in my opinion) that allowing unfettered legal access to abortion will encourage promiscuity among young people. That if we intentionally make sex consequence-free, then more casual sex will happen, and more sex will lead to more babies out of wedlock, which will lead to any number of well-documented social ills. And furthermore, many feel, pre-marital and extra-marital sex is fundamentally immoral, in that it is explicitly forbidden by the three main monotheistic religions and by many other faiths as well.