The following is part of the argument I made to a stranger on facebook, through a mutual friend’s apathetic comment about life:
“is the pro-life/pro-choice argument STILL going on?!? Wow. Note: people, believe what you want to believe, and don’t try to force your beliefs down everyone’s throat. Worry about saving your own soul, and I’ll worry about mine.”
My response, though I am not usually one to pursue argument, was that justice demands action. Silence only abets more injustice.
This stranger, a guy I do not know and have never met, challenged that statement. His point of view is such that “in [his] mind anti-choice means pro-child abuse.” We eventually got to the point that he doesn’t believe a zygote is a human being that has personhood and identity. By “some cells being terminated,” you save the mother and the rest of society from “damnation and suffering.”
In the face of such insults as “arbitrary religious conviction” or vagueness of opinion founded on the notion that “the world is not A or B, black or white, right or wrong,” the Holy Spirit somehow gave me the balls to continue to fight. [[Sidenote: I still don’t understand when or why I became so adamant about defending life, but I have a feeling it has something to do with the overwhelming ways God worked in my heart this summer. Either that, or when you become dedicated to Our Lady, the defender of all life, you do what she asks… and she commands we fight for life. Either way, it still blows my mind when I find myself to be the one speaking or typing in these arguments.]]
For length’s sake, I’m only posting the last three exchanges: me, him, and my response. I feel like they are the ones at the heart of the matter… and also illustrate to me the hopelessness, confusion, and apathy of the pro-choice point of view.
——— (from facebook, Jan 25, 2011) ————-
But I can’t concede that — if I believe a toddler will one day be a teen, or a teen will one day be an adult — a zygote will not be a child. And insufficient attempts at putting a timeframe on the development of “personhood” leads me to believe that it must begin at the earliest stage of development. Solidarity, even without religion, forces me to believe that respect and dignity that everyone around me has and deserves is due to the young and the old, anyone who is a person. Somewhere in that balance of “what is worse,” death always comes after the possibility of a hard life.
Therefore, and again in solidarity, I feel like we ought to reach out to those parents, especially mothers, who feel like they cannot bring a child to term. Because personhood means respect and compassion for the mother in her desperation and the child, as someone yet to be a decision-making member of society. That solidarity and compassion is more definitive of the society we ought to be than the not-at-all-easy but easier-than-life decision of abortion.
Which, and I promise I’m not trying to rant, brings me to the last thing I disagree with you about. Pro-choice is, inherently, pro-abortion. Here’s why:
1.) The pro-life stance is that there are many options for what to do in light of a pregnancy. Bring baby to term, adoption, foster care, keep baby, etc.
2.) The pro-choice stance is that there are all of those options PLUS abortion.
3.) The only option that pro-choice is FOR that differentiates it from pro-life is abortion. It inherently is pro-abortion.
So anyway. There’s my logic. And if this is all true, even without regards to afterlife or religion, abortion is an injustice. And no matter how rare it is, an injustice is worth fighting to stop.
A zygote might possibly be a fetus. A fetus might possibly be a baby. With the rates of spontaneous abortions being around 25%, this isn’t something that is positive. Even were it a certainty, a zygote is not a fetus. A fetus is not a baby. A baby is not a toddler. The possibility of something isn’t enough for me to make this call.
We do need to reach out, but we need to not force a decision on her. It’s not our right. And, with all legal termination care, it is not a person. There is not a child.
Your argument about pro-choice being pro-abortion is not valid. You are creating a false dichotomy. The world is not A or B, black or white, right or wrong. The world is all shades of grey. Life is a continuum, not two fixed points. Just because I add another choice in the mix does not mean that I am pro-abortion. Further (and I will address this later), there is far more that separates our opinions than just termination care. Our entire worldview is different, causing us to place the advent of personhood at a different spot, which allows me to add another choice into the mix. The root is the perspective, not the decision.
I disagree that it is all true. It is, in my opinion, very much not.
Now, getting to the religious aspect. This very difference is where our opinions diverge. The choices down the line are all simply facets of this. Your entire argument is predicated on a soul, on a certain sacred, spiritual significance. This does not enter my decision making process. And, because I don’t have a sacred text influencing my decision, the choice at which I begin to accept personhood is entirely arbitrary. I happen to think viability is a pretty good spot. We are simply high functioning animals. The amazing part is that we can, of our own volition, ascribe meaning and value where ever we choose. I choose to value justice and humanity and this planet.
This is a profound difference that will not be overcome without you losing your faith, or me gaining mine back. Neither is likely to happen. About three years ago I was a devout Christian and I vehemently argued against pro-choice people. It was unfathomable to me that people could be okay with killing babies. Now, I am on the other side. And I understand now.
Barring a conversion, we will not agree on this issue. We are fundamentally at different places. But, we can both work to bring justice to this world. I am sure we both value many of the same things, if not for the same reasons.
I have to concede that we are “worth more” and not equal to all other animal life, if for nothing than our ability to question our own existence. If I am but an animal, why work for anything? Why not just live intensely in the moment, without goals, aspirations, or standards? But after living that way for long enough, I realize that no fulfillment comes from it. So our animalistic qualities give rise to something that means more to humanity than just living. Ultimately, we question purpose, being, and consciousness. And we desire relationships, connection, and affirmation.
I know my life is fleeting and this planet is fleeting, and I will fail to save either. But it isn’t enough reason to convince my intellect that I am worth only the flesh, bone, and brain that make me function. If I can question who I am, then there must be something there worth questioning.
You are right in saying that my worldview does not make sense when you take God out of it. It’s the only answer I can find that not only satisfies the things we question and desire, but satisfies completely and with a fullness that is a continuing discovery.
I hope, sincerely, that as you continue to question, you search for answers that are more than arbitrary, more than apathetic, and more than conciliatory. I also hope you continue to question the dignity and worth of each of us; whether it may be possible for there to be moral laws and standards, just as there are physical laws and absolutes, that go beyond each of our own unique volition. Those are the things that bind and unite us, and if we fail to consider them, our society and humanity will quickly slip away.
There is the chance that this conversation will continue… but I think I have said everything I intend to say. It is only the first of a couple posts to come about where I am on this issue in my life, so stay tuned…