Stuff.co.nz 24 March 2014
Tuesday marked a year of my having been a Waikato Times columnist. Since I started with a controversial issue (same-sex marriage), I figure it makes sense to celebrate a year by tackling another controversial issue. This time it’s abortion.
Admittedly Family First beat me to it with the launch of its campaign, but there’s still something I can add. Here’s what gets me: the whole pro-choice, pro-life divide seems to have got itself confused. Pro-choice means, quite simply, that some people have the right to make choices while others don’t. That right to make a choice, from what I can tell, is based on your age. If you are roughly 20 weeks or older, you have all the rights and privileges shared by the rest of humanity. If you are roughly 20 weeks or younger, you aren’t human, so you don’t get a right to choice.
What suddenly makes a baby human, then? I haven’t found an answer yet that makes sense, which is why I sit on the side of the fence that I do.
Take, for example, the “it’s just a bundle of cells” argument. Aren’t we all? It’s just that you and I are bigger bundles with voices, so we can protest if people want to kill us. The “not really human argument” has been tried before. Go back a few years and you’ll find there were plenty of people arguing that slavery was OK because science showed that black people weren’t the same species as white people. All we’ve done is change the category of people who “aren’t like us”. Instead of black people, we’ve made it very, very young people.
There’s the dependency argument, too: foetuses aren’t really another life until they can survive alone outside the womb.