Tuesday, September 17, 2013

That's Not Your Body

I've never spoken out about abortion to anyone.  Never gone on record as pro-life or pro-choice.  Never even discussed the topic. Mostly because I realize that after decades of debate I really have nothing to add.  Heck, no one does.  It seemed to me that all the the rational arguments had long ago been made and what was left was nothing but emotional and/or dogmatic slogans.

But apparently my subconscious had been thinking about it, because the other day it abruptly dumped an entire line of reasoning on my conscious mind.  Something that, so far as I know, hasn't been brought up before.

Here is the primary argument in favor of taxpayer-funded, on-demand, unrestricted abortion: “whether or not a pregnant woman aborts her child is her personal choice, as it involves her body, personal health, and future.”

Well, in 2009 Chris Brown used his body to severely beat his girlfriend Rihanna.  Is there anything wrong with that?  They’re his hands- doesn't he have the right to choose what to do with them?  No, of course not, any right to choose what to do with your body ends when you’re harming (especially violently) someone else.  Any abortionist will tell you that Chris Brown beating someone up is certainly not analogous to abortion.  Because abortion is not a woman terminating a child, it’s a woman having a blastocyst removed via elective surgery- no different than a mole or a tumor.  Similarly, it would be no big deal for Chris Brown to use his left hand to beat up his right hand- or his own face.

Okay, so what’s the fundamental difference between Rihanna’s face and Chris Brown’s face? More generally, what is the difference between your body and not your body?  The difference can be found in the nucleus of every cell.  I assert it as an axiom that not your DNA = not your body.  Your tissue may completely surround it, you may provide it with sustenance, but that baby is nonetheless not your body. It’s someone else. And that means it is completely analogous to any other form of violence between two people.

Well, now that we've dealt with “choose what to do with her body,” let’s address “health and future.”

Suppose you and a co-worker are both up for the same promotion which comes with a hefty raise.  This promotion is something that would further anyone’s career.  Get the promotion and your future is assured.  Additionally, suppose you are planning to use the money from the raise to get your deviated septum fixed, something that’s not covered by your HMO.  Getting your septum fixed will cure your snoring (allowing you to get better rest), reduce the number of times you get sinusitis per year, and just overall provide an improvement in your health. So, given that it affects your future and your health, is it morally correct for you to kill your co-worker, thus ensuring you receive the promotion?  If not, why not?  How is this not analogous to killing a baby?  Does morality have an age limit?

After having said all this, I must admit that I don’t give abortion a lot of thought. My town doesn't have a single “clinic,” although we do have a Pregnancy Center where they present women with a range of alternatives to abortion.  For me it’s “out of sight, out of mind” I guess.  But perhaps my detachment has allowed me to see abortion as it really is:  It is not any kind of solution, nor is it merely a moral problem; it’s perhaps better thought of as an engineering problem.

Here’s the thing: There’s really only one kind of woman who even considers an abortion- a pregnant one.  Even among pregnant women only one kind seeks out an abortion- someone who desperately wishes they were not pregnant.  Now abortion might seem like a fine solution for Democrats looking to keep the black and other minority populations down.  But the dirty little secret is that abortions (especially the cheap, assembly-line style ones the Democrats tax us all to pay for) cause scarring to the uterine wall.  Scarring that makes it increasingly difficult for a woman to ever carry a child to term.  So, ironically, the more abortions you have the less you actually need them.  Other than disposing of a child neither the mother nor the Democrats want, abortion is really no good for anybody.

But what if that woman didn't get pregnant in the first place?

Yes, I can hear you all saying “brilliant, Sherlock, you've invented birth control!”  Yeah, yeah, but have you ever stopped to think just how much our current methods of birth control really suck?  It  comes down to a handful of things: There’s condoms, which are uncomfortable for everyone, expensive, leak, and have to be applied at the absolute worst time.  There’s various pills, which increase the risk of stroke, can cause vision problems, and are easy to forget to take.  And then there’s the appliances like a diaphragm or IUD.  Inserting a diaphragm can be thought of as trying to rebuild an engine by reaching through the tailpipe, and it is failure-prone.  The IUD is possibly the best idea of the lot and can be thought of as essentially paper-clipping one’s uterus shut.  Its main drawbacks are that it’s expensive, requires a doctor’s visit, and is ridiculously uncomfortable to have installed (imagine your dentist accessing your teeth through your anus).

I sometimes find it useful to imagine what the end-product solution to an engineering product should look like to solve a particular problem.  In the case of birth control, wouldn't it be nice if we all came with a convenient selector knob that can switch between fertile and infertile?

We live in an age of pacemakers, implanted insulin pumps, mechanical heart valves, cochlear implants, intra-ocular lenses, and increasingly advanced bionics for the thousands of brave troops who have lost limbs fighting terrorism in the Middle East.  Is it really such a leap forward to imagine a remotely controlled valve that can selectively block or allow to pass eggs through the fallopian tube or sperm through the vas deferens?  Wouldn't that really be the best choice we all should have the “right” to: The choice to conceive or not?

At this point I suspect what’s holding us back is not technology but the billion-dollar industry dedicated to manufacturing the terrible choices already on the market.  They will fight tooth-and-nail and bribe the FDA to keep something better off the market.  So not only is this an engineering problem, it’s a political one. One that’s worth fighting, though.  Because with genuinely good birth control we can put an end to abortion once and for all without needing to overturn Roe v. Wade. Without passing any laws.  Without having to endure the wrath of the pro-choicers.  At this point, the engineering solution is the only clear path to winning this battle.

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