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"When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." Elizabeth Cady Stanton



Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Opposing View of the Week: "Reopen the abortion debate?" from This Magazine

This is an article by Kyle Dupont on re-opening the abortion debate (because, of course, people seem to think this debate has been closed these past two decades).

His opinion:

"If this country were ever to allow restrictions to be implemented on a women's choice over her own body, we would be taking one giant leap backwards."

Right. Because being the only country in the world with absolutely no laws restricting abortion is just so progressive. It would seem, however, that the rest of the world does not agree.

In spite of this, he does think that the abortion debate should see the light of day (emphasis mine):

"We live in a democratic society where issues are openly discussed and voted on by the individuals we have elected into power. [...] It would be wrong and dangerous not to reopen the debate in a democratic nation."

Kudos to Mr. Dupont!

There are a few things about this article, however, that I want to specifically address. Mr. Dupont makes the point that with major advances in medical science and maternal care, the face of the abortion debate has changed. He asks:

"What happens when we reach the point when we can find out with certainty that a child will grow up to have Parkinson, ALS, or Alzheimer's? Is it humane to let the fetus survive only to live a life of unspeakable pain and suffering?"

First of all, I cannot even believe anyone is asking this question. If it is not humane to "allow" (because we are, apparently, the arbitrators of life and death) someone to survive if they will suffer later, we should just kill everyone because, guess what, at some point we are all going to suffer! And before you jump in and start crying about how I would think differently if I knew someone who has a horrible disease like Alzheimer's - I do. My Godfather. And he may be suffering now, but he isn't yet suffering unspeakably and, in fact, he is still able to smile, laugh, converse, and participate in life. And he has had an amazing life so far, with 2 beautiful children, one adorable grandchild, a loving family, and a distinguished career in business. I just don't understand how the fact that he is now ill somehow erases the entirety of the rest of his life, which was (and often still is) filled with incredible joy.
The real question is: how can we deny our fellow human beings the chance at life, love, happiness, and self-determination based on the knowledge that at some point in their life they will suffer? How is that fair? How does that make sense? Why aren't we instead asking: "how can we cure these diseases, mitigate the suffering of those afflicted in the meantime, and show our fellow human beings that we are here with them and for them"? When did our focus shift from helping and curing those who are suffering, to eliminating those who are suffering instead? Why is the elimination of those who are ill seen as a "cure" by so many people? By that logic, we should also kill anyone living in abject poverty ... but of course, we do not! Why? Because killing those who are suffering does not solve the problem! Killing does not stop poverty, nor does it cure Parkinson's, ALS, or Alzheimer's. And, in fact, many people who are suffering are still happy to be alive. Since that is the case, how can we be so arrogant to think that we can decide for others whether or not their lives are worth living?

Next he asks:

"Female feticide is a regular occurrence in China and India where boys are the preferred sex - and is now occurring in North America. Should parents be allowed to choose the sex of their child?" 

Quite simply, no. It is discrimination based on gender, and after the women's suffrage movement, I would have thought most people agree with the idea that discrimination based on gender is not alright. According to UN statistics, there are about 100 million girls missing due to gender selection. Girls are being targeting for the simple reason that boys are considered an asset, while they are seen as a liability. How exactly is this okay?

"I don't know the answer to any of these questions. Nobody does."

Well I do. Groups like "All Girls Allowed" do. Activists like Chen Guangcheng and Reggie Littlejohn do. Doctors, nurses, scientists, and medical researchers, who all strive tirelessly to cure and treat those with illnesses like Alzheimer's, do. Individuals who live with debilitating diseases do. And I thank Mr. Dupont for supporting the "re-opening" of the abortion debate, so that their voices can finally be heard by all Canadians.

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