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Thursday, June 21, 2012

"The only good abortion is my abortion."


Maggie Koerth-Baker describes a heartbreaking situation in which the fetus she tried desperately to conceive has a chromosomal abnormality and is going to die.  Maggie considers whether or not to have an abortion, as opposed to waiting around to miscarry.  She points out that many people who are against abortion in general are less likely to be against abortion in her particular circumstances, and suggests this is because her abortion is not considered elective.

However, as Maggie explains in some detail, her abortion actually is elective--she has options to weigh and a choice to make. Maggie concludes,
Let me be clear. I have options. It’s just that they all suck. That’s kind of how bad news related to pregnancy works...There is no universal good option. There is no universal bad option. But for each individual there is an option that is the least bad. Here is why I am pro-choice. If someone has to make a decision and the best they can hope for is the least-bad option, I don’t believe I have any business making that choice for them.
My abortion is not a good abortion. It's just an abortion. And there's no reason to treat the decision I have to make any differently than the decisions made by any other woman.
But, like many pro-choicers, Maggie's thought process omits a crucial part of the equation: the life of the fetus.


Maggie's abortion isn't a "good" abortion because it's "not elective."  Maggie's abortion is seen differently because the fetus is going to die in either case.  Continuing the pregnancy would protect no one; it would just prolong emotionally painful circumstances and delay the inevitable.  This is, of course, in sharp contrast to most abortions, which are performed on healthy fetuses that would otherwise live.


I can understand how a woman with an unwanted pregnancy would feel all of her options suck.  But the only way to evaluate all options as having equal suckage is to consider how the options affect the woman alone.  Once the options are considered in light of how they affect the fetus as well, we see there actually are some slight differences between the options.  Say, for example, life and death.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

How many times has the diagnosis of a physician been wrong? How many times have we made bad decisions based on our "gut feelings"? If my wife and I had followed the recommendations of her OB/GYN, than our perfect 17 y.o. son would not have been brought into this world. It is a matter of faith in God and His plan. Those who don't trust in God's wisdom, or feel that they can decide who lives or dies, have abortions.

Kelsey said...

If I were pregnant with a baby who would die soon after birth, I wouldn't have an abortion-- mainly because I would want to hold my baby, and (when the inevitable happened) I would want to donate that baby's organs so another family could be spared that loss. But that doesn't raise the right to life issue that the average abortion does.

Kelsey said...

I agree that we shouldn't blindly trust doctors, and I'm glad that you didn't. But you do realize that this is a secular blog, right? Please don't insult our atheist readers. There are many pro-lifers who don't believe in God, and who are working tirelessly to protect the weakest members of society.

Anonymous said...

My wife, when she was born, was said by her doctors to have no future. They said she would never amount to anything more than a vegetable. They said she would never walk, never graduate from school, never go to collage, never become a parent. She's done all those things. How much less certain is the future of the unborn?

Dolce said...

Aside from the obvious examples from above where a doctor's diagnosis has been flat-out wrong, I still think that if every abortion that was performed was only performed on a fetus who would die anyway (I'd like to point out, however, that we ALL will die anyway at some point), those abortions would still be wrong. Killing people who are going to die really solves nothing. It just shortens their lives, and for a baby who's barely lived at all, you really are destroying the majority of their life, and their only chance at experiencing anything other than life in the womb.

Besides, if we were talking about five-year-old's with leukemia, would we really be discussing whether or not it is alright to purposefully kill them? I hope not. Why should the fetus be treated any differently?

On a related note, I suggest you search through some blogs of people who have kept their severely disabled babies - there are some really beautiful stories out there.

reasonlight said...

While this is a secular blog and the rational for advancing the abolition of abortion should be grounded in non-religious reasoning, I see no reason for an atheist (which I am) to get insulted by a pro-lifer believing in God and using his or her faith to protect the unborn. The comment wasn't intended as an insult towards nonbelivers, and there's no reason to take it that way. Religious and secular people should be united in our common cause: Protecting all human life from its very biological beginning--conception.

Herbert Handcock said...

I understand it's a secular blog, but there really isn't a valid secular reason for doing the right thing and being pro-life. It's a shame that you atheists don't believe in anything, even when it means you'll go to hell for it. I'll keep you liberal atheists in my prayers.

LN said...

"The comment wasn't intended as an insult towards nonbelivers, and there's no reason to take it that way."

"Those who don't trust in God's wisdom, or feel that they can decide who lives or dies, have abortions."

Yeah, that's not an insult towards nonbelievers. Only nonbelievers who don't trust in God's wisdom have abortions? You do know that many Christians who trust in God's wisdom have abortions. You could throw the same argument at people who use medicine. "Hey only people who don't trust in God's wisdom would interfere with God's chosen path for them by taking meds." Yet most Catholics who adamantly believe in God's wisdom don't see the contradiction with taking meds, and same may go for having an abortion.

Nothing wrong with believing in God and being pro-life, but to insist that it's all a matter of believing in God and his plan *is* insulting to atheists who don't believe in God at all but still try to do what is best for the preborn.

Tommy Callahan said...

Shut up, Richard.

reasonlight said...

@LN You are exemplifying my point. "Only nonbelievers who don't trust in God's wisdom have abortions?" That's a straw man argument--I highly doubt they meant ONLY nonbelievers have abortions. It was not a condemnation of atheists. Christians who have abortions, regardless of how religious they may otherwise seem, do not fully "trust in God's wisdom" according to the poster's point of view. Keep their comment in their context. If you want to feel all insulted, be my guest. I'm not going to get offended when no offense was intended.

reasonlight said...

I'll put it a better way: According to the original comment, those who don't follow God's wisdom have abortions. Many who are religious may still believe that nonbelievers who choose life over abortion are still following God's wisdom, even though the nonbeliever obviously doesn't believe in God. As for those who are very pious or say they follow God's plan, yet still have an abortion, they did not trust in "God's wisdom" when they made that decision. That is what they meant. You certainly don't have to agree with it, but it's far from an insult.

LN said...

"Those who don't trust in God's wisdom, or feel that they can decide who lives or dies, have abortions." You say that doesn't mean only nonbelievers have abortions. Well then does it mean that if one is nonbeliever, one will have an abortion? I mean it must be one or the other. Either he's saying that all who have abortions are nonbelievers (don't trust in God's wisdom), or all nonbelievers have abortions. Which is it?

wat said...

reasonlight -

"Christians who have abortions, regardless of how religious they may otherwise seem, do not fully 'trust in God's wisdom' according to the poster's point of view."

If that's the case, one would say "only those who don't trust in God's wisdom" instead of "only *nonbelievers* who don't trust in God's wisdom."

The former includes believers and nonbelievers alike, which is what you're suggesting the poster meant. That's not, though, what the poster actually said. Your interpretation is generous, but it doesn't follow the actual wording.

reasonlight said...

@LN "Either he's saying that all who have abortions are nonbelievers (don't trust in God's wisdom), or all nonbelievers have abortions." You're speaking on a false assumption. You can identify as Christian but NOT trust in God's wisdom 100% of the time. In fact any honest Christian will admit to that. Christians believe they fail to trust in God's wisdom--this is why they "sin", when they turn away from God. In their faith, they failed to be Christ-like, failed to follow the wisdom of God, and sinned. Just because they made a wrong choice doesn't mean they are no longer Christian. The word "Those" in the original quote refers to everyone who doesn't trust in God's wisdom--both Christians, members of other religions, and nonbelievers alike. Again, I see no atheist-specific insult.

@wat "If that's the case, one would say 'only those who don't trust in God's wisdom' instead of 'only *nonbelievers* who don't trust in God's wisdom.' "
The original quote made no mention of the word "nonbelievers". It says "Those who don't trust in God's wisdom". The word "Those" isn't specific to only Christians, or only nonbelievers, or only anyone else, but refers to everyone who has an abortion. I don't see how my interpretation is too generous at all.

wat said...

reasonlight -

You know what? You're totally right. I got the quotes confused somewhere in the discussion.

Richard Handcock said...

Well if I were marooned on a desert island with no fresh water and dying of dehydration, I would drink my own urine. certainly a better way to go than to resort to salt water. But that doesn't raise the right to life issue that the average abortion does.

Kristine Kruszelnicki said...

I disagree that her abortion was not elective. She even says "The egg yolk is now bigger than the fetus, which usually indicates a chromosomal abnormality." She assumes she is going to have a miscarriage but there is no guarantee.

This fetus is not threatening the life of the mother and it bears to note that human beings with chromosomal abnormalities of all sorts are born every day. That child might have lived a long and productive life, though perhaps in a deformed, midget, or otherwise disabled body. And even if death is imminent, it more certainly is not morally justifiable to dismember someone simply because they are likely to not live very long.

No one has a right to say that killing preborn humans is acceptable because they are disabled, deformed, or doomed. I'm surprised that as a blogger for Secular Pro-Life you would take such a low view of life.

M said...

Perhaps you should read the post again.

I didn't say her abortion was not elective. I said that's how *she* viewed it. I didn't say people with chromosomal abnormalities have less worthy lives. I also didn't say it's okay to have abortion in cases of fetal abnormalities.

My point was not that Maggie's abortion was acceptable. My point was that Maggie omits any consideration of fetal life when trying to understand why some people are more sympathetic to her circumstances than they would be to other abortive women's circumstances.

The summary of my entire post is that people ought to give more consideration to fetal life when thinking about these situations. I don't think that's a "low view of life" at all.