Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Abortion, again

I’m sick and tired of abortion being simplified into clichéd arguments. Abortion is about far, far more than a fetus or a baby, than life or death, than women’s rights and body rights, and more than morals. It’s an example of the idiocy in the world today, and it’s an example of how badly people will do anything to avoid responsibility for their decisions or anyone elses.

Abortion is about motherhood, raising children, and self responsibility and knowledge.

Motherhood is not about a ball of cells, it’s not about pregnancy. The fact that you are physically capable of having a child and getting pregnant does not make you a mother. Birthing a child does not make you a mother. Every damn animal on the planet can pop out kids, only humans truly have mothers.

A mother raises a child. Unfortunately we don’t require licenses to have children, though we do require licenses to have pets, and children take a lot more than pets. Raising a child takes at least 10 years, usually 20, and ideally an entire lifetime to do. Raising a child is a full time job that has been far too abused and ignored lately - it’s not just a hobby. Good parents not only care and provide for their children, they teach them, guide them, and learn with them. It’s a lifetime process that doesn’t get enough respect anymore.

Good parents raise good children, who in turn can become good parents of their own, it’s a cycle, and one that unfortunately works the other way too – bad parents raise bad children who become bad parents. There are of course exceptions to the rule.

Responsibility, as defined by dictionary.com:

re·spon·si·ble  adj.
  1. Liable to be required to give account, as of one's actions or of the discharge of a duty or trust.

  2. Involving personal accountability or ability to act without guidance or superior authority: a responsible position within the firm.

  3. Being a source or cause.

  4. Able to make moral or rational decisions on one's own and therefore answerable for one's behavior.

  5. Able to be trusted or depended upon; reliable.

  6. Based on or characterized by good judgment or sound thinking: responsible journalism.

  7. Having the means to pay debts or fulfill obligations.

  8. Required to render account; answerable: The cabinet is responsible to the parliament.
Declaring abortion illegal ultimately ceases to make women responsible. If you can not make the choice yourself, you can not be responsible. American today has far too many people who fail to be responsible and accountable for their actions, and far too many others who think they know best for everyone around them.

A responsible woman lives her life to the fullest and understands the consequences of her own actions. A responsible woman (and man too but I’m focusing on the women here) acknowledges that sex comes with the risk of pregnancy. It’s a fairly small risk, and can be made even smaller with any assortment of modern technology, namely condoms and birth control. A responsible woman makes decisions according to the consequences of her actions. If she’s going to have sex, it means accepting the risk of pregnancy and it means taking appropriate precautions. This means knowing if you are in fact willing and wanting to have a child or not.

Unfortunately even precautions fail and the risk can never totally be removed from the equation – after all Life is Taking Risks. A responsible women understands this.

Upon finding that all available precautions have failed (this includes not only during-sex precautions such as BC and condoms, but the morning after pill (plan B) which does NOT kill fetuses what it does is explained here by PZ if you can handle the science talk, and he also describes the differences between it and the “abortion pill” here ) a responsible woman has several decisions to make.

The first is: Do you or do you not want to have a child? This means reevaluating her initial decisions to reduce the risks of pregnancy. It’s a yes or no answer which only that woman can truly decide. This means understanding that having a child is not about the 9 month pregnancy, it’s about raising a child and choosing to enter into a lifelong commitment to another being. This decision is about the desire, and the want to become a Mother to the fullest extent you are possible. It should not be considering financial burdens, career goals, etc.

If the answer to question one is “yes” then the next question is: How capable am I of becoming a mother? This means considering your relationship status – will you be a single mother, or do you have a boyfriend or a husband to help? Your career goals – how are you going to handle working/school during and after pregnancy? And financial burdens – can you afford the medications, the checkups and the cost of the pregnancy, and then the cost of diapers, formula, taking time off from work, etc? This is where contacting family and friends for help is necessary, no woman should have to raise a child entirely alone. This is where people who claim to be “pro life” generally fall on their face – if they really, honestly, wholeheartedly care about children, they should be right here helping women who can not financial afford the child they want to be able to have it and raise it well.

If the answer to question is “no” however, the next question is: How am I going to be rid of “it”? (I’m using “it” because it make be a fetus or a baby depending on an individual woman’s views based on her religious/cultural and family background.) There are two decisions here: Bring it to term and adopt it out, or abort it. A responsible woman must weigh both decisions and do what she believes is best. It is, in fact, her own decisions based on her own morals as a RESPONSIBLE HUMAN BEING of what to do with her pregnancy. Even in an unwanted pregnancy a woman is, in fact, responsible for what she has created. Whether or not it is a human being is up to her – she is still responsible on the same level that a pet owner is responsible for making decisions for their pets.

With adoption first it must be decided if you are willing and able to bring it to term. If 9 months of pain, suffering, discomfort, and disruption to your life, along with medical bills is acceptable, then adoption is a viable option. Avenue one of adoption is having a friend of family member or some associate who is willing and able to adopt the child and raise it, and give it a good life. Avenue two is simply putting it up for adoption through the adoption system of the US, which means foster homes orphanages. A responsible woman has to decide if she is willing to accept the responsibility of putting a child up for adoption – are you willing to simply toss this child into a system with high rates of abuse and neglect and low rates of success?

A responsible woman who is unwilling or unable to bring her pregnancy to term, or in the case of bringing it to term does not have anyone who will take “it” and raise it well and is unwilling to see her “creation” (for lack of a better term) tossed into the American Adoption system then has to decide to abort it. If it is the final responsible decision, then so be it.

Telling women they can not abort under any circumstances is like sentencing them to lifetime in jail. It’s chaining one human being to another without any regard for what is in fact the best for both parties involved. It’s denying women the ability to be responsible for their actions. It’s claiming moral superiority over another person and hijacking their life. The only simplified argument that comes close to explaining abortion is the simple argument of choice: the only person who can accept responsibility and make the decisions in this chain of events is in fact the people directly involved – the woman and man who made the fetus, who are also the only two who can speak and have direct control over that fetus since it can not speak for itself.

Attempting to use analogies and stories and simplified arguments only detracts from the true complexity of the problem at hand, and from the complexity and beauty that is motherhood and childhood.

No woman who wants to become a mother should be forced to abort her child.
No woman who does not want to become a mother should be forced to have a child.

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