"Revenge is a dish best served cold"
This blog endorses the centre-left Concertación, currently in government. In the coming local elections it's time to punish the right-wing Alianza for standing against the emergency contraceptive in particular, and their ultra-conservative stance in general
In this blog I have repeteadly argued that a woman should always have the freedom to decide whether to go ahead or not with an unplanned pregnancy. Earlier this year, Chile's Constitutional Tribunal--that impossibly unaccountable and biased all-powerful trace of the Pinochet dictatorship--ruled that a woman should not seek an emergency contraceptive in the state-run health centres, or else she's breaking the law. In other words, the Tribunal has decided that if a raped woman wants to ensure she is not going to get pregnant, well, she shouldn't.
The idiocy of the pro-life lobby is hard to fathom, and together with their natural allies in the right-wing Alianza (strongly religious and socially conservative) they should be feared. The Tribunal's ruling saw the light of day thanks to the invaluable help from a group of Alianza MPs who challenged the legality of a government resolution that ordered to purchase the morning-after pill to make it available in the public health system, on demand, by 14-year old girls or older. As expected, the Tribunal turned out to be a piece of legal folly that sparked massive protests staged in all Chile's main cities. After the controversy, nobody dared to ask why this contraceptive is ilegal when provided by the state, but why it remains legal if bought at the Chemist's. The reality is that that nobody dared to enforce the ruling in private pharmacies, where even some owners objected to sell it.
Now, with local elections underway and polling day looming (26th october), it's time for the electorate to punish the Alianza and vote for the candidates running in the lists presented by the centre-left Concertación. It's time now to express the anger in the ballot box, casting votes. Crucially, the public health centres are managed directly by mayors, and as expected, Concertación local governments will be less hostile to the distribution of the emergency contraceptive, illegal as it may be.
Why taking this pill is legitimate
The whole point of the verdict by the Tribunal can be summed up as follows: the morning-after pill may induce an abortion, and abortion is illegal in Chile, so it should never be used. It's important to highlight that Chile is one of the very few countries where abortion is prohibited under any circumstances, and it's even penalised, although no woman has been recently convicted under charges of abortion probably because no judge dares to enforce such tyrannical law.
Whether it's abortive-inducive or not, it's not quite the point in question. If it inhibits implantation of the embryo (in other words: if it causes an abortion), we need to keep in mind that abortion spontaneosuly occur even in planned pregnancies. The pro-life lobby seems indifferent to this fact of nature which poses the following uncomfortable question: if preventing the development of an embryo equals homicide, then why a spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) is not a crime but an induced abortion is a punishable offence? Pro-lifers can't satisfactorily answer to this challenge. They fail to explain the reason why their God or whatever they call the Grand Architect etc has created women as natural-born embryo-killers.
If an embryo is likely to be aborted anyway, the fierce opposition to abortion shows the fundamental stupidity of the pro-life campaigners.
Feel the pain?
But there's more. I argue that inflicting pain to a living creature is what we really find repulsive. If your dog is irreversibly ill, you wouldn't stab him or drown him, but you find the way to put him down in a dignified, painless manner. In contrast, we don't think it's particulary abhorrent to kill an insect. This is because we don't want to deliberatley make another creature feel pain, and some beings can feel pain while others can't.
The case against an abortion of a developed foetus is because it's unnaceptable to make this human creature suffer, and for the foetus to experience pain it needs a nervous system and of course a brain--remember it's in the brain where pain is actually felt. The embryo is not only likely to be spontaneously aborted, but it's incapable of experiencing pain of any kind because it doesn't have a brain, and for that same reason, doesn't have a conscience. To put it bluntly, it's a bunch of cells that doesn't count as an individual, unless the mother thinks otherwise for personal convictions (religiuous beliefs, etc), in which case she's of course entitled to carry on with ther unplanned pregnancy.
In civilised societies a time limit has been determined where we can draw a line to establish the legal limit for an abortion. I suggest that this is set at 24 weeks into the pregnancy, when it is plausible to have a developed brain and where it is feasible for the embryo to survive. Sadly, in Chile there's no debate on this matter but it's about time to have our laws in line with the rest of the world (with Roe vs Wade, for instance), that's why a good start is the promotion of emergency contraceptives. Incidentally, they would help to prevent abortion in advanced foetuses, but the religious/right-wing/conservative lobby is not up for talks. If the conservatives claim that the super-powerful creature they worship is on their side, and apparently he's an unbreakable pro-lifer, there's not much to discuss with them (and no point in asking them explain the spontaneous-abortion bit, apparently their god is not as powerful as they believed, or he's sloppy when designing people). So at this local election is time to keep the conservatives out of government.
The same ones who ferociously oppose the morning-after pill also object to condoms, although the latter can't provoke an abortion. Their stance is indefensible mainly because it lacks consistency, and I suspect that their pro-life campaign is a nothing but a facade to stifle sexuality. It's this same section of the public opinion the ones who promote virginity and place images of "virgin mary" in various strategic locations (by the way, Mary--if she existed-- got pregnant at the age of 12, which under Chilean law renders the Holly Ghost a statutuory rapist).
Should a libertarian/liberal really vote for the left?
After voting for the left we can expect higher taxes, more bureaucracy, and a giant state. Nothing really palatable for free-marketeers like us. We want individuals empowered to decide for themselves and for that we need low taxes, a lean state and limited government. But a modern economy demands a modern society. As it stands, the left offers the best hope to liberalise social attitudes and to obliterate the absurd laws concerning reproductive rights, essential to fight poverty. There will be a chance in the future to fix the economy and clean up the mess.
Let's not forget that it's in the slums of Santiago and other major cities where poor and uneducated girls become teenage mothers. With no life skills and no chance of getting well-paid jobs, and confronted with unwanted pregnancies, they breed poverty and crime. It's in the state-run health centres where proper and robust sex education is needed, together with comprehensive plans for fertility control based on individual choice, not government coercion.
There's a golden rule in politics which says that voters should prefer the opposition if it offers a better chance of sound governance than the coallition in office. The right wing politicians have consistently proved they can turn Chile into a big Opus Dei branch.
For now, it's time to keep the progressive left in government, at least at municipality level.
Your comments are welcome.