A Reflective Post on Abortion

I am using this blog post to write out and flesh out my thoughts regarding a friend’s post regarding abortion:

At one point she states, “If a female has an abortion, it is one of the most difficult/ if not the most difficult decisions she ever has to make. It is no different/ no sadder than when a female finds out she is pregnant and then loses the pregnancy. It is not easy to decide to have an abortion, and I guarantee you that that woman has thought of every possible scenario in her mind where she carries it to term and none of those possibilities were feasible to her.”

I feel there is a significant moral difference between having a miscarriage (spontaneous abortion in medical parlance) and a medically induced abortion. If we begin with the premise that a human life/person begins at conception, then the termination of that life would be tragic.

We usually tell expecting mothers who have a miscarriage, “I am sorry for your loss.” There is a loss of life in the womb that happens in the absence of the mother’s desire to end that life. In other words, in the case of spontaneous abortion, the moral agency of the mother is passive.

In contrast, with medically induced abortion, there is a loss of life in the womb that happens with the mother’s desire to terminate that life. So there is an active moral agency on the mother’s part as well as on the part of the abortionist.

I can appreciate that the prospect of raising a child in this world can be a paralyzingly scary thought for an expecting mother, especially if they feel they do not have the resources to take care of the child well themselves, or they feel distrustful of the local orphanages and adoption centers. In this sense, abortion might be seen as a kind of “mercy killing,” to spare the child from a potentially hard-filled life. In other words, better to have no life than a life filled with pain, suffering, and hardships.

Yet this principle of alleviating pain at the expense of preserving life feels Malthusian. To me, it is as if a single working mother of five killed one of her children to better make ends meet and have a better quality of life for herself and the rest of her children. The outcome sounds sensible, to alleviate suffering and improve quality of life for herself and the surviving kids, but the means to get there (killing a child), is just untenable.

My friend goes on to say, “Instead of judging her and condemning her why don’t we make laws to protect women (who by the way are alive and breathing). Why don’t we provide more high schools with daycares so that the 16 year old girl doesn’t have to drop out of school or put daycares in colleges (we sure as hell pay enough tuition for it). Better yet let’s make daycares more affordable. Why don’t we punish the rapists who rape these young women who we expect to carry their children instead of putting women through hell and back trying to get them convicted? Why don’t we help fix our foster system and the kids that are “alive” and already in it instead of waiting for them to age out or slip through the cracks?”

I agree with a lot of these policy proposals, I would like to see ways we can better improve conditions that would protect and serve both the mother and the unborn child:
-more accessible and affordable daycares for young teenage and college-age mothers
-severe punishment for rapists, (I prefer the death penalty or castration)
-reforming the foster system so the kids inside the system have a better quality of life.

I agree with these policy proposals, but the fact still remains, medically induced abortion is the active termination of an unborn child. I can see how abortion might be seen as a “mercy killing,” but then that feels like we are prioritizing the alleviation of suffering over the preservation of life, which should be more important.

In the exceptionally rare cases of children conceived in rape, aborting them in the womb feels like we would be punishing them for the sins of their father. We would be ending an innocent life for circumstances that were outside of that life’s control. Would discovering that one is a product of rape/incest cause pain, distress, and anguish? Possibly, and so the mother might feel she would be better off aborting her child to spare herself and her child of this potential fate. Yet this would again be a case of prioritizing the alleviation of suffering over the preservation of life.

There are measures that can be taken to help the mother and the child work through the trauma of rape and incest that does not have to involve the termination of the child’s life such as counseling centers and other support groups.

My friend next says, “It’s just insane to me how the same people who make these laws [banning abortion] are also the same people who complain about paying taxes for wellfare and medicaid.”

As for the reluctance for paying taxes for welfare and Medicaid, I would also like to see taxes used to help pay for these things, but I can see why there would be reluctance in doing so. Your family members, friends, local community, religious centers, and private charities can, should, and do help out young teenage mothers. Ideally one can depend on these resources instead of the government to help you out. I say ideally, because I know there are some cases where private resources are inadequate.

Even with tax money, there is only a finite amount, and any social safety net built on it could collapse if there is too much stress on it. Social safety nets only work so long as the people paying the taxes are able and willing to pay and that the government officials in charge of the money are using it responsibly and not using it to line their own pockets. Even when there is a lot of money involved, it is still a finite amount, and so there is usually some rationing involved where someone is living better at another person’s expense.

Consider the case of WW2 where FDR nationalized the military-industrial complex. There was a lot of money going into the production of war materials but the average citizen had to live a spartan lifestyle.

That will be enough for now about why Republicans are reluctant to pay taxes for welfare and Medicaid, and I could explore it more at another time.

My friend asks, “Why are we trying to take away women’s options?” Since medically induced abortion is the active termination of an unborn life, we simply seek to protect the life of the unborn with the law the same way the law already does for those already born.

She ends with, “Why are we meddling in things that do not concern us rather than trying to fix the things that will directly impact us (as mentioned above).”

It is difficult to see how the issue of abortion can be something that does not concern us when it involves the termination of an innocent life. Alleviating the prospect of suffering is one thing, but terminating an innocent life is quite another.

Roe v Wade passed in the Supreme Court in 1973, and it seems legalized abortion will still be around so long as people refuse to see the unborn child as an innocent life worth protecting.

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