The pro-life movement is a mess. Aside from reveling in making my kids look at gory photos as we walk to the park, their message is inextricably woven into their religion, and correlating (incredibly silly) views on homosexuality, condom use, and stem cell research; this is too bad, because there are actually salient ethical arguments to be made for many pro-life positions: no blown up images of mutilated babies or religious silliness required.
Of course, these ethical dilemmas are for individuals to consider before making a choice that is ultimately theirs. There are too many variables and too many individual considerations to be made regarding the termination of pregnancies for one sweeping, national ban to make sense.
For a good example of the kind of nuances and individual considerations that create a need for national access to safe, legal abortions (and the inability or unwillingness of certain pro-lifers to appreciate such considerations), check out this piece over at Alternet entitled, 'What Happened When I Yelled Back at "Christians" Calling My Wife A Murderer'.
"After extensive testing at a renowned Boston hospital three weeks earlier, we were told our baby had Sirenomelia. Otherwise known as Mermaid Syndrome, it’s a rare (one in every 100,000 pregnancies) congenital deformity in which the legs are fused together. Worse than that, our baby had no bladder or kidneys. Our doctors told us there was zero chance for survival."and,
"I’m not a religious person and I’ve never believed in heaven or hell. But there is a hell on Earth. Hell is sitting next to the person you love most and listening to her wail hysterically because her heart just broke into a million pieces. Hell is watching her entire body convulse with sobs because she’s being tortured with grief. For as long as I live and no matter how many children we have, I will never forget that sound. And I vowed to do everything in my power to make sure she’d never make it again."
here's the dad confronting the activists:
That's some powerful stuff, and is pretty revealing--and pretty damning--of the simplistic, subtle-as-a-hammer approach of many pro-life activists.
There is a solid argument to be made that abortion becomes an increasingly immoral choice as a pregnancy progresses. It is also clear that rationalizing away what is occurring during an abortion--especially later on in pregnancy--as the simple removal of 'unwanted tissue' is intellectually dishonest. But holding up gruesome images in front of planned parenthood, or comparing abortion to a national holocaust--or to slavery--isn't an appropriate way to frame the debate. Ethically, the argument about abortion should be more closely tied to the argument about whether or not folks should be able to choose euthanasia, or have euthanasia chosen for them if they are not able to make that choice themselves. A gigantic framed image of Jesus doesn't insert anything into the argument. If the pro-life movement were serious about their issue, they would untangle it from their religion, their views on gay marriage and stem cell research, and would focus on prevention by advocating better sex education in schools, the empowerment of women, and the eradication of poverty and homelessness. Give people more options, and they're less likely to get stuck in bad situations.
Determining what points in a pregnancy should correlate with what laws (if any) is very difficult. So is weighing the well-being of all parties involved in such a decision. Answering these ethical questions are tough, and thus are not likely to be solved by tormenting women with shouted insults and creepy visuals as they make a tough decision that only they will have to live with for the rest of their lives.
cross posted at Daily Kos.