Better Off Aborted

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We recently received an email that said, in part, "You pro-life people are so naive -- you think everyone wants life. Many of us living in misery curse our parents for not aborting us."

I have to wonder: If his life is so terrible that he wishes he had been killed in infancy, why doesn't he just kill himself now rather than writing to us to complain about his miserable life? Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm certainly not saying that I approve of suicide or that I would encourage him to do such a thing. But ... why hasn't he?

I don't know what problems the writer has in his life that are so terrible. Maybe he really does face overwhelming problems. Perhaps he is desperately poor, living in a cardboard box under a bridge and eating only what he can scavenge from garbage cans. Or perhaps the horrible misery he describes is really something trivial, like his girlfriend just dumped him or his favorite band broke up. (Well, he probably isn't living in a cardboard box under a bridge. He did send an email, and cardboard boxes generally don't have Internet access.) But either way, could it be that he really doesn't want to die? Whatever his problems are, from the fact that he has, in fact, not committed suicide, apparently he still has hope.

Pro-choice people often say that some people's lives are so miserable that they would have been better off if they had been aborted. But to co-opt their slogan: Who decides? The person facing these terrible problems? Or someone else?

If the pro-choice movement was calling for the right of miserable, unfortunate people to commit suicide, I suppose we could debate whether this is a valid exercise of personal freedom. An extreme case of personal freedom, of course, but maybe people should have that right. But that's not what they're saying. When I started writing this paragraph, I intended to say that the pro-choice movement wants to give someone else the power to decide that your life is so miserable that it is not worth living, and kill you. But reprehensible as that is, even that is not what they are saying. What they are saying is that someone else should have the power to decide that there is a possibility that maybe some time in the future your life might become miserable, and so kill you now to prevent this hypothetical potential future problem.

Wouldn't it be better to let this baby be born and grow up, see if his life turns out well or badly, and if it does turn out badly, decide for himself whether he wants to kill himself?

Maybe then, like our letter writer, he would decide that no matter how bad his life is, he does not really want such a drastic solution.

Why should someone else have the power to decide this for him?

19 Oct 2011

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