The nonreligious conclusion I came to as the result of lasting (lifelong) regret of an abortion is that if an embryo or fetus is regarded as disposable, then you are, too. I guess it's a version of what Mother Theresa was saying. An individual either is unique and uniquely valuable or isn't. All are or none are. If your existence had happened at the wrong time (I won't use the demeaning word "inconvenient" because sometimes it's little more than that, but sometimes it's a lot worse), you could have been disposed of. Your existence is accidental and contingent.Annie has another comment, that links to an important post of hers from 2005:
(Of course if you believe human beings are nothing special, even a plague on the planet, then by all means let's declare open season on 'em and hasten their extinction. Oh, uh, "us" is "them.")
To consider abortion acceptable is to make a philosophical decision about the world without even knowing it.
It's a tricky thing to write into law. Nearly all traditions have recognized the primacy of the mother's life and circumstances (including economic) in the early stages of pregnancy. The irony is that they knew a lot less than we do about what's involved. They really did believe it was a "blob." We know better.
But they also believed pregnancy was something like an act of God. That's why sex was so severely policed. I can understand why Catholics believe that there's a connection between the casual attitude made possible by birth control and a casual attitude toward life itself.
But is that inevitable? If people choose, for a time or for all time, to use sex to "make self" -- to make their own lives and relationships richer, which I do believe is one of its lifegiving uses -- then they should use birth control religiously. One of the big pro-choice arguments is that "birth control fails." Certainly some percentage of that failure rate is due to wrong or careless use of it. The rest -- the true failures -- might be seen as successes of someone who is just hellbent on being here. And the unwitting invitation of such a person should be viewed at all times as one of the ineradicable risks of sex.
You know there are pro-life people who would make it mandatory that a woman be shown an ultrasound of her fetus before she can have an abortion.Thanks for writing all that over here, Amba.
I was once at the hospital with a woman who was beginning to miscarry, and I watched the live ultrasound. She was, I forget, maybe 8 or 10 weeks pregnant. The embryo/fetus didn't look like a baby yet, but you could see its heart beating.
I wonder if I would have been able to go through with an abortion if I'd seen that.
I'm very interested in this idea that sex has become, as you put it, a way to "make self." It reminds me of the way people used to talk about taking drugs — especially LSD — back in the 1960s. It was supposed to be a profound journey of self-actualization. I remember being surprised to see kids only a few years younger than me taking drugs just to have fun or because they had nothing else to do. When you first break from the old traditions, maybe you have to make up a big, weighty story about how you are proceeding onto some higher ground. I'm sure you can use sex for profound self-actualization. In fact, you can still use drugs that way if you set your mind to it. But how many people do?