Freedom. Freedom is always discussed. Freedom from things. Freedom from oppression, freedom from tyrannical government. Freedom from an abusive spouse, negligent parents, jealous siblings. Freedom from things that bind and constrict one, physically, emotionally, intellectually, as if they were overgrown vines and they were trapped in their ivy.
What about freedom To? Occasionally this expression is used, freedom To create Avant-Garde art or freedom To pursue business interests outside the bounds of one’s racial or national lines. One can easily see how this notion, this desire, this drive is derived from and pertains to those of a higher order, to those dedicating themselves to a craft and not simply to be unencumbered.
While freedom to is used as the ideological dressing (because everyone viscerally understands its refined and elevated nature in comparison), freedom from will always remain supreme to most of freedom’s practitioners. Even then, with this admission, freedom from will always rests its case on the most egregious, unlikely, and foreign foundations.
I can think of no better example of this dynamic, of freedom from, than the philosophical girdling of the contemporary debate around abortion.
It must be understood beforehand that only a foot in the door is all that is needed to confirm and legitimize whole systems of philosophy and ideology. With abortion, the foot in the door is always rape: the act of sex foisted upon a woman without her consent and now she is left his child in her womb. She suffered nightmarish anguish in the form of sexual molestation and is furthered burdened by carrying his child for 9 months and subsequently caring for it for a lifetime.
With this ghastly illustration painted, the philosophy professor then turns to the class and asks, “is abortion, at least in this case, morally allowed?” I’ve experienced this situation twice in professional settings and countless times in informal ones and in each of them none stood up to protest the act, not even myself.
The professor, with his hypothetical confirmed, swaggers easily over the remaining objections to abortion. Since the hypothetical is confirmed, we are no longer discussing the blood-and-dirt of reality. Hypothetical examples themselves are imagined. They are seemingly plausible scenarios in which people and actions are abstracted out into notions and ideas and words that float in one’s mind disconnected to the rest of reality.
When the hypothetical situation regarding abortion and rape is imagined, the basis of the moral legitimacy of abortion rests on consent, the transaction between the oppressor and the victim. We are not even discussing human beings at this point, blood and dirt. We are talking about Agent A and Agent B and the tether that connects these two nodes. This level of abstraction and the privileging of abstraction isn’t bound to this one instance, to this hypothetical about rape regarding abortion. The notion of freedom from, of the breach of consent, of abstract hypothetical situations is parlayed into being the entire ideological framework that tramples over all objections regarding opposition to abortion and every other social issue at the forefront of debate.
From rape, abortion is further allowed due to the health concerns and complications of the mother. While there is no agent that transgresses against the woman’s sanctity of consent (perhaps some might consider the baby as such, I do not doubt the existence of such vile witches who would give credence to such notion), the hypothetical is presented as such that the woman will die if she does not abort her child. Perhaps the professor will extend the olive branch to skeptics of traditional flavorings by contextualizing the woman of this hypothetical: “This is a god-fearing, Christian, religious woman who just so happens to be afflicted by fate in the form of this health complication. You wouldn’t want her to die just because she can’t have an abortion, do you?”
All this philosophical masturbation and furrowing of brows is based on abstracted, transactional consent. The woman didn’t consent to the health complications (who does?) related to her pregnancy, ergo abortion should be prescribed. I have seen this logic awkwardly stretched out into giving moral carte blanche to women, whom exist in stable relationships with no financial hardships or health complications, to allow them to kill their babies.
The women didn’t consent, she did not give prior mental affirmation to the child being created. Yes, she joyously affirmed to having intercourse, but she didn’t sign at the dotted line which stated that the sexual transaction taking place would result in the meeting of sperm and egg. She consented to sex but she didn’t consent to pregnancy. Look upon this tortured logic and despair.
Once more, all of this is hypothetical. It is imagined within the progressive attuned minds of professors and activists alike. Research the statistics related to abortion and you’ll find that rape and health complications combined rarely make up even 5% of the stated reasons for having the procedure done. Lacking maturity, lacking the money, and concern about how the child will affect their life makes up the bulk of reasons for abortion. In 2014, 652,639 legal induced abortions were reported to CDC from 49 reporting areas. The abortion rate for 2014 was 12.1 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, and the abortion ratio was 186 abortions per 1,000 live births.
The philosophical musings have given moral affirmation to wholesale genocide in the form of freedom. Time and time again when these statistics are brought up against the notion that abortion is a procedure performed in the wake of horrific sexual violence, health complications, or the discovery of incest, they will continue to fall back in on themselves. Abstractions and hypotheticals will be conjured up once more against the staggering amount of evidence found in our blood-and-dirt reality: “Yes but what if! What if she was raped?”
This is the ultimate blind, dumb, and ugly dichotomy that we all must respond to, for it is the microcosmic representation of the entire conversation surrounding Freedom at large. This hypothetical, this mental fabrication is leveled with more force, more social credence than all the lives destroyed by this procedure. It’s a Kafka trap: if you are unable to swallow the bitter pill and you acquiesce to the musings of the hypothetical then it will follow always that abortion will be available to all regardless of circumstance. However, if you do not budge to the hypothetical you will be besmirched as an oppressor and tyrant who is subjecting women to their own bodies. You are denying them Freedom.
There is no reason to answer this hypothetical because to do so is to give it power. These people are never concerned with rape, they are concerned with abortions, with freedom. Most abortions are performed out of convenience, not necessity, so most would be cannot be morally aggrieved by its restriction. Once you peel off enough layers to get down to the 5% of abortions performed out of a professor’s definition of necessity, the question shouldn’t be a philosophical inquiry about abortion. Rather, it should be about curtailing sexual violence that leads to these painful decisions.
In fact, to entertain the hypothetical and the abstract is to privilege it and to completely decontextualize a person from their community, from their environment, from their very flesh and bones. Those who ask the tough questions surrounding abortion do so rhetorically and they do so under the guise of female empowerment. When they place the emphasis on abortion, they are taking emphasis away from sexual violence. Why are we solving for abortion? Why aren’t we solving for rape? When one proudly states that they support abortion regarding rape, what they are unconsciously doing is wiping their hands clean of the situation at a simple, easily digestible focal point with the idea in mind that they are liberating women from injustice.
Morally affirming abortion is endorsing freedom, while being serious about stopping sexual violence is antithetical to freedom. Stopping the sexual violence requires curtailing freedom. If one was completely sincere about their convictions to prevent sexual assault (which would prevent many other crimes indirectly) they would start from the bottom-up. It requires gender segregation. It requires curfew. It requires group solidarity. It requires accountability, the interweaving of societal obligation over all of us to be vigilant against those who seek harm against one of us, for it means harm to all of us. There is no difference between protection and control.
Abortion is freedom, it is freedom from. It is freedom from expectations that one’s family may have of you, any desires that your spouse’s or lover’s might have. It is freedom from the burden of your biology, from your double helix that has spent millions of years of crafting itself into you. Freedom is stripping away all the things that make you who you are: your race, your sex, your age, mother tongue, place of birth, religion, face, height, frame, until all you are is an ethereal consciousness floating in some fluorescent green Tron grid space, in a void without physical referents who is drip fed stimuli, avoiding all discomforts.
Freedom is abortion, it is drug use, it is moving across the country for a job and leaving your family behind. At every point, freedom must be fought against for freedom means the continued melting of the glue that holds us together. Freedom stops Civilization from reproducing itself, which allows for such Freedom to begin with.
Under normal conditions, allowing these behaviors to exist would be fine. These people who engage in such behavior would, will continually select themselves out of the future. This would leave the future to those with low-time preference proclivities such as having children, building communities, intertwining one’s self with the world around them.
It is also immediately gratifying to see people destroy themselves when you have warned against their behavior time and time again (especially those with conflicting political ideology), I have felt this before. Yet this is a childish vindication. There is a bitter aftertaste in being right with countless lives are being destroyed, when the society that we partake in is continually degraded to the smug satisfaction of ideology. There is no place to where we can escape. We must further integrate ourselves into our society, not secede, to improve our lives and the lives of others.
No longer can we simply live and let live. We must intervene in the lives of others, because it has been shown that time and time and time again that when people are free to choose they will choose to engage in behavior that is socially deleterious. “How does it affect you though” is the death rattle of not just the West, but of humanity as a whole. Civilization is a chain-gang, with shackles fastened at the neck. When one of us decides to effectively end their lives, all must carry the corpse.