Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fun With Logical Absolutism: Abortion Edition

Abortion has largely been an issue I've steered clear of over the years. Not my place to say, and the sheer vitriol of the debate has been cause for me to largely withdraw from it altogether. I've been content to let people whack each other over the head with their signs as long as they left me alone about it.

This has not been easy. Apparently, you're not allowed to stand down from the debate either. "You HAVE to pick a side!, no, no, not THAT side!" Pretty much, you can either hold women's bodies hostage, be a baby-killer, or you can be both. Not an enticing prospect.

In fact, I kicked this very post down the road a day due to a bit of apprehension over wading into the abortion waters.

Over time, though, I have kind of drifted into positions, largely based on not being stupid or heartless.

The 'stupid' part comes mainly from terminology. 'Pro-choice' and 'pro-life'. What seems to get lost in the debate is the fact that the first one, 'pro-choice', is exactly what it says on the tin. Pro-CHOICE. The pro-life crowd appears to act as if that position is actually 'pro-death', as it is the position that allows abortion. They're baby killers.

More like fetus killers, but as the argument from the pro-life camp contends that life begins at conception, it is at least rhetorically consistent. But then you see some of the pro-life camp say things like "I chose life". Which implies that this is the one and only side that does so.

Okay, listen, geniuses. You CHOSE life, correct? Life was not IMPOSED on you. You chose it of your own free will.

That is being pro-choice, is it not? You had the CHOICE to have or not have your child, and you CHOSE to have your child. That is the pro-choice position: to choose, of your own free will, whether or not to carry a child to term. Being pro-life removes that option: you will carry the child to term, whether you like it or not, and that is that. (Being pro-death, of course, would be aborting all the children whether the mother likes it or not. For more on this position, please consult your friendly neighborhood doomsday cult. What do you mean, you don't have a friendly neighborhood doomsday cult? Go get one.)

The 'heartless' part comes from having some basic level of concern for the person that, in the event of carrying the baby to term, is going to be using her own body to conduct the birth, which most women will tell you is quite possibly the opposite of pleasant, particularly because dying in the act is not unheard of and before modern medicine was actually quite common, and still is in some of your lesser-developed countries. Aborting in the interest of the health of the mother does not appear to be controversial, thankfully. If one must choose between the death of someone who has not technically been born yet, and the death of someone who has, I'm picking the person who has been born every single time.

After that, the next step is abortions in the case of rape or incest: the mother had an unwanted pregnancy imposed on them by someone else. Up until now, abortions in this case wasn't controversial either. Why put a mother through carrying, giving birth to, and raising a child that was literally forced upon them via a sex act that was also forced upon them?

Well, apparently, three Senate candidates- Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sharron Angle of Nevada, and Ken Buck of Colorado, all Republican- have decided that the mother should be made to go through with the birth in this instance. That just doesn't sit well with me. 'But what if YOU were that baby?', I can hear the pro-life camp asking, and to that I say I just so happen to have spent nine months as a fetus myself, and at no point did I even comprehend what was going on. I just showed up one cold day in 1985. Hi, who are all of you? It's really freaking cold! Wait a minute, I haven't learned to talk yet! Agagoogoo waaaaa!

The centerpiece of these particular three is Angle, who had this exchange on radio's Alan Stock show:

Stock: What do you say then to a young girl, I am going to place it as he said it, when a young girl is raped by her father, let's say, and she is pregnant. How do you explain this to her in terms of wanting her to go through the process of having the baby?

Angle: I think that two wrongs don't make a right. And I have been in the situation of counseling young girls, not 13 but 15, who have had very at risk, difficult pregnancies. And my counsel was to look for some alternatives, which they did. And they found that they had made what was really a lemon situation into lemonade. Well one girl in particular moved in with the adoptive parents of her child, and they both were adopted. Both of them grew up, one graduated from high school, the other had parents that loved her and she also graduated from high school. And I'll tell you the little girl who was born from that very poor situation came to me when she was 13 and said 'I know what you did thank you for saving my life.' So it is meaningful to me to err on the side of life.

Cue bewildered outrage from everyone who had previously been living under the assumption that being raped and impregnated at age 15, or 13, simply does not qualify as a lemons-into-lemonade situation.

Consider a roadtrip. If your car breaks down in the woods in a national park, that's a lemons-into-lemonade situation. While you're waiting for help to arrive or for Dad to fix the car, go off and enjoy whatever location it is exactly you broke down in. Settle down, have some lunch if you've got food in the cooler.

Now consider a bear coming out of the woods and mauling little Susie. You do not think 'Well, at least that's one less person to lug around! Little Billy, looks like you're going to have some extra legroom!'

But I got to thinking lately-- always a dangerous thing-- and it occurred to me that perhaps a rigid pro-life position like this is still somewhat inconsistent.

After all, if we're going to be absolutist about giving the maximum amount of life, are we not all mass murderers every time we engage in sex, regardless of whether or not a pregnancy results?

An average sperm count is 20 million. That means every time you attempt to concieve- or, in fact, every time a male ejaculates for any reason- he sends out 20 million sperm, on average. But it's unusual for a woman to even give birth to two of them. Many of the sperm never have a chance; the ones that get there first have to spend their energies breaking down the egg wall.

That means when I was concieved, assuming that average sperm count, did my dad not knowingly send 19,999,999 sperm to slave away and give their lives so I might live? After all, even if life begins at conception, are not all sperm sentinent enough to know how to seek out an egg out of a primitive survival instinct? And isn't masturbation considered a sin for the reason that one denies those sperm a chance at life?

How can we save these 19,999,999 other sperm from this fate? Why are top scientists not working on a device or a pill that can pre-emptively break down the egg wall, so that I might have 19,999,999 brothers and sisters? (They shall all be named Pat.) Sure, it might be slghtly uncomfortable for the mother, but just think of-- actually, no, I don't think any of us wants to think about what that might look like, but that isn't the point. We will learn to make it precious and beautiful and 20 million simultaneous miracles. (Minus, of course, any non-viable sperm. They had their chance.)

And what, exactly, is the lifespan of a sperm anyway? Inside of a male, a fully-developed sperm can survive only for about five days. That means, logically, if you are not impregnating a woman with 20 million children every five days- if you are not concieving 1,460,000,000 children every year (minus the non-viables), if you are not ballooning your woman's uterus to the size of a zeppelin- you are dooming untold numbers of potential lives before they are ever born. (And you had better succeed, for while there's a five-day lifespan inside the male, it's sliced to a mere six hours for any sperm that doesn't hit the target.)

Or, you could be logically consistent, and admit there are some cases where it's okay not to go to term.

EDIT: Dammit, Duggars, that wasn't supposed to be taken seriously.

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