Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thoughts on Termination

I've heard and read a lot recently regarding abortion. For some reason, it's a topic that's people seem to be talking more about again. Public figures make statements that get people angry. People make policies and decisions that others dislike. And I was just thinking about some of those things right now.

Have you noticed the strange use of terminology? First, the use of the word "abort". I can understand how it applies, but it does make it difficult for people to use it on other correct contexts. "Abort the mission!" you might still hear someone say, but no one would ever refer to this act in it's noun form: as an "abortion". To me, the word abortion is clinical, technical, and somewhat innocuous. But now that it's got so much baggage, I find more often people use the word "terminate". As in, "They were deciding whether to terminate the pregnancy." Again, there's accuracy to it, but I find that word to have more negative connotation. When I hear "terminate", I think of people harshly fired from their jobs. I think of Moff Tarkin ordering Princess Leia's execution. I think of a buff cyborg from the future sent to murder women. I think of napalm raining from the sky. To me, "termination" is a much more violent word, and while perhaps apropos, I think it a surprising word from those who would support the choice and argue against calling the fetus a life or a person. Just an observation.

The Obama administration has recently decided against the FDA recommendation that emergency contraception (also known as Plan B and "the morning-after pill") be available over the counter without an age requirement. Currently, girls under 17 must have parental consent to obtain it. This to me defeats the purpose. It really should be available to anyone, and I'm surprised that a supposedly liberal government wouldn't make it so. This may surprise some people, but I am fully in favor of emergency contraception. I'm against abortion, but I do not see this as the same thing. It doesn't violently rip apart living human tissue; it prevents uterine implantation. A blastocyst that's only undergone minor cell division is not the same thing as a mass of differentiated human cells with nerves and a heartbeat. The extreme pro-lifers argue that life begins at conception and therefore a girl could have a zygote in her uterus that the pill would prevent from implanting, thereby killing it; that makes it an abortion. They even go so far as to call it an "abortion pill" at times. We should be clear there are abortion pills out there (like RU-486) which are designed to terminate existing pregnancies. That's not what this is for. It's so nothing CAN grow inside. People need to think about just how many naturally occurring conceptions happen that naturally never implant, passing out of the vagina without anyone knowing or giving it a second thought. The earlier the pill is taken, the more effective it is and the less likely it will flush out something that has already begun to implant. For this reason, I would think anti-abortion activists would WANT it available to girls as soon as possible without restrictions.

My other prime argument in favor of emergency contraception is that it effectively eliminates the one argument for abortion that no one likes: "what about rape or incest?" Whenever abortion rights are discussed, those against it will argue it's always wrong, often that the decision should have been made not to have sex or at least use some sort of prophylactic, but then the opposition always asks, almost smugly, "but what about rape or incest? They never HAD a choice!" Well, give such people access to Plan B, and this question never has to come up again. You were raped? Then you can go right down to the pharmacy and make sure you don't get pregnant. And after that, go to the police.

While we are on this subject however, what of that argument? What of the case that abortion is okay in matters of rape? Well, I was just thinking today that rape is a pretty good case to keep the pregnancy. I know the mother won't like the idea of this foreign body growing in her that was violently put there against her will. But in this situation, that baby is not just a complication, it is evidence. Let me say that again, as callous as that sounds, if she has the baby, it becomes EVIDENCE of the rape. I know she might not want to be reminded of that, but what if they didn't catch the rapist? What if there was no evidence found? What if there was no semen left behind or she tried to wash it away? That child holds the DNA of that perpetrator. Even if you give it over for adoption, isn't it better that it live as proof of the rape and a means of tracking or convicting the rapist? The same goes for incest. Some pervert father might just call his daughter a whore and say she's been knocked up by some other guy. But give the baby a paternity test and prove that he did it.

From a Christian point of view, a lot of the arguments come down to what gets classified as "murder" and things like that. Because there's nothing in the New Testament about abortion. It doesn't tell us one way or the other, and we have had to infer. However, did you know that there are a number of books and Christian writings from the first few centuries that DO condemn abortion specifically? They were widely circulated among the early church, and some were considered for inclusion in the ultimate New Testament canon. However for one reason or another, they were not. These are not texts that are primarily about abortion, but it is mentioned. So it seems that the early Christians were definitely against it, and just think, if one of these books had been included, Christians today would have the issue clearer for them. But for whatever reason that didn't happen. Ultimately, I think the decision was correct to leave these texts out, but it is sort of a shame that this issue seems less clear to us now than it did two millennia ago.

Anyway, this is just some stuff I was thinking about and thought I'd throw in my opinion. I'm no crazy activist pro-lifer. I don't support killing abortion doctors or boycotting certain hospitals. I don't walk around saying things like "anyone born after 1973 is an abortion survivor!" or "it's a good thing Steve Jobs' parents didn't decide to abort him." That's sensationalism and drives me crazy. But at the same time, there has got to be some common sense in these areas. Thinking solely based on extreme ideology, on both sides, is only terminating good sense with extreme prejudice.

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