- By Paul Hughes
It’s been a little bit since I last posted in this blog; I won’t go into detail about why that is because I’m sure that you really aren’t all that curious about it. Anyway, here we go.
I’ve spent a lot of time in my life discussing the topic of abortion with people; in fact, it used to be one of my second-date questions. I didn’t bring it up because I particularly cared about the other person’s viewpoint, nor did I bring it up because I thought I could change anyone’s opinion on the subject (let’s face it—how many of you have ever successfully accomplished that?). No, I brought it up because I always found the discussion thought-provoking, and it was always a pleasure to hear the variety of reasons that someone would cite for feeling the way he or she did. It was always an especial pleasure bringing up the subject in groups of people who, it often turned out, disagreed with one another; any argument someone would make invariably turned out to be generally futile. There is one argument that the pro-choice caucus makes that I find particularly bothersome not because I think it isn’t valid, but because it is one of the most useless arguments to make in the debate regarding abortion.
The argument sounds something like this: “Well, what about in cases when the woman is raped? Shouldn’t she be able to get an abortion then?” The question is always asked with such confidence, as if it is the ultimate bastion against the pro-life camp—a question that is immune to rebuttal. But it really agitates me every time I hear someone bring it up in the discussion. Why? Well, let’s take a moment and look at the debate from the side of the pro-life members. People that are pro-life, from my experience participating in these discussions, invariably (though perhaps there are examples in existence counter to what I’ve seen) feel the way they do because they view the fetus (or the embryo, earlier on) from the very moment it is conceived as alive. Not only alive, but a person—a person with a soul, perhaps, or simply a person who has the right to a chance at life. I cannot emphasize this enough, pro-life members think of the fetus as a person. If we all take a second and, for the sake of argument, accept that as fact, it is obvious why the “rape exception” argument is completely foolish. “Yes, she was raped—which is a terrible, terrible tragedy. But is that tragedy a good excuse to go kill someone?” Again, I’m not saying that this pro-choice argument isn’t valid; I’m simply saying that it is unavailing in any debate with a pro-life individual.
The fact of the matter is that most of the arguments made in the debate are not about to have an effect on anyone (though the rape one does bother me more than most of the others); there is no common ground between the opposing sides. In one situation the embryo/fetus is viewed as a part of the woman’s body, soon to become a person. In the other case, it is viewed as an individual—a person—who has as much of a right to life as you or I. Honestly, I’m not sure there ever will be common ground until the pro-life side can prove the fetus’ personhood—or that it at least has a soul—or the pro-choice side can prove its lack thereof. I don’t think either is possible… though I hope I’m wrong.