I’ve tried very hard to see abortion from the perspective of the anti-choicers. The only way I can get even close is by assuming that a fetus is fully, 100% equivalent to a child or adult human being — that there is absolutely nothing to distinguish the fetus from its mother on a moral level. In that case, you could make an argument that the rights and happiness of the fetus deserve consideration — although even in this most optimistic case the best solution you can arrive at is a compromise, not an absolute prohibition of all abortion.
However, the equivalence of mother and fetus is an untenable proposition. A mouse has more complexity and autonomy than a fetus, and we don’t even hesitate when the choice is between the life of a mouse and a human being. We don’t even argue about it. And to argue that a single-celled zygote or even an embryo with a few dozen cells at implantation is anything but a negligible component of any moral equation is utterly absurd. It’s a fantasy of the deeply ignorant, the kind of people who think the babies on Pro-Life Across America billboards are actually accurate representations of the age-specific fetus, to think that there’s something cute, adorable, personable about a self-organizing mass of cells.
So I have to agree, and think the only reasonable conclusion, is reflected in this memorial to Dr George Tiller, the man murdered by an anti-choice fanatic.
Dr. Tiller listened to his patients, he trusted their decisions, and he knew that the people he was helping deserved his ear and his trust. He treated his patients like people (which really shouldn’t be such a radical position but, because of how anti-choicers have shaped the narrative around abortion, it is). He believed that those he helped were more important than the fetus inside of them. That is not a morally-bankrupt position. THAT IS THE MORAL SIDE.
Trusting patients, seeing them as individuals, believing in their abilities to make decisions for their own specific lives: THAT IS THE MORAL SIDE.
Thank you for everything you did, Dr. Tiller. Thank you for everything and everyone you championed. Thank you for risking your life to provide your patients with a safe and legal medical procedure. Thank you for doing so with no regrets, no animosity, no judgement, and no apologies.
You, sir, were a moral man on a moral mission. And I won’t forget it. WE ARE THE MORAL SIDE.
That’s not enough for you? Read the story of Henlek Morgentaler, the man who fought to secure women’s reproductive rights in Canada, and who just recently died.
“The worst, God, I’ll never forget. She was one of our gynecology floor nurses. She’d cared for these girls before and she knew what could happen. She was beautiful, and smart, and kind. One of our best nurses. I was on call when she arrived. She was grey, had a low blood pressure, and a rigid belly. She must have known what that meant as we wheeled her back to the operating room. She was full of pus and so we cleaned her out as best we could. I was the one who called her family. Her father hung up on me.”
He paused and wiped his eyes. “You know Jen, we all took turns sitting with her as she died.”
Oh, hell yes, we are the moral side. Don’t ever forget that when dealing with the amoral side.