A few months ago Aspen Baker presented a TED talk on Abortion that has been viewed nearly one million times and has been lauded for its simplicity, honesty and insight. Unfortunately it’s not really any of those things.
Aspen observes that discussing abortion can be “polarizing”, this isn’t really a revelation for anyone. If a particular practice kills a member of the human community it shouldn’t be surprising that discussing it would be “polarizing”. I’d be rather shocked if that wasn’t in fact the case. Aspen suggests that the abortion debate can move forward by encouraging women to share their abortion stories of whether they were happy or regretted theirs. Clearly it’s important to listen to others and to discuss our experiences, that’s why counseling exists. However, listening to women talk about whether they regretted or were pleased about procuring an abortion says nothing about the ethics of abortion and therefore makes it no less polarizing. To some extent what she promotes is positive, it is clearly vital to explore and examine the decisions we make. This is especially the case when no obvious avenue exists for doing so because of shame or guilt. However, I just don’t think this alone will lead to the abortion debate being any less polarizing as Aspen suggests.
Her whole presentation simply begs the question regarding the nature of the unborn and focuses on the ex post facto experiences of women who have procured an abortion. I don’t mean to sound insensitive but let me try and demonstrate the question begging nature of this attempted solution to improve the abortion discussion.
Let me make a few observations. The real victims of abortion aren’t actually given a voice and so having a place to discuss whether you are happy about expressing your autonomy in an act of human violence isn’t really a solution it’s just bad counseling.
Imagine if we responded to infanticide or slavery with the same logic rather than just admitting that they are polarizing (because they are evil) and will continue to be until they are resolved (abolished). Imagine that instead of campaigning to end infanticide and slavery we opened phone hot-lines to slave owners and parents who had left their newborns out to be eaten by animals, and just encouraged them to share their stories. Of course if we just assume that the nature of the unborn is ambiguous then there’s nothing wrong about using such hot-lines. This assumption is the common denominator among those who attempt to refresh the abortion debate and who continue unsuccessfully to appease both those who are pro-life or pro-abortion.
The nature of the unborn is no more ambiguous than the nature of the newborn, toddler or teenager, all are equally human albeit at their respective sizes, levels of development, environment and degrees of dependency. To kill another human being at any stage of human development is always a prima facie moral wrong and not something that should be trivialized or can be resolved by sharing stories.
The modern Western world is simply one of the most morally confused cultures to ever exist, it’s like living in a world where everything is blue but a large proportion of people think it’s red, and then they try and make you feel stupid or guilty for pointing out what should be obvious. This just exposes the power of the modern moral narrative where the only thing that’s sacrosanct is the right to choose, whatever that choice is. Autonomy is the idol of the modern world and nothing is safe in its hands, it leaves our culture in the confused state where we are more traumatized by the death of a lion over the thousands of humans sacrificed everyday to Moloch.
Unbiased discussion is good but when a practice is evil we must admit it and continue the discussion from there, abortion, like infanticide and slavery dehumanizes fellow members of the human community and uses them as a means to our own happiness. Some people will read the word ‘evil’ above and feel uncomfortable and that’s either because they are a moral coward, ignorant of the facts of Embryology and Philosophy or in denial. Killing other human beings for your own gain, whatever that may be is evil and if it isn’t, nothing is, and you should pack your nihilist bags and admit nothing at all is right or wrong.
Abortion will remain polarizing and it will continue to be, the recent expose of Planned Parenthood are a good example of why this should remain the case until like infanticide and chattel slavery they have been abolished. Aspen is intelligent and a great speaker but her concept of “pro-voice” does not present us with an answer to the abortion question it simply obfuscates it.