exciting, informative, snarky, and very likely fabricated tales of life as an american expat in london

the chick and the egg

by Jen at 8:36 pm on 3.06.2009 | 2 Comments
filed under: like a fish needs a bicycle

i talk a lot about being staunchly pro-choice on this blog.  in thinking more about the post i wrote the other day, about the primacy of a woman’s right to always have control over her body, including complete control over reproduction, i realised i’ve never fully articulated here just why i believe what i believe.  it may not be of interest to many of you, but it’s important to me to establish here the context in which i have chosen to support abortion rights.

there are, to my mind, two factors in every pregancy – the existing, external life of the woman, and the *potential*, internal life represented by the fetus.  i believe that if at any point those two interests come into conflict, the established rights of the existing life must always take precedence over the potential rights of the potential life.

there are many who would argue that the point at which that potential life can survive outside the womb (around 24 weeks, currently), that it should be legally treated as a baby, and granted all the same rights as babies inherit when they are born, i.e. recognised as an existing life.  i disagree.

i think of it this way:

this is an egg.  this egg may be fertilised.  it may not.  it may, in fact, have a nearly fully-developed chick inside it. but its essence in its *current state* is that of an egg.  it is an egg.  for purposes of decision-making based on what it is right now, it is an egg.

this is a chick.  it still looks a lot like an egg, and could easily be the same egg from the above picture, but its principle nature has changed.  it is no longer an egg, but a chick being born.  there’s no rationale for calling it an egg – it is clearly a chick.

that is to say: in my mind there is something about the act of being born which changes the fundamental status of a thing from a *potential* life to an *actualised* life, and therefore (i would argue) changes the essence of how it should be recognised.  it is no longer in the internal world of things which, (no matter how likely, no matter how close), *might one day be* born as a chick, and joins the external world of the *chick which is*.

so if, in a pregnancy, there must be drawn a bright line of demarcation between whose interests must be considered paramount, whose health and well-being must take priority, whose needs must be met more, the line between being born and unborn is mine.  an existing life takes precedence over a potential life, and the difference between potential and existing is the act coming into being in the external world.

this is not, of course, by any means a perfect analogy.  in fact, it’s not an analogy at all – simply my attempt at representing the way in which i have chosen my beliefs in a world where there is no objective certainty, no absolute moral rectitude.  in a world where one must weigh up all the science, laws and politics, and somehow integrate that with one’s beliefs about things like spirituality, conscience and relationships… in a world in which we are required to choose sides, i choose the woman.  i choose her right to an abortion up to the point of birth.  i choose her needs, her health, her best interests first, foremost, and above all others.  and i choose to support choice – always.



  • 1

    Comment by Strawberry

    4.06.2009 @ 19:01 pm

    You turned comments off on the chicken/egg post, thereby forcing me to comment on it here. And here is my comment…

    I so totally want a t-shirt that says *Chick Which Is* on it!!!!! grin grin grin

  • 2

    Comment by Sarah

    5.06.2009 @ 19:24 pm

    Thanks for this. As I get older I find myself sliding more and more away from my staunch, pro-choice stance. I think it has to do with looking more and more at the fetus’s perspective, whereas I’ve always seen it from the woman’s perspective. But, I worry that if I take a mini-step towards pro-life, I’ll find there will suddenly be no choice at all. Neither side sits right with me right now.

    I like how Obama talked about abortion in his book: let’s all agree that no one *wants* abortions and start from there. A lot of this energy that is around legal stuff can be put into limiting unwanted pregnancies.

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