06 March 2007

catch-up from "blog for choice day"

so, let's write a little post.

i've had so many things going at once, all worth trying to write out, but i guess i should finish what i started. my last post was short, it was to mark the anniversary of roe v. wade and i admit i dashed it off to post before midnight, just for form i guess. anyway, i was busy then and i'm busy now, but i got two responses there [at the livejournal page] that i wanted to address really quickly.


the first started off:
The problem with the abortion debate as it is currently framed lies in the juxtaposition of incommensurate elements. On the one hand are the screaming Christians: Life at any cost! On the other are the screaming feminists: Our bodies, ourselves!

What neither side seems to understand is that the other is not listening. To be sure I find the (stereo)typical feminist-abortionist position, on the whole, to be morally vacuous; their argument is predicated on a hypostasization of the Self, and indeed an apotheosis of this Self into some kind of transcendent moral absolute.
...on the whole it is the abortionist-feminist point of view that is far more damaging [than the "trust god with the course of events" crowd] for society in the long run... there is in the abortionist-feminist agenda a pronounced manic desire for control. The entire argument proceeds from the notion that, somehow, for some never-fully-articulated reasons, it is right and good that human beings should choose and control every aspect of their lives. Why this is particularly desirable, and indeed whether this is even possible, is never actually questioned.
Redacted for length but the gist is preserved. a lot of criticism of the very idea that we should want anything or that we should try to achieve things we might want. it even appears to criticize the desire to lay claim to one's own body. i have to say, i think this is absolute bullshit, because you aren't going to sit there and tell me you haven't wanted things in your life and haven't followed up on those wants. tell me where you are in life and explain to me how you ended up there by simply going with the first option-for-living that you saw at every turn. tell me your whole, own body was not your engine of action. it's bullshit because nobody can divest themselves of all desire or life aspirations (yes i know, except yogis in the mountains), and because it's not many people's belief that anyone should have to, and because if you think that christian dominionists and the like aren't using means to achieve their ends just like everybody else then you're dead wrong. there are few people in this country ready to abandon their life goals or hopes for the future, and the forces described here as better "for society in the long run" than the "abortionist-feminists" are constantly using their faith as a tool to shackle others, and anyone who forgets or denies that does "society" a disservice. if nothing else, i'd like to be shown how the desire to control what one can of one's own life is more pernicious than the desire to control others' lives.

so that was point 1. point 2 will be brief i hope: somewhere along the way the comment includes an apropos that if you take a pro-abortion stance to its "logical" conclusion, you'd have to agree with Singer that infanticide is justifiable as well. i just want to disagree with that really quickly because that's only true if the standard for legitimate life is "can sustain/care for itself". that's not the real standard, to me; as i see it, the important thing is that whatever the organism may be -- even if it is a "legitimate" life -- no person should be forced to give over his or her body to supporting that life. i have the right to refuse my body to anyone at all; i can refuse to donate a kidney to my ten-year-old child, and no matter how wrong you might personally find that refusal, hopefully you'd agree that for the state to force you to acquiesce is far worse. bodily integrity is a crucial part of human dignity, and establishing inviolable respect for it is important in protecting dignity from encroachment. i personally wish roe v. wade had been decided on a basis of the human right to sovereignty over one's own body, because "privacy" is murky, easy to erode, and frankly not far-reaching enough. i don't support the right to bodily integrity because i need it to support the right to abortion; rather, i support the right to abortion because i believe it's within each person's rightful purview to decide what happens within her or his body.


okay. the second comment consisted of:
there is one point that i've been trying to point out to various people for the last five years or so on which I completely agree [with the other comment]:
"The problem with the abortion debate as it is currently framed lies in the juxtaposition of incommensurate elements...What neither side seems to understand is that the other is not listening."

The idea that the two sides are talking past each other--it's a rather disturbing notion that the definition that can't be agreed upon is the definition of human life--basically makes the entire debate unable to be rationally and decisively decided. I mean, it comes down to questions of faith, which at least the pro-life brigade has the honesty to bring to the forefront. They think this way because Jesus told them to--sort of(an oversimplification, but I think it all comes down to this, at least for American Christians).
so i have a problem with this because it ignores a couple points that seem very important to me, but i'm not surprised because many, many people make the mistake of ignoring those points. yes, it's true, the definition of life is often in contention; as you said, it's so far a question of faith. but as far as i can see, what credit the christians pro-life movement might garner by being "honest" that it is about religious tenets to them, they more than lose by continuing to press for laws restricting abortion -- and, let's be clear, not just abortion but also contraception and sexual practice and sexual orientation -- as though jesus christ were any reason to be meddling with civil laws. i don't think that the majority of americans favors a theocracy, and i am sure that the constitution does not; if christian anti-choicers were interested in being "honest" more than in politics, they'd be trying to sign people on to a full-fledged christian republic.

and the second point goes back to what i said above, about kidneys and such. i personally know a few people who are sure that the product of conception is a life at some point or at another point before birth (they disagree on when), and who are nevertheless pro-choice. why? because to them, their beliefs about the start of life are not enough to justify forcing someone else to give use of her organs and systems to a third party; these people say that even if there were medical proof to back up their own beliefs, the personhood of the embryo or fetus still would have to cede to the personhood of the pregnant woman if push came to shove. my own rationale is something more along the lines of, "i am not sure -- who can be sure? -- but it doesn't matter to me as much as the woman in question being sure, one way or the other. i would much rather protect any person's right to choose for herself than to let a mass of strangers choose for her. there are very few reasons for making another rational person's decision for her, and a whole bunch not to.

in sum, i doubt it's true that we're not listening to each other. i, at least, am listening very closely. it sounds to me like i want the government to stay away from my decisions concerning medical endeavors i undertake -- this includes preventing pregnancy, initiating pregnancy, terminating pregnancy, maintaining pregnancy, and delivering as well as any other non-womb-related endeavors -- because i see this as part of protecting individuals' bodies from the state and from the majority; and like "they" want the government to interfere with those decisions so that i will make the ones acceptable to "them", because they perceive the autonomy of the individual as less important than the majority's prerogative to regulate behavior according to their personal beliefs. obviously you ask one of them and you'll hear me demonized for being so selfish that i want to be able to "deliver [my] living baby, puncture its skull with scissors and suck out its brains" in between leaving my castrating-bitch corner office at 5 and making it to my pedicure at 6 (ah, the myth of "on demand"), or then again perhaps for dragging vulnerable women into abortion clinics to steal their babies from their wombs because i (as a member of "the abortion industry", because no one can support it who isn't part of "teh industryz") personally profit from doing so. at a certain point "listening" is not the problem; if you've heard each other and identified that your central goals apparently conflict, then what?


ok, that's all for that i guess. i've had a big old essay brewing on this stuff, but i will probably never post it because it's grown unwieldy and unfinishable.

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Comments:
You have indeed posted on something which is off-late a matter of major concern. Abortion, I personally feel it should be avoided coz besides everything else it is about the human right of an unborn child. All I'd say is that it's always better to be safe than sorry so if one is cautious, there can be no question of abortion whatsoever.
Do drop by my blog for some real fun posts.
 
don't go to "gerry"'s blog-its a) offensive to the senses (this is a purely aesthetic criticism--i couldnt force myself to stay long enough to read any of the "content" (mostly ads for ecards, as far as i could tell)) and b) tries to install spyware, cleverly disguised as anti-spyware, on your computer. also its one of those annoying sites that doesnt let you go back. just fyi. thanks
 

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