Perhaps it is my analytical mind, a beneficial side-effect of a career in the IT industry, but for me the question of abortion has a clear and logical answer. It should be legal in all circumstances to all persons of adult age, or to minors in crisis circumstances, once an agreed set of regulations have been implemented (a twenty week cut-off point seems reasonable to me but I have no fixed opinion on it; in any case the vast majority of procedures occur within fourteen weeks). However the illogical attitudes which surround the abortion debate can be seen in the mixed results from today’s Irish Times poll on the subject. The survey shows voting majorities in favour of legalising the termination of fetuses in cases of rape, incest or where there are health risks to the mother, including self-harm. However there are significant numbers in opposition to legalising the medical procedure in those far more numerous and usual circumstances where the woman is unable to cope with a child because of her age or circumstances (or simply because she doesn’t want to be a parent in the first place, a common situation the pollsters seem to have overlooked in favour of presenting women as infantile individuals lacking intelligent free will of their own).
The rank hypocrisy of people’s views on the issue of abortion, of how they mentally parse the questions around it, absolutely fucking infuriates me. Because of such double-thinking we have a bizarre situation where people judge it appropriate to “kill unborn babies” if they were conceived through rape but not through drunken one-night stands. It leads to a position where many believe that it is wrong to force a person in poor health to give birth but quite justified if she’s in poverty. Of course, some women – and men – simply don’t want to have children, whether in the moment or as a life-choice, and by accident find themselves in that situation. Who are we as strangers unaffected by their decisions to dictate how they should or should not behave in those circumstances?
I am a single male citizen with no children and no likelihood of having any. Should I, for the well-being of society as whole, be forced to donate my seed to some national fertility bank to ensure a continuous supply of future generations of tax-payers? Should my reproductive rights be up for debate by others in pursuit of some perceived common good? Do my testes belong to me or does the State have the right to declare constitutional authority over their reproductive functions? If that sounds exaggerated then why do some individuals demand collective control of the reproductive rights of our female citizens? Why should we be allowed a prurient interest – or investment – in their sexual behaviour, their fertility, their wombs? Why have we permitted the religious extreme, or those they influence, to enact a daily dramatisation of The Handmaid’s Tale in our pharmacies, clinics and hospitals?
This whole debate about abortion and degrees of abortion is madness. If we accept that abortion is acceptable in some reasonable circumstances then it is acceptable in all other reasonable circumstances. The same criteria applies to fetuses, at whatever stages of early gestation. How does the general public decide that the termination of one fetus is acceptable but the termination of another is not?
This one was conceived through incest? Kill it!
This one was conceived through a lack of contraceptive care? Birth it!
At least with anti-abortion or “pro-life” activists there is a basic and cohesive logic to their arguments, a principled belief that life begins at conception and is inviolate thereafter (unless you are an American subscriber to that opinion, in which case you may also hold the entirely contradictory view that adult transgressors may be “terminated” for certain capital offences). I can respect the uncompromising stand made against abortion by the people of (misguided) faith or ethics. What I detest is the duplicitous fudge which so often counters it.
Either you are pro-choice or pro-life. You cannot be both.