I chose to write to the author of the pro-choice essay, not only because I am personally pro-life, but because the author's comparisons and logic were lacking. This is my initial response:
Dear Ms Judith Jarvis Thomson,
I would like to respond to your essay A Defense of Abortion. I have to say that I disagree with you on a few of your ideas and on some of the logic you use to defend this practice.
I would like to draw your attention to the fourth section of your essay and concentrate my disagreements in this area.
While I strongly agree with the fact (and with your reasoning) that a fetus has no claim to a mother’s body if comes to reside their through an act of violation, I would disagree with you in extending that to the scenario when the mother has done everything to safeguard against pregnancy and still ends up pregnant.
According to your essay, you deduce that any fetus that has snuck its way in has no right to the mother’s house since the mother did not willingly invite it in. You further state that if one were to say that the mother could have prevented it still by living her life with “bare floors and furniture, or with sealed windows and doors” is basically ludicrous and would be like saying women could prevent getting pregnant by rape by “having a hysterectomy.” I say to this, that this comparison is ludicrous. You cannot compare apples and oranges. Yes they may both by definition be fruit. Furthermore they are both grown on trees. However, apples have a thin red, green or yellow peel, have small brown seeds and the fruit is white in color. Oranges are orange; they are segmented and have white seeds. Beyond the category of fruit, they cannot be lumped together as the same.
And so it is with rape and consensual sex. Yes, by definition they are both sex and may both result in pregnancy. However, these ‘fruits’ are even less closely related than apples and oranges. Women may have ‘safe’, protected, preventative (as far as pregnancy goes) consensual sex. And yet, always going into it they know that, as you said, nothing comes with that 100% guarantee that we would love to see. Women go into this sexual exchange knowing that there is always that risk or that chance of pregnancy and they are willingly and knowingly gambling. They may think they are playing with a great hand and are sure to be triumphant, but sure enough, as in all gambling games, at some point the house wins. The point is that women participating in consensual sex, regardless of how well ‘protected’ they are, always run the risk of pregnancy and they know it and they choose to participate anyway.
Rape is a fruit of a whole other color. Women who are raped obviously by definition of rape, have no say in the matter, no choice. You could argue that these women also know that this type of sexual exchange have a knowledge of the risk of pregnancy. And you would be right, they do. What we have to remember is that this group of women did not choose to gamble against the house. They were forced to play the game, they didn’t even get to place a bet. And in many cases they were held at that table, gambling with a gun to their head (metaphorically or literally). As I said, these ‘fruits’ of sexual intercourse, or sexual exchanges are completely different and not to be compared or placed together as the same.
As for your analogy of ‘people seeds’ and whether or not the window is screened and the house is ‘protected’ against the seeds being able to root, everyone knows that opening the window comes with the risk of seeds getting in, plain and simple.
What is wrong with asking a little accountability and responsibility of people. Shouldn’t we as a moral society promote such principles? All women participating in consensual sex should know that it always comes with the risk of pregnancy (if they don’t, it’s no one’s fault but their own). If you are going to gamble, and you know that comes with a risk of losing, shouldn’t you be prepared to pay your debt without sacrificing someone else’s currency?
My post got the most responses by classmates and as you can imagine some of them were up in arms. I was accused of promoting teen parenthood, ripping happiness from the world by demanding abstinence and being totally unfair for expecting people to be accountable for their actions. I was also applauded by a few. To all my response was:
First off, I never said that teenagers should raise children. I simply said that if any female participates in sexual activities she should understand what the natural consequences of her (and his I might add, I think males should have a voice in these issues too and they most certainly are not excluded from this accountability) actions could be.
While it is a shame that teens lose their futures when they take responsibility for their actions, in my opinion, it would be worse to live in a world of zero accountability where no one has to deal with natural consequences. This world would quickly (and is already headed in this direction) fall into chaos. Is it so hard for people to control themselves, to be more responsible? Why should I have to think about what if this happens to 'my girl'? Yes, I do have a daughter and 3 sons and I don't want any of them to be teenage parents. Does this mean I teach them 'safe' sex? Yes, but why not go one step further and teach them that certain actions come with a risk of certain consequences which they may or may not as teenagers be ready to handle. Does that require them to raise a child at 15, certainly not. May it require them to alter their life for 9 months to give birth to the child they created, yes, it may. I would never advocate teenage parenthood (although there are some that have done a good job at it). I do however think it is high time that we as a society start taking responsibility for our actions.
Note I'm saying for our actions. These ideas do not imply to cases of rape. And as I have already said, these ideas do not apply to cases where the mothers life is in jeopardy. I also think that cases of incest (whether rape or consensual) is another time when abortion should be considered. But for cases when it's merely a case of pure choice... does another have to die so that you can live the life you want. It reeks of selfishness to me. And I know not all children are born into ideal, happy, good, normal families. But who are we to say death is better. I know I am getting into dangerous territory here, I understand others ideas that an embryo is not human. But it is life. It amazes me that our society is one that requests that I eat breast milk ice cream and yet wants to abort innocent life. It's funny how many rights for animal advocates are out there and yet some of these are also advocates for abortion. Please, someone explain that to me!!! How is it wrong for me to kill an animal to feed my family, or cut down a tree to provide shelter for my family, but it's ok to kill the unborn so I can still go bar hopping and/or become a dentist?
Yes, I am conservative, I believe in God, I believe in the right to life and whether it is very philosophical of me or not to admit it, I will not make apologies. I am tired of society telling me that my brand of freedom of choice is intolerant. The very people who want the rights to abortion and/or gay marriage are the ones telling me I can't pray in my school or say 'one nation under God' in my pledge to my countries flag and that I should serve breast milk ice cream to my children and husband because cow's are violated if I milk them. Really? I know I'm going to here it from many of you for my comments. Just know that I am not anti-gay rights, just anti-changing the definition of marriage and that I do think animals should be treated better and that their lives are important too. The real point I am trying to make is where is the accountability? Why is it so wrong to ask for that principle to be reinstated in our culture?
This too, created a little tension as you can imagine. I did get an "Amen, Sister!" on this one though. There was much debate back and forth about when a fetus is actually human and why men have no say in the matter and the issue of people forcing religion down throats. I felt like more needed to be said and unfortunately I can't ever say anything briefly (as evident by this post). Here is my final response on this topic and truly my personal feelings on the matter:
There are many of you that are basing arguments for abortion on the facts that 1) a clump of cells does not equal human life, 2) why bring a child into the world just for it to suffer, and 3) it's the woman's body and she should be able to choose for herself.
I would like to add some food for thought on these issues. First, as some others have stated, those clumps of cells are human cells that are growing and alive. They may not yet be to a point of sustaining life on their own and they may not yet resemble human form, but they are living, growing human cells. I guess it's just a matter of perception on this issue. However, someone put the question out there about the soul being put into the body. This is an excellent question and one that is worthy of much thought and research. Again though, there are many that are not religious that would see it as irrelevant. I personally, see it as the biggest issue when talking about abortion. And from my limited understanding about the mysteries of God, I know that a body without a spirit is dead. Putting a spirit into a body is like putting a hand into a glove; without the hand the glove is lifeless, it cannot move and has no purpose without the hand. Without the spirit, the body is lifeless, it cannot move and has no purpose. So it would stand to reason that for those clumps of cells to grow and develop, there must be a spirit giving them life and force and purpose. The is my personal understanding of the matter.
Second issue: I think that this statement is irrelevant. We all suffer to varying degrees. I come from a home with a drug addicted, neglectful father and I wouldn't change a thing about my upbringing. That is not just because I adore my parents in their faults, but because I am who I am because of my experiences. Trial and challenge force us to grow and develop in ways that would be unimaginable without them. Like the raging waters wearing down jagged rocks, polishing them into smooth stones, trial likewise, rubs the pride right out of us allowing us to be teachable, touchable (emotionally/mentally) and pleasing to associate with.
Lastly, on the matter of agency. I absolutely 100% believe in the God-given gift of free agency, the undeniable right that everyone has to choose for themselves. However, in the words of Dallin H Oaks (an Apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
"If we say we are anti-abortion in our personal life but pro-choice in public policy, we are saying that we will not use our influence to establish public policies that encourage righteous choices on matters God’s servants have defined as serious sins. I urge [Christians] who have taken that position to ask themselves which other grievous sins should be decriminalized or smiled on by the law due to this theory that persons should not be hampered in their choices. Should we decriminalize or lighten the legal consequences of child abuse? of cruelty to animals? of pollution? of fraud? of fathers who choose to abandon their families for greater freedom or convenience?
Similarly, some reach the pro-choice position by saying we should not legislate morality. Those who take this position should realize that the law of crimes legislates nothing but morality. Should we repeal all laws with a moral basis so that our government will not punish any choices some persons consider immoral? Such an action would wipe out virtually all of the laws against crimes." (Dallin H. Oaks, “Weightier Matters,” Ensign, Jan 2001, 13 found on the web @ http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=7755a1615ac0c010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1)
I realize that I cannot force my personal religious views on anyone else, however as a Christian woman I cannot leave those views outside the classroom or courtroom for that matter, just as I would not expect you to leave your believes behind.
This a tough topic that does require much thought which I think we are all agreed on. Much respect to everyone.
Why can't we all just get along? Why can't everyone just think and do as I do? Ok, well maybe not do, I'm not perfect you know....