There’s big news from Argentina lately. By a fair margin (38 to 29) abortion was finally legalized there last month after many years of fighting and decades of grass roots activism.
Culturally Argentina holds a lot of sway in Latin America in the same way the US does in the Anglosphere. A similar legalization effort failed two years ago (see my original article here https://themoderatevoice.com/a-set-back-for-argentina-and-progress/). This new, finally successful bill was loudly opposed by supposedly “liberal” Argentine Pope Francis as well as the entirety of the inter-galactic Catholic Church, naturally.
Festively, the battle was “colorized” in large demonstrations with the pro-women camp wearing green clothes and accoutrements and the regressive cross worshippers wearing blue. Both marched in huge numbers all amid an economic meltdown atop a terrible pandemic, neither of which are going well.
As usual Argentina is years behind its tiny neighbor Uruguay, a progressive superpower where gay marriage, abortion, transsexual rights and even marijuana were all normalized a few years ago. But Argentina is ahead of most of Latin America now with the exception of Cuba and some Mexican states. Brazil’s “Trump of the Tropics” President Bolsonaro has already ruled out any changes to their “pro-life” set-up.
Apart from a few fanatical Catholic theocracies (lookin’ at you El Salvador, Honduras, the Philippines) most of humanity looks at our American abortion culture wars as if we’re in a mental hospital and they’re tourists there. Much of Latin America however, an area infected with both zika and Catholicism is a laggard regarding sexual rights. Argentina’s latest is commendable but still a baby step – pardon the pun. Abortion is only legal up to 14 weeks there in normal circumstances even now.
Like comedy, with abortion timing is everything. Because humans develop on a spectrum from a microscopic smudge to an actual “baby” where one draws the line of what is “human” or “alive” is open to some moral (but not medical) debate.
Many people don’t know where that line is drawn but then many people don’t wear masks in pandemics and can’t work a condom to save their lives – or avoid creating a new one. I’m here all year folks, get your tickets at the door.
The actual line, the most scientific line is a hard 28 weeks. That’s post-viability but “viability” is a matter of geography/place only. “Why then, why 28 weeks?” – one might ask. Twenty eight weeks is when there are reverberating, detectable chemical-electrical signals between the thalamus and the cortex in the fetal brain. That’s technical for sure but if you think of the thalamus as the seat of emotion and the cortex (at front of head) as the computer, reverberating signals between the two equate to… thought. They equate to sentience which is the sense one is alive, a capacity to feel pain, perceive, or experience things subjectively.
Before that the item in the womb looks human and even has reflexes (like a knee when tapped, it can flinch, etc.) but by no standard according to the latest science is it capable of thought or pain.
Until week 28 it functionally resembles the wooden frame of a home: half built with no walls, lights or electricity so it has all the “humanity” of a wisdom tooth, an appendix, a husk. This is irrespective of the value placed on it by the parents who might invest hope in it but hope does not a “human” make.
Pro-lifers armed with plastic fetuses and guns yelling outside clinics aren’t usually schooled in embryology and further, their organizations shamelessly lie to them about the actual scientific facts of pre-natal development with a dishonesty that is shocking: they’re almost giving out social security numbers to individual spermatozoa. They also neglect to admit that legal abortion is statistically safer for the mother than carrying a pregnancy to term.
Be that as it may they’re not really protesting to “Save the babes” anyway – or they’d be pro-contraception. They’re not. Being anti-contraception and abortion at the same time is like trying to prevent fires by eliminating fire extinguishers or banning umbrellas to stop rain.
Their real motivation, whether they know it or not is to oppose promiscuity, to enforce a cost and attach the terrible punishment of enforced pregnancy to it. It is hard to find a worse punishment than forcing women to birth as many babies as she doesn’t want. Mission Accomplished, Jesus!
They want the punishment for “lose” (but often enjoyable and entertaining) sex to be a permanent souvenir in the form of a new human or at least the threat of it.
So why do they hate promiscuity? Their respective motivations depend partly on gender. The women of that coalition hate promiscuity because, like pornography and prostitution which they also despise, it represents competition.
What about the men? You’d think, given the wandering eye of the average dude promiscuity might seem like not a bad idea. But no because promiscuity equates to and can cause cuckoldry – “their” women being impregnated by other, higher ranking men which is, evolutionary speaking, a costly dead end.
Finally, many hate promiscuity out of spite. Those red faced, obese screamers outside women’s clinics: do you think they’re “gettiin’ any”? You can be the judge of that but keep in mind the religious mindset (and religion is the main justification of course) abhors anybody having any pleasure, particularly sexual pleasure. So, yes: spite.
With 65 deaths a year and 40,000 women hospitalized due to illegal abortions in the past few years one hopes Argentina’s sanity will be contagious to other parts of a continent – including some of our own states – which are also blighted by Christianity. A thought to ponder is that prior to modern, safe chemical and surgical abortion women used to commit infanticide at a similar rate as abortion today (Pinker, et al, 2011): between 10-50% of births.
David Anderson is not in the “Human Reproduction Business” but rather a lawyer living in NYC with his atheist dog. Voluntarily childless and Australian-American all at the same time he supports progressive causes and writes for various publications.