On February the 21st, 2016, John Oliver, on his show Last Week Tonight, covered a very controversial topic, which I then viewed on the 22nd via YouTube. The topic was abortion laws, and while I am all for hearing as many positions and opinions as possible, especially those in contradiction to my own, I was rather disappointed with one of Oliver’s closing remarks.
I am a firm believer that controversial topics should be discussed; however, I am often greatly distressed with how such topics are covered: with insulting remarks and belittlement toward those with contrary opinions.
At the beginning of his segment, Oliver posted a poll that had gathered public opinion on abortions. The group in which his opinion was found comprised 36% of those polled. This group believed that abortions should be legal "in at least a few circumstances." Another group consisted of 19%, who believed that abortions should not be legal in any circumstance. To the people in this 19%, Oliver made an invitation to cease watching the segment until a later time in the program, at which point, upon welcoming those 19% back onto his show, he said, “Welcome back. Thanks for rejoining us, 19%. Quick question: WHAT THE F**K IS WRONG WITH YOU?”
At this emphatic remark, Oliver received a tremendous, concurring round of applause.
Now, I am a firm believer that controversial topics should be discussed; however, I am often greatly distressed with how such topics are covered—with insulting remarks and belittlement toward those with contrary opinions. So, I want to be very clear that what I am about to say is said not indignantly, nor does it come from a place of anger, or with a desire to assert my opinion via derision. Mr. Oliver, I am in that 19%; and with all due respect, I’d like to tell you exactly why.
This piece will focus on [John Oliver]'s question regarding what is "wrong" with people of my opinion.
First of all, I’d like to just say that this piece is not my way of calling out John Oliver. True, I disagree with his position on abortion—though it is worth noting that his bit on abortion law was an attack on what he believes are unnecessary pieces of legislation that do more to harm than help; and while I have my opinions on those, as well, this piece will focus on his question regarding what is "wrong” with people of my opinion—, but this difference between us is no cause for ridicule or a harboring of ill-will; and though our passions for our respective positions may be great (as mine are), there is no cause for division, so long as we meet upon a field of peaceful discussion, wherein both sides may present their opinions as equals, and through reason and logic, forsaking bias, prejudice, and that which causes stubbornness in the face of what cannot be refuted, come to a place, not of compromise, but rather of cooperation and understanding for the realization of what is true.
In beginning what I hope will be a brief reply to Mr. Oliver’s question and explanation of my opinion, I’d like to discuss why I am of the 19% of people who believe abortion should never be legal under any circumstance, and to do this I will rest upon these three points:
1. Is human life a right or a mercy?
2. What separates us from them? (Us: the living; and them: the abortion qualified).
3. All life is equal and deserving of an equal chance.
I ask you, in a purely inquisitive manner: Is human life a mercy or a right?
Point number one asks whether human life is a right or a mercy. What I mean is simply this: Do we, those of us who are alive right now, and those who lived before us and will live after, have a right to be alive? Do we have the right to live and breathe as human beings? Or are we all here because of the benevolent mercy of our mothers? Are we all alive because of the generosity of those who bore us, who decided that we were fit to live? If the latter, then I think it would be logical to say that the females of our species, the only ones of our kind who have the anatomic ability to bear the furthering of humanity, are inherently above life itself; they are the final say on who will be allowed to enter into this world. If we concurred on that point, then I would say why not make all judges who would pass a judgement onto the life of another, especially those potentially facing a penalty of death, female? We’d solve that problem, that dilemma of whether or not a human being has the right to decided the fate of another, because a female, by her inherent makeup, would have been ordained or fitted with the power to make what we would call, if we all came under this banner, the proper decision in the granting of both life and death.
Truly, if we are all a product of mercy, then shame on all of us who have ever not worshiped the very ground on which our mothers tread, for had they simply deemed us unfit to be called human (or, as I saw one YouTube commenter on the focal John Oliver episode say, “a fetus is a parasite”), then we would not even be here, exercising our minds and enjoying that which is all we will ever possess. This is not to say that anyone who believes life is a right and not a mercy to be granted by a specially empowered few gets a pass on honoring their mothers, for what have our mothers done that deserves not a lifetime of adoration and respect? But, I ask you, in a purely inquisitive manner: Is human life a mercy or a right?
Are we going to say that there was a time when the products of two certified human beings, sperm and egg, came together to form something that was not human, but later became human after a span of unable-to-be-defined time? If so, look no further for signs of alien life.
My second point speaks to the classification of Human and Fetus. What is the difference? Is there one? I ask you, what were you and I that a fetus is not? Or what is a fetus that you and I were not? Did we not all emerge from the sperm of our fathers fertilizing the egg of our mothers? Did we not all follow the same path of development? (And let’s not be argumentative here by citing developmental flaws or children born in artificial wombs as evidence to the contrary). Are we going to say that there was a time when the products of two certified human beings, sperm and egg, came together to form something that was not human, but later became human after a span of unable-to-be-defined time? If so, look no further for signs of alien life. Apparently, by this account, we were all once bizarre, unhuman creatures before making the transition into human beings.
I ask, then, if all of us who are alive today (and those who were alive in the past, and will live in the future) came to be what we are (were, and will be) via the same method and with the same union of human reproductive products (unless you are a clone, in which case you are still the product of the aforementioned; just copied), then what can lead us to say that another creature in the same stage in which we once found ourselves is any different or any less valuable than ourselves, and thereby qualifies, by its very nature, as a candidate for termination?
(Side note: I wish not to delve into the argument of male masturbation as a form of abortion—an argument I’ve heard, sadly. It is a childish assertion. Even the female body, though not in a masturbatory manner, expels its eggs every once in a while; and this is not abortion).
Finally, I come to point number three, that all life is equal and deserving of an equal chance. To illustrate this point, I will cover one of the more serious cases for abortion: rape.
If there is one criticism I have for many, though certainly not all, individuals who are anti-abortion, it is that they often fail to recognize the severity and downright life-altering and shattering crime that is rape...
If there is one criticism I have for some individuals who are anti-abortion, it is that they seem unable to recognize or behave coldly toward the severity and downright life-altering and shattering crime that is rape, and how impregnation as a result of such a vile, heinous act only further adds to the horror that must be lived out by the victim. The subjects and effects of this crime are unique in each case; so, I shall have to paint a rather general picture to illustrate this point: A female student, who has abstained from sexual activity all her life, has focused on her studies to fulfill her life-long dream of becoming a doctor, has prided herself on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, with nutrition and exercise, and has never put herself in a position wherein she might find herself with life-long regret or an obstacle in the way of her goals. She is thriving, self-confident, assured, strong, and happy. But then, one day while on campus, she is sexually assaulted by a most deplorable creature, who not only puts her through hell, but leaves her impregnated.
What follows is nothing short of torment. Not only is this innocent female a victim of a physical crime, she has been thoroughly and inwardly damaged. Although she is strong, what arises are feelings of distance, of isolation, self-loathing, worthlessness. She had been treated as nothing more than a carnal object, and no matter how hard those who love her try, no one will ever truly understand what she has endured and must continue to endure. Her attacker's face lingers in her every waking moment; his eyes penetrate her dreams; at all times she feels his coarse hands upon her cold skin; but worst of all, she has a growing reminder in her womb—the brood of her assailant.
Now pregnant, she must face those who look upon her and judge her without knowing what has happened. She must face physical changes, which get in the way of her healthy routine. She becomes so sick that she can’t even attend classes anymore. And anyone who has ever attempted medial school will know that to fall behind is to fall out. No matter how it is spun, her life, her innocent life, has been irrevocably altered.
But a solution is to her presented. Why not just abort that which has so altered her life? A simple, safe procedure can get her back into the classroom, back to her routines, and rid her body of her assailant’s offspring—a small mercy in an ongoing ordeal. She need not settle for this interruption, nor have to bear looking upon the face of her attacker every time she looks upon the child she is not ready to have. So, why not?
I will never be able to comprehend what such a victim experiences, and will have to experience for the rest of her life, with our without an abortion. And I say to you, all who denounce abortion as I do, be ever aware of how serious rape is and what it means to the victim; and if you truly care for the life of an innocent child, be ready and willing to serve a victim of one of the most heinous acts of violence ever.
To rectify an act of violence with an act of violence is to rectify nothing.
To anyone who has been a victim of rape, I say only this: I know not what it is you're going through; but please, of the sake of life itself, don’t punish the innocent for the sins of his or her father. The child within is as innocent as you are, and to rectify an act of violence with an act of violence is to rectify nothing. And to those of us who shout pro-life, I say again, instead of spending time and money picketing and screaming and casting more ugliness into the world by lashing out against those who feel differently than you do, invest that time and money into serving victims as best you can. Let us help them pay their bills; let us work with schools to help victims maintain their educational progress; let us help victims find proper adoption for the child they bear—anything.
What I have posed to anyone who has been a victim of rape is no easy endeavor, and I will never be able to understand everything that moves to influence decisions made following such a crime. But I ask, from the bottom of my heart, please consider the innocent life. And I’ll say it again, anyone who claims to be pro-life had better be quick to serve and slow to criticize.
As a final point, I’d like to leave you all with this.
Amid his case against abortion laws, John Oliver presented the following statistic:
The death rate for females getting abortions is 0.00073%...the death rate for those aborted is 100%.
What we see here is that an extremely low percentage of women who get legal abortions die as a result of the procedure. If the study cited is accurate, it would suggest that, if done “properly” by a legal institution, an abortion is a safe procedure. However, this statistic, I believe, is lacking something. As presented, the death rate for females getting abortions is 0.00073%. But the death rate for those aborted is 100%.
I...hope this conversation will not end here, that we will continue to debate issues such as these.
Mr. Oliver, you are an influential voice in today’s society. And while I will never criticize your right to say whatever it is you feel, I, too, will never shy away from vocalizing my own opinion—or, in this case, answering your direct question. I hope I’ve adequately and clearly presented my personal case and reasons for being in the 19%, and that I’ve done so respectfully. I also hope this conversation will not end here, that we (all of us, the people of this great union) will continue to debate issues such as these. And let us discuss without fear and without malice. Let us disagree without putting one another down or dividing ourselves further. And let us ever be pursuers of truth.
Thank you for reading.
C. K. Conners
P.s. To anyone who might be looking for ways in which to support a pro-life cause, I would suggest Care Net. They are a non-profit organization dedicated to helping women who may be contemplating abortion, for whatever reason. They are a Christian organization; and while I ascribe to no faith or religion, I do believe they are doing wonderful work, and I have and will continue to support all they do.
(I am in no way affiliated with this organization. This recommendation is wholly my own).
©2016 by C. K. Conners