Monday, February 1, 2010

Solving the Question of Abortion

This coming Super Bowl Sunday marks another instance where the issue of abortion takes center stage when former University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow will reminisce with his mother about her decision to forgo the abortion of Mr. Tebow despite an increased threat to her life. Clearly many individuals believe that this advertisement, sponsored by the Christian group Focus on the Family, is inappropriate for its Super Bowl venue on a wide variety of grounds ranging from those that do not want to mix politics and sports to those that believe outlawing abortion is legally and/or morally wrong. Unfortunately once again another discussion about abortion however tangential, in this instance the venue, fails to identify the genuine reality behind the issue of abortion because of emotional fervor and stubborn selfishness.

The principle element upholding the argument of outlawing abortion in the anti-abortion crowd (why such a designation is appropriate over pro-life will be explained later) is that the fetus is a human being and therefore, it is morally wrong, and should be legally wrong, to end the existence of the fetus. Unfortunately in the realm of science a fetus cannot be viewed as an independent life form until it is outside of the mother’s womb. Instead one can only argue from the position of ‘potential human life’ which from a legal standpoint is not enough. No ‘potential’ anything has the expectation of any form of legal protection. Any attack or attempt to forcibly ‘birth’ the fetus, under the mindset of ‘the fetus would live if the potential mother would give it a chance’ is a violation of the women’s rights and cannot be tolerated in a civil society. Therefore, until the fetus is born, it cannot be afforded any rights akin to that of a currently independent living human being. The only categorical position that can be taken against abortion is one of a religious nature with the perspective that life begins at conception not at birth. Overall for anti-abortionists their argument for outlawing abortion is not only disallowed by logic, but is also disallowed by the 1st Amendment which separates church and state and prevents the passing of laws based on specific religious beliefs or scriptures.

Suppose for a second that somehow logic and respect for the Constitution of the United States ceased to exist and Roe v. Wade was overturned allowing states to determine the legality of abortion within their boarders. Then suppose that for some reason all 50 states banned abortions. Would such action prevent abortions from occurring? Looking at the track record for anti-laws it is unlikely as speed limits hardly stop individuals from speeding nor does the illegality of possession and/or distribution of certain drugs stop those activities and the list could go on and on. Therefore, outlawing abortions would not stop abortions, but instead probably result in fewer abortions (which anti-abortion individuals would cheer), but also make an abortion for those that still insist upon on (there will still be a number of individuals that fit this mold) much more dangerous, which no one should cheer.

However, the issue of outlawing abortion does not end with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, despite almost every anti-abortion group thinking it does. What these groups fail to address is what happens to fetuses, which would have been aborted, when they are born? Remember these new infants are being born into an immediate environment where their parents, especially the mother, do not want to or are not willing to care for them. Do anti-abortion groups believe that once the fetus is born that everything will magically work out and the parents will instantly want to care for the child? If that is their plan then these groups are truly living in a delusional dream world because child abuse and domestic violence certainly never happens in the real world. That is why these groups should be regarded as anti-abortion not pro-life because a vast majority of them, if not all of them, care nothing for the fetus once it becomes an infant. No, they just pat themselves on the back because the fetus was born, say ‘job well done’ and then move on to the next case. Out of sight, out of mind, not actually solving the problem, what a nice philosophy to have.

There in lies the real solution to the abortion ‘problem’. Making abortion illegal does not solve the problem; in fact depending on the course of life those newly surviving take it may create even more problems in society in general, a reality that is more probable due to the type of home life these individuals will experience. Ending abortions cannot truly come from stripping them of their legality. Unfortunately this fact seems lost on the anti-abortion movement. Instead the strategy should be to limit abortions through strengthening the alternatives and reducing its overall probability of necessity.

First things first, the process of going through an abortion is both physically and mentally taxing on a women; there are many other avenues which cost less both financially and emotionally that reduce the probability of pregnancy when having sexual intercourse. Thus it is unreasonable to conclude that abortion is used as a consistent measure of birth control. Therefore, anyone that argues against abortion using that particular point is a fool who should be dismissed.

Two key elements must be addressed when looking to reduce abortions without focusing on the status of their legality. The first issue is expanding sexual education to limit the amount of error present when two young individuals engage in sexual behavior, thus lowing the probability of creating a situation where abortion is even an option. Being realistic abstinence only programs are a complete joke and have failed in every major instance in which they have been applied. Through legitimate and frank discussion of sex both by educators and by parents, teenagers and young adults can be better prepared to responsibly engage in sexual behavior which in turn lowers the probability of abortions.

In addition to proper discussion about sex through sex education, the discussed tools must also be made available to those that do not have effective access to those items. Unfortunately some ideas to ensure this access have been criticized, most notably free condom programs in schools. Opponents of these programs harbor unjustifiable fears that if individuals are given access to free condoms it will substantially increase the probability of those individuals having sex. The primary reason that these fears are irrational is that a condom is not a necessary element to the process of sexual intercourse, thus having better access to one is not going to effectively change the probability that sexual intercourse takes place. Secondary is that a condom is not perishable; there is no set short-term time period in which it has to be used, so there is no increased incentive to use it before it ‘goes bad’. Overall there is no reason to believe that increasing available access to things like condoms in an education environment will increase the probability of individuals engaging in sexual intercourse. However, it must be said that it is important that this increased access be accompanied by proper education in their application and use otherwise there is a chance that their application will be incorrect thus creating unnecessary waste.
The second issue is increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of adoption. As previously discussed even if abortion is eliminated there are a number of fetuses that will enter environments in which they are not welcome. Therefore, there must be a better means to extract them from that environment and place them in a more beneficial environment. Unfortunately very little attention is paid to the adoption and foster-care programs throughout the country and as a result they are under-funded and frequently unpleasant. In fact since Dave Thomas’s death, one really does not see anything concerning adoption in the mainstream anymore. Such a reality is sad because streamlining and improving adoption proceedings is an essential element to reducing the number of abortions.

Overall if the goal in the issue of abortion is to minimize the total number of abortions performed in a given year, at least if it is not then it should be, then the most popular strategy employed by anti-abortion groups is not plausible. Trying to deduce convoluted rationalities on how a fetus is a human deserving of rights or stacking courts with dishonorable justices that care more about their personal beliefs than the law will not accomplish the goal.

Coming full circle, this is what is wrong with the forthcoming Tim Tebow-Focus on the Family abortion commercial. This commercial will focus on a sentimental message/argument with little value beyond the immediate players involved and entirely dependent on the result of the childbirth. What would have happened if both Tim Tebow and his mother had died during childbirth instead of both surviving? Either way a commercial with such a message convinces no one of consequence. What weak-minded individual is going to change his/her personal viewpoint on abortion after viewing it? In essence the entire idea is just a waste of time and a waste of money. A donation equal to the cost of the Super Bowl advertisement to a group like the Dave Thomas Foundation would be much more beneficial in the fight against abortion.

The strategy anti-abortion groups should utilize is a focus on reducing the probability that abortion can even be entertained as an option by reducing unwanted pregnancies through sex education and then ensure that viable options exist beyond an abortion for when education fails as an option largely by reforming and expanding the adoption and foster-care. An alliance with Planed Parenthood, as ironic as that seems, would also be useful in this regard allowing pregnant women the ability to understand their options some of which may originally be unknown.

In fact the entire issue over 3rd trimester abortions acts as a microcosm for this entire issue. Many anti-abortion groups and politicians work hard to ban 3rd trimester abortions. However, such action is rather silly because unless the health of the mother is at stake no prospective parent is logically going to abort a fetus carried for so long. Any thought of an abortion is simply the result of fear or apprehension, which in the proper education and nurturing environment can be alleviated eliminating the prospect of an abortion. In the end the real issue is whether anti-abortion groups genuinely want to limit the number of abortions in the world or whether they want to try to limit the number of abortions their way using their methodology even if their way is not the most effective or practical way.

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