My computer crashed last week. The mother just hopped its board. It was an awful week enlivened at times by hysteria. I was going to write about it but it’s still too close. Here’s a more cheerful topic: abortion. This is an extension of my last post about the birth control and abortion laws that are eliciting such funny comments on Facebook. It’s mostly just an old man in Rome who truly has a(mis-guided) problem with birth control. But for some unfathomable reason, the instigators of what is being called the war on women, are trying to undermine both legal abortion and a way to circumvent the need for abortions, that is, birth control. It suggests how mindless the whole business is.
The birth control/ abortion controversy does not belong anywhere near politics but since it’s there, here’s the way it is being used: One contingency has decided to use their arbitrary stance on abortion to gain votes from people who actually care about the process of pregnancy and birth. While the so called pro-life movement has become a tool of the political right, it could just as easily have been a tool of the left because it’s consistent with left-ish views on capital punishment and wars. The pro-choice stance could have easily fit into the political right’s notions of individual freedoms and rights. But it went the other way and is used quite cynically on both sides. People who care about the dilemma are being used by people who care about themselves.
The current permutation in the war is a disagreement about when Life actually begins. We used to think life began when we were born. Then it was in the 3rd trimester of a pregnancy. More recently the case is trying to be made that life begins at conception. But that’s already passé. In Delaware a city council passed a resolution to urge Congress to pass laws that grant personhood to eggs and sperms. Or egg-persons and sperm- persons. So now life begins at ovulation and ejaculation. I swear this is not a bit from Saturday Night Live.
Since 1972 abortions have been legal in this country. Pro-Choice has stood for “A Woman’s Right to Choose!” Pro-Life has been squirming to come up with new and better ways to make abortion be accepted as murder. We are given only two choices just like we are given two choices in the Monkey trials: evolution or creation, vote for one. And like a bunch of monkeys we make a choice about something that is too complex to be reduced to a fundamental choice. Our minds need to be permeated with the complexity of the dilemma. That’s not going to happen as long as politicians are running the war.
The officers in the abortion wars really don’t care what happens one way or another. They are after something else. Power. Attention. The reassurance they have the Truth and therefore aren’t going to hell or they aren’t going to catch it when their father gets home. Something like that. Whatever will ease their terror.
Reflective people –and to be fair, there are those in Congress who are—grapple with the complexity of questions about life, birth, birth control, abortions, women as Persons, men as responsible fathers, over-population. The public fight is too simplistic to be anything but problematic. It’s followed the route of addiction. First there was the dependence on one’s chosen belief. Then the fight between the polar opposites became the problem itself. This country needs a conversation that goes places the public fight has never gotten close to.
Having said that, I understand why it’s useful to have a legal definition of when life begins. I believe that governments are structures to address the physical needs of human beings currently walking around on the earth and government needs to give individual consciences room to breathe. Congress trampling all over the mystery of life with its big clown feet would be comical if it weren’t so frightening.
Life itself is a question that philosophers, poets, theologians, and mystics have been musing over for centuries. Pardon me for pointing this out, but I don’t believe your average politician has the smarts or the humility to join this company. Reason enough for keeping the question of when life begins out of their jurisdiction.