Wolfgang Wiebach's Light Musings on Heavy Subjects

    To be or not to be from the womb

     The letter I sent to my congressman Don Sherwood, republican, asking to keep abortion legal and safe, was not really my own original idea. Rather, I received it, preprinted and with his name and address filled in, from the Planned Parenthood organization, probably because of my occasional contributions. However, I did add a sentence of my own, expressing a thought that had puzzled me for years. "How come", I asked, "you republicans always proclaim that the government should get off the people's back - why don't you keep away from the women's bellies?"
    The congressman replied with a letter, thanking me for sharing my views, but stated that he values "the right to life of the unborn". This got me to think a little about that angle of the issue.
     For reasons of legal symmetry and fair play, as well as in consideration of the fact that the unborn's life may not turn out to mean "living happily ever after", we should also bestow upon the unborn the right not to develop, be born und live. I believe, in modern legal parlance, this would be called "the right to opt out".
    Could the unborn ever have any reason to exercise this second right? Actually yes, quite a few. First of all, as the German philosopher Schopenhauer aptly observed, life only vacillates between pain and boredom. Of course, it may be punctuated by minutes of contentment and even moments of joy, yet as well by spells of terror and hours of despair. Furthermore, the predominant misery worsened since Schopenhauer's time as our planet becomes increasingly crowded, hectic and noisy and is fast running out of the main energy source. And there may be special additional plights awaiting the fetus due to the parents' socio-economic circumstances or genetic makeup. All of these pros and cons need to be carefully considered before the unborn can make a choice which of its rights to exercise.
    

     There is just one slight problem that my avid readers may have guessed at this point: the fetus does have neither access to the required information nor the brain power to process it. Even after it has been born, it may have to live twenty years before things become sufficiently clear. Then, of course, it's way too late to cast its NO-vote. Things need to be decided while it is still in the womb.
    In our society, when an individual is unable to act due to its mental state, the accepted legal practice is to have the next of kin act on its behalf. In the case of the unborn, this seems to be the mother.

    (I am sorry, it is not congressman Don Sherwood).