Man of Steel & Abortion

I have been thinking about Superman (Man of Steel) lately and it’s various and many allusions to Christianity, faith in general and, it seems, conception.

In brief: Krypton has evolved technologically to a place where the burden of pregnancy and child birth have been removed from women and placed in the hands of the medical establishment. There has not been a live birth “in hundreds of years”.

I have never been fond of eugenics (the medical and scientific manipulation of human beings essentially to breed out “imperfections”) and this seems to lean in that direction but it lends an interesting scenario…

Were there abortions on Krypton? It sounds like a silly question (I suspect it is) but these sorts of hypotheses can be helpful in looking at a situation we are close to.

If women no longer had the burden (I will call it burden although many women would call it a blessing it depends on circumstance and context) of being pregnant would that end abortions?

To lay my cards on the table I should say I am not and have never been a supporter of abortion. I think it is wrong. I thought it was wrong before I was a Christian and I still think it is wrong.

But time has led me to consider certain uncomfortable realities – context for instance. Should the rule against abortion be a strict no abortion ever under any circumstance? Should there be absolutely no laws regulating abortion whatsoever such as in Canada? Is there a happy medium? Should fertile 9 year old girls who have been raped by their fathers be forced to carry that child to term? Should a woman who uses abortion more like a reactive contraceptive be allowed to have her fourth or fifth abortion? Should abortion be restricted or limited after a certain point of fetal development?

How do we answer any of these questions? I know how we avoid to answer them – we objectify that little human being in the womb (some of you just cringed at that description) and we use the scientific name for it – fetus. To put it in words that perfectly express this: “She’s not a fetus, because fetuses don’t necessitate or care about government protection since they’re not real people. She doesn’t exist.” from this article –

The fetus becomes an object and as such open to manipulation and destruction. It is not alive. Not like us. Or if it is it is not really human and what’s the point of trying to figure out when life begins anyhow? The very suggestion that we debate this is shouted down in our culture because of fear. We fear what the answer might be. When did we become afraid of knowledge and dialogue?

Culture has successfully communicated to me that, as a man, I have no right or voice in any discussion on abortion (unless I support it). It has been so successful that posts like this make me literally break out in a cold sweat.I am afraid to communicate.

Some would respond by stating that this has been the state of things for years for women but past injustice does not justify continued injustice.

Back to Man of Steel. The film makers sent a clear message by having Kal El’s (Superman) parents choose, against all cultural restraints, to have a child naturally. They are called heretics for their choice. But the message is clear – choice. Freedom. These things are of supreme importance.

And just when you think we have wrapped up our argument in a nice little bow and determined that since choice rules women should be allowed to choose abortion we must be reminded again of the nagging little question – what if this being is alive…alive in the same way I am?

Is it murder?

Some of my Christian friends clamor at this point and state unequivocally that it is murder and therefore should be illegal. After all we have laws against murder. But what about the death penalty in some countries? What about state sanctioned murder (war)? Where are the Christian voices that stand strong against these things? Oh they are there but not nearly in the same way they are there for abortion. In fact many Christians who stand against abortion support a death penalty and war.

Some no doubt do not like the comparison of abortion to the death penalty. People on both sides of the false dichotomy recoil at it. On the pro-life/anti-choice side people would say that you cannot allow abortions because we allow war and the death penalty it’s different. On the pro-choice/anti-life side there are those who would say that to compare it to the death penalty equates women and their doctors to executioners.

Still the reason for aborting the life is because it has been deemed to be a burden. An unwarranted (or warranted?) emotional/physical/societal burden. Like a criminal.

Complicated. Like a tangle of yarn.

We are told that to regulate or ban abortion equates to regulating a woman’s body and yet we regulate each and every person’s body everyday…what can be put in; what can be taken out. It is illegal to put crack cocaine into your body. It is illegal to remove your kidney and sell it on eBay. But it is my kidney…to do with as I please. My body – to do with as I please.

We need to allow the philosophical/moral/ethical conversation about life and when it begins and its value to happen regardless of what you believe. Why? Because when we stop philosophizing; when we stop discussing something it dies and becomes corrupt and is left open to abuse…abuses we think are not possible at all…like eugenics…like removing the choice of natural birth altogether in favour of the seemingly morally right choice of leaving it to science.

Whether we agree with one-another or not we must talk about these things and wade through the terribly uncomfortable swamp of dialogue and we must do so with enough respect for the other to allow them the possibility of being correct (which allows for the possibility of us being incorrect) but to do this we must love one-another, genuinely…and there is a distinct lack of love in our world these days.

4 thoughts on “Man of Steel & Abortion

  1. (*cough* i’m sorry, this came out longer than I intended. -Taryn )

    This was interesting to read and I’m glad you wrote this post. I was wondering where exactly you stood on this issue, but you didn’t give a definitive answer. So I guess that means you’re still on the fence? Abortion is complicated issue, I agree. It’s not an easy subject to navigate. Nobody wants to end a life. But abortion is oftentimes necessary, and I know that people will argue with me on that forever, but I honestly truly do believe that it is necessary to have the option of abortion available. And I have some thoughts to share, and I hope that you will consider them carefully. I have these thoughts, because as a person with a uterus, the idea of other people regulating my body is scary. It’s terrifying. If I was forced to carry a pregnancy, it would cause me considerable psychological trauma. I do not plan on having biological children, and I don’t think that I will ever change my mind about that. That is my choice, because I know that it would be best for me. I will NEVER consent to becoming pregnant. And people should not try to say otherwise about me, wether or not I choose to engage in heterosexual sex at any point during my life.

    For other women (and other people who have uteruses), there are circumstances under which they would consent to pregnancy. Some want to have children. Some personally don’t feel that an abortion is something they could do. Some don’t mind allowing another person to utilize their body for nine months, because it is a sacrifice they feel they can make to give another person life. These people are all consenting to pregnancy. However, that sacrifice isn’t something every person is willing to make, and nor should they be forced to. Just like we can’t be forced to donate organs or blood or bone marrow, etc., people should not be forced to donate their uterus. Even it is ‘just’ for nine months. Pregnancy permanently changes a persons body. Pregnancy is a BIG COMMITMENT. It is not an inconvenience, when you decide to carry a child, it is a life changing decision, whether or not you plan on raising that child yourself.

    So my main point here is consent. I hope you agree that no one should ever, ever, ever be forced to be pregnant. The international criminal court classifies forced pregnancy as a crime against humanity. It is a form of torture, and a form of torture that would, technically, be legal if abortions were restricted. Because when a person that wants to terminate their pregnancy is denied an abortion, they are being forced to remain pregnant. They are being forced to act as a life support machine for another human being. And not even a fully grown, autonomous human being. This means that out of all people everywhere, only one group would have the right to use another person’s body against their will, and that group is fetuses. Fetuses would have special rights that no other human being has. Rights that would result in:

    1. Increased deaths caused by pregnancy. Only 2% of abortions occur after 20 weeks, and most of them are life saving procedures for parents with medical problems. And yet, people are attempting to restrict these life saving abortions. Pregnant parents would die because doctors would not want to be liable for performing an illegal abortion.
    2. Increased deaths by back-alley abortion. Because lets face it, making abortion illegal wont stop people from wanting and needing abortions. All it would do is make it unsafe for them to have an abortion.
    3. Severe psychological trauma on the part of parents who are forced to carry these fetuses.
    4. Pregnant people losing their right to bodily autonomy

    And I’m making a big deal about consent here, because I support a parents choice to have an abortion whatever their reason is. I don’t like the idea of ‘exceptions’ for rape and incest. I kinda see that as hypocritical on the part of anti-choicers. If they truly believed that abortions were murder and inherently wrong, then they would not make exceptions for fetuses that were the result of rape or incest. Those fetuses are not magically more inhuman than any other fetus. And at this point it becomes clear that they are more interested in regulating other peoples bodies and sexual behaviours than they are in saving lives. Sure, you could say that in this case, they don’t want the pregnant parent to have to cope with the mental trauma of carrying a pregnancy that may have resulted from traumatic experience. But an unwanted pregnancy itself, regardless of how the fetus was conceived, IS ALSO traumatic. If victims of rape and those who have fetuses that are the product of incest are considered to be in enough mental distress to warrant an abortion, then the distress of other people who are forcibly pregnant should also be considered.

    As for all of your tough questions, I can’t help but feel that your jibe about objectifying fetuses is about me, because of a comment I posted earlier on your facebook page. And if that is true, then I disagree. I am not objectifying fetuses to justify killing them. Me, and every other pro-choice person I know, acknowledge that fetuses are human. The difference is that unlike anti-choicers, we also acknowledge that the parent of that fetus is also a human with rights and treat them as such.

    And I also have responses for all those hard questions. I’m not scared of answering them, and sure, maybe you wont agree with my opinion, but I promise! I am not hiding behind the flimsy facade of fetuses as being ‘inhuman clumps of cells’. That never has and never will be part of the way I talk about abortion. I call them fetuses to avoid confusion with babies and children (Which are already born, unlike fetuses. Those details become important when discussion abortion and the stages of pregnancy, so it is relevant to specify which stage of development the offspring is in. That is why we call them fetuses. Because we don’t want people to confuse our meaning when we start talking about how, politically, anti-choicers/pro-birthers really only care about fetuses, and not babies, especially not babies in low-income households). And for that matter, why do Anti-choicers only consider an egg life once is as been fertilized? The egg is a living cell. Why aren’t they saddened over the loss of eggs during a woman*’s (*or anyone else with a uterus) period. Why are the egg and sperm only important once they’ve come together? At what point did we decide that this embryo is worth more than the person carrying it? This argument is ridiculous and trivial anyway, because I don’t care what stage of development, embryo or fetus, is considered the beginning of human life. I think it’s all human life, I just don’t think it has the right to remain in a non-consenting parents uterus simply because it can’t survive without it. Like I’m sorry but if somebody came up to me on the street and said they needed my uterus or any of my other body parts to survive, I would tell them no and to get the hell away from me. And the government shouldn’t be able to punish me for that, because I have a right to exercise control over my own body. I should not have to sacrifice my health for another’s if I do not choose to do so.

    I find it interesting that you seemed to have agreed with me on facebook that that quote was not about objectifying fetuses, and instead about fetuses not being the hypothetical women that bill was protecting, and yet here you use it to support your argument that we objectify fetuses. Why are you intentionally taking it out of context like that? It’s misleading and untrue, Pete. I’m sorry if I’m one of the people that make you uncomfortable to voice your opinion on this subject, but frankly, I wish that more cis men were. It’s true that if the person in question does not have a uterus, and never has had one, it is very difficult for them to imagine what it might be like. To know that one day you could be raped and end up pregnant, regardless of your choice. And that no matter what you choose, to keep it or to abort it, people will hate you for it. Teen parents are ostracized as welfare queens and trailer trash. People who have abortions are harassed and threatened. The second you become pregnant, suddenly the entire world has an opinion on your body and what you should do with it. And it’s violating.

    If anti-choicers actually wanted people to keep their pregnancies, they would be working to improve the foster care system, the adoption system, funding for single parents, welfare, improved sex education, free birth control, health insurance coverage for birth control and emergency contraceptives, health care, etc. Etc. Etc. Instead what do we see? Clinics and schools being defunded and closed. Childcare and education being undercut. What anti-choicers are actually creating is a world with MORE children and FEWER resources to care for those children. Anti-choicers don’t seem to realize that free birth control is the most effective way to reduce the number of abortions. And that’s what they want isn’t it? Fewer abortions? Yet they try to regulate who can access birth control. Why do people need prescriptions for birth control pills? Why is there an age restriction on the Plan B pill in some places? Plan B is not an abortion pill. It is an emergency contraceptive that prevents pregnancy, it doesn’t terminate one.

    Women, transmen, genderqueer, and agender people with uteruses do not want to use abortion as a ‘reactive contraceptive’ (that’s literally impossible, as contraceptives prevent pregnancies, not terminate them, but I’m sure you’re away of the distinction already so never mind). We are not just looking for the ‘easy way out’. We are looking to be respected as human beings with rights, and are constantly flabbergasted that everyone has such an easy time giving those rights to fetuses, and not to us. We are constantly asked to ‘sacrifice’ ourselves, our lives, our time, for children that we do not want. Because it’s morally ‘right’. But here’s the thing: it being a morally admirable thing to give up nine months and then perhaps 18+ years to raise a child, because out of love you choose to do so, does not mean that it should be mandated. We should have the option whether or not we chose to make the sacrifice and become parents, and we should be able to do it when we feel ready to do so, and no sooner. No one should begrudge parents who make the responsible choice to abort when they know they are not/would not be capable parents. Having abortion is taking responsibility for your life, not taking the easy way out. Abortions are not easy.

    Is abortion taking away a life? I suppose so. It is preventing that fetus from coming to term and growing into a child. However, is that somehow more important than forcing people who can become pregnant to act as life support systems? Both do not sit right with me. But the difference is that the parent is a grown, sentient human being who will experience the trauma, the stress, the stigma, the pain, and the depression that might come along with it. The grown parent is the one who will be in the most pain in this situation. And I sympathize with them over the fetus. So if they need to terminate their pregnancy in order to be happy and healthy, then I support them. And if there is one thing that I have seen from the pro-birth movement, it is an overwhelming tendency to over-represent and sympathize with the fetus, and completely erase and demonize the fetus’s parent.

    This is getting long though, and I’m rambling, so i’m going to cut it short. I want you to know that I respect your opinion very much, and I’m not trying to attack you. I’m trying to engage in discussion about this, because like you said, it’s a highly complex issue. But it’s one that I’ve thought a lot about and feel comfortable enough with what I know to discuss in detail. I hope that you take it into consideration the same way that I have while reading what you’ve said. Tell me if if it made you think. I would really, honestly, genuinely like to know!


    • This post was written before your comment re: objectification. As to context I reiterate that I included the link to the article so it could be seen in context. I believe how the author expresses herself re:the fetus is still objectification.

      As to who experiences more pain the adult or the fetus I would suggest we look to the end result for the answer – one will die…every time. I do not believe that an adult is inherently more valuable than a fetus any more than I believe my 91 year old grandmother is inherently more valuable than my 11 year old daughter … To go Dow. That path is to toy with dehumanization.

      I do not believe a person should be forced to conceive and agree this is a crime against humanity just as I believe murder is a crime against humanity and so here we are.

      Dialogue is good whether we agree or not.


      • Ah, I see. If it was written beforehand, that makes sense. However I still disagree with your interpretation. But then again, Jezebel worded itself terribly also.

        See that doesn’t clear up the issue for me. Is death more painful? Who could ever know? I do know, however, that the trauma of a forced pregnancy certainly lasts longer than it takes to have an abortion. Again, do I like that abortions involve fetuses being removed? No. I wish there was a way for the fetus to survive post abortion. But even if there was, there would be no one to take care of it, no resources to nurture it as it grows.. Abortion isn’t an ideal alternative to an unwanted pregnancy, but unfortunately it’s the only one we have. And it is necessary.

        My point is that to ban abortion is giving fetuses rights over their parents that no other human has, to the direct detriment of their parent. And that’s not right.


      • I have no response other than some rights are sacrificed to allow other rights to exist (I suppose that’s a response) 🙂

        In the end it is either the rights of the unborn or the woman. I cannot say whose are more important.


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