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.
2 years ago