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vixnix the triumphant

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bioethics - a few very rough thoughts on abortion [Mar. 14th, 2007|07:23 pm]
vixnix the triumphant
We went through the obligations owed to fetuses by pregnant women last week. This week: surrogacy. After reading Finnis and Tooley's extreme views (pro-life and extremely pro-choice (abortions always morally permissable - even at 40 weeks) accordingly), it was nice to read a couple of articles written by women - Judith Jarvis Thomson and Laura Purdy, if you're interested. I don't think either article is what I would call completely inspired, but women have a way of approaching abortion with a broader picture in focus. It's easy to concentrate on the issue of whether or not the fetus is a person, and whether, therefore, it is morally permissable to harm it/kill it. But as Jarvis Thomson and Purdy point out, there is another being involved in the equation of abortion - the woman, who is, by most standards, definitely a person.

Having had three pregnancies myself, with three different outcomes (miscarriage at 10 weeks; abortion at 10 weeks; live birth), I can say quite confidently that my own personal advice to most pregnant women and young women, would be to have the baby, if they were physically able to carry it to term (this is an issue of contention for most 12 year old rape victims, obviously), and to raise it themselves, if they had the necessary support (and I stress here, that support is necessary, by any definition of that word). But I am glad to live in a society, where such intuitive reasoning is not legally binding on anybody. My being pro-choice does not make me pro-abortion. Having had one myself, I can say first-hand, that for a perceptive person of average reasoning ability, abortion is an horrific solution to what is sometimes the problem of pregnancy. And yes, sometimes I do believe it is a problem. It was a problem for Pete and me when we found out we were expecting, two weeks after having met, and after having used the morning after pill. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had decided differently. If I had seen then what I saw later on that same year at Maxim's 7 week date confirmation scan - the heartbeat of a live fetus inside me - the vegan in me would have responded quite differently. But I am thankful to live in a society where moral wrongdoing is not always illegal (another such example is adultery). I am thankful that the fate of what was happening to my own body lay in my own hands and nobody else's.

The real problem isn't abortion. The need for abortion to be legal, in my opinion, points to a bigger problem - that women, and young women in particular, don't value themselves and their remarkable bodies like they should. I don't know who said it, but it was some famous feminist, and I can't remember the exact words now, but it was something like oh, beautiful silly, silly girls, don't you know how valuable you are? Don't you feel valuable enough, just to say no?

Human beings in general don't value themselves enough. Blame their parents or blame their schools, or blame capitalism, or paternalism. Blame patriarchy or feminism. But don't make the resulting unexpected pregnancies the sole responsibility of the person carrying the fetus and then tell them they can't choose for themselves, the best path of action. If they choose to carry to term, and raise a live infant by themselves or with varying degree of support, that is awesome - it will be the hardest, most valuable thing they will ever do. But if they choose to terminate a pregnancy, quash a tiny, beating heart and then have to live with their decision for the rest of their lives, then let it serve as a reminder, not that she shouldn't have had choices, but that she shouldn't have needed to make that choice, and that the fact that she did, reflects very poorly indeed on the sort of society we have built for ourselves and sustained through both action and inaction.

[User Picture]From: roanna
2007-03-14 09:12 pm (UTC)
Hear, hear!
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[User Picture]From: vixnix
2007-03-15 08:09 am (UTC)
Hey thanks! :D
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From: graceless_gh
2007-03-14 10:15 pm (UTC)
I do think it's odd (and pro-life propaganda) that pro-choice seems increasingly to mean that you're immediately saying everyone should have abortions, all the time. A lot of people seem to be ignorant of the basic fact that it says 'choice'...

Surrogacy is an interesting thing - I don't particually want children so the idea of carrying them for someone else is just as abhorrant to me. Although, there are women in the world who enjoy being pregnant - and are alturistic enough to be able to give away the child at the end of it.

I wonder though just how much like adoption surrogacy is, and how the bonding works (or doesn't).
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[User Picture]From: vixnix
2007-03-15 08:20 am (UTC)
Yeah, it's irritating isn't it, about being pro-choice.

I had the surrogacy class today, it was interesting. I would think surrogacy is very similar to adoption in cases where the surrogate mother is the biological mother, but pretty different in the case where she is carrying a fetus that isn't her own (through IVF). Purdy's article on surrogacy made an excellent point I thought, that we should be weary of casting all women in the same light - using what is basically the premise of biological determinism. I do truly believe, after my birth experience, that a woman is perfectly capable of birthing a child and thinking "Good grief, I'm so glad that's over, and I don't have to spend the next two years of my life feeding it and wiping its ass." heh.

I left the class thinking that surrogacy is a very practicable thing, but that a lot of contracts operating in the world of commercial surrogacy are pretty unethical, in that they don't allow women to change their minds. I think it's wrong to force a biological mother of a child to relinquish that child just because she signed a contract (which I think is the way it goes in some states in the U.S., which doesn't surprise me at all given their dogged faith in free market principles like the freedom and sanctity of contracts)- I think it would have long term effects on both mother and child that would be worse than anything the biological father and his partner would experience, in terms of loss. That's my instinct - which I'm sure will be proved completely incorrect if I do a little research on families where surrogacy was involved - just to spite me. ;)
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