Sure is a lot of talk about abortion these days. There has been all along, of course. I remember when Roe v. Wade became the law of the land. I said something laudatory about it and was shocked when someone pushed back on my enthusiasm, and kind of hard, too. Well, shoot. I was nineteen and not accustomed to imagining other people had different opinions.
The Human Bean
People still do, no surprise. I don’t see a lot of point in arguing about it. Feelings run strong. And it’s not just a matter of deciding when a human being arrives on the scene. That’s too fine a line to tease out. Heck, there are people who believe it’s a sin to try not to get pregnant, so we’re all across the board here.
Right now we’re rolling back abortion rights for women carrying six-week-old fetuses, at which point the items in question aren’t even the size of a normal bean. A small lentil, maybe. But I’m a small person who was a small baby and I don’t think size is much of a metric of worth. What is more to the point is whether the lentil is human. It’s a tiny bean, but is it a human bean? Does it have more substance than a thought or a prayer?
Opinions differ. But it gets more tangled than that. I’d say a bean with human DNA probably is human. But does its humanity matter to me? Not all that much, frankly.
There’s a tremendous conceit involved with the obsession over fetal human life. There’s clearly a conviction at work here that not only is the human bean’s humanity entirely evident at every stage, but that it is even more precious because of its presumed state of innocence. It’s more important than the grownup variety of human that, since birth, has been demonstrating its sinful ways and relative worthlessness for all to see. The human bean is in a state of perfection and must be brought into the light, and when it disappoints us later we’ll jail it or execute it or diss it on the social media.
I got a problem with that. I got a problem with the whole premise. I don’t think human beings are all they’re cracked up to be. I like a bunch of them, and I am horrified by the thought of murdering them, in an alley, or in a war, or, especially, in cold blood by the offices of the State, but I consider our species to be one among many, with some interesting attributes such as a certain kind of cleverness that destroys as often as it creates. We are admirable and we are deplorable. What I do not believe we are is chosen, or special. Or in short supply.
But we will be.
Because we clevered ourselves onto an existential precipice with our wish for dominion and our disregard for the clear consequences of our actions; and we’ve already been pushed over that precipice by our greed and callowness. If there is a ledger being kept on our value to the universe, which I doubt, we may finally be held to account. In the meantime, anyone with any political aspirations who is not devoted to trying to back us out of the hole we keep digging will never get my vote. I don’t care what they think about abortion.