Saturday, January 29, 2011

Unending Trauma

Mark Kleiman wonders if there isn't an inconsistency in abortion opponents, having defined their opposition to abortion in terms of "protecting the unborn", allowing exclusions for rape.  Unless of course their opposition involves a secret wish to punish women for sex.
The “rape exception” to anti-abortion laws makes either no sense or the wrong kind of sense. If bans on abortion reflect the inalienable human rights of the fertilized egg, then surely those rights can’t be diminished by the conditions of conception. The “except for rape” rule would be justified only if the point of the law is to punish women for having sex. (That is the point, of course, which is why the “pro-life” lobby is strongly anti-contraception and anti-sex education. But it wouldn’t do to say so.)
I think that's true as far as it goes.  Although I think many are simply operating out of a desire for compromise.  This would explain why
the gross (in both senses of the term) injustice of forcing a woman to bear her rapist’s child means that absolute bans on abortion have very little support among the voters. And the right-to-lifers have generally been satisfied with something that, according to the logic of their own position, shouldn’t satisfy them at all.
I think it's all silly.  A newly fertilized egg becomes in many ways a kind of parasite. It begins sending chemical signals into the mother’s bloodstream that alter her physical and mental state. It then latches on to the wall of her uterus, driving out tiny tendrils deep into her flesh and eventually establishing a permanent mainline into her veins.

Life is a devilishly ingenious device. But all this hocus pocus about it being some sort of cosmic entity with a “soul” is really quite silly. We’ve evolved to give meaning to our children and love them. There are plenty of practical and prima fascie reasons for doing so. But there is little reason to ascribe such meaning to unborn children. If you want to love your zygote, by all means. But that’s your trip.

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