Why I Am Still A Believer In Pro-Choice

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Abortion is topic rife with strong convictions- one that is worthy of much more discussion than the “pro-choice” or “pro-life” banners we tend to like to rally behind. I say that, because in most cases, abortion is neither the crime against humanity, nor the mere claim to the rights of one’s body that fuel the dichotomy of many pro-life and pro-choice arguments.

I should probably get this out of the way right now- I am “pro-choice,” for what the label is worth. I think there are arguments to be made both ethically and pragmatically on this basis, and regardless of what side of the issue you personally find yourself on, I encourage you to hear me out. I have my doubts about whether I will change your mind per se, but I think there will likely be some areas of agreement nonetheless.

I don’t think it’s possible to have a responsible discussion about this topic without addressing the fact that there are weak arguments on either side of this debate. Personally, I have never found myself convinced by the argument that women have the right to do what they please with their bodies. It’s not because I don’t believe that women should have control over their bodies in principle, but because it fails to address some of the fundamental claims of pro-lifers- namely that human life has intrinsic worth that is beyond the scope of a woman’s choice, and that the fetus constitutes a separate body from the mother’s.

I also don’t agree with the argument commonly made about cases of rape and incest being used as a justification for the practice of abortion on the whole. This is not because I am some callous monster who doesn’t care about the horrendous position this would put any person in, it is because in total these cases account for less than 1% of all abortions performed. Many pro-lifers have pointed out that they would happily concede the 1% of these cases if we could simply address the 99%- I think that is a fair argument.

However, pro-life arguments have their pitfalls too. Many pro-life arguments have traditionally taken their roots in religious justification, something that parallels many other ongoing conflicts between religious and secular thinking. The soul entering the zygote at the moment of conception is an excellent example of this. To that end, it has been pointed out that an “estimated 50 percent of all human conceptions end in spontaneous abortion, usually without a woman even realizing that she was pregnant.”

Furthermore, 10-25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriages. That’s not even to mention that biology plays all sorts of weird games when it comes to reproduction, including the fusing and splitting of embryos. The “arithmetic of souls” clearly has no place in the abortion debate, and could just as easily lead one to the popular atheist retort that “God is the biggest abortionist of all.”

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