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Abortion: Pro-Life, Pro-Choice, and the Alternatives

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Abortion: Pro-Life, Pro-Choice, and the Alternatives


Pre-disclaimer disclaimer: Since half of this post is me taking an unpopular opinion that most individuals will dislike, this post will be considerably longer than others because I'm justifying my worldview. So yeah.

Here is a disclaimer that I think is also important:
Okay, so this is something I didn’t really want to write about/have been holding off because I realize my views differ from most, if not all, other reactionaries on here and that I’m friends with so just so everyone knows, before I explain why I feel each way, I am not pro-life nor would I say I'm pro-choice per se, rather, I'm pro-death. so if you’re pissed at me, I’m sorry, stop reading.
(>inb4 "you're literally _X_)
Here's how this post will work, the first half will talk about what I mean when I say I'm "pro-death" and how that interacts with the abortion debate and the "sanctity of life". The second part will operate under a framework of NOT pro-death and I'll explain why, under that framework, I'm pro-choice to an extent. So, let's do it.


SO what the fuck do I mean when I say I'm pro-death? One would think that seems a bit odd and morbid and, before I explain more fully, let me lighten the mood with a Bill Maher clip explaining his similar views (although I disagree slightly) here. (>inb4 "wahh it's on PrisonPlanetLive)

Now while Bill's comments are a bit over the top, which is endemic of Bill Maher, they serve as a good introduction point because he brings up a few issues I would like to expand upon: overpopulation, suffering in life, and the sanctity of life.

So to start off, the supposed sanctity of life is an issue that must be addressed when one is talking about death and abortion and those who view abortion as a type of murder. Here is my position: life is not sacred. Life is not holy or special or magical. In fact, the concept of life is so arbitrary it's almost laughable and holding it up upon a pedestal of grace makes no sense.

So allow me to explain: as of right now, there is no comprehensive definition of what "life" actually is. In fact, there are so many different definitions that conflict with each other. For example, Campbell's famous biology textbook lists 7 characteristics of life:
  1. Order
  2. Regulation
  3. Energy Processing
  4. Evolutionary Adaptation
  5. Response to the Environment
  6. Reproduction
  7. Growth and Development
[1] whereas NASA's working definition of life in their search for extra-terrestrials, written by Gerald Joyce among others, is that "life is a self-sustaining system capable of Darwinian evolution" [2]. Clearly the latter doesn't inherently include all 7 characteristics of the former and this is a problem. This is a problem because, if there is concrete or stable definition of life, then there is nothing to hold sacred. For example, if I were to say "art is sacred", one would rightly ask "what is art?". For some reactionaries, modern art is not art at all, for others, it is. Until there is a stable definition, it's hard to take any claims of absolute sanctity seriously.

But it gets more problematic.The arbitrary definition of life as "a self-sustaining system capable of Darwinian evolution" opens the door to tons of claims of life that most people would think "no, that's not life". Example: programs have been created to test the theory of evolution. These programs are simulations, similar to Conway's Game of Life, in which bits evolve and change according to changes in their environment. [3] Programs like these actually fall under NASA's OWN DEFINITION of life. Robert Pennock explains:
“All the core parts of the Darwinian process are there. These things replicate, they mutate, they are competing with one another. The very process of natural selection is happening there. If that’s central to the definition of life, then these things count.” [4]
So if a computer simulation would be considered life, where is the sanctity? That means that everytime this simulation is shut down, mass genocide is occurring and is morally repugnant. Or maybe, just maybe, we have the wrong conception of life. (If if you wish to read a more extensive analysis on the concept of life, please read Ferris Jabr's Why Life Does Not Really Exist)

BUT let's ignore all that, let's ignore the fact that there is no stable definition of life and discuss why there is no sanctity. Sanctity implies that something is special, unique, rare. For something to be sacred, it has to (from an iconic religious perspective) be rare or hard to re-create. That's the entire reason people care about preserving historical artifacts, because they are rare and provide some insight into the past. While maybe not "sacred" in the traditional sense, there is uproar when people destroy ancient artifacts. To further hammer this home, let me give an example: you have two axes, the following handaxe from India (over 1 million years old), and the following handaxe from Lowe's

If I were to walk into the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and smash the first axe, I would be arrested and likely serve jail time. But if were to go into Lowe's and break their axe, I would probably get slapped with a fine (the price of the axe) and then be kicked out of the store. Why the difference, they're both axes right? The reason we value one axe above another is because one is rare. The Lowe's axe is common, easy to replace - the handaxe from India is a one of a kind and thus we value it more.

So in order for something to have some special treatment or value, it must have some characteristic that makes it worth saving. That characteristic can't be based on some ambiguous definition of "life", rather, it needs to be something external. In the case of something sacred, that external factor is rareness/uniqueness. So to determine whether or not life is sacred, one must honestly answer the following question: is life really all that rare? Hell, one human body is home to over 100 trillion bacteria... (for those keeping score at home, that's over 14,000 times more people than currently exist)

In other words, every time you wash your hands, you're committing genocide on an unimaginable scale.
But wait...the life a germ doesn't matter now does it for if it did, humans would have died out long ago trying to not kill germs. So what is it that makes human lives (and some animals evidently) sacred? Is it some arbitrary level of complexity? Because if it is, all that does is beg the question of where the line is drawn. Until one knows where the line is drawn, there can be no clear claims of the "sanctity of life".

BUT none of the above explains why I am pro-death, rather, it just explains why I don't care about life. To understand why I am pro-death, or at least ambivalent to human death, I must talk about human growth, over-population, and the destruction of the biosphere.

New advancements in ecological psychology suggest that not only are organisms affected by their environment, but organisms also affect the environment around them to survive. This was first expressed in Charles Darwin's book The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms. In here, Darwin studies how earthworms adapt to their environment and then change it to be in equilibrium with themselves. This fact is echoed in more recent studies as well. [5][6]

But all this caries with it one important fact, that organisms tend to create equilibrium with their environment, in other words, they don't shit where they eat. Humans on the other hand, are distinct. Humans spread. And spread. And spread. We spread until all resources are consumed and then we spread more. This very simple, but odd, phenomena is described in the follow speech in The Matrix: 

Now while I don't agree exactly with Smith's characterization, namely that humans are a virus, he brings up a very interesting issue that has been on my mind for a long time - human growth.

A species that grows and does not learn to live in harmony or develop equilibrium with the biosphere will inevitably go extinct. This can be seen most clearly with climate change which is anthropogenic, that is human induced, and poses a great threat to the Earth. [7][8]

Now before I continue, I know some of you will be like "wait, it's not human caused!" and I'm here to tell you that you are dead wrong. But don't take it from me, take it from a comprehensive study looking at 21 years worth of peer reviewed scientific articles (emphasis added):
In the most comprehensive analysis performed to date, we have extended the analysis of peer-reviewed climate papers in Oreskes ( 2004 ). We examined a large sample of the scientific literature on global CC, published over a 21 year period, in order to determine the level of scientific consensus that human activity is very likely causing most of the current GW (anthropogenic global warming, or AGW). Surveys of climate scientists have found strong agreement (97–98%) regarding AGW amongst publishing climate experts (Doran and Zimmerman 2009 , Anderegg et al 2010 ). Repeated surveys of scientists found that scientific agreement about AGW steadily increased from 1996 to 2009 (Bray 2010 ). This is reflected in the increasingly definitive statements issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the attribution of recent GW (Houghton et al 1996 , 2001 , Solomon et al 2007 ). The peer-reviewed scientific literature provides a ground- level assessment of the degree of consensus among publishing scientists.
-John Cook (Global Change Institute, University of Queensland, Australia) and 8 other respected scientists -Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature
Now that that's over with, let's continue. So organisms tend to naturally develop an equilibrium with their environment, but humans do not. Humans do not grow in peace with nature, in fact, human growth is remarkably similar to that of a cancer cell. Humans spread and spread until all the resources of the surrounding areas are consumed then humans build up. This trait, rapid and uncontrolled growth, is the same thing we see in malignant cancer cells. This simple fact is explained wonderfully when emeritus professor at Berkeley, A. Kent MacDougall, says
Cancer cells proliferate rapidly and uncontrollably in the body; humans continue to proliferate rapidly and uncontrollably in the world. Crowded cancer cells harden into tumors; humans crowd into cities. Cancer cells infiltrate and destroy adjacent normal tissues; urban sprawl devours open land. Malignant tumors shed cells that migrate to distant parts of the body and set up secondary tumors; humans have colonized just about every habitable part of the globe. Cancer cells lose their natural appearance and distinctive functions; humans homogenize diverse natural ecosystems into artificial monocultures. Malignant tumors excrete enzymes and other chemicals that adversely affect remote parts of the body; humans' motor vehicles, power plants, factories and farms emit toxins that pollute environments far from the point of origin.
-A. Kent MacDougall - Humans as Cancer
Now since much great work as been done to explain the similarities between the two forms of parasitic growth, (see Dr. Warren Hern's "Has The Human Species Become A Cancer On The Planet?: A Theoretical View Of Population Growth As A Sign of Pathology"  or Jessie Whitfield's analysis here, or more resources here, here, and hereI also encourage you to watch the following videos: 1, 2) I won't explain the correlation in any more detail, rather, I will discuss the impacts. 

Increased human growth and the expansion of our species has numerous negative implications. First and foremost there's climate change. Growth of industrial society will lead to an increase in climate change which poses a great threat not only to the human species, but to the biosphere as a whole. [7][8]

This is important because, if one views life as having some sort of value, the destruction of the biosphere should be of primary concern. [9]

What's more, if one works within a pro-natalist framework, the increasing population will lead to more suffering in future generations and, under strict utilitarian ethics, should be stopped. [10]

SO how does an aggressively anti-human, or at the very least, anti-overpopulation, stance relate to abortion? Well, it's quite simple. If abortion is made safe and legal, combined with effective contraceptive use, the population spike can be curbed. In fact, the evidence is surprisingly fantastic on this point - legal access to abortions and sex education leads to a decrease in population growth. As Barbara Fisher of NYU has said (emphasis added)
Among the many reasons unlimited abortion has gained increasing support is the ecological race against overpopulation.  Plato and Aristotle advocated unrestricted abortion to control population and thereby maintain an economically healthy society. Restrictive abortion laws were not enacted in this country until the early 1900's. They recognized in an age before anesthesia and antiseptic techniques that abortion was a dangerous medical procedure, more likely to cause death or injury than childbirth.  Experience in other countries attests to the effectiveness of unlimited abortion as a technique for population control. For example, Japan's population growth has been reduced to less than 1% with its use. Romania's birth rate, which had been the second lowest in Europe at 13.7% per 1000, rose to 38.4% per 1000 when restrictive statutes replaced the unlimited abortion laws. Hungary, with the lowest birth rate in the world of 13% per 1000, has an unlimited abortion policy.
-The Case for Abortion: A Plea for Unrestrictive Laws
This fact is echoed in other articles and by others authors, some of whom even claim that abortion is pro-life. [11][12]

Now while all that is not ideal from the standpoint of humans = cancer, it is far better than the alternative which is destruction of the biosphere over time and the sacrificing of ten lives, for one. [10]

Now I have left out a thousand details or finer data points that could be added, but I think my point, while morbid and potentially offensive, has been made. If you wish to have a deeper discussion regarding the issue of anti-natalism, Malthusianism, or how "literally evil" and "eugenics promoting" I am, send me an email. (alternatively, I could be called a New World Order shill if that's the crowd you roll with)

TL;DR - Life as a concept is amazingly arbitrary and sure as hell has no "sanctity". Regardless, humans are net worse for the environment and being pro-death is merely an active stance against overpopulation.

NOT Pro-Death

SO you managed to plow through my "morally repugnant" ethical framework? Congrats! Now let's talk about why, under a framework of "life is special", I am pro-choice.

This should be relatively simple and since I don't want to make this post excessively long, I will curb what I write here. I feel that, assuming "rights" are a thing, humans have the right to control their bodies. The same way I would support someone's right to cut off their own legs, I would support another person's right to get a tattoo. The same way I would support one person's decision to undergo chemotherapy to kill off cancer cells, I would support another person's right to cut off their arm to prevent frostbite from spreading.
The same way I support an individuals choice to clear their body of parasites, I support a women's right to abort a fetus, UNTIL A CERTAIN POINT. This point is probably around 24 weeks, potentially later depending on the circumstance. The reason for this is that the neuroscience is pretty conclusive on the fact that, regardless of when you think life begins, a fetus cannot feel pain until AT LEAST 24 weeks because it does not have the proper neuroconnections. This is a fact that comes out of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, one of the world's leading groups in research into human development. [13][14]

Additionally, other studies place the timeframe even longer, at 29 weeks.[15][16][17]

WHAT'S more, banning abortions won't just make the issue go away, rather, people will seek underground procedures and that will lead to excessive deaths of both the mother and the fetus. In fact, a Guttmacher report indicates that the impact is that
Unsafe abortion causes an estimated 70,000 deaths each year, and an additional five million women are treated annually for complications resulting from unsafe abortion. Approximately three million women who experience serious complications from unsafe procedures go untreated.
The same report indicates that access to legal and safe abortions will drastically reduce this number. [18][19]

And since this is America and we like pictures, let's look at a map illustrating this from the World Health Organization compared to a map of abortion laws:




BUT let's ignore that and look at laws - the landmark Roe v. Wade case establishes that, under the United States constitution, specifically the 14th amendment, women have the right to terminate a pregnancy. Now you may not agree with it, but this is an interpretation of the constitution and shouldn't be easily thrown out. Additionally, I think that, assuming a fetus is a human (debatable), a baby born into poverty or systemically bad living conditions is net worse and will outweigh any "moral" claim that one can pull.

BUT what restrictions should there be? Well, I personally find Intact dilation and extraction to be absurd and I think Partial-Birth abortions are crazy. I think by this point, unless some serious medical complication arises, the women has had enough time to decide and it is well past the point of no return.

It basically boils down to a few things:
  1. I am not the one who is pregnant ergo I shouldn't decide
  2. Safe access to abortion massively decreases deaths of both the mother AND the fetus
  3. As long as there is still human decency (ie. no partial-birth abortions), it's not my business. 
Feel free to disagree or whatever you want, honestly, this part after the jump is something I'm less willing to debate. But if you want, shoot me an email.


1: "Quizlet." Campbell Biology: Ninth Edition. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. <>.

2: "Defining Life: Q&A with Scientist Gerald Joyce." N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. <>.

3: Zimmer, Carl. "March 2014." Discover Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. <>.

4: Jabr, Ferris. "Why Life Does Not Really Exist." Scientific American Global RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. <>.

5: Bedau, M. A.. "The Extent to Which Organisms Construct Their Environments." Adaptive Behavior 4.3-4 (1996): 476-482. <>.

6: "Niche Construction." Niche Construction. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. <>.

7: Cook, John , Dana Nuccitelli, Sarah Green, Mark Richardson, Barbel Winkler, Rob Painting, Robert Way, Peter Jacobs, and Andrew Skuce. "Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature." Environmental Research Letters Online (2013): n. pag. iopScience. Web. 19 Feb. 2013. <>.

8: Brandenburg, John, and Monica Paxson. Dead Mars, dying Earth. Freedom, Calif.: Crossing Press, 1999. Print.

9: Lee, Keekok. The natural and the artefactual: the implications of deep science and deep technology for environmental philosophy. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 1999. Print.

10: Ehrlich, Paul. "Ehrlich." Pastebin. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. <>.

11 *this is reposted on an antiabortion site*: "Abortion is pro-life (Barf Alert!)." Abortion is pro-life (Barf Alert!). N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. <>.

12: Hardaway, Robert. "Environmental Malthusianism: Integrating Population and Environmental Policy." Environmental Law 27 (1209) (1997): n. pag. Hein Online. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. <>.

13: "RCOG release: RCOG updates its guidance." Welcome to the RCOG. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. <>.

14: Meikle, James. "Human foetus feels no pain before 24 weeks, study says." Guardian News and Media, 25 June 2010. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. <>.

16: Derbyshire, Stuart. "Can fetuses feel pain?." BMJ 332(7546) (2006): n. pag. NCBI. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. <>.

17: Lee SJ, Ralston H, Drey EA, Partridge J, Rosen MA. Fetal Pain: A Systematic Multidisciplinary Review of the Evidence. JAMA. 2005;294(8):947-954. doi:10.1001/jama.294.8.947. <>.

18: "ABORTION AND UNINTENDED PREGNANCY DECLINE WORLDWIDE AS CONTRACEPTIVE USE INCREASES." Abortion and Unintended Pregnancy Decline Worldwide as Contraceptive Use Increases. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. <>.

19: "Contraception, Legal Abortion Could Prevent 70,000 Deaths A Year." Jezebel. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. <>.

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