The pro choice vs. pro life debate clouds our judgement on what it actually means to make a choice. The implications of making a “choice” go far beyond abortions. All too often choices are presented to us among very limited possibilities, coining the phrase, “it’s not a choice, it’s a lack of options.” Obviously in rape/incest cases, the initial choice to have intercourse was robbed. There are also several medical conditions that inhibit the choice making process. If you set aside those cases, you can begin to analyze what choosing actually means.
Many people confuse the Roe v. Wade case as being a ruling for abortion, when in reality it was a ruling for privacy. As a conservative I should be thrilled that the government cannot interfere with what is in my body, however, that is not the way it worked out. There are two major issues with this ruling. First; it is primarily only applied to abortions. The government can very much regulate what is in your body when it comes to drugs and alcohol. If you are suspected of a crime, the government can subpoena your blood for evidence. This should be seen in direct contrast with the ruling, however it is rarely, if ever, even in the lexicon when said cases are litigated. Some would claim that these are separate issues, and that public safety trumps the right to your own blood. While they are separate issues, the fundamental basis behind your right to privacy extends to both.
The second major issue with the ruling is that it relies completely on our definition of life. If you say life begins at conception, then the child should also have the right for its privacy. If you say life begins at fetal viability, then only then should it be protected by the ruling. When does life begin? It depends on who you ask. If someone at NASA found microbiology on another planet, we would, without a doubt, say we’ve found life. Should microbes be covered under law? Of course not. We never equate cellular life with human life.
We do, however, equate animal life with human life in the eyes of the law. If you inhumanly kill a dog. For example, that is a crime, but go ahead and kill all the spiders you want. As a society, we have agreed that certain life is worth protecting more than others. This is especially true when it comes to children, usually. A fetus cannot survive outside of the womb, but an infant cannot survive without care either. A newborn baby is covered by the full extent of the law, but backtrack just one day prior, and it is not? A fetus at 22 weeks is “life” but a week ago it was a clump of cells?
The rhetoric that is used when dealing with abortion shifts the focus off of the real issue. “Reproductive rights” is often used, but that term invokes empathy if not sympathy for women. Of course women should have a say on their own body, but through discourse it becomes more a “war on women” and less a discussion on the life inside of them. When you have sexual congress, have you not already made your choice?
Birth control methods fail, that is a fact. However, when making the choice to have sex, you have assumed that risk. Sex is a wonderful and joyous thing, but the purpose of sex has always been for reproduction. If you are not ready to reproduce, then you should not be having sex. Recreational sex always carries the risk of pregnancy. If we give mulligans on pregnancy, then why don’t we extend that to other choices we regret. We do not give criminals the option of erasing the consequences after the fact. A murderer does not get a full pardon because they regret their crime. When it comes to crime, it is socially agreed that a criminal made the choice to commit the act. No one is advocating the criminal’s right to choose.
Is pregnancy really a choice? My wife and I have endured two miscarriages before finally having a successful pregnancy (6 months in now). We were not afforded the right to choose, life decided that something was wrong and naturally aborted the pregnancies. There is a natural order to reproduction, unprotected sex does not result in pregnancy 100% of the time. Certain conditions must be present for reproduction to take place. While we do have a say in what some of the variables are, actually becoming pregnant is not a choice. The choice is introducing the variables to the environment.
So where does this leave us? The truth is I don’t know. The majority of unwanted pregnancies could have been prevented with proper education and risk assessment. Abstinence only sexual education is not really education, it is a doctrine. On the other hand we do not want to promote liberal sex for young adults and adolescents. Organizations like Planned Parenthood have many good resources and educational material, however they are usually only used after the fact. If abortion was illegal (and no back alley options) would that alone be enough to prompt responsible sexual behavior? I don’t think so. Think of every abortion activist on both sides. They are all mature adults, not hormone driven adolescents. Ultimately the key to ending abortion is providing easy access to birth control along with good education on it’s use. While this may not be a popular decision, it is the best one we have.