It’s nice to be ahead of the curve. I’d planned to write three posts today and still will, but in answer to the DP Challenge – Pick a contentious issue about which you care deeply — it could be the same-sex marriage debate, or just a disagreement you’re having with a friend. Write a post defending the opposite position, and then reflect on what it was like to do that.:
The last couple of weeks I found myself caught up in the Pro-Choice v. Pro-Life debate (with apologies to all my readers who’ve already read ’em). People are emotional on this topic; it is rare to be able to talk simply with someone about it. Maybe it comes down to when you think life begins.
If you think life begins at conception, well, there you are then. To terminate that pregnancy – all politeness aside, all the sidestepping words aside, then you have taken a life, you have killed a human being. Not a plant life, not a cow, a fish, or a piece of meat as some would argue, but another human being. If, however, you believe that a fetus is not a cognizant intelligent life form until it takes its first independent breath, then you are there – free and clear of the morality of killing. Perhaps.
What defines intelligent life? Quite obviously, an infant born and laid upon her mother’s chest or held in his father’s arms is breathing, looking around and utterly vulnerable, unable to communicate except through a heart-stopping smile or a lusty angry yell. It cannot exist on its own, it requires help to be fed, clothed, cared for until it is able to stand on its own. And, when would that be? At three years old, a child can walk, talk, but few of us would say, “Okay, kid, you’re good to go. Out the door with you, babe.” We used to have ceremonies for when a child came of age, became a man or a woman. Some religions place that at 13, our laws say 18 and/or 21, depending on what the child wants to do. And, now, Obamacare says a child stays on his parents’ medical plan until he/she is 26. We know for a fact that many of us have returned home when the going got tough, sheltering in our parents’ dwelling and some never leave. Where then do we draw the line?
Science now shows us the fetus within, technology allows us to see, photograph and hear that tiny heart beating steadily away in its cocoon at seven weeks. Here is where it gets tricky: enter the attorneys… when does life have legal rights of its own? Way above my pay grade, as a famous politician said once. As near as I can tell, if it is determined that a fetus has legal rights under the 14th Amendment, then who has the greater rights, the mother or the fetus? For anyone still with me, here and here, are two articles re physicians arguing when life begins, pro-life and pro-choice, respectively.
Judging the past by current standards is a favorite pastime and utterly useless in my mind. Each generation does the best it can based on what it knows and hindsight is 20/20. My friend, who is pro-life, mentioned in passing that she had never met someone who had had an abortion. Hmm, just about everybody I know has had one, some more than one. According to Planned Parenthood’s website, it states that by the age of 45, one out of three women has had an abortion. One out of three. And, my friend said she had never met anyone who had had one. I had to break it to her that yes, she had.