My View on Abortion has Changed

Since I’m quite vocal and passionate about my political and social beliefs, people have and will always accuse me of being biased, which is a silly claim. Everyone’s biased. What they mean to say is that I’m close-minded, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. If someone introduces a logical way of thinking about something and I can’t find any way to logically refute it (this doesn’t pertain to ignorance — you can’t attempt to logically refute something you don’t know enough about), then it holds that their logical position is the correct one. Therefore, one must adopt this new logical premise. Sure, you can add nuance to it, but to hold stubbornly to the previously untenable logical premise would be the definition of close-mindedness.

Now, all of that said, the reason I bring this up is because I believe I’ve changed my views on abortion. It’s always been a sticky issue for me coming from a libertarian background wherein, I don’t think anyone is comfortable with the idea of abortion, but that discomfort was weighed against the discomfort with dictating a woman’s choice; thus, pro-choice emerged as my position.

Science is a great thing and science can quite obviously tell us that genetically, when two people procreate, they produce a human being. We know this, but what we don’t know and which is the domain of philosophers and ethical theorists is what defines “personhood.”

Aristotle was of the belief that by virtue of being born to the human species, you’re a person. (There’s a bit more to it I’ll address in a moment.) The other view is that of exhibiting characteristics pertaining to personhood. In other words, personhood means to exhibit characteristics of what people believe makes a human; so consciousness, rationality, having goals, self-awareness and so on.

The argument then as it pertains to abortion is that a fetus has not yet achieved “personhood” because it does not exhibited these characteristics. Therefore, abortion is justifiable. However, this premise allows for not just the killing of a fetus because it’s not achieved “personhood,” but that same litany of characteristics could not be properly attributed to an infant, the elderly in some cases, those in a vegetative state and the handicapped. Therefore, if it’s morally permissible to kill a fetus for not fulfilling those characteristics, then…

As such, that view seems untenable as a moral standpoint and since I can’t envision any other way to characterize personhood, then Aristotle’s view holds as logical. Maybe I’m missing something here, but it’s the new conclusion I’ve reached.

However, those on the pro-life side of it need some nuance. Saying life begins at conception is a, “Well, duh,” statement. Of course it does, but that doesn’t address this aforementioned problem of “personhood,” because surely, there are instances in which claiming “personhood” begins at conception is problematic.

Twinning, conjoined twins and the waste that doesn’t implant makes holding that position untenable.

And that’s where Aristotle comes back in with this notion of “delayed personhood.” There’s stages in becoming a fully rationalized person, but as he and Aquinas talk about, the “potential” is there. That’s what I think gets me the most.

In other words, it’s kinda nonsense to say “it’s just a clump of cells,” as if it could become something else. It’s a “clump” of human cells that would become a human, if nobody intervenes. Losing that potentiality over and over and over again is kinda sad when you think about it.

With all of that said, it’s still a sticky issue. Because I absolutely feel dirty about what Republicans are doing to essentially loophole around Roe v. Wade and reduce or outright eliminate access to abortion clinics. I do not want abortions to be illegal because a return to back-alley abortions is not desirable. The whole reason Roe v. Wade became a “thing” was for protection of the mother and I still hold to that being a desirable consideration. At the same time, there’s this elephant in the room known as “potential.”

At the end of the day, then, as much as it’s a slight diversion of sorts, perhaps some would say a cop-out, the best solution is preventative measures. Safe sex education, access to birth control and other contraceptives and so on.

(That’s the other area that’s mystifying to me. Religious folks don’t like abortion, which, as I’ve outlined, I get, even as a non-religious person, but at the same time, they mythologize sex and want to teach abstinence. That’s a case of your left hand knocking your goals out of your right hand.)

I’m verbose, so the tl;dr is that my views on abortion have altered somewhat more to the “pro-life” side (which is a stupid term) with some nuance and some needed reading of the literature to still do, of course.

2 thoughts

  1. This fundamental problematic because there is no strict definition of personhood. If personhood is independence a child is no more a person outside of the womb than inside. On that line of reasoning some have argued that infants should be legal to kill. Infant inside the womb feels the pain of the process and so does one outside of the womb.
    The real issue should be where did this notion of killing (or preventing) human offspring come from? From an US standpoint it is not at all wise considering we have a birthrate that’s approx. 1.9 and declining. You should watch the documentary Maafa 21 (it’s on YouTube). It explains where the notion of pre-birth abortion came from, who was the desired target and why. With many horrible/evil social ideas of population (abortion, sterilization etc.) coming from the 19th and 20th centuries the target was Africans. That the conspiracy has worked brilliantly no one can deny.


  2. Interesting read. My view is that I’m personally more “pro-life” than I am “pro-choice”, even if you wouldn’t think so, given how my beliefs manifest themselves. Another way to put it is that I’m pro-life (within reason. I can share some resources which delineate my limitations.) in the abstract, but pro-choice in the concrete. In principle, it’d be awesome if every child were wanted, they could be cared for adequately without poverty, abuse, etc, but that’s not the reality of the world we inhabit, and to prevent greater suffering (both to the would-be parent and to the child), the ability to terminate a pregnancy should be a live option, although again, within reason. I’m absolutely opposed, for instance, to late-term abortions, except perhaps in the most extreme circumstances.

    On the pro-choice front, I sympathize with the desire to control one’s body and to not feel like you’re being imposed upon (as you’ve probably heard me say on PW, Red, I have a libertarian streak in me, myself), but when you look at it from the perspective of the fetus as not so much a person, both in a legal and biological sense (Although one could argue all day about whether it is or not), but as a potential person that is very likely to become an actual person, with feelings, desires, goals (in the future), etc, then it’s clear that it is owed moral consideration. “My body, my choice” is a catchy soundbite, but it doesn’t encapsulate the reality of the situation that this is, at the very least, a potential person, and at most, a full-blown person, so we can’t just flippantly treat it as something to be discarded whenever it’s convenient, as that is degrading to human life.

    Furthermore, just because you have the physical capability to do something involving your own body does not mean you have the right to do it, simply because it’s your body. IE: I don’t have the right to manually strangle somebody to death, or beat them within an inch of their lives, even if it may be possible for me (And believe me, it’s usually not). The fact that something happens to be growing inside of you and depending on you doesn’t change that. I wouldn’t go so far as to say “abortion is murder” (which I personally find to be emotionally charged, hysterical rhetoric), but what I will say is that that particular line of argumentation for the pro-choice perspective is very weak when it’s critically analyzed and dissected.

    One final point: On the issue of preventative measures, I absolutely agree with you. That’s the stance I take on crime as well, but as an ideal, I’m very much in support of restorative justice and opposed to retribution when pursued for it’s own sake.

    What we need is a society where people don’t fall between the cracks as much as they do. I find it hard to believe, as I’m sure you do, that women only have abortions for the sake of convenience (and that many aren’t torn up by the decision), that people commit crimes, become addicted to drugs, etc, “just because”. There are causal factors that influence those decisions, and we need to mitigate/eliminate the factors that lead to those decisions if we want to get rid of the negative effects of them (poverty, crime, abortions, etc). In other words, take a more proactive stance than the one we are currently taking.

    Also, I apologize for my own verbosity as well (You know by now that brevity isn’t my strong suit, lol), but I find this an interesting discussion to engage in, and hope you find some value in perspective on your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

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