Tomorrow I will be shooting a short film where I will play an eccentric drug dealer who counts among his hobbies protesting abortion clinics. I’ve been a little bit apprehensive about this role because I am going to portray the character as a lovable rogue and his predilection for said protest might be decoded as misogyny which would be discordant with the type of character I am trying to cultivate. And while this project was originally intended to be the pilot for a series, it may very well end up being a one-shot which means I might not get a chance to explore the character’s motivations further than the one-page script. So, my challenge has been looking at my dialogue and plot arc and trying to figure out a way to illustrate that my strong feelings regarding abortion aren’t strong feelings at all but rather borne out of a desire to be a shit-disturber who may very well protest pro-lifers the next week.
So we’re clear, my difficulty is with how I will cultivate a happy-go-lucky character who makes sense to me.
However, thinking about my misgivings regarding the portrayal has led me to question the cause of those misgivings. Certainly from a young age my mother, a self-identifying feminist, always told me I was pro-choice and encouraged me to voice that position whenever my (Catholic) school would hold fundraisers for various pro-life organizations. It was an interesting challenge as a child to make pro-life posters for school (marked assignments) which didn’t betray the convictions I held dear due to my mother’s influence. Perhaps my first exercise in diplomatic, political writing.
However, I don’t want to give the impression that I saw no logic in the pro-choice position and that I was only parroting my mother’s position. In truth I saw then and still do see the merits of the position, but only within the current temporal context of our socio-economic system. After all, having a child is an explicitly social and economic undertaking and it often precludes other social and economic goals. Therefore, the decision about whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term is very often (if not always) a social one and, tragically, an economic one.
So where does that leave pro-life? Well, in my estimation, those who maintain a strict, unwavering pro-life position espouse a wonderful, idealistic outlook that is not tied to the world we actually live in. I don’t think they are wrong in any absolute sense, but that is mainly because I don’t put much stock in concepts like right and wrong. Rather I think they look at the folly of doing harm in an immediate way (abortion) in the hopes of preventing greater harm (social or economic) at a later time. In other words, they don’t think the ends justify the means, and I have a lot of sympathy for this position. After all, how many pilots on bombing runs would cease to pull the trigger if they focused on the immediate act of murder they were about to commit rather than the vague, amorphous ideal (freedom, democracy, etc.) which they were fighting for in the long-term? We live in a culture that is obsessed with the notion that the ends justify the means, when instead our means should…must justify our ends* if we want to progress as a species.
So which side of the debate do you subscribe to? Both sound awesome! After all, I love life and I love choice, but unfortunately I can only pick one. After all, if the laws are in favour of pro-life and abortions are banned, then the pro-choice camp is gonna say that the rights of women are being infringed upon. On the other hand, if the laws are in favour of pro-choice and abortions are legalized, the pro-life camp is gonna complain that the rights of fetuses are being infringed upon. So to me its simply a case of rights vs. laws. But here’s the thing: so-called rights can be taken away by any entity which exerts force or power over you while so-called laws will be broken by anyone with a will to do so, so in reality pro-life vs. pro-choice equates to “imaginary privilege” vs. “imaginary constraint” on the back end.
Ultimately I’d like to see no fetus aborted because I think it is an act of violence but we don’t live in that world yet; there is still economic disparity which makes raising a child an imposing undertaking, there are career aspirations which would be threatened by having a child, and there is a lack of information about contraception in many parts of the world. Many pregnancies are going to be unwanted and summarily dealt with. However, before we presume to pass judgement of any human being for their perceived transgressions in our eyes, we should remember the maxim, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.” Or, more plainly, if you don’t like women having abortions, stop supporting a socio-economic system of inherent corruption, scarcity, and systemic disadvantage which leads a woman to have to make that most difficult of choices.
Don’t get too bogged down in the polarizing abortion debate because there is a truth that unites us all and mitigates such squabbles.
*For more on this idea, check out “The Rules of Chaos” by Stephen Vizinczey
3 responses to “Deconstructing the Abortion Debate”
And I always thought pro lifers have it all backward picketing abortion… They want those babies protected, then work on personhood rights of the unborn…. Not that I can get behind that either… This post is awesome.
There is an entire aspect of women’s health and the health of the fetus lacking here in your deconstruction. A woman in pregnancy goes though many physical and chemical emotional changes. Even in a wanted pregnancy these can lead to devastating mental and physical health issues. In an unwanted pregnancy, it almost always comes with these scars, not that an abortion doesn’t come with risks, physical and emotional either, but even in a utopian world, our bodies are not perfect. The right to be able to weigh the risks are very important.
Further, 1 in 4 women loose pregnancies before a live birth can happen, 1 in 6 live births have confirmed genetic abnormalities, many more babies are born with issues that while not genetic, can be very complicating to life. Without getting too philosophical, many mothers find such situations in their more extreme situations, more humane , more kind, to their child to not let them live a life that they see as suffering. A woman who is told their child suffers on the inside, and will live only minutes on the outside has much to live with. A woman who has to consider the long term care of a child who is unlikely to be independently functioninfpg – ever… Has a heavy burden. Some mothers may decide life is to sacred to make these choices, but others may believe in a humane euthanasia to their unborn so they never have to gasp for a breath and be in fear or pain may be better.
A fetus does not have any rights of personhood granted, the mother is the host and bears all the physicality to growing this child. She also needs the right to the choices In front of her. I personally detest the idea of abortion as birth control to a healthy mother carrying a healthy child, but when you weigh the socio economic factors, some you touched on, and the physical and mental health factors, relationships, age , etc… any barrier to abortion access takes the right of the woman and puts her in a subordiate and controlled position.
Thanks for your thoughtful response. I don’t disagree with what you have said but I guess I would view things like lost pregnancies and abnormalities from a different angle; as changeable things whose causality can be traced back to environmental factors in most (not all) cases.
Now you mentioned health risks as justifications for abortion and I made a conscious choice not to include health risks and “rape pregnancies” in my post because I wanted to present a working philosophy without catering it to extreme situations. My viewpoint doesn’t preclude abortions for those reasons but neither is it predicated on them.
With regard to the fetus’ personhood or lack thereof versus that of the mother, I think we need to understand what personhood is: a government-issued identity which you assume is you because you don’t know any better. But you are not a person, you have a person to engage in commerce and law with. A person or ‘persona ficta’ in latin is a contrivance, and to let personhood be the crux of the argument about two human beings, nay two living souls, is to let old white male lawmakers have the decision-making power. And I already know how the pro-choice camp feels about that lol. I think this is a matter where truth can be discerned among human beings without the law sticking its dick in.