Today, I spotted a link to Mary Ann Sorrentino’s Blog on Salon.com. Sorrentino reports about a woman who decided to Twitter her RU486 abortion in real-time.
27-year-old Angie Jackson decided to use Twitter as a public stage for her private decision to terminate a pregnancy using RU486, the miscarriage-inducing drug legally available in the US for a decade. Jackson, who has a 4-year-old son with special needs, says that that difficult pregnancy and outcome made her decide long ago not to have another child. She was committed to aborting future pregnancies that might occur.
Sorrentino strongly disapproves of Jackson’s public display of abortion. She considers it “self-serving, exhibitionistic, and selfish: at best, it has “Bad Judgment” written all over it.” I agree with Sorrentino’s characterization of Jackson’s craving for the limelight.
Before going further, however, I should make clear that I fully support a woman’s right to abort a pregnancy in the early months of the pregnancy. Although I consider an early term embryo/fetus to to be both human and alive, I don’t consider a human organism lacking a reasonably-developed brain to be entitled to the legal rights of personhood. As the pregnancy gets to be further along, the argument gets correspondingly stronger (in my mind) that the fetus is a person–I thus consider the idea of an elective abortion of a healthy fetus at 8 or 9 months (e.g., for sex selection) to be the ghastly equivalent of murder. Here’s more on my analysis of abortion and my rejection of the religious concept of the “soul,” an ancient concept that inspires many people who are anti-abortion.
As I read Sorrentino’s post, I thought about a question posed to me by a good friend who is anti-abortion. I mentioned to him that I believe in a woman’s right to abort for any reason in the early months of pregnancy. As we discussed the issue further, I indicated that it was too bad that some women had multiple abortions–too bad there isn’t fool-proof birth control–shouldn’t the invention of 100% reliable birth control be a priority for our government, so that there would be fewer accidental pregnancies, and hence, abortions?
My friend stopped me and asked me why I would care about large numbers of early term abortions, given my position that an early term abortion is not tantamount to murder. He asked, “If it’s not murder, why do you care that a woman uses abortion repeatedly – – 10 or 12 times in her life, to end pregnancies? You’re claiming that an early term abortion is only as morally significant as trapping a mouse in a mousetrap, right? If a human person is allegedly not involved, there’s nothing to regret when an early term abortion occurs.” This friend then went on to assert that my moral queasiness was proof that I was being disingenuous in my pro-choice position, and that I knew in my heart of hearts that even very-early term abortions are morally wrong. I protested that he was wrong, and I simply didn’t want to see woman going through a process that others demonized. But I must admit that his point is a good one, and it got me thinking.
For now, I would like to play the devil’s advocate, and suggest (as my friend did to me) that Ms. Jackson’s public abortion shouldn’t morally bother those people who support abortion rights. For those of us who say that we are convinced that the abortion of a 2-day old pregnancy is not murder, why is it considered crass or inappropriate to Twitter about it in real time? If there is nothing wrong with an early-term abortion, why not pull it out of the closet and talk casually about the procedure?
I suspect that Ms. Sorrentino’s concern is probably that Jackson was exercising political bad judgment, not moral bad judgment. I would certainly concur that Jackson was being politically foolish to the extent that she supports the right to choose.
Perhaps I’m projecting my own concerns about my own position on Ms. Sorrentino. Even so, I do know many people who express moral queasiness regarding abortion, even though they support a woman’s right to abortion. This topic of moral queasiness is a fascinating topic for me. Perhaps within this topic lies some desperately needed insight regarding the topic of abortion . . .
Category: Reproductive Rights