Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Let's end the Cultural War with a Compromise: Legalize Gay Marriage, End Abortions

My preference, of course, is to find a muddied compromise on both issues. Find ways to extend to gay couples the benefits they request while finding cultural space for traditional view of marriage for those individuals and institutions that want to still believe in it. Even more so, I hope we can come to what I think is the basic understanding that gay and straight relationships are fundamentally different and that the rules, taboos, constraints and support may inevitably be structured to respect, honor and support these differences. Here's Andrew Sullivan:
Ross sharpens this by noting that in Massachusetts and Spain, for example, there are now three kinds of marriages: gay male, lesbian and heterosexual. Experientially, these are different things because of the power of gender. I do not dispute this at all. Ross, I think, is particularly worried about monogamy in this context - because it is so unnatural a state for most of us. The threat to monogamy, of course, is not universally - but largely - a function of testosterone and evolutionary biology. And the heterosexual marriage ideal offers social status to males to stick to one woman for the sake of children (and his wife).
On abortion, I think we should do more to support and sustain women so that pregnancy is intentional and occurs under the best circumstances, but when it does occur, they are supported throughout their pregnancy and the newly created child has every opportunity to be raised in a home of loving caregivers, ideally bound to the biological parents who produced the life.

However, I think these two issues have a lot of complementary features and could easily be worked through in tandem. If the choice is between an aborted baby and a gay couple willing to provide a loving home for that baby to thrive... Well, I'm not sure how this choice is difficult. If marriage is less about creating life and more about binding romantic relationships than the taboos around unwed pregnancy disappear.

Finally, I think gay marriage is becoming increasingly inevitable as the polls seem to be going in that direction. It seems though making abortion illegal could also have the same air of inevitability as science is increasingly showing that perhaps the unborn fetus is not only a living entity but quite possibly, well you know, a person?

I think this article provides a brief abortion history but makes what I think an important point:
But my sympathy for the beliefs of people who oppose abortion is enormous, and it grows almost by the day. An ultrasound image taken surprisingly early in pregnancy can stop me in my tracks. In it is much more than I want to know about the tiny creature whose destruction we have legalized: a beating heart, a human face, functioning kidneys, two waving hands that seem not too far away from being able to grasp and shake a rattle. One of the newest types of prenatal imaging, the three-dimensional sonogram—which is so fully realized that happily pregnant women spend a hundred dollars to have their babies’ first “photograph” taken—is frankly terrifying when examined in the context of the abortion debate. The demands pro-life advocates make of pregnant women are modest: All they want is a little bit of time. All they are asking, in a societal climate in which out-of-wedlock pregnancy is without stigma, is that pregnant women give the tiny bodies growing inside of them a few months, until the little creatures are large enough to be on their way, to loving homes.
Or read about how Penelope Trunk describes here abortion here:
People think abortion is such an easy choice–they say, “Don't use abortion as birth control.” Any woman who has had one will tell you how that is such crazy talk. Because an abortion is terrible. You never stop thinking about the baby you killed. You never stop thinking about the guy you were with when you killed the baby you made with him. You never stop wondering.
So the second time I got pregnant, I thought of killing myself. My career was soaring. I was 30 and I felt like I had everything going for me — great job, great boyfriend, and finally, for the first time ever, I had enough money to support myself. I hated that I put myself in the position of either losing all that or killing a baby.
 And finally:
But also, here I am with two kids. So I know a bit about having kids and a career. And I want to tell you something: You don't need to get an abortion to have a big career. Women who want big careers want them because something deep inside you drives you to change the world, lead a revolution, break new barriers.
It doesn't matter whether you have kids now or later, because they will always make your career more difficult. There is no time in your life when you are so stable in your work that kids won't create an earthquake underneath that confidence.
Increasingly, I also think we should try to avoid sperm donor babies. I doubt its practical to legally prevent it, but it does potentially lead to crazy stuff like this, where a man finds out his wife is biologically his sister.
When my wife and I met in college, the attraction was immediate, and we quickly became inseparable. We had a number of things in common, we came from the same large metropolitan area, and we both wanted to return there after school, so everything was very natural between us. We married soon after graduation, moved back closer to our families, and had three children by the time we were 30. We were both born to lesbians, she to a couple, and me to a single woman. She had sought out her biological father as soon as she turned 18, as the sperm bank her parents used allowed contact once the children were 18 if both parties consented. I never was interested in learning about that for myself, but she felt we were cheating our future children by not learning everything we could about my past, too. Well, our anniversary is coming up and I decided to go ahead and, as a present to my wife, see if my biological father was interested in contact as well. He was, and even though our parents had used different sperm banks, it appears so did our father, as he is the same person. On the one hand, I love my wife more than I can say, and logically, done is done, we already have children. I have had a vasectomy, so we won't be having any more, so perhaps there is no harm in continuing as we are. But, I can't help but think 'This is my sister' every time I look at her now. I haven't said anything to her yet, and I don't know if I should or not. Where do I go from here? I am tempted to burn everything I got from the sperm bank and just try to forget it all, but I'm not sure if I can. Please help me figure out where to go from here.
Or in the one thread of Parks and Recreation, a character weighs the responsibility of fatherhood when he is asked to donate his sperm, implying that donating a sperm is much, much more than just donating a sperm.

 If we do expand marriage to include gay couples (which we already are), my ideal would be that those relationships would exist to support straight couples who have much more at stake in terms of creating life. Support those who get pregnant unintentionally, adopt children who would otherwise not be adopted. Push abortion into the taboo fringe where it belongs.

Can we find a compromise? Extend gay marriage, end abortions?

As a side note, illegalizing abortion makes me uncomfortable in some very serious ways. I don't ever want a return to this:
At Belle­vue, my mother had twice attended dying young women who were victims of botched abortions, young women—“girls,” she called them—who spent their last hours on earth being interviewed by policemen. Terrified, alone, dying, neither would reveal the name of the abortionist; “they were too frightened,” my mother said. If I had to put money on which of the roommates bravely went to the girl’s apartment, I’d put it on my mother.
And I would prefer if we could end abortion through culture pressure and taboo than through threat of jail, but I hope that we could at least have the discussion that goes beyond simply Roe v Wade.


Anonymous said...

Nice proposition... :-)
but what will get is that you/ll be booed by both sides

Anonymous said...

me again: it's either both, or none...
think about that ;-)

cpmaz said...

Won't happen. Most polls that I've seen show solid majority support for both legalizing same sex marriage and for the continued legal availability of abortions.

I think that the ultimate position of society on these issues will become -

1. As long as everyone involved is a freely consenting adult, marry who you want.

2. While society doesn't encourage abortion, access to abortion and other services are a must for any viable health care system.

tempe turley said...

I think there should be access to abortion since there are viable health reasons to do them. What I'm talking about here are cultural pressures to make their occurrence rare and only used under the most extreme cases.

I think you start to see the polls change on the abortion issue depending on how the question is asked and the context given.

Obviously, there is an unborn child to be considered whose rights to life should be weighed against the mothers right to be forced to carry the child to term.