I engaged in a conversation about abortion with an abortion advocate (I refuse to use the term pro-choice as a meaningless, post-modern sound bite). I wanted to understand their reasoning.
Her point is that the deciding factor on abortion is consciousness of the fetus; when the fetus becomes conscious — at around five months, according to her — then abortions shouldn’t occur. “But why do you consider a six-week old fetus human?” she asked. “Because it has human DNA? It has no stream of consciousness. It doesn’t care. It really does not care. You over-think this.”
“But why murder the fetus at six weeks? Why not bring the pregnancy to term and give the baby in adoption?” I asked.
“You act like there’s no slut-shaming in society, or parents who would severely punish a teenager to the point of it being life-changing detrimental (e.g. financially cutting her off, kicking her out, sending them to boarding school) if they found out she got pregnant. When a teenager gets pregnant, it isn’t easy. Life will change drastically, usually in a very negative way, by carrying it to term. That’s something I would never ask of someone for something that doesn’t even have conscience yet,” was her reply.
“But society is more lenient on sexual mores today than it was in the past. Surely parents will be sad and upset at first, but they’ll get over it and face the situation,” I said.
“No, society is not lenient on sexual mores,” she said. “It’s almost more uptight than ever. If a 16-year old girl got pregnant in 1900, very few people would bat an eye. Now she’s slut-shamed by her peers, looked down on by religious people, possibly kicked out of her house, ostracized from her family. These things happen every single day, and you and other “pro-lifers” would allow it to happen even more if you got your way. And you’d ruin a few years of a girl’s life for a clump of cells with the same amount of consciousness as shower mold. That’s silly. I don’t use that word often, but that’s just plain silly.
I’ve always said pro-lifers overthink the situation. The clump of cells is simply not conscious. At all. It doesn’t care if it lives or dies. It really doesn’t. It’s not being “punished” as you say. There’s no consciousness to punish. It’s also why I wouldn’t consider it murder. Murder isn’t defined as “the killing of homo sapiens.” If you killed a chimpanzee brutally, I’d call you a murderer, but if you killed the mold in your shower with Ajax? Nope. It’s not conscious like a chimpanzee or fully-grown human is.
Also, on the adoption thing, you act like there aren’t already thousands of kids in American foster homes waiting to be adopted. You’d really be making the situation worse, not better, by banning all abortion practices,” she said.
I scratched my head. “So, you make four arguments,” I said. “You are saying that
1 – Society is less lenient today than it was in the past
2 – Abortion fixes the slut-bashing problem of today’s society
3 – Abortion is ok before the fifth month of pregnancy because the fetus has no consciousness
4 – Abortion is ok because otherwise we would have even more unwanted children.
Your first point is historically false. I doubt you’ll be able to convince anyone but yourself of it. Today’s society is much more lenient than it was fifty or one hundred years ago. More than one third of today’s teens are sexually active, recreational sex is taught in school, the country is on its course to accept the very promiscuous homosexual lifestyle as normal. All this was unthinkable only fifty years ago.
Your second point is irrational. Abortion cannot fix the reputation problem of a pregnant young woman (assuming that today’s society considers her a slut in the first place, instead of just the product of more sexually liberated social behavior). What makes her a “slut” is her promiscuous sexual activity, not her pregnancy. At most, her pregnancy makes her a careless slut who wasn’t paying attention in her contraception class.
And abortion is not going to do anything to fix her reputation; she’s now a slut who aborted her baby. Or do you perhaps think that, without the abortion, no one among her family, friends, school peers, would know that she’s a slut? in today’s social media and sexting age, this is preposterous.
One note: lest you think I’m assuming a “holier than thou” attitude, I shall point out that two of my female cousins found themselves in that very situation. They could have aborted their babies, but that would not have changed the “slut” perception of the people who knew them. Their reputation, however, went up quite a few notches when they decided to keep their baby, finish high school, graduate from college, find a good job, and raise their kid, who is now the apple of their eye. Abortion would not have given them the strength needed to accomplish all this; on the contrary, it would have crippled them emotionally (as even the Google News article linked above shows).
The third point is more sophisticated; the fetus is a clump of cells with no consciousness, therefore it does not care whether we abort it or not. This is just an excuse. If consciousness had been present from conception, you would have chosen a different deciding factor because, ultimately, the real issue is an aesthetic value judgment about life and meaning, which would take a book (Try OS Guiness’s A Free People’s Suicide). But since you mention consciousness, I will ask this: says who? Who says that the fetus becomes worthy of life when it becomes conscious? On what authority? also, consciousness is not an on/off switch; it’s a process. Where do we establish the line? is it 5 months? 8 months, as some pro-abortion advocates state? Is it two years of age, as some ethicists have argued last year?
Also, if we choose consciousness an the deciding factor, can I lovingly suppress a young child while he’s sleeping?
The last point is sad because it reflects the consequences of the spirit of the age. We will not be able to make a difference in a child’s life if we subscribe to the current post-modern view of life as search for pleasure. If life is not about sacrificial love, but about making money and having fun, who will go through the time, cost, energy, risks of adopting a life? If we hate the life of the one that is part of our body as to point of terminating it, how will we love the life of the one who’s not part of us?”
And what does it ultimately say about the value we attribute to life?