May 04, 2005

Bionic Octopus: Why Should Abortion Be Rare?

Bionic Octopus: Why Should Abortion Be Rare?:

The only reason they say abortion should be 'rare' is because there are those who want to make it never, and to say 'rare' is therefore to acknowledge that and to half-capitulate to it.
We have to make a choice: either we consider abortion to be a medical procedure like 'any medical procedure', in which case no special pleading for its rarity absent pleas for all medical procedures to be rare, OR we allow the opposition to define abortion as a special case, in which case we've lost the argument already.

[...] But the real mindset behind 'rare' is the tacit acceptance of abortion as a special case, replete with trauma and anguish beyond those of 'any medical procedure'. And as long as we have that mindset, we are perpetuating the actual experience of trauma for women who choose to have abortions.

Via feministblogs


Unknown said...

No, abortion should be rare because, ideally, pregnancies should be planned. The goal is a world where there is a 1 to 1 relationship betweenwomen who want to have a child and women who get pregnant. Of course, it's a ridiculous utopian fantasy, but social policy should be made with an eye toward steering society closer to that goal.

I thought that was obvious. That's why we have sex education in schools, to try to reduce unplanned pregnancies amongst teenagers. That's why we distribute condoms in schools. That's why we have free health clinics to distribute prophylactics to the poor.

And if you think that admitting that abortion is not like "any medical procedure" means we've lost the argument, then you have a very peculiar idea about what the argument is. But I guess I already knew that.

Noumena said...

As I read her, the challenge she's presenting is to explain why abortion should be rare without conceding to abortion opponents that it's somehow bad or morally suspect. You can claim that it should be rare because it's morally suspect, of course, but then how are you going to distinguish yourself from the right-to-lifers? That's the dilemma here.

Why can't our perfect utopian society include quality sex-ed, readily available birth control, prophylactics, and abortion on demand? Why doesn't abortion count as family planning?

Unknown said...

Well, I admit, you make strong points. But as is to be expected from a man of my near infinite ego, I have responses.

First of all, I don't mean to concede that abortion is morally suspect, merely that it is considered by many people to be morally suspect, and that they have a point. The whole reason why I am pro-choice is because I do not presume to have the right or the capacity to make moral judgments about abortion for other people, and I deny that the government has that right and capacity as well.

So I can distinguish my position from that of pro-lifers by the fact that I believe that, to the extent that abortion raises legitimate moral questions, those questions should be answered by individuals by the dictates of their own conscience.

I agree that abortion should count as family planning. I'm not sure I know what you mean by "abortion on demand", but I do think that women who find themselves pregnant, whether by rape, accident, or sheer carelessness, should be free to terminate that pregnancy if they wish.

MosBen said...

I think the phrase "abortion on demand" makes it sound flippant; like it's something decided on a whim. I know that isn't what actually happens, but it sounds an awful lot like, say, Comcast Cable On Demand, on which I watch things like Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle because, you know, it was on.

Noumena said...

I think we all have nearly infinite egos around here.

I didn't much care for the phrase 'abortion on demand' myself, but it sounded better than the more accurate 'abortion with no irrelevant questions or lecturing', where 'why do you want to kill your baby you murderous slut?' counts as an irrelevant question.

My position is not that abortion is to be trivialized -- it's still a major decision, with the potential for serious consequences however that decision is made. But the non-medical consequences for a woman who chooses to abort are going to be subjective, individual to her. Maybe I want to say that I refuse to consider abortion to be morally problematic, but acknowledge lots of complicated emotions a woman might experience when she aborts.