Saturday, August 04, 2007

Just Pray For Them

In the flavor of recent discussions here about responsibility and accountability, I offer this Anna Quindlen article, discussing the obvious repercussion of making abortion illegal: the penalty. Against women, who get illegal abortions.

See, when something's illegal, there's generally some kind of forfeit associated with getting caught doing it. And those regulations are set out ahead of time, so that people can know before they do the illegal thing, what they're risking. In the article is a link to a YouTube mini documentary footage, discussing this with some protesters at a clinic in Illinois, it's worth watching.

The general drift of the logic seems to go this way: Abortion is murder and should be illegal. The women who get illegal abortions are murderers, and should be .... not... allowed... to get abortions? Well, hell, that's no problem! The other kinds of murder are already Not Allowed, and those pretty much don't ever happen.

In most countries, murderers get jail time. In many countries, murderers get executed. In much of the United States, in fact, premeditated murder is one of the worst crimes a person can commit, short of child killing. Oooh, wait, what about mothers killing their own children? What about mothers killing their own children, without even access to an insanity plea? Because surely a woman who is competent to engage the services of a medical clinic, and make the minimum 2 required visits to get an abortion completed, are doing just that. So, if that's illegal, it is automatically one of the worst possible crimes in our culture.


So, electric chair? Lethal injection? Life imprisonment, no hope of parole?

And maybe someone can help me out here, but I'm pretty sure unwanted pregnancies have been a fact of life since, oh, whenever our species found sentience. Why is it now, in this time and place, a matter of public discourse? It's strikes me as grotesquely unnecessary to
(in the case of Americans, anyway) have 300 million people involved in a decision like that? I mean this question in a philosophical way. I know it's possible to trace the roots of this topic back to their first public appearance, but... how did THAT happen? Why is it important to control reproductive choices in this way? The U.S. does not seem to be in particular need of however many mewling cabbages are lost to medical abortion annually.

Maybe people just like bickering.


Hiromi said...

I have no idea, but the abortion thing sort of developed parallel to all kinds of family control issues, didn't it? My history is pretty sketchy, but in previous centuries, you could adopt whoever the hell you wanted to; for example, your apprentices were part of your family, and their parents couldn't dictate what you could or couldn't do to them. You could sell your child's labor as you saw fit, even to a brothel. Maybe this wasn't always looked upon favorably, but people saw the necessity, I suppose. To me it seems like the anti-abortion thing is happening at the nexus of all types of trends, some of which are potentially contradictory -- erosion of parental authority, the notion that there is such a thing as child abuse, the acceptance of state interference (rather than just social pressure) in matters relating to the internal workings of the family, and the need to maintain the norm of a nuclear family.

Rufus said...

I have no idea either. Certainly exposure existed in ancient Greece and Rome. My sense of it, from the few articles that I've read, is that exposure or abortion becomes common whenever a society's resources are strained. The empires didn't criminalize it until the Ottomans. The question would be whether the city-states criminalized it. The transition from city-states to territorial states doesn't even begin until the 1500s. The first ruler who seems to have tried to end exposure was Napoleon. And the real golden age of the state as a moral force was the nineteenth century. This was when you had people locked up for idleness for instance.

Therefore, it's sort of amazing that the state is so accepted by the twentieth century as a fact of life. Even more so in Europe (and here in the commonwealth) than in the states. And part of this is the bizarre tendency of citizens to demand that the state 'do something' about every little problem, while refusing to think about answers in any concrete way themselves. I've noted that with the 'illegal immigration debate'- people want the state to 'do something', but can't be bothered to even do a cost-benefit analysis of the measures they want. And it certainly seems to be the case here, isn't it? Leave it to the adults to figure out the specifics-we just want theatrics.

And you're right- part of that is the theatrics of these endless debates. Both positions are prefabricated, so people don't know how to respond when someone strays from the script.