Abortion & Star Trek

There's an episode of Star Trek: Next Generation (second season) where Troi is invaded by a "life entity" (the politically correct Trekkie word for "alien") which wants to experience life for its own sake and decides to start, inside Troi, as a fetus (it is eventually born). It is an unremarkable episode but has one scene of merit. Riker, Picard, Worf, Data, and Troi have gathered in the conference room. The men are yammering away about the "life form" and whether it is threatening or not. Worf, the pragmatist, suggests aborting it. The men yammer some more.

Until Troi speaks up and says, "I'm going to have it so get over it."

Now, I like this scene for two reasons, both of which have nothing to do with whether or not it is militarily intelligent for Troi to have the baby. (One of the amusing aspects of Star Trek: Next Generation is how much time Picard spends trying to convince people that the Federation isn't a military organization, all while the Enterprise is arming torpedoes every other episode.)

I like it because it illustrates the problem of choice. The baby is growing in Troi; it is inside her body, and there really isn't much (absent a direct order which Picard can't give because, eh hem, this isn't a military organization) that anyone can do about it.

The other thing I like about it is that Troi chooses to let the fetus live. Which is all very proper and right for a non-military star-ship that is seeking out new life and new civilizations. I mean, hello, here's life, might as well say howdy to it.

Now, in reference to issue #1, while not a fan of pro-choice, I get a bit wiggety about a government having any say about a fetus at all. Yes, society could extend rights to the fetus, but boy, imagine that as a complication of modern life! Suppose the fetus aborts naturally--there would have to be an investigation. And suppose the woman had been exercising too vigorously the day before. Would she be accused of self-aborting? On purpose? Would pregnant women's eating habits be monitored? If they didn't eat healthily one day, would they be fined? Could a child sue the mother for damage done to it as a fetus? You see the problems: messy, legal and highly problematic. To a degree, we must, as a democratic, secular society, allow the fetus to be the property of the woman.

But in reference to issue #2, the older I get, the more disenchanted I become with pro-choice. I was never a pro-choice advocate, but during my twenties I was willing to allow for the pro-choice argument. But it bothers me more and more the failure of the pro-choice movement to admit that they are, in fact, talking about abortion (and property). And what that means and whether it is a terribly good thing for a society to be so sanguine, not to mention disingenuous, about killing brand new life.

I might be less judgmental of a purely pragmatic argument, a la Worf, but it annoys me to the extreme when pro-choicers are so self-congratulatory about the "rights" they are defending while ignoring the side-effect of those "rights." It's especially hard when many of the same people who preach about pro-choice also want me to get tearful over the death penalty, extinct plants, and vicious terrorists. Even Star Trek drew the line at letting the Borg take over the universe.

I won't go so far as pro-lifers who insist that abortions are another Holocaust. I think that misses the point of issue #1. But surely there's room in the debate for people who think that the pro-choice movement is kidding itself when they claim they speak for all women. If women really are so independent and self-evolved, yadda yadda, shouldn't they exhibit their independence and self-evolution by considering the long-range social results of their behavior?

Truth is, a lot of women do, but they aren't necessarily pro-choice.

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