Today: Lovely Andrew Brown argues that women carrying unwanted pregnancies should continue gestating For The Good Of The Nation. He claims that the current abortion settlement is based on a faux-utilitarianist argument - that allowing abortion provides "the greatest good for the greatest number" - but in fact serves "the greatest happiness of the greatest person, ie. me". (Please note he doesn't mean himself. He means someone with an unwanted occupant in his/her uterus.)
This is totally irrelevant to the matter at hand, but I would just like to pause for a moment to observe that Jeremy Bentham, who famously proposed that "the greatest good for the greatest number is the only proper business of government" is currently sitting embalmed in a hallway in my old university and once had his head stolen and sent to Glasgow.
Brown argues, therefore, that the "greatest good" could in fact be achieved by... all unwanted pregnancies being carried to term, and the resulting progeny given to childless couples who want to raise a baby! He doesn't specify whether the uterine-enabled would have any choice in the matter, but hopes that "her suffering might be mitigated by the reflection that it does some good". Isn't it nice that he cares?
I've been pro-choice for as long as I knew there was such a thing, but I only really got it - not intellectually, but on a visceral (indeed uterine) level - during My First Pregnancy Scare. Lying in a too-small bed in a grotty flat somewhere in South London, awake all night with visions of sperm swimming like salmon towards the giant target of an egg just a few centimetres beneath to skin of my belly... the thought of getting pregnant was terrifying, but what really scared the crap out of me was the idea of someone else - anyone else, anyone who wasn't me - having any say whatsoever on whether or not I grew a whole new person inside me.
LegoLadies face no such night terrors, because LegoLadies aren't people: they're just interchangeable units who have something that other LegoLadies want.
"The greatest happiness of the greatest number" sounds so innocuous, doesn't it? Who could possibly be against that? But it's not a zero-sum game. The "joy" of the adoptive parent doesn't instantly cancel out the "suffering" of the birth parent. I'm not going to make a value judgement on whether not having a kid when you want one is more traumatic than being forced to continue an unwanted pregnancy to term, because the point is that you can't put them on the bathroom scales and decide that seven and a half metric tons of joy justifies two cubic hectares of misery.
Maybe some people would be completely fine with continuing with an unwanted pregnancy in order to produce a baby for someone else. And sure, there would be a demand, because there are lots of kids out there who need a home, but surprise! Most of them aren't white infants.
But really? There's nothing stopping people from doing this now. It's a choice that's readily available to anyone who's pregnant. And for those who feel that they are not able to cope with the stress and pain and inconvenience and health risks and emotional repercussions of continuing their pregnancy - there is the option of abortion. That's why it's called pro-choice: the point isn't to come up with The Best Way To Deal With Every Single Unwanted Pregnancy Ever, but to work towards a situation where everyone has the right, information, and resources to deal with their situation in the way that works for them.
No one has the right to have children. Everyone should have the right to try to have children - to pursue whatever options are available, from artificial insemination to fostering or adoption to ye olde shagging with a penis - but no one has the right to a bouncing baby infant to call their own just because goddamnit they want one. Your right to pursue your reproductive potential ends where my right not to be enlisted as an incubator begins.