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Abortion, Right and Wrong By Rachel Richardson Smith
Posted: 28 September 2010 10:33 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I’ve been reading the “Jen Roth - Atheist Against Abortion” with some interest, thought I’ve kept my two cents out of it. But, I do want to share what I believe is still, three decades later, the most intelligent, insightful piece I’ve read on the topic:
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I cannot bring myself to say I am in favor of abortion. I don’t want anyone to have one. I want people to use contraceptives and for those contraceptives to be foolproof. I want people to be responsible for their actions, mature in their decisions. I want children to be loved, wanted, well cared for.

I cannot bring myself to say I am against choice. I want women who are young, poor, single or all three to be able to direct the course of their lives. I want women who have had all the children they want or can afford or their in bad marriages or destructive relationships to avoid being trapped by pregnancy.

So these days when thousands rally in opposition to legalized abortion, when facilities providing abortions are bombed, when the president speaks glowingly of the growing momentum behind the anti-abortion movement, I find myself increasingly alienated from those pro-life groups.

At the same time, I am overwhelmed with mail from pro-choice groups. They, too, are mobilizing their forces, growing articulate in support of their cause, and they want my support.
I am not sure I can give it.

I find myself in the awkward position of being both anti-abortion and pro-choice. Neither group seems to be completely right—or wrong. It is not that I think abortion is wrong for me but acceptable for someone else. The question is far more complex than that.

Part of my problem is that what I think and how I feel about this issue are two entirely different matters. I know that unwanted children are often neglected, even abandoned. I know that making abortion illegal will not stop all women from having them.

I also know from experience the crisis an unplanned pregnancy can cause. Yet I have felt the joy of giving birth, the delight that comes from feeling a baby’s skin against my own. I know how hard it is to parent a child and how deeply dissatisfying it can be. My children sometimes provoke me and cause me endless frustration, but I can still look at them with tenderness and wonder at the miracle of it all. The lessons of my own experience produce conflicting emotions. Theory collides with reality.

It concerns me that both groups present themselves in absolutes. They are committed and they want me to commit. They do not recognize that gray area where I seem to be languishing. Each group has the right answer—the only answer.

Yet I am uncomfortable in either camp. I have nothing in common with the pro-lifers. I am horrified by their scare tactics, their pictures of well-formed fetuses tossed in a metal pan, their cruel slogans. I cannot condone their flagrant misuse of Scripture and unforgiving spirit. There is meanness about their position that causes them to pass judgment on the lives of women in a way I could never do.

The pro-life groups, with their fundamentalist religious attitudes, have a fear and an abhorrence of sex, especially premarital sex. In their view abortion only compounds the sexual sin. What I find incomprehensible is that even as they are opposed to abortion they are also opposed to alternative solutions. They are squeamish about sex education in the schools. They don’t want teens to have contraceptives without parental consent. They offer little aid or sympathy to unwed mothers. They are the vigilant guardians of a narrow morality.

I wonder how abortion got to be the greatest of all sins? What about poverty, ignorance, hunger, weaponry?

The only thing the anti-abortion groups seem to have right is that abortion is indeed the taking of human life. I simply cannot escape this one glaring fact. Call it what you will—fertilized egg, embryo, fetus. What we have here is human life. If it were just a mass of tissue there would be no debate. So I agree that abortion ends a life. But the anti-abortionists are wrong to call it murder.

The sad truth is that homicide is not always against the law. Our society does not categorically recognize the sanctity of human life. There are a number of legal and apparently socially acceptable ways to take human life. There are a number of legal and apparently socially acceptable ways to take human life. “Justifiable” homicide includes the death penalty, war, killing in self-defense. It seems to me that as a society we need to come to grips with our own ambiguity concerning the value of human life. If we are to value and protect unborn life so stringently, why do we not also value and protect life already born?

Why can’t we see abortion for the human tragedy it is? No woman plans for her life to turn out that way. Even the most effective contraceptives are no guarantee against pregnancy. Loneliness, ignorance, immaturity can lead to decisions (or lack of decisions) that may result in untimely pregnancy. People make mistakes.

What many people seem to misunderstand is that no woman wants to have an abortion. Circumstances demand it; women do it. No woman reacts to abortion with joy. Relief, yes. But also ambivalence, grief, despair, guilt.

The pro-choice groups do not seem to acknowledge that abortion is not a perfect answer. What goes unsaid is that when a woman has an abortion she loses more than an unwanted pregnancy. Often she loses her self-respect. No woman can forget a pregnancy no matter how it ends. . .

continued ->

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Posted: 28 September 2010 10:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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“Abortion, Right and Wrong By Rachel Richardson Smith”  continued…


Why can we not view abortion as one of those anguished decisions in which human beings struggle to do the best they can in trying circumstances? Why is abortion viewed so coldly and factually on the one hand and so judgmentally on the other? Why is it not akin to the same painful experience families must sometimes make to allow a loved one to die?

I wonder how we can begin to change the context in which we think about abortion. How can we begin to think about it preemptively? What is it in the trauma of loss of life—be it loved, born or unborn—from which we can learn? There is much I have yet to resolve. Even as I refuse to pass judgments on other women’s lives, I weep for the children who might have been. I suspect I am not alone.

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Posted: 28 September 2010 06:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Not this again.  rolleyes  I really get sick of such topics, esp when it is best to leave such things up to the individual woman who is carrying the child.  It is not anyone elses business if she carries the child to term or aborts it, IMO.

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Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 28 September 2010 06:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Great article, and I feel similarly. I presented a rather strong pro-life argument in a philosophy class essay once, not because I’m pro-life, but rather because the pro-choice arguments were so flawed I felt compelled to play devil’s advocate and point them out. For an atheist, it really boils down to, when do we consider the fetus to be a living being with a right to life independent of the mother’s wishes? This seems to be a decidedly gray area…

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Posted: 28 September 2010 06:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Mriana - 28 September 2010 06:02 PM

Not this again.  rolleyes  I really get sick of such topics, esp when it is best to leave such things up to the individual woman who is carrying the child.  It is not anyone elses business if she carries the child to term or aborts it, IMO.


Well, I sort of though that’s what she was trying to express

“Why can we not view abortion as one of those anguished decisions in which human beings struggle to do the best they can in trying circumstances? Why is abortion viewed so coldly and factually on the one hand and so judgmentally on the other? Why is it not akin to the same painful experience families must sometimes make to allow a loved one to die?”

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Posted: 29 September 2010 12:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I think the whole agrument is based on a stupid premise - the sanctity of life.  The ovum and the sperm are just as alive as is the fertilized zygote.  If one Kills an ovum or prevents it from being fertilized or if one doesn’t give all the available sperm a chance to fertilize an ovum, they are just as responsible for ending lives as is anyone who aborts a zygote (using the morning after pill) or aborts an embryo or fetus. 

We kill billions of living things every time we brush our teeth.  If one wants to move up the phyla, humans kill crustateans, fish, birds and mammals at a great rate.  Do we have any right to adopt the jingoistic view that humans are special? 

If we can allow poor children in various parts of the world to starve to death, or set groups of young people as soldiers against one another so they kill a great many of them, why do we make a special case of the unborn who have contributed nothing, and if the mother wishes to abort, would almost certainly both live a miserable life and probably degrade the life of the mother?

Occam

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Posted: 29 September 2010 03:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Occam. - 29 September 2010 12:06 AM

Do we have any right to adopt the jingoistic view that humans are special? 

Only, if it serves to distract attention and passions from more real problems that we really should be considering and addressing.

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Posted: 29 September 2010 11:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Only, if it serves to distract attention and passions from more real problems that we really should be considering and addressing.

You mean like what exactly constitutes a sign and what color it can be?

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Posted: 29 September 2010 12:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Occam. - 29 September 2010 12:06 AM

I think the whole agrument is based on a stupid premise - the sanctity of life.  The ovum and the sperm are just as alive as is the fertilized zygote.  If one Kills an ovum or prevents it from being fertilized or if one doesn’t give all the available sperm a chance to fertilize an ovum, they are just as responsible for ending lives as is anyone who aborts a zygote (using the morning after pill) or aborts an embryo or fetus. 

But using contraception is not morally comparable to killing an adult human being. So then, where do fetuses lie on this moral spectrum?

If we can allow poor children in various parts of the world to starve to death, or set groups of young people as soldiers against one another so they kill a great many of them, why do we make a special case of the unborn who have contributed nothing, and if the mother wishes to abort, would almost certainly both live a miserable life and probably degrade the life of the mother?

Maybe because the unborn is something we can have control over in our own country, whereas world hunger is a much bigger problem. The unborn have contributed nothing, but may go on to contribute a lot. But I think that discussion is largely trumped by the discussion about at what point a fetus should be considered to have a right to life, like we consider babies to have.

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Posted: 29 September 2010 02:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Occam. - 29 September 2010 12:06 AM

I think the whole agrument is based on a stupid premise - the sanctity of life.  The ovum and the sperm are just as alive as is the fertilized zygote.  If one Kills an ovum or prevents it from being fertilized or if one doesn’t give all the available sperm a chance to fertilize an ovum, they are just as responsible for ending lives as is anyone who aborts a zygote (using the morning after pill) or aborts an embryo or fetus. 

We kill billions of living things every time we brush our teeth.  If one wants to move up the phyla, humans kill crustateans, fish, birds and mammals at a great rate.  Do we have any right to adopt the jingoistic view that humans are special? 

If we can allow poor children in various parts of the world to starve to death, or set groups of young people as soldiers against one another so they kill a great many of them, why do we make a special case of the unborn who have contributed nothing, and if the mother wishes to abort, would almost certainly both live a miserable life and probably degrade the life of the mother?

Occam

Can we take this idea further?  1 + 1 = 3 unless we are talking cats and dogs.  Humans are animals and when you get a male and female together, that makes three or of course, if you get one sperm and one ovum together, you get one being.  This works the same in other animals too- one sire (male dog) and one bitch (female dog) and you get a puppy or in reality, several puppies, BUT in the early stages, to the untrained eye, one can’t tell the difference between a dog (or cat if you wish) and a human embryo or fetus.  Most mammals look similar in the early stages.  So…  There is a push to sterilize everything that walks on four legs, but when you get human animals involved, it seems the religious, esp., want to overpopulate the earth with human animals.  People think that embryo, that is nothing but cells and lives like a leach, is life.  It can’t live without living off the female, but if it is of a human female, people go NUTS when there is talk of abortion, morning after pill, and sometimes even birth control.  It’s insane, but they don’t complain one bit when a dog, cat, or other pet is sterilized.  Humm…  Me thinks humans have some pretty screwed up thinking when it comes to birth control, abortion, morning after pill, and even sterilization- which is what having one’s tubes tied or having a vasectomy is.  No one hollers about a hysterectomy though when a woman has a fibroid uterus or some other ailment in which that is the only cure for the ailment.  Again, some pretty screwed up thinking in humans.

As you see, I am in favour of choice, but I also think humans should have children within reason too and not pump out babies like rabbits (see Quiverful Movement).

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Mriana
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Posted: 29 September 2010 02:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Speaking of pumping out babies like rabbits, that crazy hoebag Michelle Duggar is preggers again.  With #20.  Yes, 20.  At least according to this and a couple of ads I’ve seen on TLC.

13274d1190065332-vagina-its-not-clown-car-vagina-its-not-clown-car.jpg

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Posted: 29 September 2010 06:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Think we should send them a complimentary copy of that Monty Python song?

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Posted: 29 September 2010 06:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Mriana - 29 September 2010 02:17 PM

There is a push to sterilize everything that walks on four legs, but when you get human animals involved, it seems the religious, esp., want to overpopulate the earth with human animals.  People think that embryo, that is nothing but cells and lives like a leach, is life.

Well they’re like that - no dogs or cats allowed in their heaven either… some heaven ey.

Mriana - 29 September 2010 02:17 PM

  (see Quiverful Movement).

no, no, no, I won’t do it - I’m already p’d off enough, don’t let me make it even worse.

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Posted: 29 September 2010 11:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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citizenschallenge.pm - 29 September 2010 06:14 PM
Mriana - 29 September 2010 02:17 PM

  (see Quiverful Movement).

no, no, no, I won’t do it - I’m already p’d off enough, don’t let me make it even worse.

I hear you.  I know a person who is an ex-Quiverful and she isn’t proud she was one.

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Posted: 30 September 2010 10:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Mriana - 29 September 2010 11:33 PM
citizenschallenge.pm - 29 September 2010 06:14 PM
Mriana - 29 September 2010 02:17 PM

  (see Quiverful Movement).

no, no, no, I won’t do it - I’m already p’d off enough, don’t let me make it even worse.

I hear you.  I know a person who is an ex-Quiverful and she isn’t proud she was one.

How much damage—e.g. how many children—did they convince her to have before she came to her senses? I’m sure she loves each and every child, but there is a limit to what your resources are as a parent, and what you can share with a very large family.

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Posted: 30 September 2010 11:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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asanta - 30 September 2010 10:50 AM
Mriana - 29 September 2010 11:33 PM
citizenschallenge.pm - 29 September 2010 06:14 PM
Mriana - 29 September 2010 02:17 PM

  (see Quiverful Movement).

no, no, no, I won’t do it - I’m already p’d off enough, don’t let me make it even worse.

I hear you.  I know a person who is an ex-Quiverful and she isn’t proud she was one.

How much damage—e.g. how many children—did they convince her to have before she came to her senses? I’m sure she loves each and every child, but there is a limit to what your resources are as a parent, and what you can share with a very large family.

I think she had four kids.  I’m not sure exactly how many she had, but she has her kids and they are out of it and all of them are recovering.

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Mriana
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