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In a diary a few weeks ago, I explained why I never use the expression “pro-life,” except, as here, in quotation marks:  I am a strong supporter of abortion rights, but I consider myself no less “pro-life” than any opponent of a woman’s right to choose.  The controversy over the administration’s stance on insurance coverage of contraception has gotten me thinking more about abortion as well as contraception, and it occurred to me that my formulation of the issue was too defensive, reflecting the general tendency of us abortion rights supporters to be defensive.  We need to argue forcefully and consistently that not only should a woman be allowed to choose, but that there is absolutely nothing morally wrong--nothing--with a decision to abort a pregnancy.     We need to argue, further, that it is the “pro-life” position that is immoral.  

When I say that there is nothing morally wrong with a decision to abort, I don’t mean to suggest that it should be an easy decision to make; it may well be a difficult, perhaps even agonizing decision.   But that’s not because abortion is in any way morally questionable; it’s because the decision to forgo having a child is a major life decision for any woman, one not likely to be made lightly.

There is nothing morally wrong with abortion because a fetus is not a person.  It’s not a person because it possesses none of the attributes that we associate with a person--it lacks not only intelligence, but even consciousness.  In fact, until well into the second trimester--long after most abortions are performed--it isn’t even a sentient being in even the most primitive sense.  That means that it literally has no feelings.  And by “feelings” I don’t mean just mean emotions--obviously, a fetus has none--but physical sensation.  You cannot inflict pain--physical or emotional--on a fetus.  

A fetus is less like a person than is a typical household pet, which does have some kind of consciousness, if not intelligence, and certainly can feel pain.  It is less like a person than are animals that we routinely kill for food.  The only thing a fetus has in common with you and me is a complete set of human chromosomes.  (Of course, you may believe that a fetus is like you and me in that it has a soul; but that is a religious belief, which you have no right to impose on anyone in a society that values religious freedom.)  It has the potential to eventually be like you and me, but potential is not actual, and there is no reason that mere potentiality should be defended and accorded “rights.”  That is, unless you believe that there is a moral imperative that every possibility for increasing the number of human beings on this earth must be preserved.  

A woman--unlike a fetus--is an intelligent, conscious, sentient being.  Unlike a fetus, she is aware of her existence, she has desires and can feel pain.  It follows that it is morally perverse--not to mention absurd--to claim that a fetus has rights that trump the right of a woman to control over her body for a period of 9 months.   Compulsory pregnancy is immoral.  Abortion is not.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I have to agree with you. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Melanie in IA

    I often tell people that I am not anti-life, but that I am pro-choice.  There is a real difference in this that they refuse to acknowledge.  As a woman, it's my body - leave me alone to make my own choices.

    love the fetus, hate the child

    by Raggedy Ann on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 07:24:35 AM PST

  •  Nice Diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Melanie in IA

    There's never been anything particularly moral or life-affirming about pro-lifers (with limited exception).  The label is a delusional form of self-congratulations for a conscience utterly callous to the value of human life.  

  •  every sperm is sacred (0+ / 0-)

    which is behind this personhood foolishness.  There are decades of court decisions which treat fertilized eggs as chattel or common property of a marriage.  These eggs are disposed of as property.  Suddenly making them persons would mean that these eggs would have the right to sue their parents and the storage facilities which store the eggs for illegal incarceration.  It would seem the state would be required to conscript wombs for them to occupy until they are born.
    Also would zygotes be eligible for welfare at least until they are born because they are clearly disabled by SSDI standards as they cannot survive outside of a womb

  •  it's not "pro-life" (0+ / 0-)

    it's forced-birth.

    Scientific Materialism debunked here

    by wilderness voice on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 11:36:50 AM PST

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