Sunday, October 07, 2012

A controversial topic

The debate surrounding abortion has again been appearing in the news. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has openly stated that he believes that abortions should no longer be carried out after 12 weeks of gestation (instead of the current 24); although the government has been quick to point out that there are no intended policy changes.

Obviously this has awoken voices on both sides of the pro-life and pro-choice fence and as usual the pro-life crowd are using it to try to use it to hammer home the message that any abortion is wrong, no matter whether it was within the 24 week allocation. This argument I always find somewhat jarring and I shall explain why in detail.

Let me nail my flag to the cross right now. I am pro-abortion. Don’t get me wrong it isn’t a nice way to go about birth control (nor might I add should it be anything but a last resort) but it is a necessary evil in a world where we have mastered nature and face a very worrying future of over-population.


Religious arguments always crop up around this arena of discussion and this is actually quite counterproductive. I don’t like the idea that someone with a different religious view or moral view as the case may be, has to enforce their opinions on someone else in this way and especially in such a sensitive and loaded matter.

Quite frankly if one does not want an abortion than one doesn’t have to have one, such is the beauty of choice. Taking away that choice because of your own moral objections isn’t just wrong, it’s pretty evil (I'm not going to even start on the implications that would have on scenarios where an abortion is sought out due to rape or for the risk of medical complications to both mother and child). Being a parent is not everyone’s ideal situation. In fact many would consider it their worst nightmare or alternatively are just incapable of being a parent in the first place.

People often argue (included a good number of women who have undergone abortions) that abortion leads to psychological trauma, which I fear is an unavoidable factor and demonstrates that abortion should be a last resort and not as a form of contraception. On the flip side though, imagine the psychological trauma of an irreversible unwanted pregnancy. Worse still this resentment can be passed on to the child, so by taking away the choice of abortion you are potentially multiplying trauma rather than avoiding it. Simply put the psychological trauma argument is too inconsistent. Still, as long as you and your god are happy, who cares about human suffering?

The problem with this debate is that a life is being ended. Not technically ended, but actually ended. There is no way it can be defined as anything else; if so you are just euphemizing the situation.  However it is one thing to take a life away from someone that rather likes being alive than taking away a life that really doesn’t know it’s there. There’s a sense of tragedy in the former and in the latter there is only speculation as to who or what the foetus may be. Despite the difference, the murder angle can be applied and that’s where sensible debate on the subject often flies out of the window.

I find it especially interesting when the case is argued emotionally and someone states something to the effect of:

 “So, you like abortion? So you support your mother’s right to kill you and prevent you from experiencing life? How would you feel if that had happened then eh?”

 Firstly I’d answer that by pointing out I wouldn’t have an opinion in that scenario as I wouldn’t have existed and therefore would be unable to form one. Secondly I find this position very egoic and even selfish. To be completely honest I don’t think I’d have minded if I had been aborted. If my parents had so wished then why would I be so selfish as to deny that option? I’m not driven by my own self-importance in the scheme of life itself.

Not everyone is happy to be alive. Many view life as a miraculous experience and I congratulate them on that. However, that view is not shared by everyone and should not be universally enforced. Not everyone wished to be born and some people may not want to be here. Once again here we see this debate loaded heavily to one side by individual who are just enforcing  Why enforce a lifetime of suffering just so moral absolutists can try to avoid unpleasant facts?

I suppose the whole thing boils down to Sigmund Freud’s summation of religion as a symptom of our “fear of death”. A fear of death is natural and is probably the most natural impulse associated with life itself. It is the great opposite and a great unknown. None of us like people dying but it is an unavoidable facet of our existence. If everyone lived forever AND kept reproducing we would be in trouble very quickly.

You need to keep a delicate state of balance otherwise matters spiral out of control. It can be seen already as the birth rate proportionally increases as more people live longer and reproduce. This system is unsustainable and unfortunately for anyone particularly religious, contraception and abortion may be the only way out.

This is probably one of the darker posts I’ve written. I hate to say it but the pro-life argument is almost totally driven by wishful thinking, emotion and the ideal that a foetus is the finished product before it has even begun to form a personality, not a consideration as to whether a life REALLY needs to exist or not or whether someone would be better off for it happening.

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