In an article discussing the fact that more people have been aborted in Obama’s term than have gotten jobs, I saw the following exchange:
This argument, that abortion is justifiable as ‘self-defense,’ is fairly typical. Indeed, leading up to Roe vs Wade, it was actually argued that compelling a pregnant woman to carry a baby to term was actually slavery; it was said that the thirteenth amendment, which outlawed slavery, required that abortion be an option.
This is, of course, a variation of Judith Jarvis Thomson’s defense of abortion.
These types of scenarios are deliberate nonsense. RufusChoate quite correctly describes them as ‘absurd and childish gibberish.’ In fact, if there is anything that seems to characterize the pro-choice perspective, it is its childish nature. Anyone who has experience with children know that they will bend over backwards to justify and rationalize why they should be allowed to have their candy or toy. If there is a competing interest involved, they are quite indifferent. It is only as they get older that they realize the limits to such thinking.
For however many years in western society, sex is a toy. No one wants to be told that they cannot play with their toy. No one wants to be told that their toy might even be dangerous in certain contexts–like the child that wishes to play baseball in the living room does not like being told to take the baseball bat and ball into the field, where that toy is more appropriate–or, that they shouldn’t bash people in the head with the baseball bat. In short, no one wants to be told that the best context for sexual behavior is in the context of a lifelong, monogamous commitment between one man and one woman. They will play with their toy, and don’t let anyone stop them!
The fatal absurdity in the ‘self-defense’ argument is patently obvious to anyone who is not blinded by the pleasures of sex, in any circumstance, at any price.
For you see, we are not talking about someone who one day, minding his own business, wakes up the next only to discover that another person has been hooked up to him, and this person is now being used as life support for the other. No, this is a situation where one day, a person engages in a behavior that the person absolutely knows may create that person who now needs life support. The person would not have existed at all, if you had not had sex. They would not need life support at all, if you had not had sex. YOU BROUGHT THE PERSON INTO THE WORLD. And now, finding that you are ‘life support’ for another living being–which you knew might be the direct consequence of your action–you have the temerity to insist you can also kill the person?
I don’t see any other way of understanding this mindset except that it is really the case that people really believe they have the right to play with a toy, even if it actually kills someone. Let others die, that I might have sex. Unbelievable.
I assume that if we return to the case of our children playing with a toy, if in the course of playing with that toy, a brand new child was the result, the parent wouldn’t come into the room and say, “LOOK at this mess! I told you that if you played with that toy, you were going to make another person, and now LOOK WHAT YOU’VE DONE!” But that is actually what is happening–“LOOK AT this mess!” Alright, well, I guess that’s another person we’re going to have to kill. Yes, yes, keep your toy. Can you please be more careful next time? Here, take this drug; there, there, carry on with your toy. And if you get a disease, don’t worry, we’ll give you another drug for that. But by all means, do not even consider not playing with your toy. There is nothing wrong with playing with your toys in any manner that you please.”
It should go without saying that the self-evident nature of this line of reasoning becomes cloudy in a case such as rape. Be honest: acknowledge that these are a small fraction of the abortions that occur.
In the spirit of this post, you may wish to read my short story, Better Than Sex, which may put an even finer point on this issue. That story can perhaps be dedicated to my public health official friend, who earnestly seems to believe that no one can contain their urge to have sex, and therefore we must try to protect them from the consequences of their urges–not of course, that we must urge folks to control their urges; one would not want to get between a child and his toy. This same friend wishes that we could ban guns (except, of course, in the hands of the government, where we can be quite sure they will be handled appropriately), in part on the argument that a gun has one sole purpose–to hurt, maim, or kill another person. Can you imagine how he would recoil in horror if it was not merely the case that a gun killed a person when fired, but, that in pulling the trigger, it also created a brand new person, and then killed that person? I have the sneaking suspicion that his positions are bound up together in some related fashion; on the one hand, he is opposed to the populace having handguns, which only kill existing people, but he does not wish to stand in the way of people having as much sex as they want, despite the persistent rumor that when you have sex, you make new people; but never fear, in that case, you can just kill them!
I’d be interested in seeing that bit of irony parsed out sometime.
Sitting down to write this post made me reflect again on that old argument that the pregnant woman, whilst deliberately engaging in the activity that caused them to become pregnant in the first place, thought that this constituted involuntary enslavement. How could a whole mass of people not perceive the absurd wickedness of that line of thinking? Someone creates the very person who enslaves them, and thus has the right to kill that newly created person? How bizarre. Why isn’t it recognized more widely just how bizarre that is?
I realized that I put my finger on it already when I said a person is ‘blinded’ by their desire to experience sex, as often as possible, at any price, including if it kills another person. Such a person is not a slave because they now are carrying a brand new human being. They were already a slave, but to their own passions. Does this mean that, like my public health official friend, conclude that there is nothing that can be done to stop people from having sex, and should seek to mitigate the harm from wanton sexual behavior? No, because his thinking is that the best we can do is free people from the enslavement that awaits the results of their behavior, while I would argue that what we ought to be doing is freeing people from being slaves to the behavior itself.
Unfortunately, all that secular society can bring itself to do is speak to the latter freeing; the first freeing, the more profound freeing, which sends freedom rippling down the whole sequence of events, has distinctly religious underpinnings to them.
I reckon that is the answer for all of it. Sometime not too many years back, the stuff that would really give people freedom was driven from the public square, and now widespread slavery has resulted. Since our secular society refuses to set the slaves really free, the best that can be mustered is attempts to clean up the mess the slaves make.
What a crazy world.