Saturday, February 04, 2012

Odd thoughts on abortion

Abortion is one of those topics that finds every hot button people have and just hammers on them. All of them. At once. It's either "a woman's reproductive freedom" or it's straight up, cold-blooded murder: there doesn't seem to be any middle ground.

Or does there?

In all the commentary I've read about abortion, pro and con, not one person has ever mused if the baby has any say in the matter. 

I will explain that. It requires a few assumptions.

First--big one--let's posit that there is some sort of life after death. NOTE: I am not arguing for the existence of any god here, much less any heaven/hell. Only that there is something more than threescore and ten. As I may have mentioned a time or two, this is something I implicitly believe, if for no other reason than life is too damned short. 
I can accept that those of you with agnostic/atheistic bents will shut this whole argument down right here, and that's okay. I have no scientific evidence either way, just a gut feeling, and it could well be gas. But for the purposes of continued mental exercise here, can we just for right now side with the majority of humans and accept that there is something beyond this earthly existence?

Okay. Here were are, in the majority mindspace. Now, having accepted this proposition, let's consider one more: that there is some sort of life before birth. Actually, let's pull that back a bit and suggest that there is some sort of life before conception

You rarely hear this thought advanced...or at least, I haven't heard it much. In my experience, whenever something like this comes out, the crystals and tarot cards inevitably follow. I find this beyond strange. Why is it that so many people uncritically accept the prospect of life after death, but the idea of life before birth is cuckoo?

Likely the two states--if they exist--are in fact the same state, i.e. before "birth" = after "death". Or, more poetically, "ashes to ashes, dust to dust".  Again, no scientific backing here whatsoever: this just has a good beat and I'm dancing to it, okay? It's just simpler if we come from the same place we're all going. It has a certain "circle of life' resonance to it, at least for me.

The acceptance of this proposition opens up all kinds of interesting doors. For instance, maybe--just maybe--impending arrivals in this state of being may be able to select their families ahead of time. Neale Donald Walsch, in his Conversations With God series, suggests that the purpose of life is to continuously "recreate yourself in the next greatest version of the grandest vision ever you had about Who You Are." What are you here to experience? What sort of parents would help you best experience that? Having determined this, you would--I guess "beam" is as good a verb as any--your DNA, your information,  and recreate yourself, in formation. And then you're born, and you live your life, and hopefully experience what you came here to experience, impacting every life you touch and making your world a better place. Or not. Maybe you're an evil bastard responsible for millions of deaths...and the world rises as one against you and says "never again". 

Or maybe you're never born at all. You're perhaps aborted...or miscarried.

What happens to you then? Is there any reason, given the above assumptions, that you're not simply folded back into the ether whence you came, only to 'drop' again somewhen, somewhere? 

And if that is in fact the case, what was your purpose in existing, in potential, for however long you did?

My wife miscarried more than six times. The first was particularly painful for her: little Peanut was found dead just into the second trimester. This turn of events has profoundly shaped her, and my, life. It started us down an adoption path we wouldn't otherwise have contemplated...which in turn led to a rejection that has also shaped our lives in countless ways large and small. It makes us feel a little better to imagine that Peanut had a future somewhere else, and was only stopping by to play its part--not a bit part, by any means!--in our lives. 

It amazes me that people who are against abortion often seem to assume that it's a simple decision, just one of many a pregnant woman makes in the course of her day: let's see, I'll wear the red shirt today, I'll have pancakes for breakfast,  and oh, yeah, gotta abort my baby. The choice to abort reverberates for years. It's a huge many ways, the biggest decision a woman will ever make. 

Booya, I hear from the Peanut gallery. So Mummy agonized over killing me before she did it. That sure makes me feel less dead. 

But you're assuming that dead is dead. Odd that, given how many pro-lifers declare as Christians and believe in life everlasting. Maybe all the Peanuts in all the galleries watching the show, awaiting their turn to step on stage, are free to leave the show, to go see some other show instead. 

I know--it's a strange thing to contemplate. But no stranger, in my mind, than life after death--which the majority of people accept without thought. 


Anonymous said...

As an atheist I can't really comment on the argument (it could well be gas. ROFL)

Right now the abortion debate is about "rights" (whether they exist for an unborn child AND if they do, which rights take preeminence?)

I've moved over to the "mother's choice" side of the fence relatively recently. As an answer to abortion, "mother's choice" is probably the best of a bad suite of options, and it doesn't solve the "when does life begin" or "When does consciousness begin" arguments (or as you point out the "does life end" argument. It is settled me, but not for society.)

The only thing I know for certain is, as artificial reproductive technology progresses this moral quagmire will get worse, not better. If we ever develop an artificial womb, where no women's uterus is involved, this artificial yet legal line of life after birth is going to get very, very blurry.

Thomas said...

Yeah, Neale is the man. I'm looking forward to seeing him this summer at Celebrate Your Life. If you were able to make it down there, you could room with me for no charge; I know money is tight. I consider the trip my vacation for the year and am all too happy to bill it to my credit card to be gradually paid for over the following months.

Ken Breadner said...

Thanks for that kind offer, Thomas. Money's tighter than you know--unless Neale comes to within a hundred miles of me, t'ain't no way I'm seeing him. I envy you!