My ideas about abortion have been emerging from my interaction with a number of persons including young females that have been molested or raped, as well as a non-profit organization that is pro-life (and one feminist to a lesser extent). However, most deeply, my own views on abortion come from my personal experience as a parent of three girls and also as a father that experienced the early miscarriage of my second child.
Further, when I reflect on the story of the birth of Jesus in light of all those experiences, I can empathise with what Mary and Joseph went through. A child out of wedlock in a strict religious society? In my generation, we have been subjected to the propaganda of family planning videos that told us and our parents that two children are better than too many ("A history of government family planning", 2008). We have also been fed by various agencies the idea that poverty is caused by the number of children that we have. We have also been told that we must not have children until we have the resources to care for them. These successful propaganda has so affected our world today that there are developed countries that are bribing families to have children or even more children (Smith, 2011).
But back to me and my own lived experience. It is only now that I realise how the early miscarriage of my second child has affected my views on abortion. At the time when my wife missed her period in that season, our first born was barely a year and a half. I was worried and so was my wife. We had just gone through the experience of pregnancy and everything was still fresh in our minds. It was scary and frightening.
But then the child died naturally within the womb after less than three months. At the time, I felt relieved. Yes... it was bad, but I felt relieved. However, now as the father of three girls, I wonder if my second child was actually the son that we so badly wanted and prayed for. Today, that experience has lead me to embrace the viewpoint that life begins at conception and not at birth.
If I am to define when does a person become a person today, I would argue that a person becomes a person when a document is created about that person's existence. Such a document thereby provides evidence that such a person existed or exists. For governmental purposes, this is usually done through a birth certificate. However, for the parent who wants to keep that child or being, documents are created from the day that woman discovers that she is pregnant. (For example, a photography of the positive result on the pregnancy test).
Medically, records are created to document that a potential human being is about to enter the world. Yet doctors, rather than treat the blob of cells and matter within the woman's uterus or womb as an individual or person with a name and life ahead of him/her, use language and semantics to de-emphasize the person as an "it".
However, in the past, language and semantics were used to rationalise the ill-treatment of Negroes as slaves. Negroes were denied personhood and considered as chattel and property similar to cattle. Similarly today, economists and business managers do the same, denying workers personhood and individuality, by labelling us as 'human capital', 'labour', 'human resources' or as 'a factor of production'. Hence dehumanization allows us to have 'labour substitution', which reduces the employment opportunities for people in favour of technology.
Hence, I am not a fan of these word and language games. I believe that we should call the foetus what "it" is, a helpless and dependent bundle of potentiality and promise. When I check the dictionary, it says that a fetus is either an unborn mammal or especially an unborn human "more than eight weeks after conception" ("fetus", 2005). For me, it is very technical that the dictionary writers had to say that the fetus is only a human after eight weeks from conception. This disclaimer suggests that we need the dimension of time in order to define when a fetus becomes human. (Time by itself is another artificial construct and language or symbolic manipulation of our reality).
My argument is simply this, that a person becomes human after conception, when documents are being created about him or her. No date and time is required to elapse after conception before we consider the fetus human. Once a fetus is conceived in a woman, we known that the fetus is not going to be anything except human if giving the chance to live (unless the DNA has been tampered with, which is another story).
However, that brings us the other problem of whether or not we must legislate against abortion, which is something that I am still meditating on, as I do consider the argument that one cannot use his or her own moral conviction of God's laws and Biblical principles and impose it on unbelievers. This goes against the principle of free will. Which is why I still find myself keeping silent on these issues.
A history of government family planning efforts in Jamaica [blog post] (2008, October 28). Retrieved from http://stanford.edu/group/womenscourage/cgi-bin/blogs/familyplanning/2008/10/24/a-history-of-government-family-planning-efforts-in-jamaica/
Fetus. (2005). Pocket Oxford English dictionary. 10th ed. Oxford: Oxford University P.
Smith, R. (2011, November 3). When governments pay people to have babies. NPR Planet Money Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/11/03/141943008/when-governments-pay-people-to-have-babies
The Third Angels Message (2012). An open letter to Ted Wilson on abortion in our hospitals the Trademark and recent imprisonment of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved from http://www.thethirdangelsmessage.com/open_letter_ted_wilson