Sunday, March 8, 2009

The trouble with black and white thinking

I'm shocked by the following article...every possible aspect of it is terrifying.,0,5869588.story

The issue of abortion is frightfully complex, and I'm not willing to dip my toe too far into it on a silly little blog like this, but the fact that the Vatican calls abortion a worse crime than the rape and impregnation of a 9-year-old girl by her stepfather is giving me the absolute jitters. Here are some reasons why:

A. If you've seen what happens to a woman's body when she's carrying multiples, you can imagine what it would do to a tiny 9-year-old body. This girl's life would be at very serious risk if she carried them to term, which (BTW) simultaneously puts the fetuses' lives at serious risk.

B. This is not an issue of birth control. If you want to argue that abortion as b.c. is a moral crime, I'll listen to the argument, but I'm not willing to listen to any claim that this case is anywhere near the same issue. This girl had no control over any aspect of what happened to her. She did not choose any of this. So I can't in good conscience tell her that she has to further put herself at risk and live with more personal physical trauma than she already has.

C. The Vatican basically is arguing that this girl's life and well being are less significant than the fetuses' lives, which is one of the issues that bothers me more broadly about the abortion debate. Once children are born into the world by parents who don't want them or can't afford them, then it seems like society is supposed to care less about their welfare. Programs that help children living in poverty, or in abusive homes, are too often derided for being entitlement programs. Sure, the parents suck sometimes, but it is no more the kids' fault than the 9-year-old girl's fault for being raped. So why do we care more about the fetuses than we do about the people already living in the world, including (but not limited to) this girl and her personal tragedy? How can you rank one as more important than the other when your basic argument is that all are equally important in God's eyes? It's a circular argument, I realize, but that's why I also think the following.

D. The idea that abortion is a black/white issue, a right/wrong issue, a simple issue, etc. does not work, and this case is absolute proof that we will never resolve it by trying to oversimplify it the way the Vatican just tried to do. That might make me a wishy-washy liberal, but I guess I'm just fine with that. I'm siding with the little girl's family on this one. If I were them, I'd tell the Catholic church to stick their little pointy hats up their butts and find a new religion.

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