Monday, September 17, 2012

What could be behind the "pro-life" campaign in Latvia?

Pro-Life or, if you please, anti-abortion movements aren't something I follow. Now, it appears that a relatively low-key pro-life campaign has started in Latvia, using the rather clever device of placing 27 statues of sleeping full term babies on the ground in a square near the Freedom Monument (a kind of entrance to the Old Town). Each of the babies had a small label in three languages, Latvian, English and Russian, stating what amounts to a kind of “Bioethics 101” problem along the lines of “my dad abused my mom, he drank, she had no place to go, no work...etc.”
Basically, the 27 bioethics “problems” (it is said that 27 abortions are preformed every day in Latvia) are meant to be thought provoking, though (I have glanced at most, but not all of them) they skip over such cases as rape, especially the rape of an underaged girl, incest and other examples where abortion is probably the only solution.
The installation also doesn't deal with issue of fetal viability, something best left to scientists, but basically a standard for determining that, up to a certain point in a pregnancy, the fetus is not able to live outside the mother, even with massive medical assistance. In other words, the standard determines that up to XY weeks of gestation, an aborted fetus would have no chance of living and its biological existence up to then must be weighed against the interests of the woman or young girl facing an unwanted pregnancy. 
What concerns me is that these pro-life thought provokers may have another agenda, more in line with the hard-core religious right. At least one of the organizers of the installation and campaign is former Soviet-era Latvian dissident Jānis Rožkalns. He is a very brave and decent man (did time in the Gulag for his actions and beliefs). However, in the past more than 20 years, Jānis has aligned with at least one right-wing religious cause – opposition to gay rights, gay pride parades and the like. I participated in debate against him and another religious hard-liner, the Riga City Council member Jānis Šmits and a retired Catholic archbishop and Cardinal, Jānis Pujats. I took a libertarian position, that any and all public expression must be permitted.
It would certainly be good if this particular “pro-life” action was simply one to make people think whether abortion is a desirable form of “contraception”. Indeed, the next step should be actions to address the social problems in some of the examples given – preventing violence against women and the sexual abuse of under-aged girls, broad sex education for children age 12 and up, and an acceptance that adolescent sex is inevitable, therefore contraceptives must be available if all other “restraints” fail --Christian chastity advocacy, non-sectarian sexual ethics lessons, whatever.
So, giving the benefit of the doubt, let's see where this goes. But I have a nagging feeling, that under all this are people who would like to see abortions banned, to declare that an inviolable life starts at conception and  that Latvia should be  made into a sexually repressive theocracy.  
I must say that abortion is a creepy thing for me. I would rather not have it as an inevitable choice for women or couples, but creepier, still, is the idea of law-mandated forced birth and the suspension of personal choice and autonomy for any woman the instant she becomes pregnant for any reason and under any circumstances. So given the choice, I tilt toward free choice.


TRex said...

It is for women to decide. Not society and not men. Full stop. All the problems mentioned should be dealt with in a civil society regardless.

Anonymous said...

The movement also abuses the statistics... 27 abortions per day include 30% miscarriages.
The activists at the parliament, under the Demographics committee (same as campaign organisers) also play with terms like "family'(oh, but it is self evident! - married man & woman), ignore the fact that 47% children in LV are born 'out of wedlock", ignore the statistics that without such restrictive means abortion is systematically decreasing! They also want to introduce forced consultation with "professionals", meaning not existing doctors, but some NGOs who will be the ones better qualified than gynecologists to explain the woman all pros/cons of abortion. So, I can not see other goal than to impose christian moral values on the whole society, define "the moment of inception' as the start of life with effective ban on ANY contraceptives. I agree as before - it is the woman who decides, not the society in the name of "saving the nation (read Latvians)" and not men.

Anonymous said...

What could be behind it? Of course those who see a link between birth rates and abortion which may acctually have some small truth in post-soviet states. Contraceptive use is quiet small compared to the west and instead abortions are used as contraceptive. This usage has in many cases resulted in sterility. The Latvian goverment would do good if it at the same time fighted abortions with promotion of modern contraceptives.

Anonymous said...

It is very noticeable the evil and malice in your writing, and this is what we have to deal with here.

Like all "libertarians" and "tolerants", you and those like you, don't want to engage in acts or principles that require moral discipline or effort, thus, instead of trying to improve themselves and repair their evil, they want that everybody becomes like them. That is called in psychiatry, "negative attribution". By making the rest as evil and viced as themselves, the differences are diluted. This is very typical from pro abortionists,homosexuals, AIDS people and the advocates of drug liberalization.
Your malice is identifiable by the fact that you deliberately hide the fact that the soaring number of abortions come from the promiscuous sexual life style, precisely the same kind of life that libertarians like you foster and promote. That is, your views are on the root of the problems of abortion and instead of ashaming yourselves of the consequences of your proselytism, you pretend to dodge the responsibility talking about outlier cases of sexual abuses in the families, which additionally take place precisely in the kind of families without values because they are invested by your libertarian views. In no TRULY Christian family do abuses of any kind take place.

If you are trying to associate me with some fanatic religious branch, the matter of the fact is that I am absolutely agnostic, I have no faith in god and i don't believe it exists, but I have a clear mind and conscience to identify what is evil.

Juris Kaža said...

Libertarians do not judge non-aggressive behavior (that does not involve the first use of force). There is no malice or evil in saying that it is not for me to force a person to adopt a certain style of consensual sex or to exercise control over her body. Libertarians promote only the libertarian non-judgemental, no first use of force lifestyle. Many libertarians, if asked for advice, would point out the risks of promiscuity (as well as of the lack of education on contraception and/or safe sex). There is nothing evil or malicious in this, that is, in allowing people to make their own choices and deal with the consequences.