What an Abortion

Oh boy what an emotive subject this one is!

I think it is fair that I lay out my views on abortion at the start. Hopefully they’ll be clear but I already suspect that someone will see something in the next paragraph that they can use to call me inconsistent or bigoted or immoral, let’s see.

I am pro choice but I am not pro abortion. I think a world in which abortion is never an option is a better world. However, I do not subscribe to the view that restricting access to abortion is the way to achieve that. My view is that an environment where access to education, health and whatever else is necessary so that an abortion never needs to happen is how that goal is met. When a woman gets to the point that abortion is an option then it means that something else has not gone right and removing abortion as an option should never be considered as the appropriate way to fix that. I refuse to hold judgement over any woman who finds herself in that situation and I will defend her right to have an abortion.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s get to the meat…

New president Donald Trump has signed a ban on aid money going to international groups who provide any information on abortions, not just those that get involved in providing them; they can’t even talk about abortion.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38729364

The recipients of this aid are now gagged with respect to abortion information. This is precisely why I oppose religiously motivated morality. Don’t like something? Then prohibit everybody from being able to have anything to do with it. That’s nuts, but not the subject of this post.

In an ideal world, contraception would be equally available to all citizens and there would never be a case when a woman finds herself unwillingly pregnant. This isn’t the case though. Rural areas don’t have easy access to contraception. Rural areas are also the poorest areas, so a woman who finds herself pregnant is more likely to be part of a family which can ill afford another mouth to feed. Is reducing the chance of her having a safe and legal abortion the right option here? A woman in a poor, large rural family is more likely to find herself unwillingly pregnant. She’ll also be more likely to seek an abortion than her relatively wealthier city dwelling fellow citizens. Where is the justice in mandating that she, her family, her children and her community all must bear the cost? I don’t just mean financial.

This is precisely the scenario where a desperate woman will seek out the most convenient abortion she can. If you remove the safe option through aid banning, you effectively force her into an illegal and less safe one. A dead woman is of no use to her family.

Among my facebook friends is a very vocal Christian who I’ve known since school. Like most of my friends from that era, she has retained her faith and it is very literal. She is rabidly against abortion and in her defence of this action by Trump she has used the phrase ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’. I’m not sure which is the first wrong she is referring to, but it’s clear the second wrong is the act of abortion. I argue that in this situation the woman taking home a baby to a large and poor family and increasing their level of poverty is also wrong. There is no ‘right’ solution here, every option is ‘wrong’. Yes I am sad that a woman has felt the need to seek an abortion, I am pretty sure she is too; there is no joy in this scenario. If the alternative was better she would not be considering abortion.

The reason the woman is seeking an abortion is because she knows it’s worth it over the alternative. It is the utmost arrogance to decry her actions as morally reprehensible from the comfort of another country where the level of education, medical care and contraception are better in every conceivable way.

Abortion Stats

In checking facts about Mexico, I was surprised to read that contraception is used by about 70% of women in Mexico (http://www.d.umn.edu/~lars1521/BC&Mexico.htm). I understand that Catholicism is the dominant religion, and therefore that means that contraception is shunned doesn’t it? Well apparently not. Adherence to Catholicism is declining and commitment to contraception by those Catholics is very low (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/02/10/a-snapshot-of-catholics-in-mexico-pope-francis-next-stop/).

The state of women’s health regards to childbirth in South America and the Caribbean is depressing (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3673241/), restricting abortion does not solve it, it exacerbates it. In this action, Trump has condemned thousands to greater poverty and health risks and criminalized those who work hard to against poverty and illiteracy.

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Catholic Views on Contraception

I follow a variety of blogs, not all of them are on subject matter that I agree with the blogger, I typically follow them because I want to learn; either to expand my knowledge or to gain understanding on specific worldviews.

The risk with following blogs that are on a worldview is that there will be the occasional WTF! moment. Over the weekend there was one such post and it’s a major WTF! (http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/2012/02/contraception-extreme-analogy.html)

Full Disclosure

I’m not a catholic fan. Even in my Christian days I struggled with elements of the Catholic Church and its teaching. My difficulty went so far that at times I struggled even to accept that Catholics were Christians because if they were Christians they’d follow everything in the bible and not distort stuff horribly. In my years as an active Christian I crossed paths with other Christians from other churches and denominations and never were there divisive issues as there were with the Catholics. In fact, I can only think of one catholic I encountered in all those where theological differences never got in the way of friendship. I think any chance the Catholic Church had of gaining respect from me died when a friend married a catholic and the overtly catholic wedding felt even more unchristian and emotionless as a secular wedding held in a registry office. The communion was rushed and us non-Catholics were not permitted to take part, Christian or not. I left the wedding service trying hard to be happy for my friend but ultimately feeling unloved and rejected. So much for the family of God!

So why the WTF! ?

I am familiar with the claims that the Catholic Church is anti-contraception and I am aware that there is much criticism of it, especially with regards the effect that has on the spread of Aids in countries where Catholicism has great influence.

Aids isn’t the only disease that sexually active people should worry about. Chlamydia is a disease that is of concern in the UK, especially among teens and 20-somethings. One especially nasty side effect is the potential for girls to be made sterile.

What made the post I referenced stand out was the insane justification given to the no contraception rule. Calling the post an “extreme analogy” is not a defence against spouting idiocy, especially when its abundantly clear that the interpretation is held to.

The Potential for Life

From what I can gather elsewhere, and is repeated in the post I reference, the basic objection to contraception is that it interrupts the potential for life from the act of intercourse. There is so much wrong with this stance it’s hard to know where to start.

The most obvious objection is that it’s a blanket edict that takes no account whatsoever for the circumstances of the couple. There are genuine and valid reasons why a couple would not want to have child children and yet still enjoy a loving sex life. Mandating that they should not control that through contraception is not a blessing to the couple but a hindrance. It reminds me of this related and equally unhelpful attitude encountered by Christians; https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/05/09/a-christian%E2%80%99s-duty-is-to-procreate/

Much damage is done by the well-meaning zealot who holds so tightly to a perceived aspect of Godliness that they fail to see the wider context. For this type of person, the desire to dictate behaviour overrides the command to love and the result is that the religion of choice is seen by the outsider as a controlling and manipulative entity rather than a loving pathway to heaven.

Even if we ignore those objections for a moment, the potential for life argument is still flawed because it is arbitrary. Surely for a man ejaculate more than a single sperm is a sin because typically only one of the sperm gets a chance of life. Or maybe the menstrual cycle is a sin because of all those eggs that get flushed away. The obvious retort is that these are both naturally evolved and contraception is not. However, the catholic church approves of some methods of fertility assistance. If it’s okay to artificially assist in getting pregnant why is it not okay to artificially avoid it as well. Surely to reluctantly bring a life into the world because of what the church says is more of a sin than to responsibly avoid it.

Sex is primarily for procreation

Really?!

The teaching that sex as a pleasure is only a side benefit from God leaves me genuinely open mouthed in astonishment. The only possible reason the Catholic Church can uphold that is because to not teach it seriously undermines its contraception stance. It’s a message of necessity and not one of spirituality.

Evolutionarily speaking, if sex wasn’t something we did for the sheer pleasure of it, we’d have gone extinct by now. Way to go God!

Extreme Analogies

In her blog posting, Red Cardigan likens using contraception to partners withholding from each other and, worse, calls it the “language of hate and rejection”. I say it’s exactly the opposite; the use of contraception frees them both to fully enjoy intimacy and love without the need to be concerned about unplanned offspring. She also manages, bizarrely, to somehow draw a comparison between contraceptive use and bulimia as a method of weight loss. Let’s skim over the not so insignificant issue that bulimia is a state of mental imbalance and not a trendy method of radical weight loss.

This dieting comparison goes way beyond extreme and into the realm of obscene. I can see why this particular analogy was used; it’s to imply that forcing yourself to vomit after a meal is the same as stopping the man’s sperm get to the place where God intended it. The two are not the same. A more reasonable dieting analogy would be to compare contraception to having a stomach band fitted or just eating less of the stuff that makes you fat.

I’d like to propose my own extreme analogy, next time you have a headache, don’t take anything for it, let it enjoy its full potential, after all its God given and natural. What do you mean that’s a stupid thing to say?