Recently I saw the facebook status of another atheist blogger, who said,
“I’d like a world where abortion was legal and nobody needed or wanted to get one.”
I was fairly surprised by this statement, since earlier the same day I was thinking … exactly … the … same … thing. The problem with this issue is that it is so heated that very few people look at it with a cool head, and consider both sides of the argument.
As an atheist, my stance on all the “issues” is to take the position that is best for the well-being of people, based on a scientific viewpoint. I’ve agonized over the definition of “life,” and my conclusion is that a fetus becomes a life the moment after conception when the DNA strands split, and a new one comes together and start replicating. Even still, there is a “gray area” of morality between a single cell being terminated and a full-term fetus being terminated. Most of us recoil at the thought of aborting a late- or full-term fetus, while the thought of scraping a few cells off the wall of a uterus is not too horrible. Another moral quandary arrives at the point when a fetus achieves consciousness.
But at the other side of the coin is the rights that a woman has over her own body. I can only imagine that from a woman’s perspective her right to remove an unwanted “growth” from her own body should be incontrovertible.
A compassionate person who considers both sides should run into is a big ass conflict. Babies should have the right to live. Women should have the right to control their own bodies. A bifurcated stance seems the only acceptable one.
What happens when abortion is illegal? We vaunt the rights of the helpless over the rights of the powerful. This might make sense, except it results in even greater human suffering. History has taught us that women in crisis will get an abortion whether it is legal or not. And when it is illegal, they end up getting illegal abortions. Illegal abortions result in far more fatalities and grievous injury to the mother. This concept is beautifully illustrated in “The Cider House Rules” by John Irving.
My conclusion is that abortion should be legal, but prevented as much as possible.
- Birth control should be taught and made available in schools.
- Early detection tools should be available.
- Early decision-making should be fervently encouraged.
- Adoption should be shown and offered as an honorable option (thank you to the makers of “Juno.”)
- The “abstinence only” people should be sent to a tiny deserted island with lots of porn and lube, and should stay away from actual youths.
- Doctors should be given the option to not perform an abortion if they feel it’s not right.
- Doctors should have the option of referring an underage woman to a state-sponsored, licensed counselor, who will determine if the child’s parents should be notified or not.
OK … fire away people. I know I’m going to get some debate on this one.