This week’s title is inspired as part of a quote from a friend of mine. We were discussing how both political parties in America very much like to focus on certain population demographics during the election season, and why we believe this is damaging to our constitutional republic as a whole. What she said struck me as unabashedly true: “Democracy is not a tetris game. People should be treated as people, not as voting blocs which can be used for political gain.” I decided to take a note from her idea, and begin a mini-event on my blog. Both this week’s post and next’s week’s will focus on women’s issues, while simultaneously making sure to treat the topics as subjects that affect all of us rather than just some. This is especially true since women make up more than half of all American people today. This may even spill over into a third week, if you all demand it.
Moving on, this week I approach a subject which lights fires in everyone’s eyes the moment I say it, regardless of political affiliation: abortion. It’s a contentious issue ever since the 1972 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade essentially made abortions legal up until around 28 weeks into the pregnancy. Since then, some states have chosen to embrace such a ruling and live with the limits, while others have rejected it and tried to limit such abilities on the part of women to get abortions. This is mostly based upon how each of us defines a normal, human life. It also depends upon what time we consider such a life to have started in earnest. The trouble is, there is no absolute and definitive scientific legal standard applied to the federal level which could shut out all the lesser opinions. As such, the debate still rages on today. Roe may have set the limit at 28 weeks, but the Court’s ruling also admitted that such a limit could extend backwards to even 24 weeks, or rather whenever a life was “viable”, meaning the child could survive absent of the mother, albeit with machines attached. All of these standards are still questioned, even by me, although not likely in the same direction as many of my readers.
I’ll take a look first at the scientific side of this debate. Because a “viable” life is a fairly broad term under the ruling, especially due to increases in technology and knowledge that we have gained since then, we must learn to define at what time we should consider that life to have started. A normal human life is termed as being a person that can live independently and can perform all normal human bodily processes. I would like to qualify this definition is a generalized scientific one, and not a legal definition, as no such definition exists within the context of federal law. However, it is the only legitimate definition we can use for now that is not tinged with political opinion. The first point of the definition specifies that a normal human must be able to live independent of another being, and that its bodily processes must be accounted for solely by its own systems. The second point specifies that all capabilities of human function must be accounted for, including things such as thought, instinct, sensory responses, digestion, etc. If you can’t tell by now, this definition which I use points towards normal human life beginning at birth. At that point, the human becomes independent of its food source (the mother) and begins to live its own life. It is also capable of all normal human functions (although complex thoughts are mostly restricted until later, of course). By this definition, that fetus is not truly alive until it is born, and therefore an abortion should be legal at all points of the pregnancy. Couldn’t this possibly lead to abortions the day before children are born? It certainly could, although I would think that any woman pregnant for that long would’ve likely already chosen to keep the child. Do I agree with this definition? For the most part, the answer is yes. A fetus certainly cannot think at all, and does not experience extinct or nerve responses in quite the same ways as we do. The fetus’s food and blood interchange with the mother, and normal humans do neither of these things (I would hope). Would I allow an abortion a day before the birth? Yes, as it is not my personal decision to make, although I would certainly question such a woman as to whether she is acting rashly in the face of sudden life changes. However, I still would not stop her from making that choice.
This leads me into the second portion of my debate: the civil rights and religious issues tied up within abortion. Roe ruled that abortion is part of a legal right to privacy under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment and is therefore protected by the Constitution. However, a significant portion of the population believes that abortion should be further restricted or abolished entirely. The first and foremost reason cited for such proposals is due to a differing definition of when life starts; a surprising amount of Americans believe life starts at conception. Now this definition is one I strongly oppose. Take a look here, to see what conception looks like: [link]. It is a simple picture of what a zygote would look like the instant that sperm combines with that egg. Once that happens, under the “life starts at conception” definition, that zygote could feel highly threatened and kill its mother with a gun as self-defense in Florida. Oh wait, that can’t actually happen because a fetus can’t hold a gun, or feel threatened, or claim self-defense in a court of law. Why guarantee the right to bear arms to a cluster of cells which does not even possess a brain yet? This functions under the same reasoning we do not allow minors the right to vote; we are not yet considered mature enough for the responsibility of such rights. A zygote is not mature enough for such rights as freedom of assembly or freedom from double jeopardy, and therefore should not be accorded those rights. A reason many claim that life begins at conception is due to religion; however, this point is moot because as soon as religious standards are brought into the debate, they can be shut out in the same instant. Because the 1st Amendment guarantees separation of church and state, the federal government cannot appropriate laws which respect one religion over another or which promote any religion. As such, the government cannot create a standard of when life begins based upon religious doctrine of any kind; neither Christian nor any other religious definition may be used without violating the 1stAmendment.
And now, my final point. I should not have any say over whether a woman has an abortion or not. It is the personal decision of each and every pregnant woman whether to have an abortion or not, and if so when they plan to do so. A woman is a mature being with all the rights given to her by the Constitution and the government, and as such she has domain over her personal affairs. Unless that woman is a minor (which I would sincerely hope they are not), they have full control over whether they have a child or not. No person or group should be able to restrict that choice legally, unless they are the parents/legal guardians of a pregnant minor. Even in such a case, the young woman should have more than enough say over what happens to her. It is not our right and nor is it legal for us to take away such a choice, contentious as it may be, as it is not our choice to make. We don’t know what these women are going through, and why they may or may not choose to have an abortion. But whether we like it or not, we must respect that choice and cast off any illusion of control we may have.
That is all for this week, and I hope I’ve made my points cogent and easy to understand. If you have questions or comments of any kind, I encourage you to post them right here for me to see and respond to. If you would prefer other means of communication, I would suggest my email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can also be contacted through Facebook, Twitter (@KnoFearMLP), Google+, and Steam (once again, KnoFearMLP instead of KnoFear). Good night, and this is KnoFear, signing off.