Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Abortion Epidemic

This post is not mine. It is a Philosophy paper written by a friend that I have very much admired since I was a pre-teen. I agree with her 100% and would like to share with you her words:

The Abortion Epidemic

The word epidemic has several meanings. In the adjective form, it means “excessively prevalent.” As a noun, it is defined as “an outbreak of sudden rapid growth or development” which usually carries with it a negative connotation. One can hardly argue that since the infamous case of Roe vs. Wade in 1973, abortion has mercilessly extended its arm to all four corners of the world. The act is reckless, irresponsible, and many times comes with grievous consequences. But, is it immoral? While valid arguments in support or opposition to abortion are infinite, in this paper I will show that it is not only ethically wrong, but it may be the most unnatural and catastrophic freedom that humanity has ever adopted.
Some might ask “how can abortion be called a sudden outbreak when it has been practiced throughout history?” This is true. In fact, documents exist from ancient Greece until the mid-twentieth century that have made mention of women who procured abortions through ghastly means. (Wernow, 2008). Until the arrival of antibiotics, many attempted abortions ended in death for the fetus and the mother. Women were given a concoction of herbs or drugs that were, at times, too toxic to endure. Also, women who tried to have the fetus surgically removed often died from infection or hemorrhaging to death. (Luker, 2005). As long as there have been ways to abort, there have been arguments about its morality.
But what makes something immoral or moral, and who makes that decision ultimately? To truly determine the morality of abortion, one does not need to turn to faith. Though the Bible contains scattered scriptures about fruitfulness and reproduction, it does not mention abortion directly. This is hardly a valid point concerning Biblical standards of abortion since the book is not specific about many ethical issues, such as: birth control, suicide, and euthanasia. However, because of my faith in Christ, (regardless of what modern scientists are teaching in schools), I would be doing this paper a disservice by failing to cite the book upon which our country was supposedly built. Psalm 139: 13-16 reads:
“[13] For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. [14] I will praise thee; for I am fearfully [and] wonderfully made: marvelous [are] thy works; and [that] my soul knoweth right well. [15] My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, [and] curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. [16] Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all [my members] were written, [which] in continuance were fashioned, when [as yet there was] none of them.” (KJV)
This passage suggests that God is very involved in the development of a baby in utero, and that He sees that baby as a person whom He knows and protects. Unfortunately, the standards of men that differentiate between person and thing are not as black and white.The real question is not about whether killing a person is moral. Christian or not, most people would attest to “thou shalt not murder,” as found in the book of Exodus. The heart of the matter is whether a completely inept and dependent being, such as a fetus, should be given agency. After all, it is totally incapable of rational thought or contributing to any type of mutual aid system. Is a fetus an agent, or is it expendable at the discretion of a possibly unwilling mother? If we are making the decision based on these questions alone, then the answer would be no. A baby who is still developing inside a woman is not a valuable and giving member of society, at least not yet. If given the chance, the fetus would inevitably be some day, and that makes all the difference.
There has to be something said for the potential of a fetus to be a breathing, critically thinking, and capable individual at some point in time. It is inescapable that an uninterrupted pregnancy will result in a child, who makes the normal transitions from teen, to adult, to elder, save of course, an early death. This goes beyond women’s rights, because when a child is conceived, it’s potential for normal humanity must be afforded rights of its own. Let us say that it is not. Let us say that because the fetus is unable to communicate or be self-sufficient that it cannot be granted agency. If that is just, and should be a universal law, then let us examine what we would be capable of if we spread this law across the board of all humanity and that any non-contributing and detrimental being was denied agency. What would happen to our elders, our mentally or physically disabled, and our young infants? If they were judged according to the standards of agency, they would have to be disposed of. They are of no use, and are the burden of resentful parents, children, and caregivers everywhere.
One might say of our nursing home patients that they did their part when they were young and able-bodied, so they deserve to live out their lives until they naturally die. We do not kill them because it seems wrong, and barbaric. Surely we could not stomach tearing their limbs from their bodies, or vacuuming out their insides, or choking them to death with a saline solution. They are large, and it would be messy, and we would hear their screams. No doctor on earth would have the heart to take their lives in such a manner unless he was some sort of a sadist.
Perhaps that is why abortion is so simple, because fetuses are in a quiet place where they cannot try to escape and cannot scream. They cannot make a big mess when they are being torn apart because they have no place to go, they can only endure until their little hearts stop beating. They cannot question as to why this choice has been made for them, their very innocence and inabilities are what make them such an easy target. If a woman were burdened with an unwanted pregnancy, then an abortion would certainly seem to be the path of least resistance at first.
When it comes down to reasons, is that not what it is all about: women’s rights? It seems that the only right afforded to women that is vital anymore is the right to choose. In fact, in What Women Have Lost, abortion is called the “litmus test for the women’s movement.” (Steinfels, 1994). Somehow, the right to be able to do away with their own young is most prevalent on the minds of liberated women. Unfortunately, with the ushering in of the pro-choice movement, men have their own expectations. If a man impregnates a woman, he now knows full well that he can bend her right to choose if he threatens to leave her. A woman may fear that she will lose her lover if she carries to full-term. At all costs, that woman might seek to feed the toxic love of her relationship, (and ultimately her own self-love), by ending the unwanted pregnancy.
If we consider Rawls “veil of ignorance” which not only helps us to have an objective view of justice, but also helps us to empathize with the position of others, we could take it a step further. (Waller, 2009). Let us say that behind the veil, we are about to see who we will become. Now, if we are happy with the prospect of becoming ourselves, we would naturally want to be born and live the life that was assigned to us. What if we had a glimpse of what we might be, but instead of realizing our potential to live, our lives were cut short by abortion. Could we miss what we never really had? Aside from the physical pain of suffering an abortion, would the fact that we were not allowed a chance to begin with seem just? I cannot imagine that it would, and it certainly would not seem to be a fair rule to be governed by.
A big argument is that a fetus has no potential to be a person until the mother decides that she is carrying out her wanted pregnancy, meaning that potential for agency is not granted until that point. However, the process of conception and birth is a natural law that cannot be squelched naturally by free will. Potential to become is not granted by man, it is granted by nature. Just as a flower blooms, we cannot grant it to wilt with our words or convictions. It is in its natural state which cannot be altered without someone plucking it out of the ground and crushing it. Without interruption, the flower would continue to flourish, provided adequate nourishment. Whether the pregnant woman wants to carry on with the pregnancy has been reduced to the inconvenience it brings to her life. No amount of theories or arguments can change that fact.
In Abortion and Kant’s Formula of Universal law, one sentence seems to sum it up. “The most obvious practical reason not to extend the scope of agency to include human fetuses is an interest in the well-being and reproductive freedom of women.” (Denis, 2007, pg.569). It also makes mention of situations in which abortions could be justified. One particular example was a woman becoming pregnant despite her use of birth control. It was her right to kill the fetus because the fetus had not been granted permission to use her body, and it’s occupation of her uterus was therefore immoral. That is quite a lot to attribute to something that is incapable of rational thought, or just a contrived loophole to justify a means to an end.
If we bring Kant’s categorical imperative into the equation, one cannot deny that abortion does not exactly line up with “the golden rule.” (Miller, 2009). Since every person who has ever lived was conceived and birthed, it is a universal rite of passage. Not a single person is exempt. So, if we take such a lackadaisical and destructive attitude toward a stage of inevitable development, and go so far as to deem it inconsequential, are we not also devaluing our very existence? After all, the groundwork for who we are physically is determined by the quality of time spent in our mother’s womb. Are women who terminate unwanted pregnancies refusing to acknowledge the foundation upon which their rights are built? Thirty years from now, they would not call their twenties a lack of agency, but simply a different stage of development.
Should we not extend that opportunity for growth, and perfection as the Bible puts it, to humans at any time in their lives? Of course we should, and we must.
But how would this become accomplished? How can we reverse an epidemic attitude that devalues the fundamental stages of human life? It would require an honest assessment of our passivity. In a world where convenience is key, and consequences are minimalized, we would have to start educating young people about the implications of unprotected sex and a blasé outlook toward intimacy. After all, the problem lies not only in a woman’s choices to care for her unplanned child, but in the people who have an influence all around her. Responsibility lies on the shoulders of the lover who chooses to abandon her, rather than own up to his actions.
It rests on a society that projects and even promotes an unrealistic standard of convenience and pleasure. It rests on physicians who might take their Hippocratic Oath seriously, and see human life for what it is, not what immoral agenda-pushers deem it.In a world abundant with naturalism and hedonism, is there any room for conviction?
Apparently there is, as long as it does not put us out, and as long as it does not have any spiritual undertones. Evolution is taught as a scientific fact throughout the world. If there are no eternal consequences to face for our choices, because we are all here by natural selection, then why would anyone choose to do the moral thing? Actually, what would the need for morals be since it is every man for himself? We have embraced a terrible ethical egoism that is causing us to deny others the rights we are afforded simply because they cannot speak for themselves.
Unfortunately, aside from education and passing morality down through our individual families, I am not confident that there is much that can be done to reverse the direction that the world is headed in. People think that we have evolved and that our capacity for rational thought has given us the right to define life, and to categorize it. Morals that used to be attributed to divine commandments are now considered old fashioned and primitive. In Nazi Germany, Hitler used Darwin’s theory of Eugenics to justify the atrocities that were committed against the Jews. (Bergman, 1999). It is amazing that people of sound mind would reject the methods of Hitler whilst fully embracing the fundamental teachings that influenced his actions. Hitler may have been a radical and a dictator, but his views on the disposability of lesser humans were exactly what make abortions so accessible today.
Every day, women choose to reject the life inside of them through termination of unwanted fetuses, but they do not realize that they are rejecting themselves. They are denying their basic instinct, which is to rear and nurture young, and exchanging it for self-gratification and selfish ambition. Women’s bodies were designed specifically for beauty and birth, and rejection of our nature is a rejection of humanity itself. We have traded what is natural for what seems easy, and for what has become justifiable by blurry definitions. Abortion is the holocaust of the unborn, and unless we teach the people that we have influence over about the immorality of abortion, it will continue to be practiced in epidemic numbers.


Colleen said...

That was very insightful and very well-done. There are a lot of points in here that I haven't heard before, and I'm glad I've learned them now. I'm happy to know that there are still so many people out there that haven't fallen to the whelms of "making life easier." Everyone should have a chance to live, and even if unborns can't breathe on their own, that doesn't make them less alive in the womb. Look at how much these babies thrive and grow; they fight for everyday of their existence until they are able to breathe their first breath of real, pure air. How fair is it to demolish their fight -- to take that free will?
Bravo Sarah, Thanks for the long read, and thank your friend, too.
~Colleen Jobes

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