Symbiosis and “abortion rights”

Don’t get me wrong, South Dakota scares me. I just find the logic in this essay.. a little specious.

Fetuses are whole and separate. Therefore, being a law-abiding citizen, you have no reason to believe that separation will cause fetal death. Therefore, under the law’s terms, separation is not abortion.

There are a lot of symbiotic species that are considered whole, separate, unique living beings, even though they can’t survive without their counterpart species – clownfish and sea anenomes, for instance. This is where I have issues with the trend – since Roe v. Wade – of defining abortion in biomedical terms; because at it’s crux, it’s not a biomedical distinction, it’s a social one.

I would be defined as pro-choice*, but for me the important word there is “choice”, and it’s not just about what I may or may not do should I find myself unexpectedly pregnant. I don’t think our legal code should have any say in how I choose to care for (or not care for) my body. That decision should be mine, hopefully in consultation with qualified medical professionals. And it doesn’t stop just with the question of whether or not I would abort an unwanted pregnancy – should I choose to end my own life, for instance if I were diagnosed with a terminal disease and the quality of my life had deteriorated to the point of pure misery, I think that should be my choice, too. By the same token, unless I’m harming someone else, the decision to use narcotics should also be my choice (if I did, though, and harmed someone else, that harm should be punished appropriately, and the punishment neither increased nor decreased by the presence of narcotics). In the end, what I do with the life I have is up to me; it’s my *choice*.

For me, then, abortion isn’t a legal issue; there’s no reason the legislatures or courts should be involved. I know why they are – because it’s a fuzzy line when you start to say that “as long as you’re not harming someone else, you’re free to make your own decisions” and we as a society haven’t been able to come to consensus on when someone is.. well.. someone. And as soon as we started trying to use biomedical terms to define when someone is a someone, we started the chain reaction the has led this issue to devolve to where we are – where we’re now embroiled in a national debate to try to define – in biomedical terms – when life is really life. And in the process, we’re creating all kinds of policies and laws that are harmful in both intended and unintended ways (or maybe direct and indirect ways?).

But this distinction – when someone becomes someone – can’t be made biomedically. You can’t set the criteria on independence of survival – see the above regarding symbiotic species – any more than you can set it on organ function. The distinction is ethical and moral, and until we as a society recognize that and deal with it as such – instead of by trying to hide it underneath biomedical justifications that serve only to impede the ability of our healthcare providers to focus on actually caring for our *health* – we will continue to cloud the issue. Until we recognize that we are, at base, a society based on a specific and identifiable moral code – one we’re so very proud of denying exists but is intertwined in everything on which our country is built – this fight will never end. Like a pendulum, it will swing between two extremes ad infinitum.

I don’t have the answer – which shouldn’t surprise anyone. As with so many other things, I’m simply tired of the apparently intentional misdirection and unending energy wasted because we, as a people, can’t reconcile our identity crises.

* We have that whole label issue here again, though.. *smile*


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