I would like to continue the abortion discussion from the previous post. One of the interesting arguments against abortion is the argument of abortion against the golden rule. One of the proponents is R. M. Hare. He says that
“when I am glad that I was born (the basis, it will be remembered, of the argument that the Golden Rule therefore places upon me an obligation not to stop others being born), I do not confine this gladness to gladness that they did not abort me. I am glad, also, that my parents copulated in the first place, without contraception. So from my gladness, in conjunction with the extended Golden Rule, I derive not only a duty not to abort, but also a duty not to abstain from procreation.”
One interesting point of the argument is to say that abortion is actually against the Golden Rule. If we are glad that we are here right now, then we should not abort any potential. This is because Golden Rule teaches us to do to others what you would like others do unto you. Thus say, abortion is wrong from the perspective that if we are in the position of the ‘potential,’ despite the fact that we do not have yet any decision whether to born or not, we should be given a chance to live by our mothers considering the fact that they have experienced happiness and thus have a duty to give such gladness to their potential as well. Another interesting point is by applying the Golden Rule against abortion, the ethic can actually be extended to human beings’ duty to procreate. This then means that copulation using contraception can be regarded as against the Golden Rule since it also prohibits the procreation process. Such a position would then open a new debate in procreation and contraception which is out of the scope of what I would like to discuss.
What about Gie?
When I was reading Hare’s position about abortion, I was then somewhat remembered about Soe Hok GIe, an Indonesian political activist. Differ from Hare, he says that the best fate is actually not to be born rather than being born and can live until old since he also says that the worst fate is the old age. This saying is somewhat understandable from my point of view. Considering what he had been going through his life and what Indonesia’s situation in that particular time really looked like, he might then start to wonder that it was better not to be born. The question is then: what about Gie’s argument if we relate this to Hare’s argument and abortion? Can we actually say that by aborting the fetus, we actually have saved the fate of the unborn and there is nothing wrong with that?
Answering such questions need a broad perspective about the condition where someone really lives. As mentioned above, Gie might say such things considering the political and economical situation at the place and time where he was still alive. So the right question to consider is not about whether in aborting child we have negated the Golden Rule or supporting the best fate advocated by Gie. We just have to simply ask, considering our current circumstances and the future, what is the best fate of the fetus? Are we really glad to live in this world right now? Can we predict what the future really looks like so once grown up, our children can also feel this gladness?
The problem is we never really know about the future, in particular in this fast-pace changing world. People might argue that the current condition is probably the best condition related to information technology, food distribution, etc. In short, this current condition is the best imaginable condition. But, world keeps changing and the issues such as climate change, robotic, the advent of artificial intelligence, social media and security are hot topics that can still be debated in the near future. Such issues actually will shape how the future will look like. For example, in the advent of AI and robotics, can the future people feel as glad as we are experiencing now with our information technology? Or with the climate change and uncertainty from some countries about the policy, will it be better for the fetus not to be born since at the time they are grown-up, the would probably start to struggle finding good quality air or struggle to find foods. Even in Indonesia itself, this topic can be made longer including the fate of minority (racial, religious, sex, etc.) and what is their position in Indonesia since it seems that the problem of intolerance in Indonesia in particular is still alarming.
These are probably the things that we need to consider if we would like to argue about the abortion and the Golden Rule. It is true that we are probably glad with our situation right now, but how about the future? If the future does not look as good as ours, then the Golden Rule does not dictate us to copulate and procreate and finally to avoid any abortion. It actually tells us like what Gie’s saying, namely to give the best bet to the fetus for not being born.
This is the thing that we should actually consider. Every human being should have an idea what the future would be for the unborn which also can turn our discussion to the ethic of procreation (which I would think to discuss it later). This also partially explains why people might consider abortion for the imperfect fetus or those who are predicted to be born with disabilities. They might probably think about the future that does not look good for the unborn, in particular in the area where they are living. We might be glad by our situation right now, but considering the future, at some situations Gie might probably right for not letting the fetus to be born.