Posts Tagged ‘Abortion’

The Thinker

Are you prolife? Or just pro-birth?

There are millions of “prolifers” out there. They believe that abortion should be illegal. Most believe that all pregnancies should be carried to term, regardless of the circumstances that led to pregnancy, such as rape or incest.

There is a lot of evidence though that virtually all of these so-called prolifers are really just pro-birthers. They want all pregnancies to be carried to term. What happens to the child after birth they don’t seem too concerned about. At least it’s not the focus of their efforts.

There are about 7.6 billion of us on the planet. Nearly 3 billion of us live on less than $2.50 a day, which is the basic test of poverty. 1.3 billion of these live on $1.25 or less a day, which is categorized as extreme poverty. It’s pretty rare to see a prolifer advocating for improved living standards for these folks. If they do, it’s not with the same passion that they advocate for children coming into this world.

In any event, 40% of humans live in poverty. Thus, any child has a 40% chance of living in poverty. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone living in poverty claiming to enjoy it. That’s why they spend much of their lives trying to escape their poverty, usually without much success. But hey, they’re alive! That’s a blessing, isn’t it? Living a life of misery is better than not being born at all, isn’t it?

If every life is truly sacred then I think by definition we must care at least as much about those already alive than those on their way to being born. It’s either that or you are not really prolife. So I ask you again: are you really prolife or just pro-birth? Which of these arguably prolife positions do you support too?

  • A universal basic income
  • No death penalty
  • Quality health care for all
  • Free education for all
  • Food stamps
  • Heating and cooling assistance for the poor
  • The U.N. Declaration on Human Rights
  • Housing as a right
  • Restrictions on gun ownership and possession, so fewer of us die from gunshot wounds
  • Free contraception for all women

I hope you can put a checkmark next to all of these. If you can, great, you sound truly prolife to me. But I also have to ask a harder question: are you willing to pay more in taxes to ensure that everyone can exercise these rights?

On the last question, I’m guessing probably not. And I’m betting that in spite of being prolife you don’t want to raise your taxes just to provide for high quality neonatal care for all pregnant women that don’t have it, or for a law that would give new mothers a paid year off from work after giving birth so they can take care of their child as only a mother can.

So I ask you again, are you really prolife? Or are you just pro-birth? Do you notice that there might be just a wee bit of inconsistency between making it unlawful for a pregnant woman to have an abortion and your refusal to bear any of the costs of raising that child if the mother cannot choose to legally terminate her pregnancy? Is there something more sacred about an innocent fetus compared to an adult who has transgressed enough laws where he is put to death by the state? Is it a newborn’s innocence that you find sacred?

And given that our population is increasing at unsustainable rates in spite of abortion being legal in many countries, leading to what looks like an ecological catastrophe along with an increase in poverty and war due to the mass migration of people fleeing these effects, maybe we need fewer people on the planet rather than more if we are truly prolife?

Being prolife strikes me as more pro-death than anything else. In the United States there were about 650,000 abortions in 2014, the vast majority of them in the first trimester, mostly chemically induced and occurring long before the zygote or fetus has developed beyond the size of a chicken egg. Worldwide there were plenty more than that. How much worse would our ecosystem be today if all these pregnancies had been carried to term? And how many of these women who had abortions would be dead if they had received back alley abortions instead?

I guess I don’t believe you when you say every life is sacred, since most prolifers are indifferent to the suffering of children after birth and are particularly tone deaf to the suffering of people all around them. A true reverence for life would manifest itself in all aspects and phases of life. But the most sincere reverence for life would also acknowledge that our current population trajectory is unsustainable and ultimately both anti-life and cruel for, well, at least 40% of us alive. With a complete destruction of the ecosystem, make that 100%.

But hey, at least in that event there would be no more abortions. Win!

 
The Thinker

Some questions for pro-lifers

I do have some friends that are pro-life. There’s nothing wrong with that and certainly in principle since the opposite of pro-life is pro-death, well who really wants to be that?

Pro-life though generally has a more specific meaning, at least here in the United States. It means that you are against abortion, generally at any stage of a pregnancy for any reason and want law to criminalize abortions. Some though do make exceptions in the case of rape and incest.

The most common reason for being pro-life is: since only God gives life then only God should be able to take it away. And the fetus is defenseless and can’t speak for itself, but if it had a voice would say, “I want to live!” So in the minds of pro-lifers for a human to take away a life that hasn’t gone to term means you are murdering a human being, even if the “human being” is just an inert blastocyst consisting of a couple of dozen cells. Murder is a crime and in the eyes of most Christians and Jews a sin, presumably because it violates the 6th commandment: Thou Shalt Not Kill.

Naturally I have some questions for pro-lifers. Feel free to leave comments with your answers. My suspicion is that most pro-lifers simply don’t think through these questions. First, their ministers tell it is so that’s good enough for them. Second, if they parse these questions of mine it will probably set up cognitive dissonance. Most of us deal with cognitive dissonance by not thinking about it. So I don’t expect much if any response from pro-lifers as these questions simply won’t be read. But just in case, please satisfy my curiosity.

  • If you believe that only God can create life, are you saying the mother and father had no part in creating life, and that it’s only coincidence that sexual intercourse (or artificial insemination) is involved? In other words, that all conceptions are essentially virgin births and that God has somehow magically combined the DNA of the mother and father?
  • If there is a miscarriage, is God complicit in the murder of the fetus?
  • If so, is God a murderer? Or is this some sort of mysterious love beyond our grasp?
  • If God is a murderer, doesn’t that make God in some part also evil, and thus not worthy of worship?
  • If God does not cause miscarriages, then whose fault is it? Are the parents at fault, maybe for not going to the obstetrician enough? Is the mother to blame because ultimately it is her body?
  • If it’s the parents’ fault that a miscarriage occurred, should they be charged with murder or face other criminal charges? If so, what is appropriate? Presumably the death penalty it out.
  • If a miscarriage is neither God’s nor the parents’ fault, does this mean that some actions are essentially nondeterministic and no one’s fault?
  • Should the government take all necessary actions for every pregnancy to go to term? Should this include providing free neonatal vitamins and prenatal care if necessary?
  • At what stage if any do you stop becoming pro-life? For example, if an adult commits murder, are you okay with their execution at the hands of the state?
  • If so why can only God take away life before birth, but it’s okay in some cases for man to take away life after birth? (I’m guessing there are quotes in the Bible that would justify this, but they seem to conflict with the 6th Commandment. If so how do you resolve the conflict?)
  • If only God can take away life, are we under an obligation to extend every human life as long as humanly possible? Should we forbid voluntary euthanasia, assisted suicide and hospice care in favor of all measures to extend life as long as possible, no matter how much pain and suffering this may cause to the dying person? Where do you draw the line and why?
  • Should we care about a child not yet brought to term more than a human being already born? If so, why? If not, can I also assume that you are in favor of any taxation necessary to ensure that all people live as long as possible? If not, please explain.
  • If we should ensure that all people live as long as possible, should we also do everything to ensure they live as health and misery-free lives as possible? If not, why not?
  • Are diseases caused by sin?
  • If diseases are not caused by sin, why does God allow them to exist, as they tend to cause misery and shorten lives?
  • If you allow for abortion in the case of rape or incest but are otherwise pro-life, why do you make these exceptions? Did not God want these lives to happen?
  • Do you think the use of contraception is a sin? Why or why not? Please explain.
  • Do you acknowledge that overpopulation is straining our ecosystem?
  • If so and trends continue is there any point at which society must control the population to ensure the survival of the species?
  • If not and our ecosystem breaks down due to excessive human population and climate change, leading to the extinction of our species and massive misery and death, are you okay with this? Why?

Curious minds, well at least this mind wants to know.

 
The Thinker

Why do Republicans want to kill Planned Parenthood again?

It’s no longer news that Republicans aren’t tethered to reality. You might say they are the anti-reality party. Pretty much anything that is undeniable, they will deny it. They don’t believe climate change is happening. Evidence like increased carbon dioxide levels and steadily rising average temperatures won’t persuade them. Even rising sea levels that are already threatening Norfolk, Virginia won’t convince them.

They are a pretty reflexive party in that, like Pavlov’s dog, you know how they will react before they open their mouth. If President Obama says it’s good, for example, they will say it’s bad and therefore it must be opposed with all necessary force and vitriol. His multi-nation agreement with Iran to lift sanctions in exchange for closer monitoring of their nuclear activities must be voted down because Obama’s name is on it. The alternative to not having an agreement is likely the collapse of sanctions against Iran by major countries and the rapid enrichment of Iran’s current nuclear stockpile. Republicans would rather have war against Iran instead, and it’s all in the interest of our (and Israel’s) national security somehow. Note that most of the yahoos pushing this approach also voted or advocated for the Iraq War in 2002. They have a great track record!

Now, a highly doctored video showing representatives of Planned Parenthood suggesting they might be able to provide parts of aborted fetuses for research (which they already do in some cases) has Republicans in Congress racing to pass legislation taking away all federal funding for the organization. This is much more important than, say, passing a multi-year funding bill for the Highway Trust Fund or passing appropriations so the government won’t shut down again on October 1. The bill is necessary they say to show their disgust for Planned Parenthood in general and their abortions in particular. Never mind that federal law does not allow a dime of federal money to provide any abortion services by Planned Parenthood or any other organization. It’s been this way for more than a decade. In their pique they now want to make sure Planned Parenthood doesn’t use federal money for any activities, like providing birth control to poor people.

Obviously I’m not the brightest person on the planet but I’m pretty sure that if poor people can’t get contraceptives for free or at a reduced cost, they’re probably not going to embrace celibacy. Instead lots of poor women are going to get pregnant that would not have otherwise. And some of them will choose to get an abortion rather than carry the pregnancy to term. Since zero federal money is going to Planned Parenthood for abortions (and only 3% of their funds are used for abortion services) it’s likely many of these women will go to Planned Parenthood or other abortion clinics for abortions instead. This will mean that their actions will only increase abortions.

Moreover, to the extent that limited parts of fetuses (most are not much larger than a kidney bean) are provided for medical research now, because of these actions there will be more available in the future. Those women that don’t get abortions are more likely to raise poor children, who will probably need social services. Republicans clearly hate women, abortions and poor people, so it’s hard to imagine a more counterproductive act than this. However, given the way they reacted to the agreement with Iran, it’s just more par for their course.

In response to all of this, I am giving more money to Planned Parenthood. Maybe in doing so I can help keep some of these women from getting pregnant. Long ago while pondering the best use of the money I give to charity, Planned Parenthood went to the top. It’s hard to imagine a better use of my money. Consider:

  • It empowers women. By being able to get free or reduced birth control, they have greater freedom and control over their lives.
  • It strengthens families and relationships
  • It allows these people to have a higher standard of living
  • It reduces social services and costs borne by the taxpayers
  • It reduces infrastructure costs, reducing the need for new houses, roads, bridges, shopping malls, etc.
  • It’s environmentally friendly
  • Contraception prevents abortions in the first place. This should make both pro-life and pro-choice people happy because it supports their goals.

So Congress’s likely actions will wreak more havoc that will inescapably increase the number of abortions. It will unnecessarily add to our misery as a country. And it won’t retard the use of fetal tissues in medical research.

So nice going Congressional Republicans! You remain as consistent as always promoting your agenda. Your reflexive actions here offer us more of the same counterproductive results Americans have come to expect from you. It’s not surprising then that a recent Pew poll found the fewest number of Americans approving of the Republican Party in decades (just 32%).

It also sounds like you are going to get one hell of a karmic wallop come elections next year. Don’t tell me then that you didn’t see this coming.

 
The Thinker

The abortion of a child’s potential is the real crime

In case you haven’t been following the news, states are getting very creative in finding ways to skirt the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, which in theory allows a pregnant woman to have an abortion during the first trimester of a pregnancy. Calling these laws “creative” is generous. “Illegal” is more appropriate for some of these state laws. It will just take some years before courts fully strike them down or as pro-lifers hope, the Supreme Court overturns its 1973 decision. It’s hard to see though how some of these new laws can possibly cut the mustard.

For example, some states require counseling prior to an abortion, a curious requirement as in most other things, like smoking, drinking and gambling, there is no similar requirement. The law assumes that adults are entitled to make judgments without coercion by the state because they are, well, adults! Even more intrusive are vaginal ultrasounds, required for women who want an abortion in states like Texas and Louisiana. Curiously there are no similar laws requiring anal ultrasounds of the prostate before men undergo vasectomies. North Dakota decided that if you can discern a heartbeat no abortion is allowed, which suggests no abortions are legal past six weeks of pregnancy. Thankfully, a federal judge overturned the law but as there is only one abortion clinic in the whole state, it’s kind of moot. Other states like Virginia (where I live) keep tightening the screws for abortion providers, most recently by requiring facilities to have hospital-wide corridors.

The intent is not hard to discern: to make abortion as difficult to get as possible until effectively it’s impossible to get because it has been regulated away. Curiously many of these states claim to be all about freedom, such as the freedom to bring a loaded gun into a teen recreation center (yes, it’s legal here in Virginia). Apparently freedom of choice is not for pregnant women. Apparently the moment a woman gets pregnant they become value impaired.

An abortion supposedly destroys a life, but what “life” means to the pro-life crowd is peculiar. In the case of a fertilized egg that is not yet implanted into the uterus, it is arguably not alive as it does not move or grow. As the blastocyst matures into a fetus though clearly something (or someone as pro-lifers would say) is alive. A tiny fertilized egg is hard to see even in a petri dish but this is a life? Then the mole on my neck must be a life too. However apparently my mole can be surgically removed with impunity – no state counseling is required, even though, like the zygote, it can’t think but it does have something resembling a circulation system. In reality, there is no magic moment when a fetus becomes a person. At eight months it’s ridiculous to claim it is not. At eight days it is laughable to claim it is. The Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision was imperfect, but reasonable. I have yet to hear of a fetus expelled during the first trimester surviving through prenatal care.

I am hardly the first to remark (as many others have) that carrying a child to term does not mean that the child will be loved, clothed, fed and nurtured. With a few minor exceptions, the pro-life people are wholly indifferent to the fate of the child after birth. Mostly they are indifferent to the mother during pregnancy as well. I have not heard of any state law requiring pregnant mothers to take prenatal vitamins, for example, to increase the odds of a healthy child, but they are myopic about vaginal ultrasounds and hospital-wide corridors. Go figure. After birth, most pro-lifers could not give a crap what happens to the child. They willfully don the eyeshades of ignorance, start humming happy tunes and plug their ears.

This is usually not true for those women who are forced to carry a child to term. Typically the reason they seek an abortion in the first place is because they realize they cannot fit a child into their complicated lives. While the life of the poor may seem deceptively simple, in reality it is quite complicated, a far more complex chess match than any of us moneyed people are ever likely to experience. If you have ever lived in poverty, or near poverty, you know this is true. (I know this from experience.) Try surviving on Walmart wages, particularly with a child you are supposed to raise and doing it without government money. (So many Walmart employees are on food stamps that it’s practically required in order to work there.) Try doing this with no or little support system in place as well. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of these mothers either fails or does a substandard job.

It would be nice if government picked up the slack. Sometimes it does, with food stamps and credits for childcare and the like. Yet these are usually not nearly enough for a child to thrive, and sometimes not enough to even fend off malnutrition. Nor do these measures begin to measure the psychic cost to children from living in poverty: lack of parental attention, lack of a father in the house in most cases, lack of nurturing because the mother is usually working, the shuttling from one substandard home to another, neighborhoods full of crime and poverty, and schools where education is generally substandard. It’s completely reasonable to draw these inferences just by looking at scores of children at these schools on standardized tests.

Thus it’s wholly reasonable to ask pro-lifers: If this will be the fate of these children who might not otherwise be born, why did you force these mothers to carry them to term in the first place? Maybe, just maybe, the mother had a pretty good idea of what her life would look like, and this wasn’t what she wanted for her children. Maybe it was because it is how she spent her childhood and youth. The next reasonable question is: How can you make any person carry an unwanted child to term if you won’t take care of it once they are born if the parents cannot?

Sadly, our world is overrun with children whose mothers, if they had the option, probably would not have carried them to term. Many of them would have been happy to take a morning after pill to preclude the possibility, but in much of the world a $50 Plan B pill is unaffordable, if it is even available. Every child has potential, but that doesn’t mean that they can actually realize their potential when born into poverty or dysfunctional circumstances. It is only possible with a huge societal investment in time, money and nurturing. This seems to be the freight pro-lifers won’t pay for, unless it is for your own son or daughter. What could be much crueler than bringing a child into the world who will know little but insurmountable obstacles? Why do we want children in this world whose circumstances will doom them to be just ten percent of who they could be? These children are much more likely to be flipping burgers as adults instead of doing scientific research, writing a great novel and building our bridges.

This is the real abortion: the abortion of a child’s potential by requiring them to be born into substandard circumstances. A largely indifferent and uncaring society snuffs it out after birth. These children are cut off at the kneecaps at an early age. They face a life full of endless obstacles. Scaling over just a couple of them is beyond most of us, and we expect them to scale hundreds of them. Add to this sad story the cost to the planet to bring a child into the world and we have set up a cycle where each generation leads more difficult, shorter and less endurable lives. Through being “pro-life”, we are creating hell on earth and worse, being willfully ignorant of the consequences.

It is this versus giving the mother the simple dignity of deciding whether to have a child and if she does not then making it safe and legal for her to terminate the pregnancy. It is so much cheaper and actually much kinder not to have the child until she is ready. Birth control pills are quite cheap and can prevent fertilization altogether. Even if they are not available a morning after pill is much cheaper than 18 years of trying to care for a child with inadequate resources.

Every child should be a wanted and a nurtured child. No child should be born to live a life of misery, but only into conditions that will nurture him or her as a valued member of society where they have a reasonable expectation of achieving their potential. A sustainable earth and our common humanity require nothing less.

 
The Thinker

When did vagina become a dirty word?

Color me confused. Vagina is now a dirty word. I had no idea. I’m not sure Michigan House Member Lisa Brown did either when she uttered the word last week during an abortion debate in the state’s House of Representatives. Granted, vagina is not a word that most people use everyday, but it struck me as a perfectly appropriate word to utter in a debate that tries to legislate who gets to control a woman’s vagina. For her apparently foul mouth, Ms. Brown was blocked by House majority leader Jim Stamas from further participation in the debate.

Michigan women seem to be largely agreeing with Brown. The incident triggered a public performance of “The Vagina Monologues” on the steps of the capitol in Lansing, with thousands of people in attendance, including Lisa Brown. Vagina was doubtless uttered many times and into the ears of thousands of people, assisted by loud speaker systems. But in the state House of Representatives there was no further utterances of the word vagina while the great legislators of the state of Michigan went on trying to restrict what women can do with their own vaginas.

To guys, when you don’t have a vagina, or menstrual cycles, or cramps or any the other complications that come with being born female, it’s hard to be sympathetic. It’s hard for me to imagine how a bill could affect men like this one affects women. Certainly one highly improbable response to the abortion issue would be bills to regulate penises. (Wait a minute? Is penis a dirty word? It probably is, if it were to come up in debates in the Michigan legislature.) Abortion is usually the result of an unplanned pregnancy, after all, so why not have legislation that keeps all men’s penises in cages until their lawfully wedded wife decides it is okay to attempt procreative sex which, if it succeeds, will go full term? Maybe husband and wife would have to go to the police station where the wife would swear that their sex will only be for procreative purposes, and then the police officer would release the man’s penis from its cage. (Probably there should be a special room at the station for these purposes.) Yes, it’s an audacious proposal but such a proposed law if it had a serious intent would doubtless enrage men. No one messes with our penises without our consent, thank you very much. The Lansing state capitol might be a smoldering pile of rubble once Michigan men vented their anger. Yet many of us men turn a deaf ear when women make the same argument, either with soft or raised voices.

What makes a word dirty, anyhow? What are the criteria? Particularly if you are to utter such a word in a public sphere, how can you possibly know if you are doing something worthy of admonishment if there are no firm guidelines in place? We all develop a sense of which words to avoid in polite company, but in my mind vagina was not one of them. I can see myself much like Lisa Brown, debating the issue of abortion with colleagues and protesting that regulating women’s vaginas should be off limits. I would not first check myself to see whether someone would be offended by the term. It comes with the topic of discussion. It certainly was germane in the Michigan House of Representatives during that particular discussion.

To me, there is nothing more titillating about a vagina than there is about an appendix. If anything, I hope women will spend more time talking about their vaginas because then there might be some parity with men. Lord knows men certainly spend a lot of time talking about penises, although rarely using the clinical term. Instead, we use the many slang variants out there. And except for a few of us, we are hardly offended. The closest equivalent we have to a vagina is probably our prostate (wait, is prostate also a dirty word?), which is also well hidden and mysterious but which keeps many of us men in middle age and beyond rising frequently during the night to use the bathroom. It’s possible that some guys will discuss prostate issues, but given the choice they’d rather talk about penises, in particularly penises in relationship with vaginas. Because the truth is that to most men, the vagina in itself is not interesting except in relationship to whether our penis can get inside one.

Now I am a bit picky when it comes to swearing. I don’t do it as a rule and I tend to think less of people who swear chronically. I suspect they are doing it for attention. Swear words by themselves though are not bad. They’re just words. What makes them offensive is how other people react when you use them. Most likely in a group of sailors, swearing will be completely inoffensive because it is part of the culture. My daughter is a frequent swearer, and I let her know I don’t like it. I don’t like it not because I think swearing is bad, but because it is hard to have conversation that is meaningful with her when expletives are flying. For her, an expletive means nothing, but to me an expletive is designed to have a high emotional impact, simply because it is so rarely said aloud. It’s supposed to be like shooting a bazooka instead of a handgun. So I rarely utter an expletive, largely because I grew up in an environment where swearing was abnormal. When I hear them, it jars me. So when I do swear, it is for a just cause. I used one with a friend at work some months back, the first time I ever remember doing so with her. I wanted this person to know, as part of a private conversation, just how upset I was by proposals suggested by some Republicans to cut our pensions. I used the word to impart special impact, that I was really that upset. It got the message across only because I so rarely swear.

Representative Lisa Brown never even used a swear word. She used a clinical word that made it clear just how upset she was about such a sensitive issue as abortion. Yes, it’s a sensitive subject but apparently not sensitive enough not to be broadcast live to the citizens with cable TV in Michigan. Had she used the C word instead, she would have been rightly censured. That was not the case here. Apparently her real offense was to explicitly state just how offensive she found the legislation. That, in the eye of some people, is just like swearing.

Now there’s something we should swear off.

 
The Thinker

Can being “prolife” be anti-life?

If you pay attention to the news you have read about the murder of Dr. George Tiller. He was gunned down yesterday at his church in Wichita, Kansas by alleged murderer and “prolifer” Scott Roeder. Tiller was one of a small number of surgeons willing to provide late term abortions. He is hardly the first surgeon to pay with his life for providing abortions and he is unlikely to be the last. In fact, the National Abortion Federation has chronicled over 6000 acts or attempted acts of violence since 1977 against abortion providers, including eight deaths. Unsurprisingly, Roeder had close connections with the most extreme elements of the so-called prolife community.

Clearly many Americans feel passionately on the issue of abortion. If convicted, Roeder will be one of the virulent ones who felt murder was justified to prevent what he saw as other murders. Moreover, if convicted there is a significant possibility that Roeder will also be murdered, not by a pro-choice supporter, but by the prolife state of Kansas, which often executes first degree murderers.

I have noticed that being “prolife” rarely means being pro all life.  I doubt you will find many so-called prolifers who are also vegetarians. Sizeable numbers, and probably a majority of prolifers are also pro-capital punishment. This seems a reasonable inference in Kansas, which is heavily “prolife” but also heavily in favor of capital punishment. As has often been noticed, prolifers seem far more concerned about making sure pregnancies are carried through to birth than they are concerned about the babies after they are born. Many are glad to saddle mothers for the cost of their unplanned or unwanted offspring too. Whether conceived as a result of rape or incest, it doesn’t seem to make any difference to these folks. It’s all about principle. For them, life begins at conception. Never mind that when fertilization occurs the blastocyst is inert for an extended period of time, unless it comes in contact with the uterine wall and then gets lucky. Even so, Mother Nature provides all sorts of obstacles to keep many pregnancies from coming to term. I have a sister who miscarried. She certainly did not want to miscarry. You have to wonder though about some in the prolife crowd. If life is sacred, should all pregnant women also be required to take drugs to reduce the likelihood of miscarriage? Should they be charged with a crime if they miscarry and had not taken all possible recourses to prevent the miscarriage? I have no doubt that to many on the extremes the answer is “absolutely”.

Mother Nature does not intend all pregnancies to go to term. This too is entirely natural. There are millions of women who have needed abortions to save their own lives. In the mind of many prolifers, since they cannot deal with moral ambiguity, it is better to risk both the life of the mother and the fetus than to ensure one of them will survive. This is being prolife.

Maybe it is just me, but I suspect that people whose moral positions are absolute about anything are mentally deficient. We know from experience that life is ambiguous. It is built into our universe at no less than the subatomic level, as anyone who has studied quantum physics knows. To survive in this world we must all come to grips with the ambiguity that frames life. And yet, to absolutists like these ultra-extreme prolifers, they would prefer to ignore this uncomfortable reality. The cycle reaches its paradoxical and tragic nadirs in incidents like yesterday’s murder of Dr. George Tiller. The very incident is both tragic and rife with irony: that for some who value life more than anything, they must take it away, thus proving the paucity of their argument beyond ambiguity.

Absolutism is bound to twist and pervert the glorious dysfunctional ambiguity which is our natural world. Consider what our world would be like if we were 100% “prolife”. At the macro level there would be many more humans on the planet than we already have, many of them with serious and lifelong disabilities. There would also be many needlessly traumatized mothers, many of them who would not survive childbirth. Arguably we cannot sustain the people we already have on the planet, as witnessed by the resultant poverty and disease which tragically kills tens of millions of us every year. To the extent we add more humans on the planet, we further erode the mutual ecosystem on which all life depends.  The result of being “prolife” is to help ensure a reduced standard of living for those of us who are already alive and to make life for future generations of humans even more wretched and miserable. Ultimately, being “prolife” means being anti-life in general, pro-misery and anti-environmental.

If we are lucky, the best result for future generations will be similar to what is already unfolding in China: compulsory family planning. This is the most humane and environmentally benign way to deal with rampant population growth and a planet that cannot sustain this growth. Much more likely though will be larger and more brutal wars, genocides and suffering on scales that are hard for us to currently fathom. This will unfold in a world of diminished resources where we all fruitlessly try to ensure we get the life we want at the expense of someone else. Whatever form of homo sapien emerges from this dark future will be far more brutish, uncaring, inhuman and anti-life than anything alleged killer Scott Roeder will dish out in a single act of murder for the sake of some insane absolutist principle.

Perhaps it is time to embrace the ambiguity which is life here on earth. It may be the prolife thing to do.

 

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