Saturday, May 31, 2008

Abortion and a woman caught living in man's closet

After living in a man's home for an entire year, a homeless woman was recently detected when the owner started noticing food was missing. Here is the story: woman caught living in man's closet
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This reminded me of something rather strange that I thought might make an interesting blog post.
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In my college ethics class, we read an argument in favor of woman's reproductive rights, which had a somewhat pursuasive effect on some of my classmates. I think it makes for an interesting parallel here, possibly.
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The argument was something like this: If a woman woke up and found herself attached to another person - specifically, the other person was a famous violinist - who had to rely on her as a resource to live - her organs, blood, etc. - for a full nine months, or else he would not survive, would she be 100% morally obligated to all the violinist to remain connected to her body for the full nine months? Or would it be morally permissible for her to say 'no' and have him detached?
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On the surface, to some this ethical argument seems rational, reasonable, and perhaps even irrefutable. And the argument was specifically used to support the Pro-Choice position toward abortion. The argument does not deny what we Pro-Lifers often cling to as our foundational stance: the fact that a fetus is a life. The author completely allows for this.
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Okay, so no one is denying life on either side.
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However, the two things that are ignored or discarded that which must be considered (IMO) are:
1st - personal responsibility involved in the development of the situation.
In the violinist example, the woman who finds herself attached to the violinist is completely surprised and has not acted in anyway to invoke said attachment. When a woman discovers she is pregnant, she does have some culpability, unless she was raped. The author of the violinist scenario assumes that a man has 100% culpability in the pregnancy and that the woman is a passive vessel and victim only. 'Right to Life' activists sometimes forget about the man's culpability, and perhaps the feminist author is mostly over-reacting to the tendancy of our culture to pin the blame on the woman only or primarily. Needless to say, a problem ownership issue emerges in this view.
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2nd - the entire notion of parental responsibility.
The author's assumption is that the person or life that has been attached is completely foreign and alien to the woman's body. The author's metaphor assumes that either the violinist or some other force entirely has conspired against the woman's body and thrust this burden upon her for an entire 9 month sentence. In the case of a woman's pregnancy, the opposite is true. The life that is relying on her body is organic to her, it is part of her, it is her. It's DNA and existance has been formed by hers (and the father's). The fetus is a biological family member to her. It did not exist outside of her, but instead is as much or more a part of her actual body than any of her organs, tissues, blood, etc. She becomes a mother and the fetus became her child from inception, not just at the moment of delivery. The father is the father from inception (and you don't hear feminists refuting that, do you?) Neither she or he is just a citizen making a civil decision, as the author would imply.
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So those were at least two of the huge fallacies in the Violinist Argument.
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Now, what does this have to do with the woman living in this man's closet? Well, without the two crucial points described above, Personal Responsibility and Parental Responsibility, a literal and exclusive version of "right to life" could easily be applied to tell this man that he is required to take care of this woman until she is able to live on her own.
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Yes, people. That was exactly the first thing that came to mind when I read this article. I know t
that my mind is weird.
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My point is that while abortion is sometimes fully about the discussion of a fetus's "right to life," it more often about sorting through the issues of accountability, authority, parental responsibity, personal responsibilty, and civil responsibilty. The business of sorting thru action and consequences is for mature law makers who have a worldview that values life, understands the difference between civil duty and parental responsibility, and understands the levity and gravity of its authority.
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Update:
Just to appease my guilt for not having the Gospel tied to this post in some way, here is a link to the article: God Became a Zygote>> (enjoy!)
and a scripture passage that I caught this morning:
"They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor" (Isa. 61:3).

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