Last week, 70,000 people marched in Dublin as part of the “Rally for Life”, a pro-life march in support of keeping the Eight Amendment, which prohibits abortion in Ireland. That, along with the recent news that a young girl was falsely detained in a psychiatric unit while under the impression that she was being transferred for a termination at the end of last year, and the topic of abortion has been at the forefront of people’s minds even more so than usual.
Let me begin by saying that I realise that I’m a guy. I don’t agree with the whole “no uterus, no opinion” mantra. Abortion should be the woman’s choice, but it is something that everyone should be able to talk about and express their opinions on.
I also realise that some men are very insensitive to the fact that women are the ones who have to go through the pregnancy, and this can make some of their arguments against abortion feel quite biased and disrespectful.
However, as much as many pro-choicers like to believe, there is not some male conspiracy to keep women from having abortions. According to research from Amnesty International, men and women in Ireland have near identical views on abortion.
Abortion is a controversial topic. Let’s just get it out there. It’s a difficult thing to talk about – to some people, it’s literally murder. It’s been a topic I’ve wanted to talk about for a while, but have delayed in part because I know that I’m going to piss off a few people – friends, family, pro-life and pro-choice. So let’s get started.
So what is abortion? Abortion is “the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks.”
Personally, I am in favour of people having the choice, up to a certain point. I don’t know exactly what stage, but perhaps not after the second trimester (27 weeks of pregnancy). At that time, the fetus is reasonably developed – dreaming, reacting to the mother’s voice. In my opinion, six months should be more than enough time to make the decision and terminate the pregnancy. This view may change in the future, however.
When does life begin?
One of the issues people grapple with when it comes to abortion, is at what stage does life begin?
Some people believe the fetus is alive at the moment of conception. I’m trying to think of an intellectual argument for this but….no. At the moment of conception, the “child” is not even a fetus. It’s just a bundle of cells with genetic makeup included. A worm has more claim to life than that. The bundle of cells has no brain, no memories, no self-awareness.
Others believe it’s when the fetus has a heartbeat. The embryo has a heartbeat at around 6 weeks, but again, this isn’t a claim to life. The embryo isn’t even called a fetus until much later. Its brain hasn’t developed, and even when the fetus begins to respond to stimuli, its brain still hasn’t fully developed. Plants respond to stimuli, too. The embryo is much less alive than animals which we eat regularly, yet we have little dilemma killing them. Which brings me to my next point.
The Human Complex
Something I’ve realised from seeing arguments from pro-life people, and from talking to people with those beliefs, is that most of their views are based around the idea that human life is somehow sacred. Now, to be clear, I’ve heard both religious and devoutly non-religious people with these views, so I’m not singling out religion.
The first argument is, obviously, that human life is sacred because God says that human life is sacred and that abortion is murder and that killing babies is beyond evil.
Now, assuming God is real, my response is: God doesn’t care about babies. That great flood? With Noah and the Ark? Drowned everyone on the planet except for one family because he fucked up and wanted to start from scratch? Or what about that time when he killed every first-born in Egypt, because he hardened the Pharaoh’s heart so that he wouldn’t release his slaves?
And as for God’s views on abortion, in Numbers, God gives us his own specially approved abortion™ for cheating wives. So the religious argument doesn’t really have much to stand on except “it’s ok when God does it”.
Besides, Ireland is not a “Catholic country”, and saying so is a slap in the face to Irish people of different/no religion. We should not have to abide by someone else’s religious beliefs.
Now, some non-religious people also hold the belief that humans are somehow sacred or superior. To them, destroying a bundle of cells is, even if not murder, a bad thing to do. Why? Because it’s human.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, the majority of us have little to no problem with the millions of animals that are killed every year for our meat. Those animals had memories, friends, personalities. They had lives. We’re fine with ending actual lives, but getting rid of an undeveloped fetus is a problem, even if it has no brain activity, because it came from a human, and humans are much more important than animals.
I’m not gonna try and say that human life isn’t more valuable, but the belief that human cells are more important than an animal’s life is just obnoxious.
Which “life” is more important?
There are two trains of thought when someone is opposed to abortion: either you believe that the fetus is a living thing, or you don’t but feel that an abortion would rob it of its potential life it could have had.
I want to make something clear, which a lot of pro-choicers seem to forget – these are both noble reasons. Pro-life people are not evil (for the most part). Some pro-lifers genuinely feel that abortion is murder. If they think abortion is murder, wouldn’t it be more worrying if they supported it?
So, first train of thought. You have a fetus, and the woman carrying it. The woman has friends, family, memories, a personality, a sense of humour, a favourite movie, book, Game of Thrones character, hopes, dreams – and she does not want this baby. Maybe she’s too young, or too poor, or just doesn’t want kids. Which is more important – her life, or the life of the fetus? The fetus has no friends, no hopes, no memories. Not even a developed brain.
Second train of thought. Again, a fetus and the woman carrying it. You have this woman, with this whole life. You have the fetus, with the potential life. It might help to imagine the woman as someone you know. You’re friends with this girl – she’s funny, pretty, she has friends, a sense of humour. She’s a really nice person.
People like to say “Oh well the fetus could be the one to cure cancer”. They could, sure. They could also be the next Hitler. I don’t know about you but I’m gonna prioritise a woman I know over a fetus that could potentially become a complete bastard.
And what about the woman? Maybe a woman would have already cured cancer, but had to sacrifice her career for a child she was forced to have.
At what stage is it preventing a potential life, anyway? Every time someone uses contraception, isn’t that preventing a potential life? If you refuse to sleep with someone, isn’t that preventing a potential life? How many potential lives do teenage boys flush down the toilet every week? A human’s purpose is not to create another person. It used to be, but we’ve evolved, and we create our own purpose now.
Consequences of refused abortions
Let’s say the woman is refused an abortion, as is currently the case with women in Ireland. Here are a list of possibilities:
- The woman will travel to another country to have an abortion, making an already stressful and possibly traumatic experience even more difficult and expensive as well.
- The woman will try to terminate the pregnancy themselves. This is extremely dangerous, but the woman is desperate.
- The woman will commit suicide.
- The woman will have the child and resent it for its entire life.
- The woman will have the child, be an unfit mother, and have the child taken away.
- The woman will have the child, be too poor to look after it, and have it taken away.
- The woman will have the child and put it up for adoption.
- The woman will have the child and love it, and love being a mother.
Most of these outcomes are bad both for the mother and for the child. Abortion is wanted for a reason. Women who get abortions are not confused, they won’t use it as an alternative to contraception, they’re not careless or heartless. The people who decide to have an abortion have thought about it very hard. It’s not an easy decision to make, and it’s already a hard enough thing to do without our country’s archaic laws making it even worse.
If you truly care about women and the child, you will be in support of allowing abortions to those who need it. The issue does not end after the child is born. The women and children don’t disappear, and we need to remember that when thinking about abortion.
Thanks for reading.
Until next time,
Sean (With a Fada)