I watched a documentary about the abortion debate last night on More4 and came away with more on my mind than the usual ice-cream residue.
Part of the ‘Travels With My Camera’ series, sub-titled ‘A Matter of Life and Death’, it followed fresh-mother and ‘fashionable London journalist’ Miranda Sawyer as she tries to dissect the ethos of the abortion movement and why it is still such a controversial issue thirty years after Roe vs. Wade.
Strong arguments were made, some evoking God, and I’m sure many viewers had nosebleeds by the time the show wrapped, but because Miranda had difficulty defining her own moral stance the show breezed along objectively and without a pretension to convert viewers to one side or another.
It pulled that neat trick of reflecting the character of the host without pushing an agenda. This allowed for appreciation of the individual stories while never drawing the viewer into the discussion. Sometimes it’s important to just watch from the outside and let someone else experience whatever terror is occurring. Watching Aliens gives me a similar feeling.
I didn’t mean for this to turn into a review so I’ll skip to a point of sorts. Towards the end Miranda talked to a psychiatrist or psychologist, perhaps a philosopher, but definitely a learned man with a reasoned point of view. Part of the abortion debate, perhaps the crux, is when does a human life begin. Some believe at conception, others when the foetus becomes viable (can sustain itself unaided) and so on. In Louisiana, for example, an embryo is legally alive with the same rights as a child and it is against the law to knowingly destroy one, or more I guess. Any amount.
This man, anyway, made an important distinction. He noted that the difference between an embryo and a person is obvious and complete in fact. But the former doesn’t just switch into the latter. A person is comprised of many different elements and in development an embryo may acquire one element in the womb, one as a child and so forth. Day doesn’t become night but fades through twilight.
So, an embryo may be a human being but it isn’t a person. I like that. It justifies my own point of view and thus I declare it correct.
*As a neat aside, easily skippable, I include my own stance.
I favour the person above the potential. Simple as that. There are too many children without parents and too many real humans living in conditions most of us switch to another channel over. There is no need to save every potential human when we are ignoring actual humans by the millions.
Bang, I win. Argue with that logic God the Almighty.