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Pro-death

It looks like Roe vs Wade may be overturned in the US. I won’t try to discuss the constitutional arguments before or against it, or whether it should be a state issue; frankly I don’t care all that much about those semantics. I’m not American and all of these arguments are basically just attempts to back up moral arguments with something resembling a hard and shut legal case. Instead, I’ll just discuss my opinion on abortion and why I find it tremendously difficult to be reasonable about.


I hope I put this across in these articles, but I genuinely try my best to understand the point of view of those who disagree with me. This is a large part of why I like writing these anonymous ramblings that I know no one will ever read; it allows me to contemplate issues from all sides, without the need to try and ‘win’ the argument. I start writing and often by the end I’m writing things that disagree with what I’ve said at the start. Because I’m not trying to convince anyone; I’m just trying to understand what I myself believe about the world. Without the need to win an argument, I can acknowledge things I don’t believe, get closer to understanding opposing view points and identify why we can’t meet in the middle, or whether we can. An example, that I think will be relevant later, is vegetarianism and veganism. I am a passionate meat-eater, not in the self interested, I-like-to-eat-meat way, but in what it represents. I fear Veganism because I think it represents the final steps in truly industrialising our food supply, growing fungus as a meat substitute inside huge manufacturing facilities. I am not fond of battery farming, but the idea of an actual farm, the natural relationship between man and animal, mutually beneficial, is romantic to me. I think the Whigs will soon realise the benefit of veganism; they can finally pave over the last of our pastures and our hills, clothe us in plastic fibres and fill us full of chemically flavoured mulch, all produced in industrial estates. While Vegans, I think, often view theirs as the natural, green lifestyle, I instinctively believe the opposite. They may live on organic vegetables, but the wider population will not; I think Veganism is, ironically, the gateway to an even more industrialised world that a Vegan would likely hate above all else.


But that argument will never work with them. Because as romantic as I may find the idea of the small-holding, the three acres and a cow - non-industrialised livestock farming in general - it can never even approach negating the central point in the vegan argument. That these animals are sentient and have a right to life like humans do. There is no social argument I can make that can usurp that point. If I want to argue with a vegan, it has to be about the value of an animal life, to justify that they are not equivalent to humans due to what they lack in consciousness, emotion, whatever. If I can’t argue against that, any other argument I have is moot. And as soon as I acknowledge that this is the central point of their ideology, even the more whacky things start to make sense. Being against wool, for example, is insane. Sheep aren’t harmed by getting a haircut; in fact, they will probably overheat if they don’t get one. The images PETA find of sheep cut to ribbons are incredibly rare, due to lazy (usually seasonal) workers that don’t care at all for the animals or even for the business, that may lose a valuable sheep if the injuries are too severe. Being against wool because of those abuses is like being against Children’s hospitals because of Jimmy Saville. However, that isn’t really the vegan’s argument. The vegan is against wool because it is exploitative. If one sees a sheep as holding a similar value to a human, then being trapped and controlled by a vastly more powerful being so you can be harvested for your hair starts to sound quite sinister.


The reason I bring this up is twofold. Firstly, I think the obtuse way that I, and many other meat-eaters, approach arguments with vegans, arguing about practicalities and personal conveniences while ignoring the central moral crux which we know full well motivates their opinion, reminds me very much of how people treat Pro-lifers in arguments about abortion. Secondly, though, I bring it up because my attempt to be reasonable and understanding about other people’s opinions, as with veganism, falls utterly flat when dealing with people who are ‘pro-choice’. So first, a bit of background.


I am Roman Catholic, but I swear my opinion on abortion was formed long before I became interested in the Church. I was ‘sort of’ raised Catholic, but only in the way that we went to church at Christmas and Easter, and honestly, I can never remember this issue being raised in my family throughout my whole childhood. My first consideration of this was probably in my year 10 or 11 RE class, and by that point I was not just ‘not catholic’ but a passionate Atheist and Leftist; specifically, I’d have called myself a Trotskyist, but I had no real idea what that meant. The reason I mention this is that I was not brought to a pro-life position by an affinity to Catholicism, not to Conservatism (which, in the UK, isn’t particularly pro-life anyway). I wasn’t taught about the issue by a priest, an internet commentator or even culturally catholic parents, it was in class with my secular teacher. I didn’t even realise it was a ‘right-wing’ opinion. Honestly, it still sort of surprises me that it is; defending the fundamental rights of the weak from the strong should really be a left-wing issue. In fact, I am convinced the only reason it is is because of the traditional association of anti-abortion positions with religion. It frustrates me immensely, even as someone who is now religious, that whenever this point is discussed, pro-lifers litter it with Christian defences. This has NOTHING to do with religion. All Christianity can lead me to is a fundamental belief in the dignity of the human person; whether or not an unborn person counts is not discussed anywhere in the Bible. There is a vague mention in the Psalms to being ‘knit together’ in one’s mother’s womb that I hear referenced a lot; to me that doesn’t prove anything, it doesn’t refer to when life is received, purely the human manufacturing process. The only clear early Christian condemnation of abortion is in the Didache, which is not in any Western canon. As soon as Christians make abortion a religious issue, ‘pro-choicers’ are given an out; just condemn our position as ‘backwards’; its just religious drivel, opposed to modern science.


What science is that exactly? Because in all of the discussions I’ve ever had about this, no one has ever been able to provide me any science with any relevance to their argument whatsoever. From the science, we know that from the point of conception, the sperm and egg meet and a new genetic human is made. After the 24 hours in which fertilisation occurs, in which time the state of humanity is, indeed, ambiguous, living cells exists with DNA distinct from that of the father and the mother. This genetic code can tell us the sex of the person, their eye colour, their propensity towards certain diseases, even help us to predict elements of their personality. From there, the cells divide until they form an embryo, then a foetus, then the baby is born. This is all a smooth process. There is not another ‘point’ identified by science when a baby could possibly become human. The claim that science has proved something about the pro-choice argument is laughable. Maybe it’s not proven the pro-life argument either, but it’s certainly not buried it.


The irony of this is that I think the idea that the foetus just becomes a person at 24 weeks, or at birth, to be far more unscientific and superstitious. The only way I could believe that to be true is if I did believe that an invisible, and un-empirically provable, soul entered the baby as it passed through the birth canal, making it a person. Otherwise, how can an abortionist look at child in utero and think it’s a cluster of cells, then look at the same child, moments later, outside the womb and think it is a child? The argument would probably be around dependence; in the womb the baby can’t survive on its own. But of course, that doesn’t work, because outside the womb the baby can’t survive on its own either. The baby requires the mother for warmth, protection and food. And actually, even after birth the mother is morally obliged to provide those things. If a mother intentionally withholds food and starves her baby to death, she has killed the baby. We nearly all agree to this. Is abortion different because the baby isn’t fully developed in the womb? Though it doesn’t work for those who believe in abortion up to the point of birth, this is evidently the motivation behind the 24-week cut off. But the baby when it is born is not yet fully developed. In fact, one could argue that the child isn’t fully developed until adulthood. So, what is the difference between the one year old child and the 24 week foetus? Both are dependant on their mother to survive, both aren’t fully developed. The mother, however, is morally excused if she actively kills the one and not only restricted from killing the other, but on the contrary is morally obliged to provide for it, either herself or by finding someone else who will.


This leaves the last, most worrying point. That the difference between a killable person and a non-killable person is consciousness. The unborn child doesn’t have consciousness; the toddler does. The reason this angle is so worrying, is that a new born baby isn’t conscious either. This is why pro-lifers express fear of infanticide. Though this is laughed off, it is clearly the logical progression from the current position. There will have been people who read above about the obligation of a mother to provide for her born child who thought to themselves that maybe that shouldn’t be the case. This is, in my opinion, where the abortionist argument must lead if it’s to be logically consistent. And it isn’t absurd, as it is accused; many societies all over the world have allowed infanticide, from the Romans to the aboriginal Australians. The fact abortionists seriously don’t think that it’s possible must either be cognitive dissonance or a failure of imagination. And it doesn’t stop here. If consciousness, or some other trait, becomes the definition of humanity, if humanity is no longer something inherent to all living homo sapiens, the door to the euthanasia of the disabled and the elderly is opened as well. I am not exaggerating when I say that I think abortion, and the new Canadian laws on euthanasia, are the gateway to the complete collapse of our moral order, the likes of which not seen since the popularity of eugenics peaked in the early 20th century. Those issues, fundamentally about the definition of moral good in a post Christian world, have not been answered, and the abortion debate is the perfect example of that for me.


So, I think you now understand what I mean when I say I can’t understand the opposing argument. It’s that I find the ‘pro-choice’ position actively, and passionately, evil. I don’t even mean that in a religious way, like I said it was my opinion long before I was religious, or even right-wing. It is the culmination of all the things I find most deplorable and disgusting in the world; people kill the weakest and most defenceless among us, entirely for their own convenience, in a situation where they are called by the very laws of nature to be kind and caring, and in order to justify it, they use utilitarian or eugenicistic arguments to diminish or eliminate their victim’s humanity. I view it in a similar way to how I view National Socialism; in fact, in that regard modern abortion is only less deplorable than the final solution in that the victims of Nazism were conscious and could actively experience their fate.


I know that seems wildly exaggerative to a lot of you, and I am trying my best to understand you. I suppose that when one has an opinion on something like this, it is rarely built on the sort of logical, step by step argument I’ve tried to outline above; truthfully, I suppose, the reason people don’t see it as murder is because they see it as a cluster of cells, they instinctively cannot think of it as human. If someone is ever actually reading this, and that is your opinion, please, please, go to google images and see some real babies at the various stages of development and think seriously about whether you can justify killing the child at those points. As I was trying to point to with the discussion of veganism, this has literally nothing to do with a woman’s rights over her own body, and at this point it appears as though abortionists are being intentionally belligerent about understanding that point. If you take something that you believe to have a human life, say a two-month old baby, and apply it to the arguments you make over abortion, you’ll see how unhelpful they are. If I were to say you can’t kill your two-month old, replying that a woman has the right to choose is either utterly irrelevant or disgustingly immoral.


Seriously, if anyone does read this who is pro-choice, I apologise for being so inflammatory but I honestly can’t help it. I cannot see your argument at all. If you think I’m missing something, please comment with your best arguments as to why: 1. The foetus is not a child until whichever point you draw the line, or 2. Why the mother has the right to end the life of a human person if it’s not in her interests to carry it. If you reply to 2, then please explain whether you think a person, man or woman, should be legally responsible for the life of their born child and, if so, what the difference is. (And please don’t bring up the fiddler argument because I don’t have respect for it whatsoever. It is not the fiddler’s fault that this has happened, and the arrangement is for 9 months, not forever, so my answer is yes, the person is absolutely morally obliged to stay attached to him.)


I can’t help but think a lot of people pick a side on this due to the framing rather than the actual argument. Pro-life is religious and conservative, so if you are liberal and progressive you are pro-choice. Otherwise, I cannot for the life of me explain how left-wing people who seem so utterly committed to abstract human rights, can’t see the pro-life position here. Vegans, even, who believe it is exploitative to even keep a sheep for wool, cannot seem to see how killing a child in utero might be immoral, and therefore think the pro-life movement is just some paternalistic power trip. I beg pro-choicers to reconsider the arguments; as it is, the next time someone tells me ‘Meat is murder’ I’ll reply that it’s a man’s right to choose. How irrelevant does that sound.


(Child born at 24 weeks, above).

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