Pops has varied perspectives on the topic of abortion, and these are his conclusions:
- Morally, it is wrong.
- Emotionally, it is damaging to women.
- Legally, it is fatally flawed.
Morally: Any person who holds a belief in the sanctity of life must conclude that, whenever possible, life is to be protected. As far as Pops is concerned any casual, arbitrary, or otherwise selfish reason for terminating a human life (even that of a fetus) is simply wrong. But because a person’s moral beliefs are by definition subjective, any debate based upon opposing moral concepts will not be productive. So, Pops does feel that abortion-on-demand is immoral, but since his is not a fact-based conclusion, Pops’ opinion on moral grounds is not likely to be persuasive to anyone who feels differently about it.
Emotionally: As to the emotional effect of abortion, things become a little more factual. Over the years, Pops has known several women who have shared with him the fact that they had, in the distant or recent past, undergone selective termination of a pregnancy. None of these women had admitted to being victims of sex crimes, nor had any of them aborted because of health issues of either themselves or the fetus. These were all purely elective procedures, and all were done because the pregnancy, for various reasons, was simply unwanted at the time. Some were the result of casual sexual encounters, or arose in a non-committed personal relationship, or were based on financial considerations, or due to her partner’s objection to parenthood, or simply in rejection of the permanent physical anatomical changes that pregnancy would likely inflict on the mother. Many different reasons, yet all of them motivated by primarily selfish interests at the time. In Pops’ experience, all of the women he has known that chose elective abortion actually suffered real emotional upset over having made the decision. Some regretted what they had done, some did not. Some felt guilt and shame, others did not. But each of them, without exception, was troubled by having been compelled to choose between the life and death of an as-yet unborn child. Pops is fairly certain that there must be some remorseless women out there who consider and use elective abortion as casually as they change a hair style, but he has not yet personally encountered one. Abortion may presently be societally acceptable, but there ought to be more consideration given to the adverse and long-term psychological effects on most women who exercise their “right to choose.”
Legally: Looking at abortion from a legal perspective, it appears to be absolutely unconstitutional – for men! This conclusion takes a little explanation, so bear with Pops for a bit. As we all know, like it or not, long ago the SCOTUS decided that a woman has an undeniable right to terminate her own pregnancy (within certain time limits that are not germane to this discussion.) It logically follows that since a woman has absolute control over her pregnancy, she has total control over the parenting result for both parties. (Don’t get into the surrogate – test tube – adoption arguments, they don’t apply here.) Therefore, not only does a woman have absolute discretion to select IF a man can become a father, under the law she also has discretion to select when a man MUST become a father. (Again, don’t drive off the road with stupid exceptions like incest, rape, etc. Pops is talking about two people who engage in consensual sexual relations, and pregnancy is the result.)
So, what are the possible scenarios arising from such a pregnancy?
- Both parties want the pregnancy to go full-term? Result: They happily share in the joys, perils, and obligations of parenting.
- Both parties want to abort? Result: Dead fetus, and everybody’s happy (except the fetus, of course).
- Woman wants to abort, but man wants to be a father? Result: Dead fetus, and the man is denied fatherhood.
- Woman does not want to abort, and man does not want to be the father of her child? Result: Live baby, and man is compelled into fatherhood, like it or not.
In short, when a consensual coitus results in an unplanned pregnancy, a man who wants to become a father has to get approval from the woman, and a man who doesn’t want to become a father is without recourse. This result, in itself, seems to be unfair. (And spare Pops the “he could have used protection” crap, as both persons are equally culpable in this scenario.) To continue, taking the analysis to the next level, this result is beyond simply “unfair.” Let Pops explain.
If the woman chooses to have the child, and the man does not want it, it makes no difference under the existing law, because the man is obligated to support the child whether he wants to be the father or not. Under the constitution, all citizens are entitled to equal protection under the law – but this hardly equal. Why should a man be required to support a child if he didn’t intend to father one? The woman gets to choose whether or not she becomes a mother, but the father does not have equal choice in the matter. And arguments about “what is best for the child” as justification for forcing an unwilling father to support an unwanted child, when the woman can choose to kill it if she doesn’t want it, are not very persuasive. The man is being denied equal protection under the law (i.e., ” it’s unconstitutional!”)
The following analogy may make for a less emotional discussion. Let’s say two farmers meet up at a bar. One farmer owns a plot of fertile land, and the other owns a supply of seed. Obviously, neither farmer can grow a crop without some contribution by the other. They hit it off, and in the throes of a rather enjoyable relationship at the landowner’s barn, some of the supply of seed is left behind in the field. The two farmers did not anticipate planting a crop – as a matter of fact, the topic was not even discussed when they met. But later on, as nature takes its course, seedlings start to appear. Now, the farmer that owns the field can either decide to let the crop grow, or can plow it under and grow something else later on. That sounds fair, because the seed was left behind, and after all it is the landowner’s field. But what if the landowner decides to let the crop grow, and then demands that the other farmer be required to help in cultivating, watering, fertilizing, and generally caring for the field until the harvest is eighteen years old? That result hardly seems fair – and its not.
The only way that the existing law can be made fair (so long as the woman has total control over the decision to bear the child or not), is to give the man a choice of whether he will assume the legal responsibilities of fatherhood. Exactly like the choice that the woman makes whether or not to become a parent, his would be irrevocable. And, same as the woman, the man would have to make his choice during the term of the pregnancy. His decision would be an affirmative action, requiring a formal legal declaration of denial or acceptance of legal responsibility for the child. If a woman did not provide the man timely notice of the pregnancy, and prove that notice had been given, the man may thereafter make his election to deny responsibility at any time, even after the birth of the child. No longer could a woman entrap a man using his sense of paternal responsibility.
In conclusion, concepts of objective fairness dictate that if a woman wants to have child, and the man doesn’t, and she actually bears the child, she should be compelled to raise it and provide for its emotional and financial support, without the assistance of an unwilling and indentured father. Nothing in this position implies that the man could compel the woman to abort a pregnancy when she wants to have the child – it remains her choice completely. The “equal protection” argument simply concludes that if she has the right of unilateral control over parenting, she must assume the responsibility concurrent with the exercise of that right. (In the interests of preserving what is left of the institution of marriage, no husband would have a right to refuse parentage of a child conceived during the marriage, unless he was determined not to be the biological father.)
So, because abortion is morally wrong, emotionally damaging, and denies men due process protections guaranteed under the constitution, Pops opposes elective abortion resulting from consensual relationships, especially under the present state of the law.
Morally: The pro-life stance is often grounded in religious faith, to which the Christian Right is often the most outspoken on the issue. However, if we are going look further into the pro-life movement, it seems to be more selective than being pro-choice. I say this because a majority of pro-life conservatives also support the death penalty (via the Public Religion Research Institute). In a Biblical sense, one can’t deny that the doctrine supports the death penalty; however, can one justify the logic behind being pro-life and pro-death simultaneously? Isn’t the offender already a human? Does taking the life of another inherently devalue the life of the offender? Is the offender incapable of redemption? To me, those who derive their morality from religion can’t honestly justify taking the life of anyone, so their stance is subjectively skewed. Pop’s morality is his own, which I have come to respect. However, I don’t understand why his subjective sense of morality should have any sort of effect on the actions of others. If we are going to say that morality is subjective, then why should we create objective laws that prohibit abortion. Why wouldn’t people who don’t believe in abortion just not get them?
Emotionally: I cannot deny that it seems to take an emotional toll on the women who have abortions. It can even be an intense physical procedure which can risk the future of having children. However, I don’t think it is within our government’s right to decide what women should and shouldn’t do. Ultimately, a woman’s emotion and reason will lead to a given decision. That decision will ultimately affect her life, but it’s a life that should be in her control.
Now you have a case where the liberal is trying to debate legalities with an experienced conservative lawyer… I’m sure that this will work out great for me, but I’ll give it a whirl. When it comes to the “Equal Say” argument, I just can’t get on board. A man simply isn’t risking anything in the termination or conception of a child. Yes, you can argue that a man has moral stake in the issue, but he is not undergoing the physical burden of child birth. There’s no risk of him having a miscarriage, there’s no risk of him dying during labor, and there’s no long term physical effects that can result from having the child… The equality argument, to which the man is allowed the same say in terminating the pregnancy, doesn’t make sense because the man isn’t bearing the same load in any way.
We can go into each one of these prongs further, but I cannot logically justify any pro-life argument. If you want to deny that the moral argument isn’t grounded in Christian Conservativism, then I would like to hear your reasoning. As a man of faith, I hold myself accountable, but that doesn’t mean that I feel the need to hold others to my standards. I am a moral subjectivist to a certain degree and I don’t believe that my religious beliefs should have any legal bearing on the life of another. If you want to argue that it is emotionally damaging, then you must acknowledge that a consenting adult should be allowed to take on that emotional burden. If you want to look at the law, then we mustn’t pass laws based on religious preference at all. However, when it comes to the man’s say in the argument, I don’t believe that the man’s stake in the situation is remotely equal, and if you were in a consenting relationship that is ready and capable of bringing a child into this world, then such a conversation wouldn’t happen. If you honestly believe that men should be exempt from paying child support to a woman, then you’re obviously off base. You’re deeming women who want abortions as negligent, which ultimately makes the man negligent in his action as well. However, I don’t see this as an argument against abortion. I see it as an argument in favor of men being able to neglect their duty as a father.
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