Let me set the stage for you. We’ll take some rabbit trails, but I promise it’ll be worth it*. (*please note that if you disagree it’s worth it, criticism can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
It’s Friday night, approximately 1 in the morning. I’m in my neighborhood waiting for a friend, and surfing on my phone. Living a block away from a main street with a pretty consistent Friday night crowd, means that matter the hour it’s not unusual to see people walking about, though the later it gets the less likely it is that they are walking instead of stumbling. For my part I was about ready to go home when an older gentleman approaches me to ask if I would sign his petition.
I do applaud his creativity- I admit that in my time as a signature-gatherer I never considered the prime real estate of Friday night bars, but perhaps the logic goes that the more one has had to drink the less one will take your time with questions. We’ll never know because I didn’t ask, but unfortunately for him he approached the wrong girl on the street. Wine levels aside, this political soul can always discuss and dissect policy.
He informs me that is collecting signatures to get on the ballot to run against my congressman. He is running pretty much solely on a ranked ballot platform, as he believes that a ranked ballot is the best solution to literally every problem we face.
Needless to say, I had a few questions. It’s all well and good that this is what you think is important, I told him, but if you were elected to Congress you would be facing a myriad of issues, and your platform on a ranked ballot doesn’t tell me how you would represent me. What, for example, is your position on abortion rights?
I pause here to share that in every day speaking I would never use the phrase “abortion rights,” but when approaching a politician for the first time, I find it a helpful way to gauge how they actually feel on the issue.
Well, he says, shaking his head, that’s a complicated issue. On one hand I think we have to recognize it’s a person at a point, but on the other hand, population control is a real problem.
It was here I began to wonder how much he was a part of the Friday night crowd, as opposed to just scoping them out as I had originally suspected.
But as nonsensical as his statement was on the surface, it speaks to a more subtle and insidious thought process that has wormed its way into the minds of many. Far too often I have heard “population control” in conjunction with abortion and it must, must, must stop.
Briefly, a reminder of the core of the abortion debate: At what point do the stronger bestow basic human rights (the right to be legally protected from being killed) upon the weaker?
We know when life begins, that’s not up for debate. But when do *rights* begin?
The fact that we claim the right to even ask that question is the height of arrogance. It is not just the question that is insulting, but the idea that anyone could so blithely accept that we have any right to answer it in the first place is dangerously self-aggrandizing.
By putting human rights and population control as two sides of the same coin, he makes the argument that the reason to continue denying human rights is because we should have fewer humans. Essentially, my hubris allows me to kill you in the name of what I deem the greater good.
A human being is a human being is a human being. It’s not complicated. To decide our laws should discriminate against any segment of the population, to decide that any members of the human family should be denied basic human rights due to their age and their location, or their disability, or their skin color, or their sex, or any other factor that small minds consider to be “lesser” is treacherous ground to walk.
So to conflate this core question – at what point do human rights begin?- with the idea that the earth’s population must be reduced or controlled, is to mark oneself among the ranks of tyrants. To suggest in one hand that you acknowledge the humanity of the unborn but, within the same breath, defend their legal killing in order to control the population size should give anyone pause. What’s to say that tomorrow you or I don’t fit his interpretation of those unworthy of protection? At the point we use a desire for fewer people as justification for killing a human being in an abortion, there is no logical way to protect any other segment of the population from befalling the same fate.
To support abortion is to support discrimination- the kind that ends in someone else’s violent death.
But once abortion has become interchangeable with birth control, both in policy and in practice, it becomes easier to create a faulty connection between the legal killing of human beings and the idea that we just need fewer human beings in the first place.
Paging Captain Planet:
The internal message absorbed when our society connects abortion and population control seems to be, you can not only support abortion, but you can walk away feeling good that you’ve done your part for the planet. Never mind that a human being was just violently killed, you’ve helped Earth!
I’m not going to advocate for family sizes one way or the other- that’s an incredibly personal decision. But the point is that the question of family size is one to decide before a new life is there. The heartbreaking reality behind every abortion is that you can’t unmake a baby- you can only kill one.
And to allow that, is the height of tyranny.