So I was reading up on the social/political positions of various churches this morning and was forced to think about my own position on several issues. One issue that they all seem to be totally hung up on is abortion. I tell you they’re positively obsessed with it. I guess you probably knew that…
Here’s the thing [brace yourselves]: when it comes to abortion, I sympathize with the believers who feel so strongly about the issue. To be clear, I do not share the view that many believers hold on the topic. That is to say, I don’t believe that abortion is tantamount to murder. But I gotta say, I get where they’re coming from. The fact is that there is no clear and obvious philosophy to turn to on the matter.
When we’re honest with ourselves, there’s no definitive way to determine when “life” or “humanness” begins- when a bun in someone’s oven switches from collection of slightly specified cells to murderable human. Morally, it’s just a question with no perfect answer.
That doesn’t prevent fanatics on both sides of the issue from declaring (loudly) (and often rudely) that they have the answer, and anyone who disagrees is morally bankrupt. The anti-abortionites are adament that life begins at ejaculation (or whatever) and the pro-murderites are adament that life begins somewhere around toddlerdom. If I’m totally honest with myself, I’m not entirely clear where I stand on the matter, but I can tell you that I feel my life didn’t truly begin until I discovered coffee…
|They’re right- dead babies would make horrible presidents.|
The fact of the matter is that there is no common ground to be found here, and, again, I sympathize with the worries of the believers. They think murders are taking place- what are they supposed to do, sit idly by? It’s not like they’re out picketing because they’re worried about rampant state-condoned serial jaywalking… And I’m sorry, progressives, this is much more than simply an issue of a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body. We’re not talking about whether or not it’s ok to get a boob job. As tempting as it is to use the conservatives’ trick of “framing” the issue in terms that suit our purposes but pretend that there is no other way of seeing it, it’s just not that simple. Whether or not we agree with it, we have to acknowledge that the position that a fetus is a human life worthy of protection is a logically viable position. It’s a tricky issue. That’s all there is to it.
So, considering the intractable nature of the issue, the question becomes what guidelines do we use to create public policy? There can really be only one answer and it is this: it doesn’t matter what your personal beliefs are. I don’t give a flying fart if Jesus came to you personally with a choir of dead fetus spirits singing in the background declaring abortion the worst thing in the world. Until he visits the rest of us and we all (or at least a dominating majority of us) agree, the correct course of action is to keep it legal. I know, believers: that sounds unfair. It’s not.
|Horrible side-effects: abortion causes beards!|
If abortion is legal, then those who believe an aborted baby is Satan’s party hat can still choose not to do it, and those who feel that a fetus is less a human and more the moral equivalent of a houseplant or small woodland creature and are therefore fine with killing them, can do so. Sorry, believers, but it’s really the only honest political solution. If it is not absolutely clear (and it certainly is not) where the moral lines are to be drawn, and there is roughly equal support for both sides of the issue, then society must call a draw and allow the individual to make the choice for herself. End of discussion.
Despair not, however, oh sad believer- there is a chance for you to stop abortions without employing explosives! There is even a way to get it outlawed completely and still honor the ideals of democracy: simply convince your fellow countrymen that your position is correct. Do that, and you win! That’s how pluralistic society works.
So there are your marching orders anti-abortionists: forget politics and stop trying to get laws passed for a while- that’s putting the cart way before the horse. Your first job is to convince the citizenry that you’re right. Try to win their hearts and minds. Work on that for the next century or so, and then, when you realize that you’ve gotten nowhere and we’re all in the same position we were in when you started, please… I beg you… shut the hell up.