Is Abortion Worth Supporting in the Brave New World?
This week, many will advocate a woman's "right to choose." I won't be among them anymore.
As it is to many, abortion was to me a political leather jacket: part of a progressive identity, with a brutal dimension that was best left ignored. I rationalized that it was better for a baby not to be born than live in an unhappy setting. Of course, this view disregards prospects of parental redemption or adoption and that, using perceptions of others' unhappiness as a standard, one could justify killing scores of millions of Americans. Besides, a fetus was so...small.
In the past decade, three things have changed my view about abortion.
First, I have known several women who have had miscarriages. Their grief was obvious. Given their profound sadness, I concluded that something more than "tissue" had been lost. This grief couldn't just be about defeated expectation. If we're a society in which other beings are only valuable insofar as they fulfill our wishes, we are in deep trouble. Further, in deciding whether or not even early embryos have human identities, one might consider how and why individuals and, now-- given compulsory insurance coverage for infertility, society—pays tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to implant not just any embryos, but only those with the characteristics they hold dear.
Second, in the past few years, I have learned that abortion is the
principal tool in contemporary eugenics, Combining genetic screening and abortion, we are are contemporarily rendering Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal," ending disability by purging the defective. What is the emotional impact on all those who realize they are here only because they essentially passed a quality control inspector's standards? Who can believe in their parents' unconditional love?
Third, choice-based reproductive technology will irretrievably divide society. With abortion, we've crossed the reproductive Rubicon. If one can use abortion in order to avert the inconvenience of child-bearing, why can't (at least the rich or insured) one buy a genius's sperm or a model's eggs or make whatever eugenic changes they want to their "own" embryos? What kind of relations will we have with each other in a world where people are manufactured?
A fractured society seems an excessive price to pay for unlimited