So, let’s talk about abortion.
No matter where you personally stand on this potentially heated topic, there may be points ahead that you agree with, and others that could incite negative emotions.
I invite you to nod your head through the good stuff, breathe your way through the bad stuff, and then contribute to the discourse with your own thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. I just ask that you be as respectful as possible to your fellow commentators, no matter how far apart your views may seem.
That said, here we go.
A few days ago I came across some protesters, huddled up at a corner near a shopping center. Their signs displayed colored high definition close-up shots of fetuses along with messages like, “Jesus died so your baby can live,” along with propaganda against Planned Parenthood.
What would your default reaction be to that scene? Disgust? Outrage? Apathy? Indifference?
I’ve run the gamut of those reactions in the past, but a few days ago my response was mere curiosity.
What leads to people gathering together to reinforce a shared cause that they believe in?
It all starts with each individual, having a passionate belief about something that not everyone agrees with. The people who do not agree often argue vehemently and mercilessly. Perhaps most importantly, the other side simply does not listen. So, the individual can either surrender and shy from adversity, or pick up a bullhorn and take the cause to the next level.
Reminds me of a KMFDM lyric. “You think that if you speak a little louder than you did before, the point you make might somehow stick around.”
They meet other like minds along the way, and come together, realizing the power of community and the validation of being listened to and acknowledged.
It’s sort of a beautiful process, despite however I may personally feel about the cause itself.
So, how do I feel about the cause? How do I feel about people protesting abortion?
Well, I understand why they do it.
Ethically and philosophically, I personally have qualms with initiating a process that will bring life into this world and then terminating said process.
But let’s be real. Every time a male masturbates, technically he is initiating a process that brings life into this world, essentially wasting hundreds of millions potential candidates for humanity all at once.
Alas, most people don’t seem to value the potentiality of the sperm until it meets the egg. Or until the baby develops to a certain point.
Here’s the thing. The scientific basis for when life actually begins is almost irrelevant to the debate, because the reasons that people defend abortion as a human right are more powerful than scientific and moral rhetoric that can be interpreted with selective ambiguity.
Two highly profound motivators of human beings are pleasure and connection.
Seeking pleasure is wired into us at the most fundamental level, because there’s a reasonably steady correlation between what feels good and what sustains our lives as individuals and as a species (we wouldn’t eat, drink, breathe, and have sex if all of these things were inherently not pleasurable).
Pursuit of connection is another profound driver of human behavior, and sexual relationships are one of the most obvious methods in exploring the oasis of human connectedness.
It is understandable to feel the need to defend pleasure and connection for their own merit, while wanting to bypass the consequences of our actions, especially when those consequences are tied to the immense responsibility of bringing life into this world.
Furthermore, in instances of rape, a woman is forced to endure the burden of carrying a child that was born from some other person’s twisted, ferocious need for pleasure and connection, and at the total and raw expense of her own dignity and autonomy.
It is not my place, or anyone else’s, to say how a woman in that situation should feel, or how she should interpret what has happened to her. If she sees the baby developing within her as a monster, I should understand. If she sees her child as a sweet gift of mercy born out of a terrible darkness, I should understand. No matter what she makes out of what has transpired, I should strive to understand.
And therein lies kicker: We don’t get to determine how other people view and relate to the world. We don’t get to decide other people’s relationship with their own morality, or the process of their own choices.
On that note, you may be wondering if I am OK with people just going out and murdering others for poops and hahas. After all, I don’t get to decide how others view and relate to the world, so why would I have an objection to them doing what works for them?
Here’s where I stand. I don’t condone murder. I don’t condone abortion either. I most likely would not get an abortion (although I can’t say with certainty because I’ve never been a pregnant woman, at least in this lifetime).
My personal stance is that I don’t want to initiate a process that would inevitably result in a human life being born, and then terminate that process.
But here’s the difference between me and someone who identifies as being pro-life:
I accept that not everyone sees things the way I do, and I acknowledge that there are compelling and valid reasons that people would choose to get an abortion.
A common argument is that abortion should be illegal, because adoption is always an option.
Look, that sounds great in theory. And some instances of adoption work out resplendently. I’ve also personally seen instances in which people I’ve cared about wished they’d never been born, than to endure the instability and feelings of abandonment that transpired throughout their lives.
In order to replace abortion with adoption, we’d need to be willing and able to create a system that works efficiently, accurately, quickly, and reliably. We have a long way to go before perfecting that system, but I invite everyone with strong feelings about this to step up and contribute in your own way.
So, look. I’m pro-choice. But that doesn’t mean “pro-death.”
It means I choose life whenever possible.
And I want to empower others to choose for themselves, with no judgment from me no matter what they choose.
Most people in our society can agree that murdering people is wrong.
But we can’t all agree that abortion is murder.
So unless we can reach a consensus, we need to have a system in place that empowers people to make that choice for themselves in the safest, most informed way possible.
Prohibiting, against their own will, that which people believe they have a justified right to, simply doesn’t work.
It’s difficult for me to write this. Because it does hurt my heart, thinking about terminating the process of human life before it’s truly allowed a chance to shine.
But I am not a dictator. I’m just someone who wants to help make a world that works for everyone.
“Sure, everyone but the unborn babies,” some people may interject.
To which I reply: What about war? What about the meat and dairy industries?
People justify war, and the animal flesh that they consume despite the pain, suffering, and death of living beings, human and otherwise, who would all prefer to stay alive.
War is motivated by compelling reasons, like security and conquest.
Eating animals is compelling too, because of matters or taste, habit, and convenience. Plus, a lot of people still honestly believe that we require animal protein for energy (this is a subject for another day).
So, why is the life of a human fetus more valuable than the life of a soldier born in a country across the sea?
What inherently makes a fetus more important than the boundless pain and exploitation that takes place in the meat industry?
I am not undermining the fetus, nor the solider or the cow.
To me, all of these are sacred and worthy of love.
And so are all the human beings who have to make difficult, unpleasant choices for themselves and their families.
Planned Parenthood and the people holding signs outside. Farmers, fighter pilots, abortion doctors, and all the rest.
Everyone is doing the best they can within the limitations of their views, beliefs, and socialization.
We don’t all agree, but we do have to share this place.
So, I choose to let people choose for themselves.
I choose education and innovation over prohibition and judgment.
This is clearly a hugely multi-faceted issue, and we’ll find solutions by pooling our ideas and resources rather than rejecting one another and shutting down the discourse.
I’ll end with a few closing suggestions:
-Popularize alternative contraceptives for men
-Make contraceptives more accessible in general
-Start sexual education (including an emphasis on the importance of consent in all interactions sexual or otherwise) early and frankly
-Develop educational frameworks for identifying, communicating, respecting, and enforcing personal boundaries
-Emphasize education for people of all ages, on healthy ways to experience fulfillment, pleasure, and connection in non-sexual ways
-Listen for the validity and sincerity in other people’s views, even when they seem worlds apart from where you stand personally
Join the peaceful revolution with Andrew L. Hicks
Sign up for free stuff and all the latest about Andrew's books, public appearances, and policies pertaining to HICKS/YOU 2020.
Instantly receive a free copy of The Art of Being Human in the eBook format of your choice (or choose 'em all, whatevs).
Also published on Medium.