Column: Why pro-lifers should not be pigeon-holed
Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 20:02
If you were on campus last spring, you might remember when the truck from the hilariously named Center for Bio-Ethical Reform drove around Storrs. You probably remember how pro-life protestors stood in the center of campus and compared women who have had abortions to Idi Amin, Hitler and other genocidal maniacs. This drove me up a wall, but when I voiced my complaints I was met with the condescending voice of, “Well that’s just because you’re on the other side.”
Actually, I’m not. I consider myself pro-life because I simply believe a fetus is a life.
Now, reading this you probably think I also believe that anyone who has an abortion, or performs abortions, is a murderer. After all, if a fetus is a life, then ending that life is a murder. Thus, all people associated with abortion are murderers, right?
Except, shockingly, I do not believe that. I believe I am among the silent majority of pro-lifers: we are pro-life, anti-anus (you know what I mean). As horrible as abortion is, even more reprehensible is accusing someone of murder who’s already going through a difficult decision and the subsequent emotional repercussions.
I don’t view abortion as a “sin” or a “crime.” It is the symptom of a larger socio-economic problem: the stigma of bastardy. In most societies that have marriage (all of them) a child born outside of wedlock is usually stained with the label “bastard,” excluded from all inheritance rights and usually looked down upon as the product of the sins of a lustful mother and a deceitful father. In the “enlightened” United States, it wasn’t until the 60s when they stopped stamping “bastard” on your birth certificate. Even though the sexual revolution has done some work at liberating the stigma on bastard children, there’s still that stigma on parents. The last baby shower I went to was for unmarried parents. Clearly they weren’t ashamed of the child, but I heard (at least twice), “So when are you two going to get married?”
Picture the worst-case scenario in the United States. An eighteen-year-old girl gets pregnant. Her parents are strong Christian conservatives, and so is she. She decides to risk having the child as opposed to sacrificing her immortal soul to hell. Since this is a worst-case scenario, her parents kick her out of the house, the father wants nothing to do to her, or maybe she doesn’t even know the father. She has the child, but can’t keep a job, can’t pay for childcare, and is soon homeless. Her child is taken by DCFS, she is homeless and falls into prostitution, drugs or worse. Hold that up against how having an abortion can give an eighteen-year-old woman an opportunity at a normal life, and it’s easy to see how abortion is the preferable option.
In the West, we have turned a blessing into a curse. Caring for children is no longer a blessing and miracle of biology, it is a hindrance to social progress. Our biology says that ages 16-25 is prime breeding time, but our culture says “Don’t you dare.”
Compare our Western prejudices to Tibet: a society that is ecological, surprisingly more egalitarian in gender roles than most neighboring Asian societies, and abhors abortion. There is no word for “bastard” in Tibet. Children born out of wedlock, especially from teenage parents, are greeted with the attitude of “it happens.” A child is a child, no matter what the parents, and deserves the opportunity for happiness and a normal life like anyone else, including – no, especially – teenage mothers and fathers.
I’m not saying we all need to convert to Buddhism, abhor abortion, learn Tibetan and be okay with teenage parents. But it serves as an important comparison that we need to accept abortion if we’re unwilling to change our views on single parents or do away with the necessity for abortion and accept single, young mothers.
By now, I hope you can see my position on abortion is well thought out and is more complex than divine revelation. It highlights a larger social problem that isn’t necessarily gender related. By holding a rational conversation (this is addressed to loud pro-lifers) we can look like a legitimate point of view: one that isn’t a sexist attempt at controlling women.