I used to be a rabid social conservative. This was due mostly to spending most of my childhood in a suburb in Ohio surrounded by other rabid social conservatives. Consequently, I used to think that abortion should be illegal except in cases of rape because I equated it with murder and thought that everyone else should too.
As anyone who regularly reads this blog knows, I am now pretty much as progressive as they come and think that abortion should be legal in basically any circumstance.
However, this is not to say that my views on the subject are simple. Personally, for reasons that I’m unsure of and am still examining, I believe that life begins at conception, and I define a fetus as a living human being. By my definition, abortion is murder.
So how could I support a woman’s right to choose to abort her fetus, especially given that I do not condone murdering anybody once they’ve been born?
The simple answer is: ambiguity. Nobody really knows when life begins. I feel like it begins at conception, but this is a belief, not an educated opinion. This is why I emphasize the fact that I “feel” or “believe” this; I do not think it or know it. Others may feel or believe differently, and I cannot impose my feelings and beliefs on others.
In contrast, there’s really no doubt that a human being that has left the womb is alive, and that killing such a person is murder (with exceptions, of course, for assisted suicide and removal of life support). This is why, contrary to pro-lifers’ ridiculous arguments, legalizing abortion is not tantamount to legalizing murder. Since no amount of scientific research can tell us when life technically begins, this is all open to interpretation by individuals, which means that abortion should be something people are free to choose.
As for my own views, I’m still trying to figure out where they come from. My family is very much pro-choice, and we are not religious, so it’s nothing to do with that. People who are more liberal than myself might suggest that I’ve been brainwashed by the surrounding culture, but that’s a spurious claim given that the surrounding culture has largely failed to brainwash me on any other subject.
That said, if I ever do become unintentionally pregnant, I will probably have to choose abortion, because destroying my entire life is at least as unpalatable a prospect as is killing a fetus. And then I’ll have to live with a huge amount of cognitive dissonance and probably force myself to change my views on when life begins in order to resolve it.
In any case, I guess this makes me the complete opposite of all those social conservatives who claim that abortion is okay for them/their wives, but not for others. I think it’s okay for others but not for me, because it conflicts with my beliefs. Maybe that will change someday.