Yelling Into the Abyss About Abortion

I am going to start writing stuff where I just scream a bunch of thoughts and make poop jokes. You know, lighthearted rambling. So, logically, I want to kick off by talking about abortion.

Specifically, I want to talk to my pro-life friends. Hey, how you doing? What have you been up to?

Me? Well, lately, I’ve been truly amazed at the artisanal craftsmanship of A.I.-generated art.

If you believe that life begins at conception, I will never try to talk you out of that. It is a sincere and deeply held belief. If you believe that it is a sin, I can’t argue with you — I certainly can’t speak for God.

But hopefully, I can explain how you can balance those views with what happened in Ohio last night. A red state. A state filled with people who believe what you believe, and no less sincerely than you.

Why should we care about Ohio, anyway?

Well, normally, we shouldn’t care about Ohio, but right now, it’s important.

Sure, Ohio isn’t perfect. It’s the state where a woman stabbed her boyfriend for eating all of her salsa (totally justifiable). It’s also where this guy tried to have sex with a van:

man accused of having sex with a van. it's a mugshot. His face looks bruised and he's sketchy as hell.

“Officers who questioned him said he appeared to be intoxicated.”

But besides that, Ohio is what you might call a good, Christian state. 73% of the population identifies as Christian, and they’re staunchly Republican: Trump beat Biden by about 8% in 2020.

And as we all know, Christians voted for Trump because of his sound moral character, a part of which was his opposition to abortion.

Two guys who have never, ever paid for an abortion.

So if you’re going to pass pro-life laws, Ohio seems to be your place. But it isn’t.

Last night, voters approved a constitutional amendment ensuring access to abortion and other forms of reproductive health care. And they passed it pretty resoundingly, too.

56.6% to 43.3% — you don’t get numbers like that in modern politics. To some pro-life folks, the result was shocking.

So if you’re on that side, you might feel like you just got home from a long shift, only to realize that your boyfriend ate every last bit of your On The Border Chunky Picante. Put down the knife; the Democrats didn’t do this alone.

In Ohio, about 20% of Republicans and 66% of independents supported abortion rights.

Why? According to exit polls, it’s because they’re deeply concerned about van-human hybrids.

If a van has a baby, what do you even call it? There’s no good portmanteau. It’s not as funny as a human cow or humonkey. It’s just an abomination that leaks oil all over the place, and that guy up there is clearly working on it. That is why he is smiling.

We need abortions for vans, if nothing else. And by the way, we also need AI models that can more accurately respond to the prompt, “minivan receiving surgical procedure.”

A.I.-generated painting of a minivan receiving surgery. It's not very good.

Okay, the real reason is that bodily autonomy is a cornerstone of our society.

Do not handwave this away. I know you’ve heard this before, and it’s probably not too compelling if you’ve listened to pastors and priests talk about dead babies for the last 30+ years of your life.

But I promise, we’ll get to the babies. For now, actually think about bodily autonomy for a minute.

This is how some people have remained pro-life while supporting, or at least acknowledging, the right to an abortion.

Bodily autonomy is not a biblical value; it is a social contract. It establishes that, in our nation, we own our bodies, even if the state can take everything else. We can be forced to work, forced to sit in a prison cell, or forced to die, but we will always control our own bodies.

We even extend that consideration to the worst people we have; you couldn’t force a mass murderer to be an organ donor, for example.

Henry Kissinger

Henry Kissinger, mass murderer, probably not an organ donor.

If you did force convicts to give up their kidneys, livers — hell, just a bit of bone marrow — it could save lives. You could structure a law so that it only took effect after the convict has died. The murderer loses nothing, and good people would live who would otherwise die.

Sounds great, right? Except that it would open up a thousand avenues for abuse and horror.

You’d quickly see judges giving harsher sentences, reasoning that the dregs of society would be better as meat-pools for the fine upstanding citizens of This Great Country.

And given that 44% (holy shit, really?! 44%?) of our prisoners are there for drug offenses, you’d have people losing their skin, literally, because they got caught with a bit of pot. That would probably lead to some interesting names for marijuana strains, but it certainly wouldn’t be good for society.

A.I. generated man holding marijuana

“Gimme that Organ-Oregano No-Rejection Purple Bart Simpson Kushy Cow,” or some dumb shit like that.

Bodily autonomy is so important, the government can’t even offer to buy it.

This is not a hypothetical. This year, Massachusetts proposed a program that would reduce prison sentences for prisoners who donate organs. You’re in jail for 20 years, but you can knock off a couple of months if you match with a bone marrow recipient. Reasonable, right?

Well, absolutely not. The plan was criticized, rightfully, as dystopian and dehumanizing. Once you’ve got people selling their bodies to get out of jail, you’re on the fast track to putting people in jail to get their organs, and that would be demonic.

More pertinently, the program violates our understanding of bodily autonomy. We believe that bodily autonomy is so important, it should not be the subject to societal or legal influences, period.

You control your body. Nobody else does. Nobody else can. It’s yours. There are many like it, but this one is yours.

We acknowledge the right to bodily autonomy for murderers; we even extend it to dead bodies.

You cannot even force a corpse to donate organs. They (or their family) must make that decision.

And while there’s a really reasonable argument that organ donation programs should be opt-out rather than opt-in, that’s not how we currently do it here. We’re an opt-in, first-person consent system. And even in European countries that have opt-out systems, in practice, they don’t work that way — the systems use family authorization, so families can override the presumption of consent.

But we’re talking about the U.S., so let’s leave Sweden out of it (as usual). Here’s how Donate Life Colorado describes our country’s resistance to opt-out donation:

Presumed consent is not in alignment with American legal principles: Generally, laws in our country are built heavily on the core concepts of individual rights and liberties. Presumed consent may be contrary to these fundamental legal principles.

– Donate Life Colorado (linked above)

Fundamental, they say. Legal, they say. Principles, they say. There were also some other words in there.

Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

You don’t have to be pro-abortion to be pro-choice.

You can still care about babies while respecting the importance of bodily autonomy. In fact, I think you should probably care about babies no matter what.

Yes. I said it: I’m pro-baby, even when they’re generated by A.I.

Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.

Pro-life doesn’t mean anti-choice. That’s what Ohio told us last night. The people — who are, again, deeply religious, outside of the Salsa Slasher and the Minivan Molester — were confronted with a simple question. They answered that they value women’s ability to make decisions about their own bodies.

That was the correct decision from a societal standpoint, full stop. You cannot force me to donate an organ, and you cannot force women to donate theirs to another being.

You can recognize that right without supporting abortion. It requires nuance, which Americans are terrible at. But if you’ve made it this far, I trust that you can understand that there’s a middle ground.

If you are against abortion, you can support adoption charities. You can support access to birth control, or welfare programs; if you don’t like those things, you can support mutual aid. Give people viable options and support them as they raise their children. Be pro-life.

I have many friends that do this. They are great people, and they put more energy into this than I’ve put into anything (including the energy I just spent trying to get DALL-E to create a photo of a mouse with human hands smoking a joint while tapdancing on the moon).

No, dammit, the MOUSE should HAVE human hands, and it should be ON the moon, and the joint needs to be IN his CUTE LITTLE MOUTH.

My friends have found a way to fight for what they believe within a shared society, which has ethical structures that conflict with their moral convictions. I want everyone to do that. Every Christian, Muslim, atheist, and theological noncognitivist out there.

So to be clear, if you are against abortion, I have a place for you at my table. Your belief does not make me love you any less or differently. I respect people with principles, even when I don’t share the same principles. That’s what a society is.

And last night, my “side” didn’t “win,” and your “side” didn’t “lose.” Democracy simply spoke. It said that fighting against bodily autonomy is the wrong path.


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