Human Exceptionalism

EVERYTHING is NOT About Abortion

On my way home from a speaking gig in Edmonton, Canada, I came across this long article in the Globe and Mail, byline Carolyn Abraham, that just got my blood boiling. The story concerns families who suffer a miscarriage and choose to bury their babies rather than having them disposed as mere medical waste. Why is this a story? Because of the politics of abortion. From the story:

Yet across Canada and in other parts of the Western world, the modern miscarriage has birthed a new and potentially incendiary brand of perinatal bereavement. A growing number of women and their advocates, many of them staunchly pro-choice, are pushing for the formal recognition of the miscarried fetus as a symbol of their grief and loss. In some cases, they’re seeking out these rites even when, for medical reasons, they have chosen to terminate the pregnancy.

But the fetal funeral could be a Pandora’s Box. Some graveyards and funeral-home staff have been reluctant to bury remains for which no burial permit can be issued. Medical staff worry it may push patients to dwell on losses they would rather forget. More profoundly, holding funerals for fetuses raises implicit, uncomfortable questions about when life begins.

Those who oppose abortion have long fought for the respectful burial of human fetuses in acknowledgment of their personhood. Can society simultaneously agree to mourn the early fetus and still sanction its destruction? Could the desire to recognize formally the death of a fetus –which has no legal status as a life–reignite the abortion debate?…

“This trend of ritualizing grief…will be watched with enthusiasm and pleasure by those who want to restrict women’s reproductive choices, and watched with concern by those interested in preserving women’s reproductive liberty,” predicted Arthur Schafer, director of Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba.”Anything that encourages us to view early-stage pregnancy as personhood could impact the law on the choice to terminate pregnancy and on embryonic stem-cell research.”

Indeed, the Campaign Life Coalition, the political wing of Canada’s anti-abortion movement, considers the trend a sign of “society’s progression.” Jim Hughes, Campaign Life’s national president, recently attended two funerals for fetuses miscarried before 20 weeks. He applauds the trend, regardless of whether those involved consider themselves pro-choice. “This is their little shot at recognizing this was a human being that was a part of their family.”

I have long believed that abortion is the new slavery issue in that it seems to underlie almost every political dispute today, just as slavery did in the 1850s. (This is the reason I generally avoid discussing it here at SHS.) But good grief! Everything is not about abortion. People should be allowed to grieve miscarriages in peace, including, if they desire, burying the remains of their dead babies without advocates and media turning their tragedies into a political parade. Color me disgusted.

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