Abortions are not always a big deal
Sep 10, 2011

Abortions are not always a big deal

When it comes to abortion, I sometimes feel the pro-choice side of the argument gives up half the argument to the pro-life side by agreeing to the framing that abortion is actually a weighty decision.

For some people, of course, it is a weighty decision and they may decide one way or the other. I do not mean to detract from the significant emotional turmoil that it surely can be; people may be very torn about it and may regret their decisions later. However, for some people it can be a very easy decision, a trivial one even. It might be because the person is fervently pro-life and so, obviously to them, they keep the baby without any further thought. It might also be trivial because someone sees the action as having no consequences and already know they don't want a baby and so they easily and without much thought have an abortion.

Both sides of the argument will put forward various examples which they try to demonstrate to get the other side to move a little bit closer to them. It is a reasonable tactic. The pro-choice side will give examples such as when the mothers life is at risk due to the fetus or when the girl is the victim of incestual rape. I think these examples certainly can be useful at greying out the black and white spectrum and hopefully are persuasive, but if too much emphasis is put on defending these extremes then sometimes the much less weighty aspects of abortion get ignored.

On the flip side, the pro-life side will sometimes give examples that show how abortion is being trivialized and, presumably, this is supposed to be a bad thing. For example, they might talk about how it will be used as a birth control method for causal sex. I find it quite rare for a pro-choice person to jump in at this place and exclaim "I agree, and there is nothing at all wrong with that!"

Consider a couple who wants to have sex but not have a baby and actively premeditates that abortion is going to be part of their birth control techniques. Provided one accepts casual sex as acceptable (and many don't accept that), then I can see nothing at all wrong with this nor any reason why abortion in this context is a necessarily weighty issue, for many it might be entirely trivial and that is fine. Pro-life advocates often talk about the potential of a fetus, but if we intend from the onset that it will be prevented whether by condom or abortion, there is no such potential. Pro-choice advocates focus on the right for people to choose, and so they should, but that should include choosing to treat abortion as a trivial procedure empty of the need for much throught, emotion or consideration.

I would go so far as saying somebody that wants to have a one night stand, forgets the condom and actively chooses "if I get pregnant I will have an abortion", as in abortion is the sole method of birth control, that this is also entirely fine. To deny its use in this manner as simply one possible form of birth control amongst many seems to me to be giving it more credit than it is worth.

Of course, one can make a few utilitarian arguments and I might point out the health risks that come from abortion or the superiority of condoms in preventing STIs. There are issues of consent, for both males and females, when one views issue very differently than the other. And so on. But these are issues outside of the morality of the act itself.

I think pointing all of this out is useful for a couple reasons. Firstly, it should be seen that the pro-life side demonstrating that abortion will be treated superficially and trivially is not a mark against the pro-choice side. Secondly, buying into the framing that this is exlusively a weighty issue moves the goal posts to a place where one is acknowledging there is some significant negative things about abortion to be considered - this is sometimes so (such as when someone is not sure if they do or do not want a baby) but it is not necessarily so. Thirdly, it creates a stigma against those who simply do not think it is a big issue in any way and have no emotional struggles in getting an abortion as a method of birth control.

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1 comment:

William Hayes said...

Well reasoned. Insisting that abortion is not always a big deal helps level the playing field for the discussion.

Another way to level the playing field is by insisting that, for some, giving up one's child for adoption is a weighty issue!

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