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Right-to-Choose vs Right-to-Life

Updated on April 17, 2016

I finally get a grasp on the big divide between Republicans and Democrats. The BIG DIVIDE is actually SMALL and there is not a more appropriate issue than the Pro-life vs Pro-choice to illustrate that. And the discussions about the topic are more or less important, usually informative, sometimes silly and entertaining, at times ridiculous and can even turn deadly.

Prolifers (known otherwise as Conservatives, a nicer label for Republicans) want the government to pass laws banning abortion but they also want government out of the way. Hmm! That’s quite a dilemma, isn’t it? Until Republicans have a clear idea whether they want government in or out of our lives, let’s keep legislations out of the conversation here.

A few days ago, I read the following question (printed here verbatim): “The Democratic platform is pro-Abortion, so how are their any Christian Democrats?” posted by a user on It dawned on me that the divide between Republicans and Democrats is not big, it is stark. Fantastic, I thought. If only the two partys could sit at a table and have a civil and respectful conversation! More often than not however, it proves more of a gargantuan task to have the two partys in the same room, let alone an attempt to bridge the divide.

So, what’s causing the big divide (or the small one) between Prolifers and Prochoicers? 1) they’re not talking 2) when they do decide to talk, they do not really talk, they yell at one another 3) they’re not good listeners, well it’s probably because they are yelling at one another 4) they do not communicate properly 5) they do have some disagreement on the topic of abortion 6) each side makes a lot of assumptions about the other 7) they bring religions into the discussions.

Simply put, the two partys do not communicate and yes they may have some minor disagreements. But why are ProLifers so vehemently opposed to ProChoicers? Why do ProLifers so much want to kill ProChoicers? (oxymoron anyone?) Despite the perception of a big divide, ProLifers and ProChoicers have much in common; they just need to be in the same room to discuss the issue. So, to bring the two sides to the table, a neutral party must take the initiative and provides translation what each side says to the other and what it means. I volunteered.

The premise of the question posted by the user has glaring flaws (or truths), the first one is that the individual assumes Democrats are pro-Abortion, the second is to question the existence of Christian Democrats based on the (possibly erroneous) first assumption. I will attempt to address those two assumptions, discuss the Prolife vs Prochoice topic in greater details and propose a workaround the misunderstanding which has slowed down (hampered in most cases) any progress the two sides could have made.

The ProLifers

The ProLifers’ stand is very simple and straightforward, killing is wrong; therefore abortion is and must be banned. Notwithstanding the “thou shalt not kill” commandment in the Bible adopted by ProLifers and frequently cited in their discussions, we all know that it is indeed wrong to kill. When someone is killed – even through an accident or a tragedy, let alone in the hands of another individual – we are saddened by the event. We mourn the passing of loved ones who die of natural causes (old age, illness). So, we all value life. ProLifers believe that life begins at conception but the unborn are at a disadvantage; they're unable to speak for themselves. ProLifers are their advocates regarding this very important matter. ProLifers contend that if a woman is ovulating, has sex and becomes pregnant, "that life" which has just begun must be protected at all cost. The woman, although the bearer, has no right over the life she carries in her womb. Nothing can be much simpler, right?

The ProChoicers

The ProChoicers’ stand is a bit more complex. Contrary to widespread belief, ProChoicers do not advocate abortion. They do share similar sentiment with ProLifers regarding the issue; however, ProChoicers also argue for choices (get it?) when it comes to making decision regarding abortion. This is where the communication breakdown happens between the two sides. Instead of communicating to one another, both sides resort to the use of "strong" words, insults, threats and at times physical altercations and yes even deaths (ironic, isn’t it?). Instead of using the ProLife and ProChoice terms, the expressions Right-To-Life and Right-To-Choose are substituted in order to take and express a strongest stand; translation, neither side wants to hear what the other side has to say. We've already discussed the straightforward argument ProLifers advance; here is below how the ProChoicers argue their position:

1) ProChoicers advocate strongly for preventative measures such as contraception; this should be a point of agreement between the two sides. Contraception, otherwise known as birth control, is a method used to prevent pregnancy from happening in the first place. So, it would be baffling that ProLifers would take issue with contraceptives measure, right? There is no life at stake; life has not yet happened. What’s the issue raised by ProLifers regarding contraceptives? It turns out that ProLifers have no problem with the use of contraceptives. According to a survey published in Slate magazine in the January 2014 issue, a whopping 89% of ProLifers believe birth control is morally acceptable.

2) ProChoicers advocate the use of morning after or plan B (or week after or Ella) pills for unwanted pregnancy. What is this about? This scenario happens with women who do not use birth control methods, are in ovulation period and have sex. It is difficult to say whether pregnancy occurs although one would be inclined to think that’s the case considering the woman is ovulating (Read Women's guide to getting pregnant for more insights). But there are many factors which could prevent pregnancy (even if it’s wanted); the woman may not be able to get pregnant (infertility) or the partner she slept with may not be able to procreate and quite possibly many other health reasons. Regardless, to be on the safe side, the woman would take a morning-after pill.

If we assume for a minute that fertilization (fusion of an ovum with a sperm) occurs; within 30 hours, a zygote, the size of the head of a pin (literally, like this [.] dot) is created, which is what the morning-after (or ella) pill stops from further development. According to research, the majority of women who want to avoid pregnancy takes the pill within an average of 12 hours after sex, 18 hours before the zygote even exists.

ProLifers object to the morning-after (or ella) pill; they believe it is nothing short of abortion. Both the medical and the science community disagree however. Even insurance companies which do not cover abortion have both Plan B and Ella covered under preventative services. ProLifers argue that since life begins at conception, to interfere in anyway with the normal process of development is unacceptable and to end the process is murder. (well, they really say abortion but what’s the difference?)

In fact, ProLifers refer to the morning-after (or ella) as abortion-causing drugs, a reference which frustrates Susan Wood, professor of health policy at George Washington University and former assistant commissioner for women's health at the FDA. "It is not only factually incorrect, it is downright misleading. These products are not abortifacient. And their only connection to abortion is that they can prevent the need for one" states Susan. In addition, she remarked that half of fertilized eggs leave the woman’s body (by ProLifers’ definition, a mass abortion) and abortion can only occur if a fertilized egg is implanted in a woman's uterus - where it would grow to zygote, embryo, fetus stages – something which does not happen if the morning-after (or ella) pill is taken up to a week after sex. To be clear, there is an abortion drug, RU486 also known as Mifeprex (the very use of which could be deadly for the woman; it is mind boggling that FDA would even give approval for such drug to be marketed) which is not a contraceptive and is not covered by insurance companies.

3) ProChoicers advocate aborting the fetus in extraordinary circumstances. ProChoicers advance a few scenarios under which they support a woman to seek for and have an abortion. For instance, in the case of rape and incest, ProChoicers reason it is unfathomable to force a woman to carry inside of her the product of an already traumatic experience. In addition, ProChoicers believe a woman should be able to end a pregnancy if her life is in danger; although rare, there are instances when carrying the pregnancy to term would endanger the mother’s life. ProLifers wouldn’t hear of it.

To recap, ProLifers oppose any form of abortion – even in the case of incest and rape – but they are okay with the use of contraceptives; ProChoicers agree but they also want to keep their options open in the case of incest and rape.

ProLifers are not comfortable with the morning-after (or ella) pill; they think it’s abortion; they even label the pill abortion-pill. ProChoicers beg the differ; they think ProLifers are ignorant and misinformed. The (Plan B or ella) pill is simply a measure of caution, ProChoicers claim; no doctor or pregnancy test can reveal whether a woman is pregnant until 16 days after missing her period, that’s neither the morning after nor the week after. But ProLifers say they’d prefer to err on the side of conception; in the event there is one, they would like to see it carried out to term.

See! I did say the divide between ProLifers and ProChoicers is small.

The Plan B or Ella is a point of contention between ProLifers and ProChoicers. ProLifers want to protect “something” which may not exist and ProChoicers want to avoid “something” which may exist. But even if the ProLifers are right, the newly fertilized egg is a pin-head size which is roughly 5,000 times smaller than a small mosquito (we squash a mosquito without afterthought). ProChoicers believe there is no moral dilemma for anyone to stop a pin-head size egg from growing, and that’s exactly what the pill does. I must side with the ProChoicers here, considering that the ProLifers are at a big disadvantage a) they cannot prove the existence of a fertilized egg b) it’s too early to test for pregnancy c) even if one errs on the side of conception, it may be the result of a traumatic experience (incest, rape).

ProLifers are definitely not okay with abortion. I am more inclined to side with the ProLifers on the whole abortion thing for reasons that may be different from theirs. There was a time when I would struggle between going along with the ProLifers' view all the while sympathizing with the ProChoicers' in regards to abortion, especially, exclusively in the case of incest and rape. Here is why. While ProLifers are inflexible and seem insensitive towards a woman who was raped and became pregnant, they may not be in a position to understand that the woman must re-live the traumatic experience every single day of the pregnancy (and beyond) all the while being inconvenienced by an outcome she didn't seek, an outcome she hates with all her strength. Although I do sympathize with the forcibly impregnated woman, I am torn by the visual graphic of literally snuffing the life out of an unborn baby, especially in cases commonly referred to as late-term abortion.

Today however, such scenario needs not exist. In addition to having the option of using contraceptives measure, ProChoicers have a second and even a third options (Plan B and Ella) both of which do not compromise anyone’s morale or ethics. So, it is difficult to imagine there is a need to wait until a fertilized egg becomes an embryo, then a fetus before one makes such an important decision. If it’s rape or incest, the decision to prevent the fertilized egg (if any) from growing should be an easy one and quickly dealt with.

See! I did say ProLifers and ProChoicers can come to an agreement; it was just a big misunderstanding.

Now, let’s tackle the Universal Health Care problem!

Which Camp Do You Belong To?

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