I’ve tended to ignore the ongoing assaults on women’s reproductive rights. As abhorrent as these efforts are, they haven’t moved me to take action. (But then, very little does.)
Today’s bulletin about how the breast cancer people (“Susan G. Komen for the Cure”) are going to stop funding the breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood got to me, though. I got into a sort of mud-slinging match with an anti-abortion idiot on Facebook, and my blood is still boiling.
What bugs me most, I think, is the fact that this “debate” (and I use the quotation marks advisedly) isn’t really about saving the lives of unborn children. That’s a smoke screen. It’s a lie. The real, unadmitted agenda of the anti-abortion knuckle-draggers is that they want men to have control over women’s bodies. Women exist, in these morons’ view, strictly as incubators and infant-feeders whose lives are to be governed by men. The fact that the anti-abortion forces are drawn overwhelmingly from conservative religious denominations makes this pretty obvious.
And no, I’m not willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Here’s why: Russian orphanages. In Russia and other parts of the former Soviet bloc, there are thousands of unwanted babies languishing in orphanages. These children suffer horrendous emotional neglect during their first weeks and months of life. They are fed and diapered, but they are not cuddled, cared for, or played with.
They will never recover from this level of emotional abuse. They will grow up to be angry, confused, depressed adults. They will be incapable of love or happiness. Their lives are being ruined, quite systematically and beyond any hope of redemption.
My question for any anti-abortion crusader who crosses my path is, “How many Russian orphans have you personally adopted?” If the answer is, “Less than five,” then it’s quite clear that you don’t actually give a flying fuck about the well-being of babies, born or unborn. All you really care about is forcing women to have babies — forcing them to have the baby even if they were raped, even if the pregnancy may kill them, even if they already have too many mouths to feed, even if tests reveal that the fetus is terribly deformed, even if the mother has severe behavioral problems of her own (such as alcohol or drug addiction) that will both damage the fetus in the womb and make it difficult or impossible for her to care for the baby after it’s born.
Nor am I swayed by the argument that an abortion is a form of murder. Here’s why: Hundreds of thousands of women suffer spontaneous miscarriages every year. The pregnancy ends, and without any human intervention. If you believe in God, it should be abundantly clear that God is a very active abortion provider. If, conversely, you don’t believe in God, then you have no basis for asserting that a fertilized human egg is any more precious or “a person” than a cell from the spleen or gall bladder.
It’s a cell, or a small bunch of cells. Every time you squeeze a pimple, you sacrifice thousands of your own white blood cells. They die. Is this reckoned a tragedy? And what about the millions of sperm cells that don’t penetrate an egg cell? They all die.
It is really very difficult, I think, to make a convincing case that a fertilized egg is deserving of some special legal or moral protection that an unfertilized egg, a sperm, or a gall bladder is not. Once a fetus reaches the stage in its development where it can survive outside the womb, the rules change, and appropriately so. But until that point is reached, the only arguments against abortion are theological in nature. They begin with a theological assertion about when human life begins, and in the absence of that assertion they blow away like dead leaves on an autumn breeze.
If you believe in God and believe that God forbids abortion, you might argue that causing spontaneous miscarriages is a right that God reserves for himself, that we humans are not endowed with the wisdom to make such a decision. Unfortunately, this argument falls very flat. If God holds that a fertilized egg is a human life and also retains for Himself the right to decide when that life shall be terminated or whether it shall continue, then you’re going to have to stop going to the doctor. If you get cancer, it’s up to God to decide whether you live or die — it’s not up to you to attempt to circumvent God’s decision.
There are, of course, fringe sects that believe exactly this. They have a distressing tendency to let their own children die of treatable diseases, but at least we can congratulate them on their doctrinal consistency. The same can’t be said of abortion opponents who avail themselves of modern medical treatments. If God gets to decide which fetuses shall be spontaneously aborted and which shall come to term, then God also gets to decide which cancer sufferers shall die, and which shall experience the miracle of spontaneous remission.
If you insist on a double standard, then your reasons for opposing abortion are, as noted at the outset, a lie. Your real agenda is simply to allow men to control women’s reproductive systems in order to produce more offspring. There’s really no way to weasel out of it. Sorry.