This noise wrestling in the wind, this crushing weeping riveting each night. Can’t you hear these hearts writhing in agony? Ironically, most of us can’t hear these heavy thoughts hitting the ground. A pregnant woman, lost in place, scared, and doesn’t know what to do. “What’s going to happen to me? How am I going to get through this? Can I even care for this child?”, these questions must be racing through her mind, and each too quick to try and catch a good answer to. Many of us would demand, if not outright then by our contempt at doing anything else, that she keep the baby, take it to birth, and care for it. However, most of us also tend to spout beliefs about things that we barely understand, let alone have experienced. How many of us really know what it’s like to be faced with the end of our lives as we know it?
Having a child is a big deal. I don’t think that a lot of us realize how big it is. Not only are pregnant women subjected to the harsh realities of carrying a child, such as a substantial disruption of everyday life, but they also have to endure the very sight of their whole lives crumbling beneath this world’s burning blue skies. Sarah Weddington put it best in her address to the Supreme Court in saying that, “A pregnancy to a woman is perhaps one of the most determinative aspects of her life. It disrupts her body. It disrupts her education. It disrupts her employment. And it often disrupts her entire family life.” Health, education, ability to stand on your own, family, friends, pregnancy affects every facet of life and sometimes in a very negative way. Try to imagine having your whole life stripped away just because of something you never intended. Now, you’re a drop out, your family hates you, friends avoid you, and you’ve been laid off because you’re too much risk to keep on. In the blink of an eye, your life is turned upside down, if not completely stolen away. Would you be happy? More likely than not, you’d be breathless, as words escape you to describe your horror. Yet, there is a way out, to stop this from ever happening. You can still get back what was lost, if you’re willing to accept the burden of a life, the burden of having an abortion.
At this point, many life activists would argue that the effects of pregnancy aren’t so bad and that you have to just live with it for nine months. After that, it’s over, case closed. Yet, regardless of the length of time, the stress that comes with pregnancy is literally incalculable. Isn’t it strange that we should deny a person the right to a better life when it is within our power to give it? “Well, it’s murder! Wouldn’t you find it strange to justify killing your parents to collect on insurance money?”, they say. Abortion is no easy subject to define, but, I, as well as many others, do believe that having an abortion is somewhat different than killing your parents to collect on insurance.
Take, for example, the illustration given by J. Thompson in “A Defense of Abortion”. She sets the stage with you sleeping soundly in bed. Fate would have it, though, that this night you are spirited away by a famous violinist society, who consequently plug you into one of them. He needs you to survive, but, the good news, it’s only for nine months. Now, it would be very kind of you to let him stay plugged in, considering he would die without you. The argument here is, however, do you have to? Is it their right to assume that they are justified in potentially wrecking your life, or perhaps do you have the right to decide what happens to your own body? Maybe both of you have some rights? His right to life, your right to life, does one trump the other? It is my belief that, while you probably ought to sacrifice yourself, insofar as time, money, energy, and, to a lesser extent, health-wise, but you have the right to decide how your body is used. For example, the hospitals don’t kidnap people to get a kidney for one of their patients against their will, though, it would be nice if you offered it to save another. The patient shouldn’t assume the right to take someone’s kidney for their own, nor should the violinist assume the right to plug himself into you for his health, nor should a baby assume the right to draw life from a mothers womb.
Why shouldn’t the baby assume the right to life though? Why shouldn’t the baby be given be granted a right to live? Most would not be satisfied with the autonomy of the mother giving blanket approval to anything the mother should want to do. However, another, deeper right exists between the mother and child. That is of covenant, of promise and agreement. Beyond autonomy, the mother and the baby have not formed covenant, formed bond with each other, and that is right enough for the mother to choose what should happen to her life, as well as her body, rather than the child.
“It’s only for nine months, then you can set it up for adoption!” Yet, still, even that argument falls on shaky ground. Discounting the disturbing stats on the crime rates because of unwanted children, the strain of nine months is still a monumental feat to deal with. Is it enough to warrant the killing of an innocent life though? Save for ensuring the mother’s survival in extreme cases, I believe that abortion is also a right that women enjoy for the sake of their lives in and of themselves. The ability to control the course of their own lives, the chance to experience life, the gift of breathing free and unafraid of consequences to actions they might have been too young to fully think out. How could society feel that it is their duty to punish those who don’t fully grasp the gravity of their actions? Doesn’t our judicial system show our compassion when it comes to being ignorant of ones actions? Shouldn’t that also carry over to our lives as well? Punishment may be needed, but life ruining is a bit much is it not?
As always with topics like this, I would love to invite discussion. I’m sure I’m not perfectly right, and I love talking to those of different opinions so that we might both be persuaded by a third, higher party, the truth.