Friday, November 5, 2010

Veganism and abortion

I was quite surprise to find that there are quite a number of vegans who are for abortion (pro-choice). It seems a little against my ethics, for I am most certainly pro-life.

Why? And here are some of my reasons...
1) Veganism to me is more than avoiding animal stuff - it is about reverence and respect for life. This is not restricted to animals. The animals want to live and be happy, so do we. The human babies too want to live and be happy just like us.

2) Stage of development and sentience of a human child is not crucial. Pro-lifers and Pro-choicers are always debating about the sentience of a human. Pro-lifers may say it's at conception, while pro-choicers may say at that point of time it is just a clump of cells and only after a certain stage does it have sentience. To me this is not the crucial issue. The crucial issue is that, every child, whether at a "clump of cells" stage up to "before birth", has the potential to be born and be a human being.

3) Rights of an unborn matters to me. Some people say they have no rights and the mother has the rights to decide whether to abort or keep the baby. Every unborn child has the right to grow and survive, and we shouldn't deprive them of the potential ability to do so. Every unborn child has the potential to contribute to veganism. I feel very much grateful that my mother kept me, and so I could hopefully contribute to veganism!

4) We are anti-veal and anti-dairy because we felt sorry for the mother cow and baby calf, but shouldn't we extend this to human beings? Human beings have done a lot of destruction to earth and animals, however, we cannot deprive their potential to be born just based on this. What if we are in their position? We wouldn't want someone else to deprive us of our rights to live as well.

5) Rights of the mother and freedom of choice is important. In unfortunate circumstances such as etopic pregnancy or the baby die in the womb, perhaps some people may opt for abortion, that I have no say. However, in normal cases, the mother and father have the right and choice in the first place not to conceive the baby - many methods including abstinence. Does this deprive them of their rights and choice? Some people say we have instincts and should follow them. What about a butcher or hunter with a killing instinct? Does this give them the right to kill animals? Or a rapist? Or a thief? Or a drug addict? Rights and choices have to be based on consequence. If the consequence may become detrimental to our well-being and others' well being, then the "right" and "choice" is no longer ours alone. We share the universe with everyone else, everyone else deserves their right and choice too. Don't want to abort? Don't get pregnant.


Queen of Nuffink said...

Don't get pregnant? Ideal but for the fact that rape still exists in the world. Go ahead and tell the rape victim she should have been more careful.




vegan girl said...

Good post. Vegan and pro-life - it makes sense. However, a vegan who supports abortion seems inconsistent to me.
I don't even especially like human babies/children but I respect their basic right to life from the word go.

Alessandro Machi said...

I recall bringing up the same point about veganism and abortion to a very militant vegan once, I swear she wanted to bite my head off, and I don't think she had any intention of spitting it out afterwards.

Probably one issue that can muddy the pregnancy debate is where we live. In industrialized nations we require lots of "fuel" to live our lives.

To me, where we live puts a twist on the abortion debate. By having children in an industrialized country, we are basically saying to the world, "screw you, I had my kid and I'll make sure my kid gets the necessities needed to live a life of comfort, even if it means going to Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan to make sure the oil flows".

One could argue that only in less industrialized nations, where resources consumed are much much less per capita, that people should not abort since the actual resources required to raise that child are much much less and therefore not an impingement on the planet.

Although, if the country that does not use a lot of resources does not have proper sanitation and fresh water, then too many newborns can literally reduce the lifespan of those already born.

I kind of think that the man votes when he releases his sperm, and then its up to the women to decide what to do. However, where even this simple concept gets dicey is if the man was completely serious about being a dad to the yet to be born, and the women simply did not want to be bothered with a birth. I can see how devastating that scenario could be to a man.

dreamy said...

Thanks for all your views on this issue.

For pro-choicers, I just wish to clarify, that the post was referring to "normal circumstances", like I said in the post, I have no say over unfortunate circumstances.

I just find it strange that there are some who claim to be anti-speciesism, yet do not seem to have regards for our own species.

Joe said...

Ridiculous and condescending. You equate pro-choice with anti-life. It doesnt have to be black and white. Pro-choice does not mean that we run around performing abortions or do not want less abortions. In fact it'd be better to define the argument as pro-choice vs anti-choice as thats the only real difference. Pro-choicers are also pro-life but 'pro-life' people do not want any choice. You also define veganism in a very narrow way, completely ignoring ethical utilitarian vegans and defining it more as a spiritual journey which is frankly insulting to anyone who is rational.

Your stage of development argument can be taken to an extreme even before the 'clump of cells' develops because every egg and every sperm also has the potential to be born. Why is conception such a vital point? It's just mixing of genetic material. Can it think? Can it feel? If we decide that we need to declare that sacrosanct then the logical conclusion is to do the same to eggs and sperm. Do we then force every egg into conception? You say no, but that is what your argument implies.

This 'right to live' you speak of is terrifying, especially because you project it onto things which can not even understand what it is to live. If there is some cutoff between embryo and baby, it's at the third trimester when the thalamus (and therefore the sensors) turn on, before then the embryo is incapable of experience. Trying to declare it sooner would be like declaring a dandelion as having rights. It may be alive, but it certainly doesn't know it.

You also project the ability to make choices to embryos, “the human babies too want to live”. Really? You speak to these embryos do you?

Perhaps rather than try to poorly explain why you are anti-choice in response to pro-choice vegans, you should think about it harder instead of immediately running to your blog.

dreamy said...

Dear Joe,

I cannot agree with your point of view.

If you think I didn't have a brain to think it through before making ridiculous remarks that is fine.

Anonymous said...

Accidents happen sometimes, and a vegan might find herself having an unwanted pregnancy.

With all due respect to a fellow vegan, I would like to bring up the environmental factor in the debate of pro-life vs pro-choice.

The fact is that there are way too many humans on earth, which is threatening the survival of other species - both plant and animals.

It would not be a bad thing if one day, there were no more humans left on earth - then there would be no such thing as deforestation, factory farming, mega oil spills etc.

It may be a little extremist, but I believe that all vegans recognise to a certain extent that their fellow humans (especially non-vegetarian/vegan/environmental) are capable of monstrous things, and that the world would really be better off without homo sapiens.

Anonymous said...

Just to add another note to my previous discussion about abortion being a pro-environment decision.

Although I would never tell another person to their face that they have no right to have a child, I think that if a person were aware of the damage humans are inflicting on the environment and animals, and if they had a conscience, they would feel that the right thing to do is for humans to stop procreating altogether, and to let the human race cease.

It would therefore be hypocritical of a pro-environment vegan to have children, because human children add further to the human population, and the unfortunate reality is that the modern human existence is a burden on the planet (even if the child was raised to be vegan).

Anonymous said...

A single sperm and a single egg in a petri dish has the same potential as the embryo that the will soon become. Is it murder to destroy that sperm?

Anonymous said...

The mother's life is more important than the unborn fetus.Having a child is a important decision. If you cannot afford the time, stability and sacrifice to bring up a child , don't get pregant.

dreamy said...

Dear Anonymous,

I understand where you are coming from, and agree that every human will need to utilise the earth resources in some way for our survival, and in our current situation more people do contribute to more exploitation. But I cannot agree with the annihilation of the human race in order to stop the environment from being destroyed, because I don't think this is the root of the problem...

What I find the root of the problem of most things on this earth is greed and selfishness. Deforestation, factory farming, over harvesting of oil, minerals etc. These are all due to greed - greed for meat, greed for accumulating more and more profits by the capitalist businesses, etc.

I think you probably have read about how we can feed the whole world if everyone goes veg - I found this equivalent to not being greedy for meat.

As for other materials, I believe in a simple life with less materialistic desires, which will create less demands and hence supply. However nowadays, the media is always telling us that we need that iPhone 4 and that we need to buy the next technology that comes along. Or it maybe we need to get another set of shoes to match our clothes, etc. All these contributes to exploitation of the earth, and aids to feeding both our greed and the capitalist businesses greed.

I also do not think that a pro-environmentalist person must not have children. Again because of the above reasons, and also because I consider human beings to be part of the environment, the animals to be part of the environment, and the environment to be part of human beings and animals. I feel that rather than let the human race be destroyed, it would be good if children nowadays are taught to be less materialistic, have less desires, and be more concern and of use to aid the world. However, the education system of our current day is a failure. They just breed more capitalist and selfish values in kids.

On a similar note: I too view most abortions the same way because a most of them occur because the parents or mother is not ready, can't afford it, do not want single parenthood etc. All these reasons do not go well with me because if they were not greedy in the 1st place, they won't have got pregnant and have to face these dilemmas - however, I think many people would not agree with me on this point.

dreamy said...

"A single sperm and a single egg in a petri dish has the same potential as the embryo that the will soon become. Is it murder to destroy that sperm?"

The potential I am referring to is that of the fertilised egg. A fertilized egg has the potential to develop into a human being. A sperm do not, neither do an egg.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dreamy,

Actually, I do agree with you that most unwanted pregnancies occur because of greed - in this case the greed for physical gratification.

I am vegan who has had abortion. I could give up meat but I didn't want to give up sex. I'm not proud of what happened, but I stand by my decision. It was an accident I regret, and on hindsight I should have had a hysterectomy from the very moment I decided to not have children.

Therein lies the dilemma of the human existence. We are innately creatures of greed. At times most of us are able to display altruism, as do a lot of animals species - but ultimately it is only human to put our own needs first and foremost in order to survive. This is why our existence is a danger to other life species on earth because of the damage we are capable of wreaking.

You feel that the root of the problem is not that humans are too many, but that we are too greedy.

Of course it would be wonderful if the entire human race could unanimously decide to lead a selfless, simpler existence - but you would have to be VERY naive to believe that that would ever happen.

Of course, one would be crazy to hope that all humans would decide to stop procreating as well. But my opinion is that it is far simpler to not to have children, than it is to try and lead a simple life - because modern humans have become very entrenched
in the pursuit of material comforts.

And on a side note - imagine if you raised your child to be vegan until one day he starts to think for himself and decides that he wants to eat meat. (Which is highly plausible) Wouldn't you be mortified at the thought that you brought a meat-eater into the world?


dreamy said...

I do not side with having children or not having children because to me it's not the root of the problem. For a vegan parents raising their child as one and seeing the child eat meat would be horrendous I agree. But the role of parents are to educate the child properly. If they have tried their best and their child still wants to go eating meat, that will no longer be totally their fault.

Yes you are right that it is difficult for everyone to live selflessly and with less desires, we can't get everyone to do that just as we can't get everyone to go vegan. But this is the only solution that cures the problem at the root. We can't make others comply, but we start with ourselves and hopefully it wil lsomehow influence others to some extend. Then it can help, not only with the issue on abortion but with many other problems like factory farming as well.

jayedee said...

bravo! a well spoken and thoughtful opinion!

thank you for sharing!

about the rape question...abortion stills a beating does not erase the crime or the trauma of rape. in my opinion, to follow one violent act with another, makes no sense.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a powerful piece you have here. I've seen far too many vegans who want to ignore this issue or try to divorce the underlying issue from the two.

Anonymous said...

Kuddos to the blogger!
Now, that guy Joe clearly some big intellectual ego. I am going to ask him to clarify a few points :

You said, "You also project the ability to make choices to embryos, “the human babies too want to live”. Really? You speak to these embryos do you?"
So Joe, you speak to cows?, to chicken?, how about dogs? (I'd be interested -I've been trying to bark back to my dog but he wouldn't listen to me)

You also said, "Your stage of development argument can be taken to an extreme even before the 'clump of cells' develops because every egg and every sperm also has the potential to be born"
FYI Joe, an egg or a sperm by itself has no potential to become a human being. This is a scientific fact. Enroll in your local High School and they'll explain that to you.

And then you said this right after:
"Why is conception such a vital point? It's just mixing of genetic material. Can it think? Can it feel?"
So do cows think? they have a brain but can you show me scientific proof that cows think? how about shrimp or oysters? (they're pretty small)

So smartass Joe, who's being "Ridiculous and condescending"?

dreamy said...

dear jayedee and anonymouses, thank you for raising your points :)

Anonymous said...

This is a pretty fascinating discussion! I used to be a vegan and I have a vegan friend who recently found out that she is pregnant. She has been having 100% unprotected sex for the past few months and then was shocked when she found that she is carrying a tiny fetus. I immediately told her that no matter what she decided I supported her and would help her to best of my ability and that if she needed to talk it out that I would listen and help her come to a decision. She immediately responded, "Oh! haha I'm not keeping it. I'm getting rid of it." Later on I asked her is she was sure about her decision because she seemed very frustrated and emotional and her response was this, "I'm not sad about the baby, I'm pissed because this is so inconvenient and now I have to deal with it." Ever since then I have been really angry with her because I myself got pregnant a few years ago by accident and had decided to go through with an abortion. I kept putting it off and it was the hardest decision I have ever made in my life. A week before I was scheduled for the abortion I changed my mind. A very, very small portion of the changed decision was because I had evaluated my life as a vegan and felt that if I went through with the abortion then I had no right to ever call myself vegan again because a life is a life no matter how far along in the process, and how dare I preach that we shouldn't eat eggs, that have not even been fertilized, while I was willing to tear a fertilized egg from my own body. I ended up miscarrying a few weeks later and still truly believe that it is my own fault for having such negative energy towards the, at the time, unwanted fetus.

No matter how many people come up with as many 'logical' explanations for why vegans can still believe in abortion I do not believe that the two can co-exist. Everyone has the right to form their own opinions on these matters, but it's amazing that so many humans can feel so differently about things that feel so important. To me, a vegan who supports abortion is worse than someone who eats meat every day. At least the meat eater is consistent and honest with who they are in every facet of their life.

Ryann Casey said...

Another kind of side note that I think fits somewhat with the lack of compassion for the human race from vegans stems from a post I saw on tumblr, I would love to hear what people think of this. The post stated something along the lines of " 20 children killed in a school shooting in Newtown Connecticut and the media goes insane. Billions of animals are killed on a daily bases..." and went into some facts and figures of specifics to how many animals are killed regularly. I found this post absolutely disgusting. How do you bastardize a horrible tragedy where innocent first grade children were slain by a mad man to benefit your cause. This is not what Veganism is about. I said it before and I'll say it again, what happened to compassion? You have compassion for animals but not for humans? I think 'vegans' who are pro abortion need to reevaluate why they went vegan in the first place.

Ryann Casey said...

This is a topic that I think about all the time and I thank you for stating your argument in a public place, and with a very calm, well educated manner. I too appalled when I hear my vegan friends are pro choice, and one of the most heart wrenching things that I come across is the fact that many vegans care more about the rights of animals then the rights of human beings. I have been vegetarian since birth, and Vegan for nearly five years now and I can not comprehend how somebody can care so much for a chicken baby but not for a human baby. It seems insensitive and crude, and hurts me to think that there are people in this world who see nothing wrong with killing an unborn child. What happened to compassion? Compassion is a major principle of Vegan living and I will never understand how anybody can look themselves in the mirror after killing their own child, especially a vegan. I too agree that someone who kills their own child is worse than someone who eats meat. At least there is some veil of ignorance over the general public. How do you rationally go to a doctor asking to remove and discard your unborn child.
Meat is murder.
Abortion is murder.

Anonymous said...

wow what a mix of comments! I completely agree with this post. to the naysayers, what is the percentage of women who become pregnant by rape? Pretty sure it is less than 1%. I cannot imagine being raped, and I am not justifying rape in the least! If in that rare instance the rape victim becomes pregnant, does that nullify the value of human life inside her?
For the majority of cases, unwanted pregnancy is the result of unprotected sex, or failed birth control (i.e. condom breaks, girl forgot to take the pill for a few days). This baby may have resulted from an "accident", but when two people have sex, they know FULL WELL that it could potentially result in pregnancy. they know the risks, so why should the unborn child die due to a lapse in judgement, or lack of proper birth control?
And as vegans, how hypocritical is it to say it is wrong to kill animals (including baby animals) but that it is the mother's "right" to kill her unborn baby? It is a conflict of ethics.

Anonymous said...

This world will be sad and depraved until Jesus returns. This is the dilemma we all face, sin.

Theo said...

Good article. Needs a discussion and not a nasty diatribe against the writer.

Theo said...

I think you might be the condescending one here.

Theo said...

Thank you for your deeply personal and thoughtful reply. Your logic is good.

Theo said...

And yes, all beings whether human or animal strive to live. Life & growth are vital. And of course death at the end of the cycle. And then life...

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