Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I missed a chance to speak against abortion the other day.

Maybe I was just afraid. If it was something else, it wasn't a terribly good reason either, I'm sure.

I didn't want to jump in with both feet and be trying to defend myself from attacks literally on both sides--I walked into the lab that morning when two of my coworkers started talking about how annoying protesters (particularly March For Life types, since it was just the day before that one of my coworkers saw them, which is what brought it up in the first place, but they got in some jabs at the Westboro types along the way) can be.

I settled for listening to their arguments, trying to formulate responses in my head during a situation that lacks the convenience of time for reflection and referring to other minds for insight, like I do when I'm writing more apologetic stuff here. It was possible, after all, that I might even hear something new, and I wanted to consider some new arguments should I someday be faced again with countering them.

The conversation was pretty short, so they didn't make too many points at all before getting back to work.

One of them was that they just cannot understand why pro-lifers care so much about what other people do. It just purely seemed beyond them. "Not that I'd do it," one of them said, "but I should be able to go into my home, and shoot up with heroin, and if it's not affecting anyone else, if it's not hurting my job, why should it matter to anyone else?"

Well, he's begging the question. If it's not negatively impacting anyone else, then, okay, maybe we shouldn't be regulating it, but it's a pretty big "If," which is why outside of the rhetorical world laws against heroin already exist.

The funny thing there is that coworker of mine is a proponent of gun control.  If I pulled a gun on a criminal, he says, the criminal would just take it away and shoot me.  There's a lot of assumptions I've addressed before, but a lot of the motivation behind gun control devolves from the argument "Okay, say you wanted a nuclear bomb for your own protection.  The government would be right in prohibiting that because there's no way for you to use it without adversely affecting your neighbors, all without their consent."  That's a fair argument against certain types or scales of weaponry, but it denies the benefit of the doubt on the personal level that is generously extended to would-be partakers and promoters of narcotic drug use and infanticide.

This "if it's not hurting anyone, never mind" mindset treats the presence of a human life--the entire raison d'etre of the pro-life movement--as a trivial detail. With the specter of private autonomy looming over everything, maybe I shouldn't be surprised that the rights of a "victimized minority," that seem to conflict with the rights of another "victimized minority" that's pushing abortion itself, would be impossible to see.

"When the pro-life people came to my school," one of them said, "what I wanted to do was go stand next to the demonstrators and just hand out coathangers, saying 'Here, if they get their way you'll be needing these.'" I'm ignorant of the statistics (as opposed to the mythology) of coathanger abortions, except that by any lucid application of statistics the total number of abortions did in fact increase after 1973, so if someone can cite a reference, maybe a reliable web site, I'd be grateful. Most of what I've heard has pointed to underground abortion services that really weren't any less professional or sanitary than what's out there now. Anyway, the point of the demonstrations on college campuses wasn't simply to get people to vote against abortion and make it harder for a supposed majority of women to fight some epidemic of chronic unwanted pregnancies. The point is to change the hearts and minds of everyone, so that an evil institution can be seen for what it is and eliminated.

"They're standing out there in the cold, with small children, even having the kids passing out pamphlets with pictures of aborted fetuses on them. Maybe someone should call child protective services on them!" Maybe, if the parents were neglectful of their children's health and safety. They certainly shouldn't be exposing toddlers to hypothermia or tremendous gore, but what's an acceptable risk of harm to body or mind is within the purview of the parents. CPS does have a role to play for when parents are remiss, but there's a world of difference between having kids stand outside and exposing them to the equivalent of an R-rated movie, and tearing kids' limbs off and crushing their skulls. Where's the protection then?  I mean, "Don't accuse me of murder with a raised voice and harsh words and photographic evidence?"  Really?

I can't speak for every child, but I learned about abortion when I was in, I think, first grade. Not exactly a toddler, but when I stumbled across a pro-life booth at some function at church where they had pictures of post-abortion children on trays and in waste buckets, I certainly found it terrible, but it didn't give me nightmares; seeing the horror didn't do me any more harm than learning in the first place that some adults would have held my existence in such low regard. The only shock I felt was seeing the results of an abortion and having to wonder how anyone could look at what was obviously the mutilated remains of a baby and still think it was any different from doing it to, say, another adult.

I don't think I was dealing with people who spend most of their free time worrying about conservative politics, or they might have realized that pro-lifers aren't just irritated about a lifestyle choice that carries no moral weight, as if they're all Monopoly players who hate people who play pinochle. I have, on very rare occasions, heard some abortion apologists say "I recognize that there is human life within me, but I believe that that person is subordinate to my dignity, so I may act against him as I will;" I wonder how many people fall into this category and how many will just say "What's the big deal?"
But I don't really relish finding out the answer to that.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

"Why doesn't the law allow someone have a spouse of the same sex?"
"What would be the point?"
"I love him; it should be me who gets to make life decisions with him; or for him, and him for me, if we can't make decisions for ourselves."
"The state is not interested in how you feel about someone.  It rightly sees that it has no business butting into things based on sentimental motivations."
"You love your wife."
"Yes, and we are also trying to create the next generation of citizens. "
"We can--"
"Yes, you can adopt in some jurisdictions, but you don't need to be married to do that.  That justification has already been taken off the table."
"Who is the state to stop two consenting adults making a private decision to share their lives--"
"Hold the boat here, your complaint was about the law, originally.  The state hasn't tried to stop you from living together so far, you or any other couple, gay and straight.  What you want is public approval, or else you wouldn't be insisting on getting the laws changed and sending out invitations to attend your 'private decision to share' ceremony at a public venue."