A friend of mine asked me where I stand in relation to a few questions about abortion. If you’re easily offended when someone doesn’t believe all the exact same things that you believe, you might want to go watch some more cat videos on YouTube. You’ve been warned.
Here’s my response to him.
1) Do I believe a woman should have a right to an abortion?
2) If so, what circumstances should she be allowed to have an abortion? For any reason or limited reason?
3) Is abortion murder?
I want to begin by answering question 3 first: Is abortion murder?
My short answer is: Yes.
However, are all “murders” equal? For example, is an accidental murder punished the same way as a premeditated homicide? Of course not. My point is that not all “sins” are equal, and we must all deal with the consequences of the choices we make as individuals, in the sense of the Universal Laws of Nature.
My wish is that we all take responsibility to inquire and to observe for ourselves and along with each other for testing and verification, and to examine with great diligence what these Universal Laws of Nature are and what the consequences are for following them or for violating them. Just because I do not adopt the morality of any one specific religion does not mean I have no morality, or a weak morality, or an unexamined code of morality for myself. Au contraire! I diligently seek the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God, postponing my declarations of certainty indefinitely–living with the questions for as long as it takes to get the best possible answers I can get, and doing my best with what I do know in the meantime.
All we can ever really do is the best we can do. And only you can really know if you are really doing your best.
From what I understand, the unique DNA of a human being is formed upon conception, upon fertilization of the egg by the sperm.
At that point, we’ll assume the baby, with good nutrients/environment will grow up into a fully developed human being. Of course, that may or may not happen, but the real possibility and probably of that happening are plenty evidence for me. I take the formation of the new, unique human DNA as the beginning of a new life, and therefore, that is the point at which deliberately ending that new life becomes murder.
Generally, the debate has been about where to draw the line, corresponding to WHEN to draw the line, and I would generally agree that it would be EVEN worse to kill the human after his or her heart starts beating at about the 3 week mark.
The biggest challenge I see here is in answering the question: Where do we draw the line?
Isn’t it true that Catholic Christians, for the longest time (do they still believe this?) that to masturbate and waste sperm is akin to abortion…or maybe they just believe that it’s a sin to “waste sperm” lol. Excuse my adolescent sense of humor. Anyway, they draw the ideological line further back than I would. I argue that there is no unique DNA which has yet been created, and therefore, no new human life. Potential human life is not human life.
To me, here’s the responsibility that terrifies Christians and the whole world, really: Morality is subjective.
Ultimately, WE decide what our code of morality will be. We can, of course, decide to adopt another’s morality, as Christians somewhat do with the collection of books known as “The Bible,”
as Muslims somewhat do with their collection of books known as “The Qur’an.” As Buddhists somewhat do with their understanding of the teachings of Siddhartha Buddha. And as we all do based on our life experience and what we read or listen to and learn from the people with whom we associate.
People are afraid to admit that we are using our own minds, deciding for ourselves based on the information we observe in the world. People don’t want that responsibility. People would much rather allow others to think for themselves. It is, admittedly, easier to let someone else draw the lines and tell us “this is right, this is wrong, God said so, so now you know, follow it or go to hell.”
For the first question 1) SHOULD a woman have a right to an abortion, I want to point out and recognize (because it so often goes unrecognized) that a woman DOES have the ABILITY/CAPACITY to abort the baby. If she really wants to get rid of it, then she’ll find a way to do that regardless of whatever morality has been legislated.
We are free creatures. We can do whatever we want. Of course, our decisions have consequences! And this is where the Universal Laws of Nature prevail as they always have and always will.
Legislating morality–which is what all laws do, of course–doesn’t mean that people will follow those laws. (I laughed when I recently saw the meme: “Let’s make guns illegal. That’s how we stopped everyone from doing drugs.”)
However, telling a woman that it’s ok for her to “abort” her baby, either through legislation or through culture, while it may ease her conscience, doesn’t negate the Universal Laws of Nature that will be affected by the causes of her behavior.
To claim to know those universal laws of nature is a weighty claim indeed, and I’m not attempting to claim that here. I don’t know everything about the Laws of Nature, of course. I imagine we can always get closer and closer to what those laws are, and still there will be more to discover, reflecting the infinite nature of the universe itself.
To really know the true affects of our behaviors… that is part of the most important work of our lives. It is what philosophy at its best attempts to answer. We have choice, we have responsibility–whether we pretend otherwise or not–and our choices have affects beyond our own skins.
I personally draw the line at conception, to be safe. I do not ever want to be directly responsible for ending the life of another human that has never done anything good or evil. Every human deserves a chance to live, and for me to take that away from him or her, no matter how undeveloped their brains may be, I deem that murder. I would say it would be even worse to murder a 22 day old baby, and yet worse to murder an 8 month old partially born baby. That’s my interpretation, my subjectively chosen morality at this point in my life.
If that makes some people mad, well, I hope they’ll find solace that at this point I’m neither a legislator nor a woman–both statuses have been shown subject to change–and of course a woman will have to decide what decisions she is going to make in this world for herself.
Every free human decides and then lives with the consequences of her decision.
We all decide our morality. The vast majority of us simply adopt the morality of our immediate cultures without inquiring or examining “too deeply” into the matters. That is, however, our decision to examine or to be like sheep, and decide where on the examination spectrum we’d like to live.
To summarize and be sure I’ve answer all 3 of your questions: If I were to make the legislation, I would legislate that the only circumstance in which a woman should be legally allowed to abort a baby is in the rare circumstances where, beyond a reasonable doubt, it is determined that the baby would kill both itself and the mother without intervention.
Other than those rare cases, even in cases of rape, which are horrifying of themselves, I simply believe that a human deserves a chance to live and to not have his or her life deliberately taken away without his or her input, which, if in a world in which such input were obtainable, would most certainly be toward the impetus of life.
What do you believe regarding those questions? I’d love to know your feedback on my answers.