Monday, January 28, 2013

more on abortion

I don't like watching videos of cows being slaughtered. Pain is pain. Death is death. That could be me. I eat meat anyway for several reasons, many of which probably don't stand up to scrutiny, but the visceral connection is real. Cows have muscles and veins and ligaments and brains that process pain and so on. We say "meat" to distance ourselves, as if we're not made of meat. The victims of American drone attacks are labeled "terrorists" for similar reasons. If you're going to kill something, it had better not be you. And if you're going to end the future of a fetus, you'd be wise to first dismiss its humanity, to take some distance. I'm pro-fetus, in a half-assed sort of way. And I'm certainly anti-abortion in the sense that I'd like to see less of them happen. They're bad for both the pregnant woman and the fetus. Like I said, it's unwise and unneccessary to choose sides.

Fetuses are sympathetic characters. The desire to protect them from death is a good instinct, mostly, just like the nationwide grieving over the massacre in Newtown was. But as in that case, context exposes the empathy as entirely misguided, and worse, as a facade that plays a key role in perpetuating a system of domination. 

If you show Americans a picture of a beautiful Iranian woman and then explain how she was tortured by state thugs, they will feel empathy. Many will cry, even when no one's looking (though perhaps God/superego/parents are looking). Then they'll cheer as American heroes invade that country and kill countless women just like her. The feeling is real, physiologically, but systemically, it's fake. 

If a pro-lifer is actually interested in preventing abortions, as opposed to symbolically aligning themselves with the good and the true, they'll stop talking about criminalizing abortion and start talking about what they can do to address its causes. The entire American system, the same one most conservative American Catholics consider a shining beacon for the world when they're not lambasting it, has a habit of making unwanted pregnancies happen and of making abortion the least bad option. If you have no empathy for a 15 year-old black girl who grew up in a shattered family within a shattered community, the shattering of which is entirely the result and foundation of your white existence, I'd suggest you look deeper, and more inward. Abortion is the end point of a chain that you maintain.    


Jack Crow said...

That's a powerful closing line, Devin.

Devin Lenda said...

Thanks, and good to see you back, Jack.