The End of Pro-Life

Iwon’t lie. I am staunchly and unequivocally pro-choice, meaning I believe that a woman has a moral right to get an abortion. The most fundamental freedom any human being has is the right to control the use and functioning of his or her own body. From such freedom all other freedoms proceed.

The claim of pro-lifers, if I understand their position correctly, is that the right of the unborn to live takes precedence over a woman’s right to her health, her happiness, her independence, and in the case of some pro-lifers, even her life. Her rights are, in effect, suspended while pregnant.

I confess that I have no sympathy for this position. Although I think honest people can disagree about abortion in the latter stages of pregnancy, I find it inherently dishonest to suggest that abortion is immoral on the basis of zygote personhood.

What do I mean by “inherently dishonest”? I mean I do not believe that those who would bestow rights on a zygote believe what they claim to believe, i.e., that personhood begins at the point of conception. Saying one believes in something is not the same thing as actually believing it. When one actually believes in something one’s beliefs translate into action. When one holds something as a value one acts to preserve that value. When one does nothing to preserve a value it simply means one does not value it, all protestations to the contrary aside.

Pro-lifers claim to value unborn life. If I take them at their word, at the face value of their claim, then I presume that they act to preserve and extend the lives of the unborn. Now how does one go about valuing the unborn? Obviously, one acts to prevent their destruction and to enable their continued construction. Negatively, one opposes abortion and acts to ensure abortions will not occur; positively, one supports reproduction and acts to make sure that the conceived will be properly nurtured in the womb so they may develop and be born.

This means one does far more than attempt to make abortion illegal. After all, before Roe v Wade there were hundreds of thousands of abortions every year in the US. Worldwide, there are millions of illegal abortions every year. No doubt billions have been performed throughout human history.

If the attempt is to reduce abortions rather than simply make life difficult for pregnant women, then there are many tactics one might pursue. One might advocate more effective, cheaper, and more readily available contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies. One might advocate greater financial aid to pregnant women by requiring fathers not only to support the resulting child but compensate the woman for the expenses associated with carrying, bearing, and suckling that child. Lastly, those who claim to want to create a “culture of life” might consider paying those who create that life. If you want people to produce, reward production. That’s a basic capitalistic principle that has never been applied to the most valuable social work of women—the production of children.

But there is another far more comprehensive and fundamental way for pro-lifers to show that they indeed hold the genetic union of sperm and egg as inherently precious. And that is by protecting all unborn life, even unborn life that is destined to be destroyed naturally in the womb. Scientists now know that up to 80% of fertilized eggs fail to implant. Of those that do implant, about 1 in 6 will be spontaneously aborted. The womb is more a slaughterhouse of life than a generator of life. If this life is so precious, then why is its natural destruction so irrelevant?

Someday I believe it will be possible for a girl to have her eggs removed and put on ice, quite literally, until she is ready to have a child. At that time her eggs can be checked for defects, and the sperm of her partner can be put through its paces as well. Only healthy and mutation-free egg and sperm will be brought together to form a zygote, and only a healthy zygote will then be implanted. Such technology could potentially reduce both spontaneous and induced abortions to near zero.

Separating reproduction from sex will mean that defective unborn will no longer be conceived and fail to implant, or be torn out of the womb to die a “wretched” death in that spontaneous form of abortion called miscarriage.

Will most so-called pro-lifers support an end to this “culture of death” that takes place naturally in the womb?

Oh hell no!

The truth is that it is far more important for them to destroy the independence of a single woman than prevent the slaughter of billions of the unborn.

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© 2005 Laura J. Rift. All rights reserved.