Abortion was the first political issue to enter my consciousness. It was explained very early on to me that it was legal to kill babies before they were born. It did not have to be explained that abortion was a bad thing. I knew it was a bad thing that babies were killed, and I made the classic mistake of equating the law with morality. I could not understand how anyone would be OK with abortion being legal. When I grew older and learned about logic and proofs, I wanted to use this newfound way of demonstrating truth to prove that abortion was wrong. I had seen how I could prove some counterintuitive statements in mathematics to be true; perhaps people who felt abortion wasn’t wrong were like people who intuitively felt it was better to stick with the door you’d chosen in the monty hall problem.
After years of thought on the issue, after abandoning pretty much everything I believed in growing up, and then coming back to a lot of it, after reaching conclusions on the nature of right and wrong that put me in a very different camp from most adults today, I still want to live in a world without abortion. The difference between then and now is that I think much more about how to get what i want. I cannot imagine a world where abortion does not happen because abortion is illegal. I cannot imagine this any more than I can imagine a world where nobody uses drugs because they are illegal, or a world where nobody has firearms because they are illegal.
We live in a world where many people use drugs despite them being illegal, and this has lead to the rise of violent armed gangs who evade the powers of law, a violent police force that oppresses the disenfranchised, and the largest prison population in the history of the world, living under the flag of freedom. Everyone involved in the criminal enterprise of selling drugs and the legal enterprise of stopping the bad guys wants drugs to continue being illegal – ostensibly to protect people like me, who suffered from a drug addiction for years. Being treated like a criminal didn’t help me. Dealing with criminals didn’t help me. Drugs didn’t help me, and their criminalization and being socially ostracized made the problem worse. What helped was love and compassion from the woman who is now my wife. She did not accept my use of drugs, but she did accept me. I wasn’t myself when I got high, she said – I was someone else, who shouted angrily about the problems of the world and claimed he could fix them. That’s not me. I’ve been that person from time to time, but I don’t like being that person.
I can imagine a world where drugs are legal, but nobody chooses to use them. In this world, nobody feels the need to radically alter their consciousness because their root state of mind is one of peaceful acceptance of the world as it is. This is much more easily accomplished if “the world as it is” is a just, equitable place, where hard work and determination really are all you need to make it. In this world, people who struggle feeling cut off, separated, and apart are comforted and consoled – and people who really are different are respected and treated with empathy, rather than being ignored or ostracized for not “being with the program” – a program which includes racism, sexism, homophobia, and other assorted forms of rejection masquerading as ignorance dressed up as morality.
Likewise, I can imagine a world where abortion is totally legal, but it never happens because nobody feels the need to get one. In that world, birth control is freely available to everyone, and the only people who get pregnant are those who choose to get pregnant. In that world, rape is completely unacceptable in the culture, and never happens because we don’t have a bunch of weak men running around, feeling alienated by a society that says their value exists in their ability to attract a mate. In that world, no mother fears that her child will have a difficult life, because the society supports all of its members. In that world, all human beings are connected, cared for, and loved. In that world, rational adults understand that sexuality and intimacy are human needs that are stronger than the need to breath or eat. A dead human is still treated as a human. Someone driven mad by loneliness is treated like an animal. Therefore, connectivity is more essential to human health than food and water. If you disagree, go spend a month in total darkness, alone, and then see how easy it is for you to get food and water when you’re crazy.
In our justice system, we claim to believe that it’s better for nine guilty men to go free than it is for one innocent person to go to jail. We need a similar rule for economics – it is better for nine lazy freeloaders to be comfortable, than for one hardworking person to struggle. In our world, if you don’t have enough food or water, people accept that this will kill you and they say (begrudgingly at times) “ok, fine, you have to give the prisoners food and water.” The same supposedly rational adults reject the idea that we have social needs, because it doesn’t kill a person to be alone – it just drives them mad. Those adults have never been mad and wished for death. There are a lot of folks who have – and every single one has been driven out of this world by the cold, irrational adults, who say “it is just and appropriate for you to suffer alone, because you have done bad things, and if we were to accept you doing these bad things, then the world would be a bad place.”
The world is a bad place now. It is moving to a better one. We don’t get there by giving each other more reasons to be cruel to one another – and prison is cruel. No rational person can say otherwise. It may be necessary, at present, but all the evidence says that the cruelty of prison satisfies our desire for revenge but does nothing to make us safer.
I want to live in a world where everyone is accepted and supported unconditionally, and I believe we will get there. You may say I’m a dreamer, sure. But consider this – the two worlds I’ve painted for you – one where drugs are legal but nobody uses them, and another where abortion is legal but nobody uses it – those are the same worlds. They both operate on the same principles – the compassion and dignity of all human beings – and they both recognize that social needs (connectedness and acceptance) are just as important as physical needs such as safety, food and water.
So yes, I want an end to abortion. That is why I support it being legal. If all of the money spent to buy ads and elect “pro life” politicians (who never do anything about abortion) – if that were spent to support struggling pregnant women, instead of encouraging them to be jailed for making a tough choice – it’d be a step towards a better world. You can’t make “Bad Things” go away by making them illegal. American conservatives tend to understand this when it comes to guns, but not for the “bad things” that conservatives personally find bad. As someone who identifies more with conservative causes than liberal ones – who prefers limited government – i want y’all to wake up and realize supporters of limited government have to practice what we preach.