As an older male with no biological children, what I think about reproductive rights is pretty much a philosophical issue. I have to endure personally neither the psycho-social terrors of a “procedure” nor the agonies of an unwanted pregnancy. As a young man, I was struck with both the sincerity and the intensity of the regard for potential human fulfillment on both sides of the issue. But with both theology and conventional morality failing to provide convincing guidance, I turned to evolutionary biology. Without going into the specifics (which would only annoy evolution deniers) it seems to me that we can pass on life, but we humans do not participate in the creation of “new” life. And because of our gender differences, most of the reproductive burden is put upon one sex. In typically wasteful evolutionary form, a man “scatters his seed” with odds of millions-to-one of fertilization of any specific egg. It is not a trait limited to cavemen and fish that this may be his last contribution to the embryonic (or life) journey of offspring. I am told that in the absence of males, the female of some species may produce offspring parthenogenetically or even change sex (a key element in 1990s fictional “Jurassic Park”). Whether this has ever happened in so-called “higher” vertebrates I’m not prepared to say, but in these fatherless cases, too, life seems to be passed on, not created anew.
Of course, if one doesn’t believe in evolution through natural selection as it is widely understood today, one needn’t worry about what takes place at the level of cell division, whether the separation of mother from embryo is as clear as might appear at birth, whether there might be some genetic variation that leads to to combinations of hormones that don’t clearly represent our sexually dimorphic expectations, or how any of this could represent the will of a variety of imaginary super-beings to whom is given the credit for creating a “new life.”
There is plenty of secular baby-worship around (“Isn’t he cute!”). Some people even claim an aesthetic response to a sonogram. I have never met anyone who felt attached in this way to menstruation, “expense of spirit,” or miscarriage. In these cases most of us can more easily set aside the blatantly hypocritical “Every sperm is sacred” and “Every child is precious” mentalities of too many of the eight billions.
If, as was suggested by one of The Sun’s recent correspondents, most of our current angst about gender identity derives from the abortion issue, then I would have to borrow a phrase and respond that those who axiomatically reject the complexities of evolutionary biology are building a house upon sand. If life worked the way they see it, their Holy Spirit would be considered a sexual predator.
Life doesn’t work that way, and stubbornly ignorant appeals to “science” filtered through religious superstition demean the wonder and complexity of life rather than embracing it.