The 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade (the right to an abortion) was observed a couple of weeks ago, and, besides wondering about the significance of a 39th anniversary, I was perplexed by comments made by President Obama. "Our daughters" he said, "have the same rights freedom and opportunities as our sons to fulfill our dreams".
Does that mean that children are not a part of fulfillment of dreams, or that to fulfill one's dreams one has to be free of the bothersome burden of children? Or, does he mean that men are free to walk away from the responsibility of children and that women should be able to also? Are children pesky, bothersome things? Or, is the fertilization of the egg no different than the egg itself which is washed away monthly?
I understand, to an extent, the freedom of choice, I-can-do with-my-body-and-its-issue-what-I want, debate (although we ban prostitution and suicide), I just can't grasp the fulfilling of dreams and parity with men aspect. Are women just like men? Are their biological roles identical? Are their physical attributes identical? Aren't there women's health issues? Or, are we talking strictly about civil rights? If so, are men equal or unequal when it comes to fatherhood? Should men have any say in abortion? If not, does that imply that they have no responsibilities either?
Some men feel that way. They breed and move on from woman to woman seemingly without obligation. That's the central issue of the single-parent household - a financially non-supporting nor participating male sperm donor. Is this a civil right whose costs must be borne by someone else? Of course, with abortion it never gets to that point which is sometimes THE point.
Why bring someone into the world when the creators of that someone don't want it (him/her)? Abortion has always been controversial. Right-Wrong. Practical-Impractical. Safe-Unsafe. Forced-Unforced. The Eugenics movement -supported by big name politicos and scientists - promoted doing away (abortion and other means) with undesirables and societal burdens such as the severely handicapped and so forth. Others have felt that abortion is appropriate for anyone who can't support the issuing child. Indeed, many felt and probably feel that abortion keeps down the unwanted. A community doctor I knew way before Roe v. Wade was neutral on abortion, but argued that if it were legalized that government should most definitely pay for those who couldn't afford it. Those are the ones who need the right, he implied.
Indeed, the poor, particularly minorities - black and hispanic - have higher rates of abortion than the majority. Some feel that is not only a desirable result, but a good reason for abortion. The China, one-child policy, has led to aborting of females and there is now a deficit of Chinese women in ratio to men. To address both these issues, most states in the U.S. try to prohibit abortions for race or gender. Use of abortion for birth control is also discouraged. However, isn't that an infringement of the right to choose? Why is the state making those distinctions?
It is not difficult to understand why someone should want or need an abortion. There are many legitimate and reasonable and practical reasons. My issue is the elevation of it by equating it to a fulfilling of dreams in an equality competition with men. This is degrading to children making them only incidental beings to those in pursuit of a career or, simply, individual freedom.