July 19, 2008

If It's Not Wrong, Why Must It Be rare?

Now that Biscuit has bashed Wente, it reminds me that I have a bone to pick with that weird second-waver(?) over at the Globe too. On July 3rd, Ms. Wente published an article defending Dr. Henry Morgentaler as a recipient of The Order of Canada. In the first paragraph of her article, Ms. Wente states of the doctor, "He fought to make this country a better place for women, and he succeeded." So far, so good. I thought, maybe this time, Wente's making sense. I, however, should not have been so hopeful. The title of the article is "It should be safe and fair, but it should also be rare."

Tacky rhyming aside (who rhymes when talking about abortion in a serious piece that isn't meant to be ironic or satirical? This is NOT a child's nursery rhyme, this is reproductive rights!"), Ms. Wente's article really offended me. She goes on to expound upon how abortion should be rare. It should be a last resort and in Canada, we've failed at that. We have too many abortions, she argues. She also asserts that this is because too many people are using abortion instead of contraception, not simply to deal with accidental pregnancies that happen in spite of contraception (those gals who just get unlucky would be the "good patients" in Wente's world). Wente moans:

"Although Canada's abortion rate is slowly coming down, it remains far higher than in Western Europe. What gives? You can't put all the blame on lack of access to sex education or birth control, which are readily available almost everywhere. Instead, it seems plain that a lot of women are using abortion as a substitute for birth control."

Ms. Wente has no stats to back up this assertion that we're using abortion as a birth control "substitute," nor does she even give us stats to show HOW much higher abortion rates are here than in Western Europe. But I have many possible explanations other than our women just don't care too much about aborting fetuses and have a casual attitude towards abortion because of this (an attitude I will also defend later, because, really, why should you care?). Perhaps our higher abortion rate is because in Western Europe (a region she refers to vaguely without given us a real geographical definition of what to which she is referring), abortion is not always super available. Is she including Ireland, where you can't get one? That would keep the average down. Is she including Italy, where the Vatican is located and the vast majority of people are Catholic (Catholic communities often tend to have lower rates of abortion because of a religious stand against it). Is she including France, where they give you money to have children because they are DESPERATE to increase their birth rate, thus making it financially far easier, and even advantageous, for many people to have kids? So, yeah, even if our abortion rate is higher (again, how much higher and what do you think "Western Europe" even IS, Wente? Which countries. Give me names, so I can give you real refutations!), there are several possible reasons other than we just like abortion better.

Here's where my post gets controversial, however. I feel like it's it's not necessarily true that Canadian women use abortion in lieu of birth control that often (I really do feel like our rate of abortion is simply higher, because for the reasons outlined above, accidental pregnancies might be LESS likely to result in abortions in parts of Western Europe), but even if we're just cooler with abortion here, that's okay. If it's morally permissable to abort a fetus you conceived while on the pill, trying very hard NOT to get pregnant, then it's morally permissable to abort one when you weren't using anything, banking on an abortion just in case. Why? Because in both cases, the fetus produced is the same. It's not like the zygote that was conceived on the pill is evil and has it coming! If that zygote has no moral value and is not yet a human being, then neither is the baby of the woman who is NOT on the pill.

Abortion is either ALWAYS wrong or ALWAYS right. What's with this situational argument so many people use? Why is it to be avoided? If it's morally wrong and harmful, and so it's to be avoided, then it should be illegal! It's only wrong if it's not just my body, but a "baby's" too, and if the baby is a real thing that needs to be considered, well, then the argument that abortion is okay in moderation doesn't hold. So, if it's wrong for the girl who said no to the condom to get an abortion, why is it okay to kill some babies sometimes? We would never say, for example, it's okay to kill some innocent people who did nothng to provoke you sometimes, like when you went to therapy to try to quell the impulse to kill them, but despite your best efforts, you just couldn't succeed at it....

I don't believe fetuses are "babies". For the first four months of gestation, they do not even have independent physical feeling (ie. they can't even feel pain). They are not able to survive outside the maternal body for at least 25 weeks, and so they are part of my body, and what I do with my body is my choice. It doesn't matter if I skipped my pill or not. There's no such thing as a righteous, understandable abortion and a wrong abortion. Who cares how often abortion happens? Whether it's morally right or not has nothing to do with whether it's rare....The idea that it should be rare is based on a confusing, silly, and morally inconsistent argument that someone who is paid to write opinion pieces for The Globe and Mail should be smart enough not to make....

Here are some links to Wente's article and some stats and figures about abortion and child-bearing in "Western" Europe:





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