Mouse rant blog vent mouse.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

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?

11 Comments:

Blogger missy said...

This is good. I do think about that infinity of factors sometimes, but when the lifers launch an assault, I'm usually too overwhelmed with disgust to access all the resources at my disposal. So I just choke. I know they're generally full of it, but I can't interact. This helps. Thanks!

"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."

Yeah, like our mothers could have pursued some of their own interests, lived a teensy bit more comfortably financially, been generally happier without the humiliation and other pains that can come from unwanted pregnancies. Wow those pro-lifers sure are projecting lots of selfishness onto us. I know I'd have wanted all those things for my mother.

"Some kids would have never been born [if] their mothers hadn't had an abortion earlier in life, for instance."

I don't like to think of positive consequences in terms of "more life later" because one of my big concerns is overpopulation. I do like to think of them in terms of things like "if my mother had the benefits listed above, she may have been a fuller, more contented, peaceful person, and may have been able to offer some kindness, some genuine connection, or something, to someone who really needed it, upon crossing paths." That strikes me as having great potential for a domino effect of positive consequences.

2/08/2005

 
Blogger Roxanne said...

I think this post gets at the central problem of having a discussion about reproductive rights. Some people think that an unborn fetus is a living being and others don't. Until you can convince the other side that a few cells don't = human, you can't even have an intelligent discussion about it.

2/08/2005

 
Blogger avi eater said...

This is why I like multiverse theory (or at least my limited understanding of it). Even if you "kill" your "baby" now, in another universe you'll have him/her. Nothing has quite the finality that it does when you believe this is your one and only chance to "get things right."

It also comforts me knowing somewhere out there there has to be a version of the universe where Bush doesn't have a "mandate" from the people. Because somewhere out there, a lot of women had abortions so Fred Phelps and others don't exist.

2/08/2005

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The notion that the destruction of one feotus paves the way for the creation of another is all very well, except that the existence of the second only came about through destroying something that came before it. Tearing down to build is only productive when . . . Oh fuck I couldn't be bothe...

9/07/2005

 
Blogger Gordon said...

Hello, you blog is funny and informative. I have a website about improving your adult sex life. Please visit if you want to enjoy sex more in a proper way.

11/06/2005

 
Blogger TheDevilIsInTheDetails said...

Another death penalty story Resource... LifeLaw.org . A discussion forum for all that deals with such hot-button issues as death penalty story .

11/06/2005

 
Blogger Ricky said...

Dear blogger,

I found your post while looking for info on
href="http://www.normism.org"> attachment parenting
while I found your post

to be very interesting, it was not the exact type of info on

href="http://www.normism.org"> attachment parenting
. So anyways I thoght I

should drop you a few lines and thank you for the good job that you are

doing, and at the same time spread the good news about this site that

demystifies a lot of concepts like

href="http://www.normism.org"> attachment parenting
. The new age prophet

Seyed Bahram Mirkalami while demystifying subjects like

href="http://www.normism.org"> attachment parenting
, states that he has

declared heaven on earth with the power invested in him by "God". And

anyone who accepts this declaration will have immortality and peace in

life right away. Here's the link one more time:

href="http://www.normism.org"> attachment parenting


God bless all.

11/20/2005

 
Blogger Jordan said...

Dear blogger,

I found your post while looking for info on
href="http://www.normism.org"> online theology course
while I found your post

to be very interesting, it was not the exact type of info on

href="http://www.normism.org"> online theology course
. So anyways I thoght I

should drop you a few lines and thank you for the good job that you are

doing, and at the same time spread the good news about this site that

demystifies a lot of concepts like

href="http://www.normism.org"> online theology course
. The new age prophet

Seyed Bahram Mirkalami while demystifying subjects like

href="http://www.normism.org"> online theology course
, states that he has

declared heaven on earth with the power invested in him by "God". And

anyone who accepts this declaration will have immortality and peace in

life right away. Here's the link one more time:

href="http://www.normism.org"> online theology course


God bless all.

11/20/2005

 
Blogger Jerry said...

Dear blogger,

I found your post while looking for info on
href="http://www.normism.org"> creationism
while I found your post

to be very interesting, it was not the exact type of info on

href="http://www.normism.org"> creationism
. So anyways I thoght I

should drop you a few lines and thank you for the good job that you are

doing, and at the same time spread the good news about this site that

demystifies a lot of concepts like

href="http://www.normism.org"> creationism
. The new age prophet

Seyed Bahram Mirkalami while demystifying subjects like

href="http://www.normism.org"> creationism
, states that he has

declared heaven on earth with the power invested in him by "God". And

anyone who accepts this declaration will have immortality and peace in

life right away. Here's the link one more time:

href="http://www.normism.org"> creationism


God bless all.

11/20/2005

 
Blogger Brian said...

Dear blogger,

I found your post while looking for info on
href="http://www.normism.org"> first communion gift
while I found your post

to be very interesting, it was not the exact type of info on

href="http://www.normism.org"> first communion gift
. So anyways I thoght I

should drop you a few lines and thank you for the good job that you are

doing, and at the same time spread the good news about this site that

demystifies a lot of concepts like

href="http://www.normism.org"> first communion gift
. The new age prophet

Seyed Bahram Mirkalami while demystifying subjects like

href="http://www.normism.org"> first communion gift
, states that he has

declared heaven on earth with the power invested in him by "God". And

anyone who accepts this declaration will have immortality and peace in

life right away. Here's the link one more time:

href="http://www.normism.org"> first communion gift


God bless all.

11/20/2005

 
Anonymous Lisa said...

I hate to say this, but I was looking for baby nursery decoration links, but your site came up. Oh well. Worth the read. Gotta run.

1/05/2006

 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home