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The Gray Area

Guest Column
Akshay Patil

I wonder if years from now, people will look back on abortion and talk of it much as we now talk of slavery.

Back when slavery was prevalent in the United States, we didn’t see, for the most part, great strife over what we now deem an intolerable violation of human rights. It was a long time before activists began the long and bloody crusade to rid us of slavery. Was it because everyone back then was evil? Did we not value freedom? We look at great people of the era and wonder how they could have ever promoted such an evil. They weren’t bad people; they were merely blinded by their situation, their culture. Slavery was a part of life that many did not give a second thought to; it is only many generations after slavery’s abolition that we as a society can examine at the institution and universally condemn it.

If abortion is abolished, will society someday look at this period of time and cringe? Will it have been an evil that we overcame in the name of human rights? The parallels are abundant. No, there aren’t widespread fetal uprisings and massacres, but we have seen the growth of activism and its incorporation into one of the major political parties. Maybe someday we will look back on Roe v. Wade with the same disgust as Dred Scott v. Sanford and wonder how society and the U.S. Supreme Court could have tolerated such an obvious violation of the right to life.

Or maybe we’ll marvel at how close we came to giving up our rights. Will we continue to battle against the banning of abortion because we do not want to start the fall into an Orwellian form of government? Instead of siding with the fetus’s right to life, will we side on the mother’s right to choose? I don’t know what the future holds.

There should, however, be a choice. It would be so easy to just stand on a soapbox and preach this idea without reservation, but that would not be accurate. When I think of abortion, I just get the feeling that there is something inherently wrong with the process. At what point does one stop the logical slippery slope definition of life with human rights? At birth? Right before birth? At conception? Prior to conception? It’s a fine wire to walk.

Unlike slavery, there is no solid line that has been crossed; there is only a very large looking, sort of grayish area.

Some may argue that the distinction is clear enough, but I don’t think that it is to me or to society in general. Where do we decide to call something a person and grant it all the responsibilities and rights that go with such a classification? The only thing we can do is let people decide for themselves. Probably because I have an inherent (pronounced “healthy”) distrust of the government, I don’t like it bossing me around (well, that is, if I were a woman) and telling me what my morals are when they just aren’t that clear to me or most people. If you believe it’s wrong, don’t do it. If you don’t believe it’s wrong, then go right ahead. People may cringe, but it’s your right to make the decision.

Perhaps sometime in the future, abortion will be the slavery of our times. Perhaps many of us are suffering from the blinders of convention. It’s a very likely possibility. All I know is that, according to the view I have from here, it shouldn’t be.

Akshay Patil is a member of the Class of 2004.