Because "pro-life" is not good enough...
The Third Side
striving for a difference that matters
Whenever I am asked whether I am āpro-lifeā or āpro-choiceā, my customary reply of āBoth, of course,ā invariably gives the questioner a momentās pause.
And then, often a little gruffly, I am told this is impossible.
They are mutually exclusive.
One cannot possibly be both.
Perhaps my reply is misleading then, and I need to redefine my wordingā¦
And yet, and call it egotism if you will, but I maintain that my answer is perfectly sound; it is the terms of the debate themselves which truly need to be redefined.
Just as in the simplification of fractions, the word preceding the hyphen is the same on both sides of the equation and so for the sake of simplicity can be eliminated. We are then left with ālifeā and āchoiceā: terms which hardly qualify as antonymous. (Truly, if one is a proponent of āfree willā they can even be more accurately labeled as being synonyms.)
Thus, for the opposing sides in this debate to really be mutually exclusive, they would need to be āpro-lifeā vs. āpro-deathā.
Yet this is ludicrous.
No one- or at least an extremely small minority, is actively āpro-deathā. And those few who may qualify as such are obviously psychopaths whose stance on this issue, as well as any other social issue, is valueless.
An alternate set of antonyms might be āpro-choiceā vs. āpro-coercionā
This is slightly more accurate, as the final aim of pro-life advocates is the outlawing of abortion, which would coerce pregnant women into having their children instead of killing them- the intended effect being that there are no other options available.
And yet this is an unfair labeling; for ācoercionā carries with it a negative connotation, and thereby unjustly defines the pro-lifers as the bad guys.
Of course, as with there being a small percentage of āpro-deathersā, there is also a small number of insane fanatics and zealots who pretend to be a part of the pro-life movement, and proceed through some twisted antithesis of logic to make the point that ālife is sacredā by blowing up clinics and killing any doctors, nurses, and expectant mothers, as well as any others who just happened to be inside the clinic for a different reason at the wrong time.
Again, psychopaths, whose opinions are entirely valueless.
The normal and sane pro-liferās heart is in the right place, and he or she knows that murder is really not the best technique for making the point that murder is wrong.
Regardless though, a much more important truth regarding the mission of the pro-life movement is overlooked. And this is a truth which makes the intentions of pro-life advocates, while still certainly good, ultimately, not good enoughā¦
The existence of law does not effectively deter crime.
Drugs are illegal. And yet there use and abuse is widespread- an epidemic.
Murder, rape, theft, burglary, assault, drunk driving, prostitution, arson, vandalismā¦ if one were to make a comprehensive list of all outlawed behaviors and activities, that list would constitute several volumes of text. And yet the prisons are overflowing with people who were willing to engage in these activities anyway. Not to mention the untold number of people who are not in prisons, only by virtue of having never been caught.
Making something illegal does not end it. It merely makes its perpetrators more crafty.
Pro-life activists and protesters spend fortunes in the production of pamphlets and handouts- some actually quite informative, some merely tasteless propaganda, in the attempt to make it known that from an earlier stage of gestation then one might initially suspect, the unborn infant is alive and aware, and that his or her destruction therefore qualifies as murder. Some particularly hard-headed or cold-hearted pro-choicers argue that this is not so, occasionally backing their claims with pamphlets and propaganda as well, though with far less frequency.
I tell you truly though, that it matters not. The point is moot.
Allow the pro-lifers to have the point- extend it further even, define the onset of life as the very moment of inception. Allow abortion to be definitively called murderā¦
And grievously, in the present state of human society, the harder truth remains:
Murder is already illegal.
And hundreds of people are murdered every day.
Making abortion illegal will not eliminate it.
The theory has been tried: for a time, it was illegal.
The sad result was merely the coining of the term āback-alley abortionā.
āBut its frequency was greatly reducedā, some will interject.
To which anyone who really cares will reply: āSo what?ā
If you truly wish to call yourself a crusader for the lives of unborn children, then you must take this bitter truth as your first grounding principle: To lose even one
child beneath the blade and the hook means that you have failed.
If your good intentions amount to no more than to have yet another law created for people to ignore, then all you really hope to achieve is to make abortion inconvenient for anyone not cunning, crafty, or desperate enough to find someone willing to do it anyway.
If abortion is made illegal, and you can then sleep well at night, because even though somewhere there is a scared little girl on a folding table having her child torn from her belly with a coat hanger, but its frequency is greatly reduced; if this is the case, then perhaps you should spend your time involved in some other form of protest, because quite frankly, unborn children deserve better than having you as their advocate.
No law has ever in the course of human history successfully put a complete and total stop to a behavior. And victory in this issue demands nothing less.
But surely getting it outlawed is at least a step in the right direction?
The abortion debate has reached a fever pitch in society at present: a point in which people feel strongly enough about it to protest and picket; so strongly as to even cast votes for politicians not based upon economic of foreign policies, but solely upon their stance on this issue.
It has reached a point where it is possible to begin to make a real change.
If it is outlawed, it is conceivable that many of the heroic pro-lifers who have struggled so hard to fan the flames of righteousness and make the public aware of the issue will think in terms of days rather than decades as I urge. They will āsettle downā, contented by the belief that they have āwonā, despite its being only a partial victory.
If abortion is made illegal, enough may abandon the issue to allow it to fall from public notice.
So what then is the real solution?
Alas, as with anything that is truly worth doing, it is much more complicated than walking in a circle with a picket sign until some ruling body enacts a law.
It necessitates time, patience, love, hope, and above all, hard, hard workā¦
The foundation of the problem is really quite simple:
One can easily censor a behavior by creating a law against it, and impose fines and punishments for anyone willing to break that law.
Yet the true heart of the matter is actually the inability to effectively censor knowledge.
The technique of abortion is known.
It is a discovery, an invention, of humanity.
As such, it cannot be undiscovered.
There is no method of un-inventing something that has proven to be undesirable.
The best that can be done is to render such a thing obsolete.
Ah, now we enter into the arena of making real changesā¦
First, we must understand why women are actually opting to have abortions in the first place.
The psychotic fanatic who thinks that bombing clinics is a good idea, and that the girls who die with their babies on the back alley tables deserve it, will at this point explain that abortion is being used simply as a form of birth control. They forgot to take their pill, or their boyfriend forgot to buy rubbers, no biggie weāll just abort the baby. No second thoughts.
I cannot abide this line of reasoning.
Sadly, there are some women for whom life has beaten them down so badly that this is indeed the case; that while they are still alive in flesh, their spirits have already died, and they feel nothing- such as those involved in prostitution-funded drug addiction.
But the majority of abortions explained away in this manner?
Bah. If this is true, then perhaps we should reconsider the entirety of the situation and make abortion mandatory for all pregnancies, as this is clearly not a species worth saving.
In most cases abortion is just a bad solution to bad circumstances.
But sadly, in what we presently call society, for many young girls it really was the best solution currently available. It is a bitter irony of the moniker āpro-choiceā- for the majority of women having abortions feel they have no other choice.
Come now, do you really think the procedure is fun?
That it does not do lasting, permanent damage to those who undergo it?
Sure, it would be a much simpler world if the women leaving these clinics were completely ignorant of their actions, and running up to them and screaming āyou heartless baby-killer!!ā actually had the effect of suddenly making them understand the severity of the situation.
But the world isnāt that simple.
And they already do understand.
Talk to a woman who has had an abortion, and she will tell you:
It feels like losing a piece of her soul.
And worse still, that she instinctively knew that it would before getting it done.
Why go through such torment?
After all, there is an alternativeā¦
We throw this phrase out as though it is the solution to everythingā¦
Have the baby, and give it up for Adoption.
And during the nine months before birth?
This represents no problem at all.
Because society is so very compassionate towards unwed pregnant mothers.
The stereotype example of the man who comes home from his church protest group, is told by his teenage daughter that she is pregnant, and then proceeds in a rage to beat her to death is certainly rare as an actual occurrence. But it is very common within the fears of teenage girls, whose decisions are based in part upon such fear.
And even if they know this fear is groundless, there are less extreme, though far more rational and realistic fears; such as that they may be thrown out of their house, and then isolated and abandoned by former peersā¦
Called āwhoreā, āslutā, āharlotā, and countless other unimaginative names by so-called friends and classmatesā¦ because they chose to do the right thing and not get an abortion. These are heroes, unwilling to murder their unborn children. And yet called whores by the majority, especially those still wrapped in the immaturity of adolescence. Such is the supportive nature of humanity.
This is incentive?
The changes necessary in this issue are not in the law.
Nor is it in the mindset of the women who are having abortions.
It is in us.
Social and educational reforms are the true keys of saving these unborn children...
Firstly, preventive measures against unwanted pregnancies could be greatly improved.
āSex Educationā must not be taught solely from the field of Biology, but also from that of Sociology at its most cynical. It must include, even stress, such facts as that contraceptives do not always work, (even when a man is willing to use them.)
And that while the word ārapeā usually conjures images of a man lurking in the darkness, jumping on a passing woman and holding a knife to her throat while he ravages her- in actuality most rapes are date-rapes, crimes performed by āfriendsā, and they happen to more than half of all women at least once. This terrible number is even larger if one takes into account that most such rapes go unreported, as the victim is often left feeling ashamed or embarrassed, or worse still, somehow convinced that it was her fault.
Next, even putting aside the unpalatable subject of rape and focusing solely upon consensual sex, it must be remembered that while men and women play an equal part in creating a baby, the manās role essentially stops thereā¦ Upon learning that the girl he āgot lucky withā after having a few Buds with his buddies last month is pregnant, there is nothing but his own morality to prevent him from shrugging it off; skipping town; saying it is her problem.
And morality for this species in this era has entered the field of bad comedy.
Where then does this leave the young pregnant girl? Her family is āashamedā of her and have cast her out; her āfriendsā do not acknowledge her because her āreputationā is tarnished; classmates, teachers, counselors, and religious leaders look down upon her with scorn and disgust- fueled even in many hypocritical cases by jealousy at her having had sex in the first place; the father of the child has taken off to the winds; if she has a job, it will perhaps offer some form of maternity consolation, though certainly not enough for a single mother to survive alone. What āchoicesā does she really have left?
Where can she realistically turn, save but to a doctor who will act as a butcher?
That is what must really change if pro-life is to ever truly succeed...
Institutions must be built to provide for the housing and medical needs of women who are pregnant and have nowhere else to go, nor the money to pay for it. Moreover, places where the women who arrive upon its doorstep will be met with compassion; with understanding of their plight, not resentment towards it.
Places where they would be hailed for their courage; not berated and belittled for it.
Some such places already exist.
But not nearly enough to make a real difference.
Not even enough to make their very existence known as a viable option.
And it is in such places as these that the only true hope lies.
One can look at the two āopposingā sides of this issue, pro-life and pro-choice, and select one to be a part of.
Or one can realize that there are more than two sides, and that there could be less.
I say it is past time to unite these fractured causes- a movement of āpro-teaching-and-helping-others-to-make-the-right-choiceā.
Were the combatants on both sides of this issue to cease bickering amongst themselves and pool their resources, something wonderful could come of it.
The establishment of real choices, real alternatives.
Fight not with anger and disgust, or threats of hellfire and damnation.
But with compassion.
It is only then that abortion shall ever be truly and completely eliminated.