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Viability

January 22, 2022 | 705 words | Politics, Philosophy, Religion

With a new conservative majority resulting from three recent Trump appointees, the Supreme Court is said to be on the verge of overturning Roe v. Wade later this spring or early this summer.  For pro-choice advocates such a reversal would represent a serious blow to a woman’s bodily autonomy.

Letting women make decisions for their own reproductive health and wellbeing is a powerful argument, one that surely resonates with every rugged individualist who is committed to our founding principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Everything makes sense, until one stops to consider what is meant by the term “reproductive health” in this context.  Terminating an unwanted pregnancy sounds very clinical, but such phrasing cleverly sidesteps a messy detail:  what’s being terminated is a human life.  The spoonful of sugar that helps this harsh medicine go down is the concept of ‘viability outside the womb’ we are hearing bandied about.

There is a lot of science being invoked to support this idea.  And far be it from me to doubt the experts.  But I can’t get past a simple question:  What is it that a pregnant woman carries in her womb, an eggplant?  I mean, either it’s a human being, or it’s not.  Debating viability outside the womb to determine the “humanness” of a human fetus strikes me as a rather disingenuous dodge.

 

The underlying problem that abortion seeks to address, but is anathema in this enlightened age, is our radical redefinition of the meaning and purpose of human sexuality.  In the intellectual tradition to which I subscribe, what is referred to as the marital act has two aspects: unitive and procreative.  It’s supposed to help bond two people together for the long haul, enriching both by sharing life’s joys and weathering life’s sorrows.  And it naturally results in the begetting of children.

Which is not to say every act of intercourse need result in pregnancy.  There are ways to regulate the female reproductive cycle without resorting to potentially harmful chemicals.  And requires the active cooperation of the male partner.  Though I will not attempt to get into that discussion here.

 I realize there can be such a thing as an unwanted pregnancy, and that there have always been abortions.  I am also not deaf or blind to the observation “if men could get pregnant, we would have had legal abortion a long time ago.”  

But maybe sexual intercourse should be elevated above its current status as a purely recreational activity, to be enjoyed upon demand by consenting adults (and now, adolescents) without regard for inconvenient complications.  Maybe this dumbing-down of sex to its purely elemental physical appeal is a little bit of a trap that’s been set for women, by agent provocateurs peddling sexual revolution and so-called women’s liberation.  With the average man being only too happy to go along for the ride.

Making decisions about reproductive health should probably start before one is pregnant, rather than after the fact.  Since getting pregnant is not an air-borne disease that befalls the innocent and unsuspecting.  It’s pretty much the natural result of having sexual intercourse, right?

As for tending to the plight of women who find themselves in a dire circumstance, I would have more sympathy for the stated mission of the Guttmacher Institute if it didn’t make so much money, and receive so much federal funding, for handing out morning after pills and performing elective abortions.  Reproductive health and wellbeing, indeed…

 

While I agree with those who view the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 as an act of unprecedented judicial overreach, I am also on record as saying reversing it now in one fell swoop is not a particularly good idea.  In this angry political climate where we are all ready to tar and feather any opponent, such a high-handed maneuver will result in nothing less than civil war.

It may deeply disturb my pro-life friends to hear me say this, but that popular pro-choice slogan makes a very good point:  If you don’t like abortion, don’t have one.  Instead of attacking the tip of the iceberg, advocates for life should start addressing the root causes of this plaque.  Many of which can be located in our heralded Founding.

Robert J. Cavanaugh, Jr

January 22, 2022

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