OPINION: Pro-Choice is our only choice

Photo credit: Mark Nelson

Planned Parenthood has come under fire recently for some heavily edited, secretly-filmed footage of employees of the company, revealed by anti-abortion activists. Republicans in Congress have used this to renew questions of government funding for the company, and the ever-so-fun debate about abortion rights. One of the edited videos even raised the question of legal wrongdoing, whether the company profits off fetal tissues, which the unedited video debunked, and was proven entirely false.

But some are still not pleased with the callous tone of the company’s employees when discussing the procedures.

In Politico’s July 16 article, “Republicans plan new abortion push,” they quote Rep. Steve King from Iowa saying, “When the speaker opens up on it, and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee opens up, that means that the members who want to move on this, they’ve got license now.”

Besides whether these accusations of tone are even fair, Congress has to consider that the blow-back from these videos has to overcome a huge disadvantage in public opinion. According to a Pew Research Center study published July 23, titled, “GOP Favorability Rating Takes a Negative Turn,” 50 percent of participants surveyed say Democrats are better able to handle issues of abortion and contraception, while only 31 percent said that Republicans would be better. That 19-point gap was even found during and after the first Planned Parenthood video surfaced.

Now to the issue itself. First, let’s look at the biologic argument. It makes no sense to define life as beginning at conception. The fetus for much of the pregnancy is absolutely not an independent organism. It is wholly dependent on the systems of the mother’s body, and until a certain point in brain development cannot reasonably be expected to have any definition of consciousness.

Consciousness, or having had consciousness, is what should define life, not mere potential. If potential for life is the only criteria for personhood status, then how can we stop at conception?

Don’t each egg and sperm cell individually contain the potential for life, even if that potential can only be acted upon dependent on each other? That qualifier is not different enough from the qualifier that yes, a fetus has potential for life, but potential that can only be acted upon completely dependent on the mother’s womb.

And if it’s the morally unacceptable loss of potential life that we’re really concerned with, then don’t we have a moral obligation to do everything in our power to maximize that potential life? The un-purposeful loss of every egg or sperm cell is something to be upset about, dramatically altering the realities of female ovulation or male masturbation. It would be morally disagreeable to not have as many children, thereby serving as much potential life, as you possibly can.

This idea of genetic material as sacred life is born out of an antiquated period, with old religious and social ideas, of women being beholden to breeding obligations, and it is not the moral stand that you think it is. Why on Earth would we hold more consideration for fetuses than we do real-live women?

It is entirely unfair to propose forcing women into having to carry out any pregnancy, no matter the circumstances or thought given to the development of the fetus. It is unfair to try to shame them under the pretense of medical care with forced ultrasounds. And it is unfair, and shameful, to deny anyone contraceptives because of your own held (often religious-based) beliefs.

If your boss doesn’t believe in vaccines, does the company he or she runs get to deny you coverage for such under your work health insurance? If the head of your company doesn’t believe in modern medicine at all, but thought that illness should only be treated by prayer, can that company deny you health care coverage entirely? Sounds ridiculous, but it is not any more ridiculous than companies refusing to cover contraceptives for their employees because of their own religious beliefs, which is a real thing that’s happening.

Most people out there, at least I hope, don’t want to legally impose their religious beliefs on everyone else, but there is a shocking, and vocal, minority who do. I have absolutely no idea, I cannot fathom, how they get around this country’s separation of church and state, but they sure do seem to somehow.

According to a Mother Jones article, published June 12, we could be seeing the issue of denying the right to abortion in the Supreme Court sometime in 2016. So prepare to hear this most contentious of arguments often in national politics, and remember that our country’s biggest source of pride is crowing about freedom. Freedom means personal choices. Of course we’re all pro-life, no one thinks that’s something to be taken lightly. But neither is choice.

Jonathan Greig is a senior in anthropology.

Jonathan Greig
Hi, I’m Jonathan. I graduate this December, majoring in Anthropology, with minors in Creative Writing and Political Science. After that … we’ll see. Maybe graduate school in environmental anthropology. Maybe I’ll finally pursue my old childhood dream of becoming an infomercial host. It’s up in the air. Some of my interests and hobbies include devout sports fanaticism, religious study, and composing country songs that serve to explain the unearthly amount of disdain I have for country music. My band’s called Catfish Hurricane, you should check us out. Well, actually, you shouldn’t. I love writing, which is how I accidentally stumbled into this job. This stumbling into good things is my plan for life in general.
  • iguana

    “If the head of your company doesn’t believe in modern medicine at all,
    but thought that illness should only be treated by prayer, can that
    company deny you health care coverage entirely?”

    Yes, they can actually. If the company is less than 50 employees, or chooses to pay the tax penalty. If the owner believes strongly in their position, they may choose to pay the penalty.

  • FlynnRiley

    At anytime during a pregnancy should it be illegal to get an abortion? How about minutes or seconds before the baby “arrives?

  • Greg

    Jon; “It makes no sense to define life as beginning at conception.”
    Comment: An amoeba has life and fights to preserve it’s life as best a tiny relatively helpless organism can.

    Have you seen neonatal infants fight as best they can to avoid the tools of pain used in abortions? Have you witnessed their silent screams?
    Deaf, dumb and vegetatively comatose does not insure emotions and feelings are absent. Emotions and feelings are often entirely independent of physical senses.
    Can you imagine the horror an infant feels being attacked in it’s most safe private home with sharp and bludgeoning cold steel tools of death, inflicting the worst kind of trauma?
    A child meeting Jack the Ripper before it has experienced a loving touch is a barbaric unparalleled event.
    The inability to breathe, or move in no way insures the absence of pain, only the absence to reflexively respond.

    Jon;”The fetus is not an independent organism…. dependent on mother’s body,”
    Comment: Define independent organism. I know of few individuals that are truly independent organisms capable of self sustaining life outside of a modern support system.

    Jon: “If potential for life is the only criteria for personhood status, then how can we stop at conception?
    Comment: Ah, but thankfully potential for life is not the Only criteria for life status.

    Jon: “and until a certain point in brain development cannot reasonably be expected to have any definition of consciousness.”
    Comment: God, of the Bible, had this to say concerning life: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” And, Jon the Baptist leaped for joy, while in his mother’s womb upon hearing that Mary was pregnant with Jesus.(the book says).

    Neonatal infants respond to all kinds of stimuli both within and without their immediate environment from medicines to music and arguments.

    Would you like to pick that point where consciousness is present? How early is a primal pain response possible?

    Is consciousness pre-existing? I believe so. The Bible says the spirit and body are separate, as one returns to God upon death, the other to dirt. And, that God is a spirit and they that worship him, do so in spirit and truth.

    The spirit perhaps, is the only true consciousness.

    An infant surely is as worthy of spirit life and consciousness designation, as you are.

    As a believer in your own “spiritual” existence, please extend the same courtesy of independent spiritual viable life to a harmless infant that cannot yet defend itself.

    Jon: “Consciousness, or having had consciousness, is what should define
    life, not mere potential.”
    Comment: Define consciousness.

    Humanism is opinions based upon the environment and culture in which we are trained. Science requires a baseline from which to measure. Humanistic Philosophy and Morality is absent this baseline. I try to defer to what that “religious book” tells me. I trust the belief in living Words withinin the book more than the wavering knowledge of man.

    The Barber’s Pole and blood letting …………….?
    The polio vaccine farce and subsequent conviction in Kansas City………?
    And thousands more best ideas that were Not Best.

    I believe it is wise to defer best accepted practice methodology to God. Even if one does not believe he exists, knowing our failure rate it would make sense to elicit help, just in case he hears.

    Choosing our own individual way is the substance of life.

    Choosing our own way with negative consequences affecting innocent lives is ignorant at best, and is selfish, amoral, simply inexcusable.
    Choosing the destiny of another by assuming we understand their life viability, is – to judge another.

    Isn’t humanism about non-judgement and acceptance.

    “To do no harm”- a spirit and or body forming into completeness but forcefully halted, is to do harm.

    Thank you for the opportunity to respond