The question of abortion is often posed within the context of a woman’s choice. But there is a deeper question that goes beyond biology and beyond gender.
We have to ask ourselves whether we are people of circumstance, carried only by the current of events within our personal history and the collective history of the culture around us or are we individuals who work within the world around us, making decisions at various crossroads, seeking to define ourselves.
There are many people who are much more comfortable with the former than the latter. Many people would much rather feel that they are people of their culture, existing within a river of events beyond their control, their range of motion bound by circumstances. Or, that they are controllers of the culture that, in turn, control the lives of others.
Others feel differently. Others feel that history does not control them; that they control history and that regardless of their circumstances, they can control their immediate sphere without necessarily attempting to control other people.
What this is about is the constant tendency our culture has for criticizing other people’s choices. People do make what I may feel are stupid decisions. No doubt I feel that once you have conceived, you have a gift that you should keep for the rest of your life, that you should attend to, and that you should do your best to teach and cultivate to maturity and beyond.
The basic fact, though, is that I am not responsible for other people’s lives. They are responsible for their own. We have a tendency to want to control others and force others to do our bidding. That is fundamentally evil. With power comes responsibility / accountability. There are many people who want power without accountability. This is another fundamental evil. As a society, it is not our right to impose our will on others. Anyone who claims to be a conservative must believe this basic premise. If not, they have proven they are ‘conservative’ in some non-fundamental way and are play-acting for other purposes other than following a true belief.
If we value the individual as we say we do, we cannot limit a person’s reproductive choices, whether to have many children or no children at all. We cannot, as a society, say we value one versus the other. It is that simple. Moreover, forcing a woman to have a child that is conceived in her womb, whether the act that caused this was by choice or not, assumes that once a child is conceived it belongs to society, rather than the mother. This is incorrect. It belongs to the mother for her to do as she sees fit.
Society has laws to:
1) create the environment for the most people possible to pursue their own personal happiness, whether in groups, outside groups, or somewhere in between
2) mitigate circumstances that would allow one person or a group of people to interfere with the pursuit of happiness of others.
Any laws that exist beyond the above two aims are illigitimate and are simply designed to draw power over others by a few with no other true purpose. Again, this is fundamentally evil.
Laws tend to be focused on the question of ownership. Who owns the fetus? Does the mother ‘own’ the fetus because it occupies a space within her body, which is her ‘property’? The question is rather like asking who owns a faraway star. It is a moot point to discuss. Neither is property. However, as long as a fetus is inside the mother it is still part of the mother, not a separate individual. Forcing her to carry the child is a violation of her personal integrity and her individuality, no matter how we feel about our own personal place in the scheme of things.
Tthere are those who pursue their own happiness only within the context of their ability to control other people’s lives. How do we deal with those people within our ‘pursuit of happiness’ construct? These people can only be happy when interfering with other people’s happiness. Does society allow this or do we simply deny this type of pursuit? What about those who find contentment in being forced into situations beyond their immediate control? Is this allowable?
Are there absolutes? Or is there always a way to take a truism and negate it with bare facts? Is the best we can hope for to follow basic tenets and deal with the outliers as special circumstances? What if most situations are special? Don’t most people want their situation to be treated as special, and not simply the normal case? Can society afford to do this? Can society afford not to?