On egos and embryos
Ampersand has a really good post refuting the logic of the most mind-numbing of pro-life arguments, when they ask you if you would have liked to be killed in the womb. Pro-lifers who think that this argument is really moving need to know now that most pro-choicers think they are crazy. And for the reasons that Amp spells out neatly--we don't tend to think of brainless fetuses as human beings like we think of say, our next-door neighbors as human beings. They are just potential human beings. So, to someone like me it makes as much sense to freak out at the idea that your mother might have aborted the pregnancy that resulted in you as it does to freak out to think that your parents might have not had sex the night you were conceived. Or that that your grandparents might have decided not to move to America but instead stay in whatever country it was and your parents would have never met. Or that your great-great-great-great grandmother died in childbirth having her first child and therefore couldn't have had the second one that became your great-great-great grandmother and that you would have never been born.
I bring up all these examples because I used to have these sort of fantasies as a child, that all these various threads and events all came together just to produce me, the end result of history. I don't imagine I'm the only person who had these thoughts as a child--it takes a long time for one's ego to mature until you realize that while you may be the center of your own universe, you are hardly the center of the universe. And apparently, that's a hard thought to let go of for some people.
I could as easily freak out that my critical existence in this world hinged on the the sliver of a chance that my mother's birth control failed her just once. But I guess that's not as compelling as imagining that my mother could have had an abortion after the fact. I mulled over why this might be and then reread the quote that Amp pulled out to refute.
I wonder if people realize how very devastating these “arguments for choice” can be to someone like myself, someone who so narrowly escaped the butcher knife almost 46 years ago? No, they don’t get it. Maybe they were “wanted children.” So I guess that means that their lives are somehow more appropriate than mine.
The word "choice" is operative here. No one likes to think that their life is the accidental result of a series of choices, because that means that if just one choice were different, they wouldn't have existed. My mother's birth control failure was an accident, and so if I wished to believe in the inevitability of my existence, then I could convince myself that fate overruled her choices. But it's pretty hard to argue with the clarity of the choice to abort, and so people have a morbid fascination with it. And that clutters the fact that every single choice that we make in life closes out the possibility of other choices and therefore other potential futures.
The very existence of every single person on the planet is the result of billions upon billions of discrete choices made by thousands of people way back into history, and probably not a single one of those choices had an explicit relation to making you. That's a lot of chaos to fathom, I suppose, and it's comforting to imagine that you were meant to be and that the only real choice was whether to have you or not. But to view abortion as a choice that only has negative consequences, the end of one potential future, is misleading. Abortion opens up other potential futures that couldn't have happened without it, something that women who have actually had abortions will usually tell you. Some kids would have never been born in their mothers hadn't had an abortion earlier in life, for instance. And isn't a little selfish to whine that abortion could have prevented you from ever existing when abortion made someone else's life a possibility?