Sabbatical Blog

...chronicling some of my projects and learnings during this time apart from parish ministry

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Abortion, Part 2

Why is it so patently obvious that requiring a father to donate bone marrow to his dying five year old is a violation of his most precious human liberty (this has happened; in a court case about 10 years ago, and the child lost and presumably died) but not obvious that requiring a woman to share her body with a growing fetus for nine months is not a violation of her most precious human liberty? Firstly, because women have been getting pregnant and bearing babies since the beginning, but donor technology is quite new in the human repetoire. We take for granted that women "are supposed" to have babies. We assume that making a tissue or organ donation is "extraordinary". But in actuality, a pregnancy is nothing like giving blood or bone marrow. It's a life-changing event more akin to a kidney or (partial) liver donation.

The other reason that women are "supposed" to go through with unwanted pregnancies while no parent would ever be required to donate a kidney to their child, is that pregnancy is linked in our minds and hearts to sex, and unwanted pregnancy is mostly experienced by people who are not "supposed" to be having sex. So pregnancy is seen as a "bad girl's Just Desserts".

There are several problems with that theory. The first is that married women experience unwanted pregnancies, too. An abortion ban would force the mother of a year old baby to remain pregnant, at the cost of her health and ability to care for her baby. An abortion ban would force the 45 year old mother of teens and caregiver to her elderly parents, to go through a pregnancy and give birth. Such a woman will not feel she has the option to give up the baby for adoption.

The second problem with the theory of pregnancy as just deserts is that it took two to make the baby, but only one is being forced to make a significant sacrifice. The father in question may have to pay child support...though it's not likely he will actually do that. And as previously mentioned, he can not be asked for so much as a drop of his blood to keep the baby healthy.

The third problem is that legislating slavery as the punishment for sexual activity (married or unmarried) is ludicrous. We don't legislate any kind of slavery for any crime (which sex isn't). The only analogy that can be made in our society is the military draft.

When the nation is at risk, we draft young men to serve their nation. They have no choice about this; their lives are commandeered for the common good. The unwillingly drafted man may feel that he is serving a kind of slavery. However, he will be paid for his time and history suggests that if he is honored for his service, he will pick up his life and move on. (History also suggests that some men, if not honored for their service, will have mental health difficulties for the rest of their lives.)

There are some whose passion about avoiding the killing of fetuses is strong enough that they believe that the nation is at risk with the practice of abortion. Perhaps all unwillingly pregnant women should be "drafted" to serve their nation by carrying their pregnancy to term. They would be paid for their time, supported in their endeavor, honored for their sacrifice. What do you think?

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