Every Sperm is Sacred

Rawstory reports on how one State Senator put in an “every sperm is sacred” amendment proposal to a controversial “personhood” bill in Oklahoma that would make all forms of abortion and some forms of birth control illegal.

The above Monty Python classic song, from the film The Meaning of Life exemplifies why I find arguments opposing contraception and abortion to be so weak.

If one really believed that all human life, even very early stages, was sacred and not to be interfered with, then one would have to question any sort of non-pregnancy related use of male ejaculation.  Masturbation, anal sex, and even sex when a woman is not likely ovulating is questionable.   One could also argue that women are obligated to have sex when they are ovulating because not to do so does not give the egg a chance to grow.   Indeed, birth control during ovulation would be a clear denial of the chance of life.

The idea that abortion or contraception interferes with God’s will is utterly absurd.   Humans do all sorts of things ranging from mass murders, wars and genocides to bad diets and dangerous sports.    If those things don’t hamper God, not having a baby isn’t going to be some kind of disaster.

The claim that human life is inherently valuable is also a canard.  Consider: why do we choose to consider human life valuable?   It can’t be valuable just because cells with human DNA are reproducing and creating the building blocks for a later human birth.   There is nothing inherently different about those cells than any reproducing cells of any creature, except that given time they will become something else.   Moreover, in terms of feeling, intelligence, and capacity to endure pain, the born creatures we slaughter and devour are more like us than early stage human fetuses.

So when someone gets indignant about how abortion is murder, I simply shake my head and think “their imagination is running wild.”    The cells that get aborted are no more human or inherently valuable than any creatures early cells.   One can imagine a child, a baby, and think about what it could achieve and say that this is being ruthlessly stifled.   The same when an ovulating female gives her partner a condom to wear before sex.   Or when that same woman chooses not to have sex.

Life is valuable because we choose to value it.   Humans have value because they have emotions and thoughts, we can empathize and imagine what it would be like if it was ourselves being killed and not another.   Humans ban murder because they want to live in peace, and murder creates threats to our existence.   We choose to have a world with stable social systems, customs, traditions and laws.

Abortion and contraception do not kill or harm anything that is truly human, at least in the sense of what it is about being human that causes us to consider human life valuable.   The fact that cells can become humans does not alter that fact.

Forcing women to keep a pregnancy to full term or not to use birth control is a violent and repressive form of control, one that does real harm to human dignity and value.    Real existing humans are repressed in such cases, and often psychologically abused in order to be made to feel guilty about their choice.

I realize that religious and philosophical reasons many people disagree strongly with what I wrote.  I can accept that and respect the difference of opinion.    I also find the arguments against abortion when the child is viable outside the womb to be persuasive for a variety of reasons.   But the radical anti-abortion argument just seems inherently weak.

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  1. #1 by Black Flag® on February 8, 2012 - 16:01

    If one really believed that all human life, even very early stages, was sacred and not to be interfered with, then one would have to question any sort of non-pregnancy related use of male ejaculation.

    The equivalence you make does not exist.

    Because I cut my hair does not mean I must therefore agree with abortion.

  2. #2 by Black Flag® on February 8, 2012 - 16:05

    Life is valuable because we choose to value it. Humans have value because they have emotions and thoughts, we can empathize and imagine what it would be like if it was ourselves being killed and not another. Humans ban murder because they want to live in peace, and murder creates threats to our existence. We choose to have a world with stable social systems, customs, traditions and laws.

    Abortion and contraception do not kill or harm anything that is truly human, at least in the sense of what it is about being human that causes us to consider human life valuable. The fact that cells can become humans does not alter that fact.

    As soon as a man arbitrary begins to define what is human and what is “truly human”, then nothing is human.

    All men who have held such argument have found such arguments lead to massive slaughter of human beings under the argument of “sub humans”.

    You say this:
    Humans ban murder because they want to live in peace, and murder creates threats to our existence.

    Actually it threatens complex social order. Humans can exist without complex social order – we did so for 100,000 years or more. It isn’t very good existence, I’d say.

    However, you then advocate a policy that directly assaults the very posit you offer – as usual, you contradict yourself.

    Hence, evil grows.

    • #3 by Scott Erb on February 8, 2012 - 16:13

      Only in your linguistic wordplay world is what I write a contradiction — and you creatively construct that world to yield the result you want. Your ideology is meaningless – abstract and arbitrary. Also you do not counter my argument. One you make an assertion that what I write means nothing is human. That claim is absurd on its face. The second you claim that any one who makes an argument has it lead to mass slaughter. While I don’t believe that claim, it nonetheless is irrelevant. Saying something isn’t true because you don’t like the consequence of it being true is not a valid argument. And again, you haven’t shown any contradiction (though one can always create a linguistic framework to make almost any claim about complex issues look like a contradiction — that’s how ideologues defend themselves from the painful task of discovering their beliefs might be wrong).

  3. #4 by Black Flag® on February 8, 2012 - 16:12

    Scott

    Forcing women to keep a pregnancy to full term or not to use birth control is a violent and repressive form of control, one that does real harm to human dignity and value. Real existing humans are repressed in such cases, and often psychologically abused in order to be made to feel guilty about their choice.

    You argument here is:
    “Using murder to avoid the consequences of one’s own choices and decisions is a right.
    Those that abhor and are repelled by others using murder are wrong, and they are the one’s using violence to stop such murder!”

    No, a woman has made a choice and an engaged in an action.
    Action has consequences.
    This happens to be a particular common consequence.
    She only wants one set of consequences to her action – the ones she assigns as “good and fun” – but does not want the others that also occur – the ones she assigns as “inconvenient and demand responsibility”.
    She wishes to rid herself of those consequences of responsibility before they become essentially permanent.
    She must murder to do so, and you agree that this is an “ok” path so to rid someone from the consequences of their action.

    …and you stated above that murder destroyed human existence…. hence, your position is entirely anti-human.

    As often you do, you expose your short-term thinking philosophy. What is only important is the “now” – the fun – and one need not regard the long-term consequences of one’s action because -heck- you can kill it.

    • #5 by Scott Erb on February 8, 2012 - 16:17

      I reject the premise behind your argument. She controls her body and if you try to force your moral and ideological beliefs on her, you are doing that which you claim to oppose — you contradict yourself.

      Also, your effort to somehow claim you’re thinking ‘long term’ is absurd – you say that only to avoid having to deal with the reality that what you claim doesn’t work now isn’t visible. Reality does not agree with your ideology and in fact refutes it. Rather than show moral and intellectual courage and confront that, you constantly, issue after issue, say “in the long term it will.” Come on, you gotta be smart enough to realize that’s pretty weak argumentation.

    • #6 by helenofmarlowe on February 19, 2012 - 16:54

      No, a woman has made a choice and an engaged in an action.
      Action has consequences.
      This happens to be a particular common consequence.
      She only wants one set of consequences to her action – the ones she assigns as “good and fun” – but does not want the others that also occur – the ones she assigns as “inconvenient and demand responsibility”.

      Pregnancies often result from situations that have no resemblance to anything that could be considered “fun” — for the woman, at least. You argument doesn’t hold unless you’d make exceptions for occasions in which the woman had little or no choice, and no expectation of “fun”.

  4. #7 by Titfortat on February 8, 2012 - 17:55

    Forcing women to keep a pregnancy to full term or not to use birth control is a violent and repressive form of control, one that does real harm to human dignity and value.(Scott)

    What would you call forcing a man to pay child support regardless the fact that he didnt want to father the child? Does he(should he) have any rights in this area, presently?

    • #8 by Scott Erb on February 8, 2012 - 21:35

      I think by dint of how the woman is the one who gives birth, I do think the man has limited rights (though historically also very limited burdens if he chooses to flee). But while both should share in the cost of child support once a child is there, a child is not raised by money alone. The man should also be involved in the upbringing. If a woman wants a man to pay, she should allow the man to be part of the child’s life as much as she is (if he pays as much). If she would prefer him out of the child’s life and he agrees, then he should not have to pay. (Unless, of course, there is a reason for him to be pushed aside – abuse, etc.)

  5. #9 by Titfortat on February 8, 2012 - 22:13

    Your words remind me of why pro choice and equality are a very long way away. 😦

  6. #10 by modestypress on February 8, 2012 - 22:14

    Your post is well written, and makes good points. I tend to agree with it.

    Having conversed with quite a few evangelical Christians, I wondered why they have an extra special obsession with and passion against abortion. Few Christians are for genocide (though some historical times and places witnessed terrible actions by people who called themselves Christians), but they don’t get nearly as worked up about genocides (such as Darfur in the most recent times) as they do about abortion.

    It’s not proof of anything, but the following is an interesting point.

    Miscarriage occurs very frequently in humans.
    Mysterious horrible actions not the result of human malign intentions/actions are sometimes referred to as “Acts of God.”
    Quite a few of the evangelicals I have communicated with tried without success to have children; some experienced the heartbreak of spontaneous abortions. As fervent Christians do not think God should be blamed for any bad event, but should always be regarded with thanks and appreciation (for blessings), where do they displace the anger they (suppress) toward God? Maybe that is why they become so angry about abortion.

    Another interesting question is why so many evangelicals and Catholics oppose birth control and refuse to consider that “overpopulation” is any kind of issue for humans to be concerned with. I think I know the answer, but I will stop here.

  7. #11 by crystalclearcopyediting on February 19, 2012 - 00:46

    I would also add that women are born with far more eggs than will ever mature through ovulation and either be shed by menstruation or be fertilized. Are those eggs that wither away during menopause and beyond “sacred”?

    Titfortat, if a man doesn’t want to father a child, he needs to either ensure he uses birth control himself, or keep his pants on. (Same for women.) If that doesn’t happen and he fathers a child, it’s time to buck up and be responsible.

    The abortion debate is always one of semantics. What BlackFlag calls murder, another calls removal of cells. When life begins, what is the definition of a human being, etc. are all deeply important questions that will likely never be agreed upon universally. This is an area where the Catholic church is quite consistent: they believe life begins at conception, therefore abortion is murder, and therefore they are anti-abortion. I’m fine with that. I’m also fine with those who believe life doesn’t begin until later in the life of a fetus, and so who are pro-abortion.

  8. #12 by helenofmarlowe on February 19, 2012 - 16:44

    Forcing women to keep a pregnancy to full term or not to use birth control is a violent and repressive form of control, one that does real harm to human dignity and value. Real existing humans are repressed in such cases, and often psychologically abused in order to be made to feel guilty about their choice.

    .

    Yes, very true. And I am still trying to understand why — why are “conservatives” so obsessed with this issue. Since most (not all) who oppose abortion are also against helping the innocent vulnerable newborn with health care, pre-school, etc., the argument that they are showing compassion and love for the innocent life just doesn’t hold up. I have to conclude that it’s just a control issue, but somehow I don’t feel I’ve really understood.

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