I've bounced this post around a bit. Abortion has been on my mind, not because I know of anyone thinking of one, but because of the silly laws being put in place in the name (publicly or not) of religion.
See, religion WANTS you to see things in black and white. Us vs Them. It makes for a much simpler narrative (if you don't scratch beneath the surface at all.) Good vs Evil. It's a simple to grasp duality. This is right, that's wrong.
Except, of course, that that's not the case. There are infinite shades of grey, nuances to consider in order to make a thoughtful decision. That, however, is not what religion is after. Religion is there to calcify your mind. And divisiveness only helps it fortify itself.
But let's get back to abortion.
The Religious Right has what seems like a simple to understand view. I'm not going to call it "pro-life," because in reality it isn't. The view is this. Abortion is murder. Some will (here come the greys!) put in exceptions for rape and incest. Some of the hardcore will not. And some (most) will give the "Life begins at conception" view. With that, they want to make abortion illegal, or at best (for everyone else) hard to get.
In a soundbite world, this sounds good, I suppose. No murdering babies! But you also need to look at the other positions that often go along with this.
First, they also don't tend to want sex education in school. (It's immoral!) Either leave it in the hands of the parents, or teach abstinence only with abstinence pledges.
Second, they're against birth control in many instances. Including family planning. They often hate clinics like Planned Parenthood, putting up their own versions that are little more than guilt-shops. They certainly don't want birth control - condoms, the pill, anything - easily handed out.
Now, I say all this in context of "the religious right." And I mean this as the fundamentalist block. Religious *people* are going to have stances all over the map on this. I just want to make it clear that, yes, I understand this.
Because I condemn the view, held in the name of "morality," as decidedly immoral. There are recent cases of women *losing their lives* over being denied an abortion - even of a non-viable fetus, even of a DEAD fetus going septic - in the past few years. And abstinance-only education has proven itself to be the worst thing you can do - Texas, for instance, one of the bastions of this sort of thinking, has the highest *repeat* teen pregnancy rate in the country. Guess what sort of stuff they've been pushing.
Some absolutely insane individuals - and yes, I can't help but question their sanity - would even hold a woman responsible, essentially for murder, for a *natural,* as in spontaneous, abortion. This would put every woman who's ever been pregnant in jail. Spontaneous abortions happen all the time. Sometimes the woman isn't even aware - she might be a little late, but picks up not long after.
Over on Yahoo Answers, a question about atheists and abortion came up, and I'm going to be repeating much of my answer, just to show how grey things can be, and how a personal view can still be held even though it may, on its face, seem to contradict a legal want.
*Personally,* if someone I knew were considering an abortion, my first question would be "why." I would, unless they had very good reason, try to talk them out of it (ignoring rape, non viable fetus, etc.) As an atheist, I believe this life is the ONLY life we have. We have to make the best of it, make the world as good as we can for everyone, help each other out and be good caretakers of the only world we have - and the only world we're 100% sure harbors complex life in the universe. (Yes, mathematically, it's very likely others do. But Earth is the only one we can point at, because we're here.) Life is precious.
However, on the question of its legality? I believe abortion should be a private decision, between a woman and her doctor. One with sound medical council. If she wants to bring her family or clergy into it, it should be her choice. There should be no government-mandated, medically unneeded procedures (like the invasive ultrasounds.) There should be no punishments, such as forbidding emergency care at a normal hospital if something goes wrong, or insurance shenanigans. It should simply be freely, legally available.
Some would have you believe women would just go in and use it as quick after-the-fact birth control - where, in reality, it's a heart-wrenching, hardly EASY decision. (Many of these people seem hostile toward women in the first place - after all, women brought sin into the world thanks to Eve, right? Just read the bible's attitude toward women and their attitudes become very easy to understand.)
But along with its availability come other steps.
Sex education MUST be taught. You cannot rely on parents to teach it! I'm sure some would, and do a wonderful job of presenting actual facts. Others won't - I'm sorry, but not all parents are good parents. And not all good parents are good at everything, and can pass on false information. (Such as some of the same things you'll hear in school by kids if you asked what they thought or heard - you can't get/get a girl pregnant your first time, pulling out works fine, etc.) Nor does it cover everything (while vaginal sex might be decreased, they'll try oral or anal... with no idea about safety.) And some parents - such as mine, who I love dearly, and who did a pretty good job with me - won't ever broach the subject for whatever reason. I don't know if they had "the talk" with my brothers or sister, but they never did with me. Possibly because I *did* have sex ed classes in school. I don't know.
But mandated classes can be reviewed and held responsible for what's taught. Kids will get the proper information to know how to protect themselves, what CAN happen and the like. Yes, abstinence is still 100% for not getting (or getting someone) pregnant or (at a higher rate) for getting various diseases, but if that doesn't happen - they need to be informed.
And condoms, the pill and the like need to be made available, discretely and without shame or judgement. How anyone who claims to be "pro life" can be against this - measures to prevent pregnancies in the first place, or to put it more simply, no pregnancy = no abortion - I don't understand, yet so often they *are.* Not to mention condoms can prevent (or, yes, they can fail, so severely reduce) STDs. This is protecting children! (And the poor, who, being human, will have sex - but may not have room in the budget for the pill or condoms or other birth control. And will thus add more mouths to feed, increasing the food stamp rolls, and so forth and so on. Unfortunately, many of these "moral" people have no problem demonizing the poor.)
So, my view is this:
- Personally, I would want to talk someone out of an abortion.
- But, it has to be kept legal, and discrete, for the safety of the woman involved. Other than licensing to make sure the doctor is qualified, there should be no legal or government interference or mandates of testing and the like that are medically unnecessary.
- Sex education must be taught for the health of our youth and population in general, and for knowledge that will reduce pregnancies and disease in the first place.
- Condoms, the pill, and other birth control measures (and clinics) must be discretely available, again for the safety of the population and because, quite frankly, they're cheaper in the long run than the pregnancies they would have prevented.
Isn't that far more comprehensive than just "Abortion is wrong?"
Which set would you actually call thoughtful or moral? Which *actually* addresses the problems?