"Religion is a hypothesis about the world: the hypothesis that things are the way they are, at least in part, because of supernatural entities or forces acting on the natural world. And there's no good reason to treat it any differently from any other hypothesis. Which includes pointing out its flaws and inconsistencies, asking its adherents to back it up with solid evidence, making jokes about it when it's just being silly, offering arguments and evidence for our own competing hypotheses...and trying to persuade people out of it if we think it's mistaken. It's persuasion. It's the marketplace of ideas. Why should religion get a free ride"

Greta Christina

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Pro-choice and pro-abortion

Largely ignored by the U.K media, American Republican Todd Akin’s comments about “legitimate rapes” and his poorly informed opinion that women rarely get pregnant from them have once again put abortion centre stage in the culture wars of the U.S.A.
All of this is part of the wider debate about contraception and abortion provision under ‘Obamacare’ and the bleating of the Christian right and Catholic Bishops about maintaining religious freedom privilege. But actually there is a danger of the pro-choice side of the abortion debate being backed into an ideological corner if they allow the concept of “legitimate” reasons, rape or otherwise, to become part of the argument.
If asked where I stand on this issue, my response is usually “pro–abortion” rather than pro-choice as not only does the former imply the latter it is a stronger statement about the right of a woman to choose. To be pro-abortion is to imply not only that a woman who wants a termination should be able to have one, but also that having one is the correct and moral thing to do if she wants one.
The problem with arguing with the incongruously named pro-life lobby about whether abortion is warranted on the grounds of rape is to miss the point entirely. A woman, if she is to enjoy autonomy over her own body and reproduction should be able to abort a pregnancy, certainly an early term one, for whatever reason she likes. Whether she was raped, had a one-night stand or a contraceptive failure with her long time partner is irrelevant. If she finds herself to be pregnant and she doesn’t want to be, she should be able to terminate that pregnancy without having to justify that decision to anyone else
To insist that a conceptus, blastocyst or early foetus has rights that trump the rights of a conscious adult to her own body is not only ludicrous it is deeply immoral if human rights and gender equality are to have any meaning whatsoever. The science is clear that such abortions are not the murder of sentient human beings and stripped of unwarranted religious assertions of ‘ensoulment’ and similar unverifiable nonsense need carry no stigma or shame whatsoever. It would, in fact, be more reasonable to question the ethicality of bringing an unwanted pregnancy to term
I am in sympathy with the principle that the longer a pregnancy is allowed to progress the more justification is required for termination. But at the point where a woman becomes aware that she is pregnant no other justification than her own desire need count and it seems to me that the less stigma there is attached to that decision, the earlier a woman is likely to make it. Late term abortions are usually only performed on medical grounds as it is, but even here the principle that the woman’s right to health supersedes the foetus’ right to be born should not be sacrificed to some deontological presumption that abortion is an intrinsic evil that should only ever happen in extremis.
Pandering to the politically correct labels of pro-life and pro-choice is an unnecessary confusion. By being pro-abortion you can affirm that it is not only a choice, but a morally neutral choice that will not allow the anti-abortion lobby to hide behind obnoxious concepts like “legitimate rape”.

No comments:

Post a Comment