Who of us knows the difference between a fetus and a child?
Listen to this surprising testimony from a liberal father:
“I used to think that there was something to the argument that a fetus has an inalienable right to be born, but then I became a parent and noticed the fundamental difference in the love I have for my child versus the love I had for the fetus. I did not love the fetus at all like I loved the child. I did not feel a human soul shining forth from the fetus. When I hold my children, I am aware of the soul; I know they are full humans and must be protected and nurtured and allowed to find their way into the soul of things. I did not have that with the fetus. And so I found that argument wanting, especially as the current Federal limits on abortions restrict them after a fetus is six-months old (because this is the age at which a fetus can live outside the mother’s womb, and is thus biologically ‘viable’), and about 90% of US abortions are performed within twelve weeks of conception. Pair this with the Republican’s willful and informed destruction of a planet we need habitable if any child is to have a future, and their stance on abortion strikes me as ludicrous. Not to mention their willingness to separate real, living children from their parents as part of their immigration policy.”
This had not occurred to me.
I missed out on those years of blooming adulthood when a man perfects a trade, finds a woman, settles down to raise a family and live in a chaotic but love-filled domesticity. I was at sea from approximately age 19 to 39. Lost at sea? Or exploring? Ah, but the distinction gets blurred out there in the pelting elements, the indifferent currents, and lonely wave-sloshed reveries. I’ve held newborns in my arms and felt the soullight streaming forth from them, much wider and brighter and clearer than any purely-animal fire might glow. But as to fetuses, I am inexperienced. They stay in bellies that I shy away from, feeling like the delicate incubation is best left undisturbed by the rough reckless hands of a seafaring and, though God-seeking, not particularly God-realized man.
Perhaps a panel of spiritual experts could gather around a collection of women in all stages of expectation? Wise hands could be placed on bellies? Great insights won? A consensus reached?
Of course, we shouldn’t mix religion and politics. That encourages politicians to deceive themselves and others about the most sacred things (what they find written in their heart of hearts about the True Good). Combining church and state dangerously consolidates metaphysical and worldly authority — cheapening the former, over-inflating the latter, and corrupting both.
But we Something Deeperists believe the spiritual should have a place in our collective decision-making. We maintain that certain spiritual values are required for any human ideology to be coherent, and it therefore behooves us to collectively accept and pursue those values. Specifically: We should think, feel, and act aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent; pursuing always loving-kindness and shared-joy. And so we believe in the need to grow as individuals and collectively in wisdom: in an active insight into that and in what way it is True to say, “we are all in this together.”
So could we perhaps support the organization of a panel of spiritual seekers from all religions and nonreligions who, while to keep them “honest” could not directly decide matters of state, but who could review spiritual questions in government and issue suggestions that the citizenry and government alike would take seriously? Or is that too likely to shade into the corruptions inherent in the wedding of political and metaphysical authority?
Suppose it is indeed true that a well-intentioned and acceptably-wise person could find fetuses to be either soulless and/or not universally in need of being born. Suppose, for example, that the death of a three-month fetus is not necessarily a moral nor spiritual problem from the point of view of either the fetus or the Source from which all things spring and to which all things return. And suppose that for this reason, or some other morally and spiritually reasonable one, a fetus’s death need not always be a morally and spiritually wrong choice. If such suppositions are allowable, the debate’s tilted in favor of abortion rights: a woman should have the right to decide what she does with her body, women are already here and active in individual and collective endeavors, and a well-meaning and equally-wise people can differ about whether or not fetuses have inalienable rights and needs to life.
Except: What if we said we should err on the side of life? Since while it may be inconvenient to bring an unwanted child to term, it is much less convenient to be killed.
But Maybe: Could it be that it is morally wrong in at least the vast majority of situations to have an abortion, but it should still be legal? That is: Could it be that it is not OK to abort your fetus, but it is still not OK for a government to tell you what to do with your body, and therefore it should be legal for you to decide what to do with your body and fetus? Since combining spiritual and legal authority, as above noted, tends to the corruption of both; perhaps for the sake of good government — which is necessary if we’re to collectively choose and act well together –, the state should avoid moral and spiritual decisions whenever possible. And so, as the destruction of fetuses represent a debate about an isolated murder and/or disposal whose field of action is contained within a grown-up woman’s body; don’t governments have less cause to interfere in the rescuing of fetuses than in the protection of a woman’s right to rule her own body (which belongs to a citizen already out and about and thus officially under the jurisdiction of our collective self-rule)?
From the point of view of Something Deeperism: Is morality something governments shouldn’t weigh in on, except insofar as they protect the ability of living people to think and act in accordance with what they, through much soul-searching, consider to be the most clear, honest, accurate, kind, and joyfully-sharing way that they in a given moment can think and act ― the most in keeping with an understanding that and in what way it is True to say, “we’re all in this together”? [Because, per Something Deeperism: Any individual or shared philosophy and/or life-choice undermines the chooser to the degree that philosophy and/or life-choice does not help people to better and better understand that and in what way it is True to say, “we’re all in this together; and must think and act clear … joyfully-sharing”; and therefore, this shared moral/spiritual foundation must be our collective first priority: So (1) we can all be true to our own wisdom-paths while also (2) knowingly sharing enough common ground to meaningfully discuss collective decisions together.] If that’s the case, then, ah, well: don’t we still have the question again of who’s already living? After all, we don’t let three year olds vote, but we also don’t let anyone kill them.
What if we could come up with an end-around to this issue? What if we could transfer a fetus into an artificial womb right away? What if the procedure was no more difficult or dangerous than an abortion? What if we turned abortion clinics into transfer clinics, where interested parties would pre-sponsor fetuses, pledging to nourish and care for them until they were graduated from college or trade school (so up to say, age 24)? If we paired that with energetic support for family-planning? Would that be a reasonable compromise between a woman’s right to privacy and a fetus’s right to life? Would it allow us as a nation to move forward together? Would it allow the unwanted fetuses the chance to be wanted and well-loved and -cared-for? Would it allow women the freedom to escape unwanted pregnancies? Clearly, there would have to be very explicit laws severing child from natural mother and cleaving child to adopted family.
I don’t know; can medical technology provide us an end-around this debate which medical technologies (albeit in many instances crude ones) have created? Or would avoiding the issue in this way do more harm than good?
Ah well, an old pirate will doodle ideas in the margins of the ship’s journal late at night, in the bursts afforded and denied by the swinging of a lone lantern suspended overhead on a rusted chain. An old pirate, with no family of his own, and who’s never known the thrill of working within the parameters of a legislature, will consider weighty matters alone in the hull of a stolen schooner. May the Great God forgive us all.
Captain John Terrible
[Editor’s note: This article, along with one other from the same author and numerous considering Something Deeperism, can be found in “First Essays”, which can be purchased as an ebook on this site for $2.99, which is to say, “about three dollars”, which is to say, “about as much as or a little less than an iced tea from a coffee house or a magazine or a bottle of beer.”, which is to say, “as much as you fritter away without a second thought in one form or another most every day”. I guess the bigger question is: “Is this book worth my time?” Oh, man, well, we dunno: we tried to put the more gently-flowing, easily-imbibed essays towards the front of the book. But we performed a similar maneuver on “First Loves” and so far it seems that no one’s finished that book except the author, who was contractually obligated to read and review the entire manuscript.