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<< Previous: On the Matter of Roe... | Next: BlogHer 2006 >>

Why the Abortion Debate Matters to Me
Sunday, 2006 January 22 - 6:56 pm
Part 2 of a two-part article. Here, I discuss some of my personal views on abortion. Try not to hate me.

(NOTE: I recognize that the topic of abortion is highly divisive and inflammatory, so with that in mind, I'm going to say this: if you want to argue about abortion, don't do it here. I'll delete comments if people start a debate. If you want to express your own opinions about the topic, do it in your own blog. Okay? Normally I don't want to stifle discussion, but this topic easily has the potential to turn into a flame war.)

Why do people care so much about abortion?

I think it's an important topic. I don't think it's the most important topic. I'll outline a bit of why it matters to me.

* * *

First of all, as a man, obviously, I will never need an abortion. To me, that immediately says that women should have a greater say in this debate than men. The consequences of outlawing abortion are much greater for women than they are for men, and that seems to weigh against the 14th Amendment principle that all people should have equal protection under the law. So that makes the abortion debate an equal rights issue.

The reason equal rights are important to me is because I've lived my life as a member of a minority group, and I'm sensitive to these kinds of things. I don't like watching an established power trample on the rights of an underprivileged class. More on that in a minute.

I'm not saying that abortion doesn't affect men at all; I'm just saying the impact on women is greater. So maybe with that in mind, we should just let women decide this issue. Or give women three times as many votes as men. Or geez, it would be an improvement to at least give women an equal number of votes as men, because let's face it, our courts and legislatures are heavily dominated by men.

Furthermore, suppose we consider the idea that individual states should be able to outlaw abortion: what that does is make abortion more available to those who can travel... and therefore, more available to those who are wealthy. That again becomes an equal rights issue.

Now, people will argue that the unborn children should equal rights too. However, as a practical matter, we can't have unborn children going around making legal decisions. For those people who say that they speak on behalf of the unborn children: how do you know that they all would vote against abortion rights? After all, the vast majority of them would actually live. And of those who live, over half of them go on to support abortion rights.

(Yeah, that's a silly argument, but then again, any argument that involves "speaking on behalf of the unborn" is silly. What's next, sperm's rights? I got a few million votes right here.)

* * *

Second, I'm sensitive to the practical social problems we have in this country, because ultimately, those problems do affect me.

Suppose we went ahead and outlawed abortion. How do we deal with the rise in teenage pregnancy, orphaned children, and families on welfare? And of course, what about the back-alley illegal abortions? (Insert coat-hanger picture here.) Certainly it's not going to help things if we keep cutting funding for social programs, and if we prevent children from being educated about sex and birth control. There'll be more poverty. More family problems. More crime. More class warfare. Is that the kind of country we want to live in?

People will argue, we should outlaw abortion just on moral principle, and we should find ways to deal with the social problem. But not only is that naive, it trivializes the definition of morality. Morality doesn't just mean we try to keep as many people alive as long as possible. It means we do what's best for society as a whole.

Yes, that idea comes mostly from my Utilitarian and Relativist philosophies, and I know not everyone would agree with that. But people should account for the fact that their ideas about morality are not universal. To state that one particular moral principle trumps all others is presumptuous.

* * *

Third, I don't like the increasing influence of religion in government. The whole "life begins at conception" argument is heavily tied to Christian doctrine. If you want to make abortion a theological argument, then fine: but that should happen outside the government, because the First Amendment says that our government is to be secular.

This is another example of an established power trampling on an underprivileged class. Just because non-Christians are in the minority in this country, doesn't invalidate their beliefs or rights.

I have no problems with churches prohibiting abortion for their members. Go ahead, take away your own rights from yourselves. But keep those hands out of my government.

* * *

Fourth, even if you define conception as the start of life, I don't particularly buy this argument that we always want to "protect life". We're a nation of gun-owners, and we're a nation of killers. We kill animals at a frightening rate, often just for sport. We kill people all the time. We make movies about killing people. In our most popular video games, killing people is the main objective. Pro-life? Give me a break.

* * *

Look, it's not that I don't believe there's room for discussion about the topic. I do believe that we would be a better society if we did not need to have abortions. And I fully sympathize with the idea that life is precious thing. But I'm concerned that we are not using the right criteria for framing this discussion. We have allowed religious views to narrow the debate parameters to the point where compromise is impossible. We have not given women enough of a voice. And a lot of people seem to be arguing just about a single principle ("when does life begin"), rather than the practical issues of establishing the greater good.

For some people, abortion is the most important political debate topic there is. For me, it's just a part of larger issues facing our society, and I would hope that we don't lose sight of those issues. Equal rights, social and economic justice, separation of church and state... that means much more to me than the questionable concept that we want to "protect life".

In a thousand years, when we have the ability to extract a fetus from the womb seconds after conception, and have it be birthed and raised by a family of human-like androids, all this will be moot. I just hope we don't have to go on arguing about it until then.

Permalink  5 Comment   Bookmark and Share
Posted by Ken in: commentarypolitics

Comments

Comment #1 from Bake Town (Guest)
2006 Jan 22 - 8:19 pm : #
Well put and I agree whole heartedly. After a man has pushed an 8 pound watermelon out of his pee hole - then he can start to tell me what I can and can't do with my own body.
Comment #2 from Crouching Hamster (Guest)
2006 Jan 22 - 9:00 pm : #
Hmmm. I don't get your equal protection argument at all. Can you expand on it and maybe cite a few cases (totally serious)?

Also, "Jane Roe" (Norma McCorvey) had the baby and gave it up for adoption. Ms. McCorvey is currently an evangelical anti-abortion activist.

My $.02 - when I hear of the "abortion debate," I think of it as a religious debate, certainly not a legal one. And then I tune out.
Comment #3 from John C (Guest)
2006 Jan 22 - 10:06 pm : #
"For some people, abortion is the most important political debate topic there is. "
I would only like to say that my greatest hope is that all of our electionsstop being so heavily dependant on the candidates feelings on this one topic. It is an important one, no matter what your views are, but there are many other important topics. At the risk of getting shot, this issue demands too much of our national attention.
Comment #4 from MonoCerdo (Guest)
2006 Jan 23 - 11:10 am : #
Ken Kato, a true American hero working to raise awareness of Sperm Rights worldwide.
Comment #5 from Amy (Guest)
2006 Jan 23 - 4:21 pm : #
HEY NOW! I am the one working to get a "rise" out of him AND give his sperm the right... of passage, kinda...

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