Friday, July 12, 2013

All the YES and none of the NO


SUMMARY: An 11-year old girl was raped by her stepfather and is now pregnant. The child's mother says he would never have used force and that the relationship was "consensual." The child issued a statement that her mother was lying. The father has confessed to the relationship. The case is now news in Chile and beyond because it is one of only five or six countries in the world that prohibit abortion in all cases.

OPINION: I have always been frustrated with compromise speak in abortion discussions. Here in the States, many provisions restricting abortion have a "rape and incest and mother's health" proviso somewhere, such that abortions are restricted "except in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother." It always struck me as proof that a fair amount of people haven't really given abortion the whole of their attention.

The way I've always seen it, at the core there are only two positions for the abortion issue:

YES: Abortions are a medical procedure that is acceptable to perform in certain circumstances. Those circumstances can be as strict as to only occur in cases of rape, incest, and other medically advised moments, or they can be so permissive as to allow women to use them as an extreme version of birth control. But whatever the degree or frequency, the procedure IS allowed.

NO: Abortion is the extinguishing of a life. It cannot be counseled or condoned under any circumstances, because it is murder. The life of the fetus or infant is paramount and cannot be infringed for any reasons or considerations, even above the wellbeing of the mother or the circumstances of life going forward. In all cases and for all reasons, the procedure IS NOT allowed.

It always seemed simple to me. Either you find abortion utterly incompatible with your worldview, or you have one or more examples where it would be an allowed option. These two positions are not reconcilable (you cannot disallow abortion AND have exceptions) and that inability to reconcile is the reason why abortion will never be resolved.

But the "rape and incest and mother's health" proviso does exist and it is a compromise position. In many cases, legislation restricting abortion cannot pass unless some form of compromise provision is added. For example, in March of 2012, the Georgia legislature was unable to pass new abortion legislation until an exemption for "medically futile" pregnancies was added.

What this means is that between the core groups of supporters of YES and the supporters of NO is some amount of people whose opinions split hairs. In the case of Georgia, they were people who don't accept NO, but did support the legislation after an exception was added (thereby making it not NO, but an extremely restrictive YES). What this means is that there are people who are generally opposed to abortion, but can conceive of circumstances where one might be necessary. They're with the NO most of the time, but they lack the absolutism and certainty that characterizes NO (itself an absolute position).

This case in Chile is tailor-made to separate these errant quasi-YES from the NO. It's a girl who was raped repeatedly by her own stepfather. She became pregnant. Now what?

The answer will be a resounding NO. As mentioned earlier, Chile is one of five or six countries (including Vatican City) that forbids abortion in all cases. The source article also contains statements from the girl herself, stating that she wants to go through with the pregnancy, and that having a baby is like having a doll.

But it may kill her. Pregnancy is not without risks in even the most ideal circumstances (with sexually mature and healthy women with access to good health care). Her young age increases the danger. The source article quotes the president of Chile (?) saying that the health of the girl should be paramount. This may, in the president's view, require a premature birth, even at 22 weeks. The article states that such "micro-preemies" have a survival rate of 2 to 15 percent.

So for the YES, this is a massive intersection of risk factors that illuminate one of the most-likely cases for abortion. One commenter specified that while they were normally anti-abortion, this case made them think that it wasn't always the best way, considering there was a very real risk of losing both mother and child, or serious developmental problems for child (and mother). Opposition leaders have been quick to use this case as a call for re-evaluating the laws.

And for the NO, it's a regrettable circumstance. One of the Chilean politicians said, "I'm condemning [the young pregnancy], especially in theses circumstances, but I want to emphasise a matter of consequence — I want to defend life from the moment of conception."

And as one person pointed out on Reddit, this case wouldn't even make the Wikipedia article for the youngest children who have ever given birth. This fact ensures that everyone feels terrible about everything related to this matter.

No comments:

Post a Comment