Pro-Life or Pro-Choice? A debate which is not quite as clear cut as people may think. Each side has become entrenched in their position, and neither is willing to move. “The other side is worse!” both sides claim with as much passion and ignorance as a fighter. One of the common mistakes people make regarding this topic is assuming that there is a clear right and wrong side. Both sides have reasonable arguments, and both have moral dilemmas that are often forgotten about while either side battles it out and the war rages on. To tackle this troublesome topic we’ll have to examine the different elements of the debate. Clearly, we have the two sides of Pro-life and Pro-choice, but what makes a person choose either side?
We’ll start with pro-life because it is the simplest one to explain, and has the clearest message. They want Life at all costs. It’s that simple. Not a hard message, well not until it gets mixed in with Pro-choice, The idea that the woman should be allowed to choose whether or not she wants to abort the pregnancy. Most skirmishes in this debate occur around this question “Should a rape victim be allowed abortion?” the natural leap of logic for Pro-choice would be a yes. And the other side gives it’s equally definitive No. The arguments usually have the same depth as a puddle, so let’s expand it to reveal the ocean underneath. Surely this woman has rights and can choose her own path. Why not let her bear the brunt of the decision herself? Not the greatest dilemma for someone who’s experienced that amount of trauma to be going through I know. But what’s to say her choice makes her better? What’s to say her choice makes her worse? Pro-life may argue it’s not her choice to make, the unborn has rights too. Pro-choice may say she has the choice to take the burden on for better or for worse. Both of these are legitimate stances to take as both tackle moral dilemmas but slightly miss each other’s mark. The woman in question had no choice in the pregnancy, so who are we to take away her choice in stopping it. But equally Pro-life can say that the child didn’t have a choice in being born, who’s to say we take that life away, the unborn child isn’t around to argue it’s case. See what I mean? It’s not very clear-cut.
The main struggle in this debate is in how you define where life starts, does life start at conception? does it start when the baby develops organs? does it controversially start when the baby is born? These lines really define what side of the debate you will end up on. if you think it starts at contraception you’ll most likely be in Pro-life. If you think later than that you’ll probably be in Pro-choice. Most people can agree that abortion just before birth is murder, so where you draw the line really draws which side of the argument you fall on. Interesting link here.
Another of the most contentious parts of the argument is in the form of defective births. I guess the main point then is what is a defective birth? Who defines what a defective birth is? Talking to a good friend of mine it opened my eyes into the moral dilemma at play and how nuanced the argument is when deciding this. Most Pro-choice advocates will say “when a child’s quality of life is potentially so low an abortion must be considered” There are so many problems with this, depression is incredibly hard to pick up. Doesn’t mental illness also factor into the quality of life? You can probably think of some blind people who have had amazing lives and some who have had terrible lives. The Pro-choice response to this is the same as it can always be, “Let them decide” A simple answer that really means “It depends on the context” some problems are workable and some may not be. This debate can be kinda unsatisfactory sometimes in its inability to give clear answers.
Illegal abortions are a key issue too, let’s imagine for a moment that Pro-life wins out in the battle. How do we ensure that abortions aren’t being done illegally and unsafely? Backstreet abortions used to be a real problem here in the UK something that was addressed later with the Offence against the persons act of 1861. How do we ensure the safety of both the child and the mother? retaining both of their rights?
There is one ceasefire, however, and it’s with this question “what if both the mother and the child will die with this birth?”. Clearly Pro-choice will say the decision defers to the mother who will most likely choose to live. Pro-life will say that choosing the mother to live is the best option, one is better than none of course. Both sides can morally agree that the mother living was the right choice. So if both sides can agree on at least one issue then why so much anger?
I would love to propose a hybrid concoction where we educate women on their choice beforehand and possible repercussions of it, even offering adoption, safe abortions and giving them proper mental and physical health treatment. However, really at the end of the day, a compromise to either side would be the worst of both worlds. To the Pro-life advocates, you are giving the option of taking away precious human life. The Pro-choice advocates may say that adoption isn’t an adequate solution to the issue so it’s wrong to even propose it, a rape victim may hate the idea of bringing a product of rape into the world. It’s never easy to answer a debate when human lives are at stake, but unfortunately, given the ferocity of the debate, I’d rather aim for a compromise, at least people could get behind improving the medical process so there would be less to argue about. A large cause of the ferocity in this debate is that people often assume that because the other side has issues, this must mean that their own team is entirely correct. maybe that’s why we have these battlegrounds everywhere.