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Abortion: A Voice of Reason?
When Does Life Begin?
I have stood by silently as the extremes of this issue have been argued ad nauseum. I guess I'm finally joining the debate now because I have heard very little reason brought to the table. First of all, I think the argument over when human life starts is moot. As soon as the sperm penetrates the egg, the trajectory is set. Barring miscarriage, this will result in a human life. Next issue...
Is It Murder, or a Right, or Both?
Termination of pregnancy means the ending of a human life. It is probably good that we have some qualms about it. But, while we're at it, let's have some qualms about a few other things: the abandonment of our elderly into nursing homes to die, the state sanctioned killing of developmentally disabled prisoners, and the tragedy of war, just to start.
Regardless of whether the state recognizes a woman's right to decide what to do with her body, women will exercise that right. When it comes to pregnancy, they always have, with the only difference being whether conditions were sanitary or not and whether they were risking their own lives as well.
Can We Be Grownups About This?
While it may seem unfair for the woman to bear the greater burden when it comes to contraception, it is a fact of life. She is the one with the most to gain or lose. If she doesn't want to get pregnant, she must be sure she is protected. The same holds true for the man, however. If he does not want his partner to become pregnant, he must be sure, in his own mind, that she is protected.
If an unwanted pregnancy does occur, a decision must be made about whether to continue the pregnancy or abort it. Like it or not, the woman is ultimately responsible for this life and death decision because she has no choice but to decide. The man may feel that he should have some choice in the matter, but, in truth he does not. Ideally, his feelings should be taken into consideration and the decision discussed, but ideally an unwanted pregnancy should not have happened in the first place. While the decision to continue the pregnancy may be one-sided, it does seem that there should be some kind of agreement before eternal responsibility is assigned to the man for the resulting child.
So Who's Responsible?
If the woman chooses to continue the pregnancy, she is taking responsibility for that choice, for the child. The man may or may not agree. If he agrees with her, he assumes joint responsibility. If not, he doesn't, or shouldn't have to.
If the woman chooses to terminate the pregnancy, the man has the option of agreeing with and supporting her difficult decision. If he disagrees, there is nothing he can do. Perhaps he should have been more responsible in communicating his wishes or insuring the woman's protection from pregnancy. If he truly wishes to have a child, he can do so with another woman who wishes to have one.
Just because the woman takes on the burden of deciding whether or not to continue the pregnancy doesn’t mean that she should be able to decide who else is responsible for the child. The man may not be able to decide whether the child will be born, but once that decision is made, he is faced with his own dilemma. He must then decide whether to be responsible for the child or not. There are repercussions at each point in the decision making process and for each party, just as there are when we decide to abandon our elders, to murder those who are unable to understand their crimes, and to go to war.
Coming To Term
Although this argument may seem callous on some points, its basic premise is that adults should be expected to make reasoned decisions based on the possible consequences of their actions. Pregnancy should not be entered into lightly. There are proven ways to prevent it, including abstinence which has a 100% success rate. Sadly, though, we have come to accept significant risk of pregnancy in our sexual activities because we are not willing to act like adults and make decisions about procreation and prevention before we have sex. This is inexcusable, and regardless of who ultimately has the right to make decisions after the fact, the societal consequences for this kind of carelessness are great.