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A Dialogue on Abortion

By Michael Vito Tosto (Ben Love) ~

PRO-LIFER: Abortion is wrong.

PRO-CHOICER: Why?

PL: Because it’s murder.

PC: You get to kill someone if they’re in your house and you don’t want them there. But you shouldn’t be allowed to terminate an unwanted life-form in your own body?

PL: People who break into your house took a risk knowing that death could be the result. A baby in your womb didn’t ask to be there. It shouldn’t be punished.

PC: Maybe I didn’t ask the baby to be there, either. Maybe I was raped.

PL: That’s unfortunate… but you’re still stuck with that child.

PC: Since it’s something happening within a person’s own body, that person should have a say in what happens. I don’t have the right to tell someone else what they can and cannot do to their own body.

PL: That’s like saying pedophiles should be let off the hook because you can’t decide for them that their actions are wrong. It’s the same thing.

PC: No, no, a pedophile is performing an act upon another sentient being, a child who is aware of what is happening. Abortion, on the other hand, is something you do to your own body. Apples and oranges.

PL: No, it’s something you do to another body that’s inside of you. Something that’s alive.

PC: “Alive” is not the same “sentient.” Trees are alive, but we cut them down by the thousands. Not one of them has ever been aware of what was happening.

PL: An unborn child is different.

PC: Why?

PL: Doctors can see that the brains of unborn babies are active.

PC: This doesn’t mean they are aware. Brain activity is not necessarily the same as sentience. There are people in vegetative states who are in no way aware of what’s going around them or happening to them.

PL: But babies can respond to stimuli!

PL: So can a Venus flytrap. That doesn’t mean it is sentient.

PC: But a baby has living cells in it. It’s life!

PL: A tumor has living cells in it. But you’d have no problem having one of them removed from you. Or take a cancerous kidney, for that matter. That has living cells in it as well. But you’d remove that kidney without a second thought. Shit, even bacteria are alive. But you have no problem killing them when they invade your body unwanted.

PL: A tumor or a kidney or some damn bacteria—these are not the same as a baby.

PC: What is an unborn child if not an assemblage of non-sentient living cells and tissues that respond to stimuli the same way your toe does when you stub it? Are you as against the amputation of toes as you are against abortion?

PL: A toe is not a baby!

PC: What, then, is the definition of life? A tumor is alive. A toe is alive. An unborn baby is alive. None of them are aware of what they are. A baby needs to be born and experience the world as a sentient being in order to be subject to the morality and ethics of lifeforms. Until then, it is merely a living extension of the woman carrying it. As such, she should have the right to choose how to handle it. If she didn’t plan it, doesn’t want it, and has no moral qualms about terminating it, how is that any different than having a tumor removed?

PL: I just don’t know if I agree philosophically that a baby and a tumor are all that similar.

PC: Exactly! You don’t agree with me. And I don’t agree with you. It is at this point, using the word “philosophically” as you did, that our opinions diverge. This here is the very nature of the debate! And “pro-choice” is a stance that says I don’t have the right to make my opinions in this debate your opinions. I might have my own private ideas about the morality or immorality of abortion, but due to the nature of the debate, I don’t get to force them on you. You, as a pro-lifer, are trying to do that to me and everyone else. I, as a pro-choicer, endeavor to refrain from that kind of coercion.

PL: I just think life is precious.

PC: So do I.

PL: But you have no problem killing unborn babies.

PC: You subscribe to capital punishment, right? So you have no problem killing adults.

PL: Those adults had it coming! Their own choices sealed their fate.

PC: But if all life is precious, then why make a distinction it all?

PL: Those adults broke the law.

PC: That’s fine. But I think you have to be born in order to be subject to laws. Nobody ever put a tumor on trial for killing its human host. An unborn baby can be neither guilty nor innocent. It’s just a physical extension of the mother until it emerges from that womb. If it’s a part of her body, she gets to have a choice.

PL: I disagree.

PC: I know. And unlike you, I’m okay with you disagreeing with me. I don’t need to make you think or believe what I think and believe. I’m fine with the debate.

PL: I don’t want there to be a debate. I want everyone to adopt my stance on this.

PC: Yeah, I know.

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