About a week ago, Doberman did a thought provoking post about the 10,000 child prostitutes in SA. It drew a vituperative Anon comment (why Anon I wonder?) and the article has left an issue exposed about the pro-life, pro-choice debate which I personally think needs clarification.
Doberman qualified his comments by acknowledging that the issue is a controversial one, and acknowledging that many people have very strong emotional issues around abortion. The core of his argument is contained in this sentence:
"I retain a strong opinion, rightly or wrongly, that terminating a foetus that is unwanted is a lesser evil as opposed to allowing yet another unwanted child to be born to parent(s) - and a world - that is overpopulated and simply does not want them. They become what is blithely referred to as "street children".
As I say, his post drew a very vituperative, emotional response from Anon, the core of which can be summarised in part of his/ her response:
“The spurious notion that a person's right to life must be abrogated because of your OPINION that they will end up as "street children living 'worthless' lives" is outrageous in the extreme…. No one has the right to kill another person in the spurious assertion that they will be "spared" a tough life because many aborted babies who survived have gone on to have productive lives”
Folks, what has occurred in the exchange here has created a false dichotomy:
I doubt very much (judging by Doberman’s own words) that he was advocating the “killing” of unborn babies as a solution to street children. After all, he describes abortion as a “lesser evil.” Sounds perfectly reasonable.
But the dichotomy occurs when an emotional response is made that assigns a false motive to the other side. Anon’s alternative presumably being that under NO circumstances is abortion justified. Go straight to the poles guys, no slippery slope, you are either far left or far right.
On the one hand, the position is that the pro-choicer is “advocating” killing unborn babies to lessen the volumes of street kids (he's a baby murderer,) and is left to defend this incorrect interpretation of his motive. On the other is a pro-lifer who takes the view that there is no issue at all, no babies should be aborted at all. Period.
Let me sketch a true dichotomy:
Personally, I have been involved in charity work at an orphanage in Berea, Johannesburg, and I would describe the situation there as “hopeful but tragic”
There is hope unlimited for babies that arrive early, are cleared through AIDS testing, and are up for adoption within a few months of arrival. Many of these orphans are adopted by wealthy Europeans and will grow up in the first world, attend the finest private schools and achieve many things in their future lives, oblivious to their lowly beginnings (South Africa’s youngest immigrants!)
On the other hand, the prognosis for the babies that are HIV positive is a lot less optimistic. Downright terrible in fact. They are doomed to orphan care and charity at the behest of state and welfare systems, such as they may be, for a short time until life is mercifully snuffed away by the various symptoms they will develop in their shortened lives.
Perhaps many will become street children. “Twilight” kids; drug addicts and child prostitutes even.
The problem is compounded by the fact that the burden of caring for surviving family members, falls on siblings.
The numbers are also quite staggering:
Worldwide, it is estimated that more than 15 million children under 18 have been orphaned as a result of AIDS. Around 11.6 million of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa. In countries badly affected by the epidemic such as Zambia and Botswana, it is estimated that 20 percent of children under 17 are orphans - most of whom have lost one or both parents to AIDS.
Number of orphans due to AIDS, alive in 2007
South Africa 1,400,000
Côte d'Ivoire 420,000
The conclusion I am forced to reach, is that early abortion may not necessarily be even a “lesser evil” but even a positive one. The caveat I will insert is that this choice is not mine to make, nor Doberman's, nor Anon's, nor the government nor anyone else who thinks they may have a “God given” or otherwise moral right.
It is the choice of the mother. To the question “should society sanction or encourage abortion?”
The answer is yes.
But only the mother can make that choice, nobody can make it for her. But this is not even the real question, the real issue is: when do we, as a society/ state/ interest group draw the line when the mother loses the right to terminate her unborn foetus? (whatever her personal reasons may be; whether she is HIV positive or whether it is just an unwanted “slip”)
The question is quite simply about the age of the foetus, because at some point that foetus does become a human being, and whilst the mother has an inalienable right to abort (again for whatever reason she deems fit, its got f***all to do with anyone else) she does lose that right at some point.
At which point?
Off the horns of the dichotomy and onto the slippery slope!