04 January 2010

expanded gah

To expound upon the previous problem, as usual I will use the example of abortion.

Let's assume the following positions: that the anti-choice/pro-life perspective is that abortions are (usually) wrong and immoral and should be restricted or removed as an option for mothers, and that the pro-choice perspective would be that the imposition of a choice for a prospective mother by the state is immoral and should be prevented (with some within that perspective being opposed to specific time frames, such as late-term abortions). Here's the problem. If you are of the first camp then your logical conclusion should be to pursue policies which will reduce, if not eliminate, the need, the demand and where reasonable (within our social and legal ability to monitor), the supply. Which they don't, pursuing instead policies of abstinence-only education and its associated misinformation and restrictions on birth control (neither of which reduces abortion demand rates in the slightest), suggesting that the issue is a fight over sex rather than reproduction rights. Different worldviews and different data does not even matter if we are not conducting the same debate. If one side is arguing about the reproductive rights of a gender and the other is arguing over the sexual rights of that gender, then we're not even talking about the same thing, simply because I'm not sure that even pro-life folks would like to argue that sex is solely for procreation and never for recreation.

Here's the next problem, this perspective operates on the idea that creating life is a powerful and important mission for a human being to carry out (as a mother, presumably), which is, admittedly, its most powerful argument in defence of its political mission. But there are many who are then uncomfortable with human cloning or in vitro fertilization even though both such methods would presumably be engaged in creating new life. Cloning is sort of sticky metaphysical reasoning herein, much like the arguments over fertilization as the starting point for human life. But if we are to err on the argument that fertilization is a starting point then we should also have to err on the side of a clone (at some future point where human cloning is perfected and a realizable goal for people to carry out as a normal market function). If we're seeking to be logically consistent, then pretty much anything that allows for the growth and reproduction of human life is ideal under that perspective.

There are of course some problems with this perspective in a modern economy. For example, it tends to be important for parents not merely to reproduce for genetic reasons for their own generation but also to want to see this progeny have tools to succeed and, presumably, pass on that genetic material further down the line. As a result, it is less important to reproduce quantity of human life, in a modern economic system, and it becomes more important to secure a better quality of life for each new life produced. Since this is a reasonable demand, and it thus suggests that each new life should have an optimal environment, it occurs to me at least that each possibility of new life (ie, each new pregnancy) is not necessarily an optimal arrangement of parent and child. We accept, for some reason, that parents are able, at virtually any age and level of achievement, to bear children if it is their wish and choice to do so. But assuming this is the bare minimum of rational expectations, then it does seem like there must be scenarios that are imaginable wherein people do not wish to have children but have produced a pregnancy that might well do so anyway. Since this far more limited set of scenarios is basically the only arena under which there is any debate and policy argument worth having (much of the rest seems like an abuse of authority or a ceding of it to the state, in particular discussions relating to teenage sexuality and to a lesser extent forms of birth control, and naturally almost nobody in this country would seriously propose forcing women to have abortions against their will), it is unsurprising that there's a fixed and entrenched battleground within its realms suggesting extreme positions all along the way. What is surprising is how unresponsive it has become to the facts of how to work to reduce the underlying issue. How to reduce the likelihood of such scenarios occurring in the first place is the essential point that has escaped the political edifices. This sort of issue, and the dogmatic approaches that prevent it from rising into serious discussions over what to do about it, are what I am describing as an increasing problem for our society. If one side for example is to approach a situation with the idea that the root cause, the root of abortions, is too many kids having sex or at least, too many unmarried people having sex, that's certainly a possible explanation given the rates of abortions among such groups and the amount of restrictions placed on "underage" sex. On the other hand, if that same population had access to birth control, they would be as perfectly capable of mitigating the problem of "unplanned parenting" as married couples generally are. Usually by mutually coordinating the idea of when to have a child and then proceeding to attempt producing one (or more). If the actual goal was something like the preservation of life and the subsequent ability to insure its sustainability relative to others, then this seems like a perfectly adequate solution. Since the actual goal is more complex than that, made so, for example, by tying in the idea that somehow our intimate sexual responses are so special that they should be reserved for at least quasi-reproductive purposes under the guise of a marriage or civil union (of a heterosexual variety only in both instances), it becomes especially hard to disentangle the roots of abortions from some other social agenda. It becomes a battle over worldviews and data sets rather than a battle over how to resolve an actual problem. In this case, the rates of teenage sexual advances relative to their access to birth control combined with rates of abortion seeking populations and the effectiveness of laws which penalize teenage sexual activity in the absence of any pregnancy are being fought over as though the data were meaningless and non-suggestive of any possible solutions which would compromise on the more thorny and uncertain territory of abortion itself within the ethical realm. And this will persist so long as each group retains its insulation of mind and thought, regardless of which group exists in a world closer to reality than the other.
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