One Less Myth

Ethics and Abortion

Let's talk about how we can know when a fetus becomes a person
There is no clear scientific consensus on when a fetus becomes a person. I suspect we will never agree on when that is
When creating laws and public policies, the question is when a fetus gains rights. That has to be based on the ethics of minimizing harm for all parties involved.
It's not that complicated! A baby has rights, and that includes the right to not be killed in the womb
That's obviously the least possible harm
Not so fast
Our desire for cognitive closure may lead us to embrace a simple solution like that, but reality is far more complex
There are all sorts of issues that crop up if we just randomly decide that a fetus should have the same rights as a person.
That could mean, for instance, that incarcerating a pregnant person would deprive the fetus of their own freedom, creating a thorny legal challenge. That obviously becomes unworkable in reality
At the heart of this issue is a basic human right. Regardless of anything else, the pregnant person must have the right to refuse to carry a pregnancy to term, for any reason
For any reason?
I'll never support people being able to get an abortion for any reason. Just because it might be an inconvenience isn't an ethical reason
There are a lot of myths around the idea that a ton of people are getting abortions out of convenience. It's incredibly rare, and even more so the later we get into a pregnancy
And it is still their right to do so. No one else gets to decide what reasons are valid enough, except the person who is pregnant
And there are so many other ethical considerations that come into play when talking about harm reduction
Like what?
Issues like rape, incest, reproductive coercion, sex trafficking, and cases where pregnancy threatens the life or health of the pregnant person. These are not rare factors unfortunately, especially later in the pregnancy
Well I support exceptions for things like rape!
Great! When it comes to decisions around these issues, it shouldn't come down to whether the law carves out exceptions for each issue. It should be like any other ethical medical decision. It should be a decision made by the person who is pregnant, with medically accurate advice from their physician
And if we as a society want to further reduce harm, we'd recognize how bad social services are for poor single parents
We'd consider the incredible challenges and poverty that a single parent may have to face for the rest of their lives as a result of carrying a pregnancy to term and raising a child.
We'd devote our efforts to strengthening social safety nets
We'd offer free and easy-to-access contraception options for everyone
We'd offer free daycare so that single parents are able to provide for their children
We'd introduce real sex ed classes across the entire nation
We'd require doctors to honor anyone's wishes for surgical contraception if they want it
We'd consider so many other factors than just the ~9 months of gestation.
These are just liberal talking points. They don't solve the problem
Evidence-based actions like these have been correlated to reduced numbers of abortions
Reducing abortions isn't as good as eliminating them!
Unfortunately there is still a push for abortion bans, even though they do not reduce abortions. They only reduce the number of safe abortions performed by trained medical staff
Abortion bans are effective only at rallying religious folks around a political platform. They are rooted in religious extremism