Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Abortion: Failure of the Human Condition?

Few things invite the polarity of mindset the subject of abortion does. For many, a certain moral absolutism bespeaks the adamant perspective that abortion is an evil stain on the fabric of humanity deserving of nothing but condemnation. For others, the value of personal choice appears to supersede the value of life itself.

One telling aspect of this debate seems to be that many of those who defend a woman's right to choose also allow that it is their aim to reduce the need for abortions altogether. Does this position expose a chink in the armor of pro-choice constituents? If abortions truly occurred in a vacuum of morality, why then any aversion to it at all? As a candidate for president, Hillary Clinton said she hoped for the day when abortions were "safe, legal and rare." (Emphasis added.) Why the need for abortions to be rare if not for some underlying moral imperative disavowing their utility?

The absolutist approach, while appearing to flow from the moral high ground, is nonetheless dysfunctional. Once a context is assigned, the absolute defense of life at any and all costs simply does not hold up to scrutiny. Many of the same people have no compunction when judging some to be deserving of capital punishment. Some lives are apparently not worthy of defending.

For the time being, however, the genie is out of the bottle, the tooth paste is out of the tube, and the tail is wagging the dog. These tiresome clichès notwithstanding, the prudent course of action would seem to be to allow safe and legal abortions while at the same time cooperating in ways to reduce the primary impetus for abortions: unwanted pregnancies.

But this is where cooperation becomes elusive. Choices which allow for the healthy engagement of sexual activity while preventing pregnancy at the same time are non-starters for so many conservatives. Like it or not, "abstinence only" is utterly dysfunctional insofar as it disregards the basic human need for intimacy. The purpose of sex is not only to procreate, but also to achieve this very intimacy by sharing the urge to satisfy both the physical and emotional needs of one's self and one's partner. While an even greater sense of intimacy can arguably be achieved when impregnation is possible or even likely, it nonetheless holds that the intimacy achieved when pregnancy is not possible is more than sufficient to justify its role in fostering a meaningful and healthy lifestyle.

One of the best ways to help get beyond the political impasse in the abortion dilemma is for all concerned to unambiguously avow that improving the quality of life for everyone is one way to promote the sanctity of life in general. Perhaps the practical solution lies not in making abortions illegal, but rather in making them unnecessary.


  1. Do not get me wrong, when I say I oppose abortion. There is a catch.

    I am not fond of women playing Betty Crocker (ready to spread, as in frosting) at the expense of having sex and getting caught at something they did not intend. And yet, they had unprotected sex. Yes, we have all been in the throes of a heated event. But that does not justify not using protection. And yet, if all of us were asked, I bet you any amount of money we were all guilty of it at one point or another.

    But the rate of abortion is totally out of control and the reason is the mere fact of convenience. Those abortions bother me deeply. And yet(I guess I will be using that phrase a lot in this comment) I would not want to tax our unwanted children rate either. These children have to live with the fact, that for the most part they were an inconvenient truth (no pun intended) and they were not planned for now were they wanted. Yes, they could be thankful that they were not aborted. But what kind of pregnancy did that woman give that child.

    Did she eat properly, exercise, to that child. Pick out a name, makes plans for that child. Share thee experience with someone...anyone? I highly doubt it. So the whole experience of the pregnancy itself, which, to me is something to be treasured, is viewed as another day at the drive-thru to those just going through the motions.

    I still believe in a woman's ability to choose, but I also believe she should have chosen to keep her legs locked a bit tighter.

    I do believe in the intimacy that a healthy sexual relationship brings to the table (I will so leave that one alone). And being married nearly 28 years, I think I can speak from experience in the fact that it is a carnal need for both men and women to partner with the opposite sex. And not just for procreation. For us, as humans, I feel there is more to the act of sex than just populating the world. and in there lies the problem. People are giving away their bodies like pancakes at IHOP on a Saturday morning. There should be some restraint. But I doubt highly I will live to see the day where people are a bit more conservative when it come to the act of sex.

  2. I agree the key is to make them unnecessary, but as long as they are so readily available I am just not so sure that will ever happen. MAny view abortion more as a form of birth control than what it really is. In many cases it is easier and more affordable to get an abortion than it is birth control!

    RIght to choice? Sure, the right to choose whether to have unprotected sex or not...the right to choose to be responsible and be sure you're protected. For me that's where the choices end.

    Now of course, if the choice is taken from the woman(IE rape, incest) that's a different story! But most abortions are the result of chosen uprotected sex, very few are medically necessary or the result of rape and/or incest.