Monday, August 17, 2015

What Are We Arguing About?

After a decade of being an issue we only hear about around elections, abortion is back in the headlines.  Some undercover journalists recorded thousands of hours of footage of Planned Parenthood employees and are releasing the videos bit-by-bit, exposing secret discussions and procedures.  They're hoping to end government funding of Planned Parenthood by proving that PP is breaking the law and by destroying them in the eyes of the public.

I'm not going to try to include all the details, because you can find that on your own if you're interested.  What I want to do is talk about how we define the discussion of whether abortion should by legal.  I'm including some bogus arguments from both sides of this issue to try to better define what the discussion should really be about.

It's not human.  No.  It's not a dog, or a plant, or a rock, or a unicorn.  It is 100% human, just like your liver is 100% human.

It's not a baby, it's a fetus.  And you're not a woman, you're a female homo sapien.  This one is just a linguistic trick that no one should ever fall for.  A fetus is what we call a human before it's born.  A baby is what we call if after it's born.  A teenager is what we call it between 13 and 19 years of age.  They're all people.

It's not unborn, it's preborn.  Seriously?  These things mean the same thing.  See above.  I know language is powerful, but when we intentionally manipulate language to push our point of view it really annoys me.

It's part of the woman's body, like her arm.  She can do what she wants with it.  This one falls apart on multiple levels.  First, try to find a doctor willing to cut off a perfectly healthy arm, then get back to me.  Second, unless your arm is going to be able to live on its own (without being connected to your body) six months from now, these aren't the same thing.  Third, a human fetus has different dna than its mother.  Different dna, different fingerprints, etc.  It's obviously not just an extra organ.

Life begins at conception.  Ok, technically, yes.  Sperm meets egg...we get it.  But when it's literally 8 cells, you're going to have a hard time convincing someone that it's basically the same thing as killing a newborn.  It's ok for you to believe this, but recognize that it's based on faith, not science, and is therefore going to be impossible to convince the rest of America to agree with you.

It's just a blob of tissue.  It's a blob of tissue for the first two weeks.  By the time you're saying to yourself "oh crap, I never got my period last Friday" it has a heartbeat.  No longer a blob of tissue.  Right now it's a zygote, and looks like an alien/dinosaur.  In about three weeks it becomes a fetus and looks a little more like a human.  By the end of the first trimester it looks like a fully-formed, teeny tiny baby.

Having an abortion (or even a miscarriage) is the same thing as losing a 5-year-old child.  In what way is it the same?  We feel loss based on our relationship with the person, not based on how old they are or how worthy of love.  No one is going to be as upset about a miscarriage as they will be about the death of their young child.  That's because of the difference in their relationship with them, just like how we care more when our grandma dies than when the old lady down the street dies.

It can't live outside the womb.  This argument scares me, but I'm ok with you making it.  I don't want to go down the road of saying that human beings who are dependent on others for survival do not have rights.  But if you think that's ok, we can talk about it in this context.  Be aware that babies born at 24 weeks gestation are regularly able to survive with medical intervention, and that some babies born at 20 weeks have survived.  The age keeps getting earlier.  There may come a time where doctors can extract a human embryo and keep it alive, so what happens then?

What are we left with?

Other than the people who believe the things above, here's where I think the abortion argument falls:

Some people believe that they should have the right to kill their unborn offspring because they are older, and stronger, and smarter, and physically capable.  Whether they think this is a good thing or a necessary evil, they believe that it's a viable option.  They recognize that it likely has a heart beat, can often feel pain, and that it is a small human life that they are paying a doctor to end.  They're ok with that (to various degrees) because they believe it's necessary in order for them to have the life/rights/freedom that they want.

Other people believe that no one should have the right to end another life, even if they created it, even if they can't afford it, even if they're really young, or too old, or it isn't healthy, or they aren't healthy.  They believe that there are better options, primarily adoption, that allow both people to live better lives.  And even though it's hard to accept, and sometimes really really hard, it's not ok to kill unborn babies.

Are there other major points that I missed?  Do you agree or disagree?  Tell me what you think!

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