Carl Sagan Sobre el Aborto

Abortion has jumped again to the raging news in Spain because of the Minister of Justice, Mr. Ruiz Gallardón, who recently stated in the Congress of Deputies that women suffer “on many occasions structural gender violence by the mere fact of pregnancy. “Which leads to abortion.
Mr. Gallardón, abortion does not imply any type of violence towards women, quite the contrary. Giving the option of a woman aborting if she wants it is not structural violence or anything like that. Giving the option of a woman aborting if she wants is called freedom. In the discussion about abortion you can argue that abortion is murder because the fetus is a human being, you can argue that there are alternative methods such as adoption, you can argue thousands of things. What he can not say is that abortion is a type of violence against women. People (not fetuses) must have freedom and abortion, as well as the morning-after pill and other contraceptive methods, gives women reproductive freedom.
The conspicuous Carl Sagan , in his latest book “Thousands of Millions”, included a text co-written with his wife, Ann Druyan, in which they unravel the arguments for and against abortion, and come to a conclusion, to my understanding very reasonable. The text was published for the first time on April 22, 1990 in the magazine Parade with the title of ” The Question of Abortion: A Search for Answers ” and later added to the book. Highly recommended reading to position yourself in this hot topic:
ABORTION:
IS IT POSSIBLE TO TAKE AT THE SAME TIME PARTY FOR “LIFE” AND “THE CHOICE”?

Humanity likes to think in terms of opposite extremes. She is accustomed to formulate her beliefs in the form of “or this or that”, among which she does not recognize intermediate possibilities. When it is forced to recognize that it is not possible to opt for the extremes, it is still inclined to maintain that they are valid in theory, but that in practical matters the circumstances force us to reach a compromise. John Dewey

The question was settled years ago. The judiciary opted for the middle term. One would think that the controversy was over, but there are still massive concentrations, bombs and intimidation, deaths of workers from abortion clinics, arrests, intense campaigns, legislative drama, Congressional hearings, Supreme Court decisions, large political parties that almost define themselves the matter and ecclesiastics that threaten the perdition of politicians. The adversaries hurl accusations of hypocrisy and murder. The spirit of the Constitution and the will of God are invoked alike. Doubtful arguments are used as if they were certainties. The political parties appeal to science to strengthen their positions. Families are divided, husbands and women decide not to talk about it, old friends stop talking. Politicians examine the latest polls to discover what conscience dictates. Meanwhile shouting, it is difficult for the adversaries to be heard. The opinions are polarized. The minds close. 

Is it illegal to interrupt a pregnancy? Forever? Sometimes? Never? How to decide? We write this article to better understand what the opposing positions are and to see if we can find a position that satisfies both. Is there no middle term? We must weigh the arguments of one side and another to determine its consistency and raise practical, purely hypothetical cases in more than one case. If it seems that some of these assumptions go too far, we ask the reader to be patient, because we are trying to force the various positions to their breaking point in order to warn of their weaknesses and failures. When you reflect on it, almost everyone recognizes that there is no clear answer. We see that many supporters of divergent positions experience some uneasiness or discomfort when it is dualized what is behind the arguments faced (in part why they shun such confrontations). The question affects with certainty deeper questions: what are our mutual responsibilities? Should we allow the State to intervene in the most intimate and personal aspects of our life? Where are the limits of freedom? What does it mean? human being? 

Regarding the multiple points of view, there is the widespread opinion – especially in the media, which rarely have the time or inclination to establish subtle distinctions – that there are only two: “pro-choice” and “pro-life” » This is how the two contending sides call themselves and we will call them here. In the simplest characterization, a supporter of the election will argue that the decision to terminate a pregnancy only belongs to the woman and that the State has no right to intervene, while an anti-abortionist will maintain that the embryo or fetus is alive from the moment of conception, that this life imposes on us the moral obligation to preserve it and that abortion amounts to murder. Both denominations -pro election and pro-life- were chosen thinking about influencing those who had not yet decided: few wish to be included among the opponents of freedom of choice or the enemies of life.Freedom and life are, of course, two of our most valued values, and here they seem to be in a fundamental conflict. We will consider successively these two absolutist positions. A newborn baby is surely the same being as just before birth. There is strong evidence that a well-developed fetus reacts to sounds, including music, but especially to the voice of its mother. You can suck your thumb or startle.From time to time it generates brain waves as an adult. There are those who claim to remember their birth or even the uterine environment. Maybe you think inside the uterus. It is difficult to maintain that a transformation towards the full personality occurs abruptly at the moment of delivery. Why, then, should it be considered murder to kill a baby the day after birth but not the day before? In practical terms, this is unimportant. Less than 1% of abortions registered in the United States take place in the last three months of pregnancy (and after a closer investigation it is discovered that the majority correspond to miscarriages or miscalculations). However, abortions performed during the third trimester provide a test of the limits of the “pro-choice” point of view. Does it encompass the “innate right of a woman to control her own body” to kill a fetus that is almost fully developed and that, for all purposes, is identical to a newborn? 

We believe that many of those who defend reproductive freedom feel, at least on occasion, uneasy about this question, but are reluctant to consider it because it is the beginning of a slippery slope. If it is inadmissible to suspend a pregnancy in the ninth month, what happens with the eighth, seventh, sixth …? Is it not possible to deduce that the State can intervene at any time if we recognize its capacity to act at a certain moment of pregnancy? This invokes the spectrum of legislators, predominantly male and opulent, deciding that women living in poverty carry children who can not afford to raise; forcing teenagers to bring children to the world for those who are not emotionally prepared; telling women who aspire to a professional career that they must give up their dreams, stay at home and raise children;and, worst of all, condemning the victims of rapes and incest to accept without further the offspring of their aggressors (Two of the most energetic anti-abortionists of all time were Hitler and Stalin, who immediately after assuming power declared a crime the Previously legal abortion commission, Mussolini, Ceausescu and countless dictators and nationalist tyrants did so, of course, this is not an argument in favor of the election, but it warns us about the fact that we are against abortion it does not have to be a sign of a deep commitment to human life.). Legislative prohibitions on abortion raise the suspicion that their true purpose is to control the independence and sexuality of women. By what right do legislators allow themselves to tell women what to do with their bodies? The deprivation of the freedom of reproduction is degrading. Women are tired of being overwhelmed. 

However, we all agree that it is right that murder be prohibited and that a penalty be imposed on the person who commits it. The defense of the murderer would be very weak if he claimed that it was something between him and his victim, and that this did not concern the public authorities. Is it not the duty of the State to prevent the elimination of a fetus if that act in fact constitutes the murder of a human being? It is assumed that one of the functions of the State is to protect the weak against the strong. 

If we do not oppose abortion at some stage of pregnancy, is not there the danger of considering a whole category of human beings unworthy of our protection and respect? Is not that one of the characteristics of sexism, racism, nationalism and religious fanaticism? Do those who are engaged in combating such injustices not scrupulously avoid committing another? 

Today there is no right to life in any society on Earth, nor has it existed in the past (with a few exceptions, like the Jains of India): we raise farm animals for slaughter, we destroy forests, we pollute rivers and lakes until no fish can live in them, we kill deer and moose for sport, leopards for their skin and whales to make fertilizer, we catch dolphins that are struggling for air in large tuna nets, we kill puppies with sticks, and every day we cause the extinction of a species. All those beasts and plants are living beings like us. What (supposedly) is protected is not life itself, but human life. Even with that protection, occasional homicide is a common occurrence in the cities and we wage “conventional” wars at such a high cost that we usually prefer not to think too much about it. (Significantly, mass killings organized by states are generally justified by redefining our adversaries of race, nationality, religion or ideology as subhumans.) That protection, that right to life, does not apply to the 40,000 children under the age of five who die every day on the planet because of starvation, dehydration, diseases and negligence that could have been avoided. The majority of those who defend the “right to life” do not refer to any kind of life, but, especially and singularly, to human life. They, too, like the supporters of choice, must decide what distinguishes a human being from other animals and at what point in gestation these specifically human qualities emerge, whatever they may be. 

In spite of the numerous affirmations against, life does not begin at the moment of conception; It is an uninterrupted chain that goes back to the origins of the Earth, 4.600 million years ago. Neither does human life begin at conception, but it is an uninterrupted chain that goes back to the origins of our species, hundreds of thousands of years ago. Beyond all doubt, each human sperm and each ovule are alive. It is obvious that they are not human beings, but the same could be said of a fertilized ovum. In some animals, an egg can develop into a healthy adult without the contribution of a sperm. This is not the case, as far as we know, between human beings. A sperm and an unfertilized ovum together comprise the entire genetic endowment of a person. In certain circumstances, after fertilization they can become a baby. However, the majority of fertilized ovules abort spontaneously. The conclusion of the development is not guaranteed. Neither the isolated sperm nor the egg, as well as the fertilized ovum, go from being a potential baby or adult. Why, then, is it not considered murder to destroy a sperm or an egg if one and the other are as human as the fertilized egg produced by their union, and instead it is considered murder to destroy a fertilized egg, even if it is only a baby in power?