Friday, September 08, 2006

A stupid bumper sticker

Mrs. Hippie saw a bumper sticker this morning that said "If Mary were pro-choice, there'd be no Christmas." I feel the need to address this ignorance because apparently not everyone understands what it means to be pro-choice. Some pro-lifers seem to believe that a pro-choice woman is quite simply a selfish slut, an embryo death chamber on high heels. But abortions are risky, physically invasive and painful to the women who have them (hence the crude irony in this discontinued print from T-shirt Hell). It's obviously physically invasive to the embryo as well, however:

An embryo does not have the fundamental neurological capacity for sensory perception or self awareness, and cannot physically be considered a human being any more than an individual egg or spermatozoa could. Associating abortions with murder is a comparison that can only be made on a spiritual level, because the embryo is not deprived of consciousness, only the potential for such. Spirituality is not something that has been measured and determined scientifically. It therefore remains a belief which one must take on faith.

To posit the immorality of terminating an abstract spiritual entity is to assert the preeminent moral authority of your belief system. Such certainty is not innate, but is a product of our environment. A healthy human brain functions extremely well at making sense of our surroundings based on an existential understanding of our experiences. It does not however function well in an information vacuum. Our brains are sophisticated pattern-matching machines, and the only abstract, ideological frameworks we can successfully express to others are still observable and therefore falsifiable - even mathematics. Personal a priori frameworks such as abstract philosophy, spirituality and morality cannot be shared with others without the recipients' willful mental disengagement of potential incongruities therein. This is known as faith, and requires an unassailable belief of certain truths by the indoctrinated. There is therefore no impartial method for measuring the strengths or adjudicating the differences between various internal frameworks. Spiritually-derived moral authority is a contradiction in terms.

Now let me dispel the myth that pro-choicers are eager to have abortions. It is certainly true that abortions destroy the potential for life. So does the natural occurrence of menstruation and nocturnal emission. But once an embryo forms, many women report subtle sensations of the change in their body. Sometimes the sensations are not subtle at all. A biochemical association with the embryo occurs because of the major changes occurring throughout the body. A sociological attachment occurs for many women as well, with an understanding of the importance of motherhood to our own existence. It therefore requires extreme deliberation mentally, physically and emotionally for most women who choose to have an abortion. It takes a very difficult decision to confront these barriers, a decision to which most of us can never relate; hopefully we will ever have to.

We pro-choicers respect the independent, internalized spirituality that comes with self-awareness. Spirituality is a personal construct, and a priori deductions of morality cannot be applied beyond one's own actions. Humankind may never know the ultimate fate of an aborted embryo, and this uncertainty makes the decision even harder. But a personal decision such as this can only be made consistent within a personal framework, and qualified judgement is exclusively internal. I hope never to be exposed to such a difficult decision, but we must allow others the freedom to make their own moral judgements. And we can all hope they never have to.

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