Sunday, January 25, 2009


We’ve been having an interesting debate over at Princess’s blog.

Old issues. Americans call them the ‘cultural war’ –the abortion debate. A misnomer- many, and diverse people are united, and divided by them. You may not believe it but GWB and Osama bin Laden are both pro-life, as is, for your consumption, Museveni and Besigye. And on the issue of us homos, they see eye to eye.

Princess started it off.

She was in church, and, was introduced to a rabidly pro-choice doctor. [pro-choicers, for the un-informed, believe in the woman’s right to choose, on an individual basis, in matters of sex and pregnancy.] And, pro-lifers believe that the right to life is absolute. A mother has no choice to the new life that is in her, at pregnancy.

Princess is very Ugandan. She was pro-life before, and what she read or was told at church sickened her, and strengthened her belief in pro-life issues. She blogged about it, and I stumbled on the blog post.

I, the devil’s advocate, don’t like nice cut and dried things. Pro-choice and pro-life seem to be nice, parallel roads, leading in opposite directions. There is no middle ground, for proponents of either view. And, to supporters of one point of view, the others are devils and evil incarnate. A clear cut choice?

I am not so sure. The evidence out there, seems to suggest that there are some good arguments for either road. They are not simplistically parallel. There are lots of gray areas, and a lot of good people are on either side of the debate. And, lots of evil people championing either one or the other, happy in the division, lampooning the other side as evil and devilish, and that ‘we’ are on the side of angels.

And, why not? We are all human being, with the intelligence and capacity to think, in distinctly logical ways, getting to distinctly different, and even opposed conclusions.

Princess, (lil sis as I used to call her then) once asked me whether I was pro-choice. I didn’t answer. [Maybe this post will tell her whether or not I am].

I dislike mental strait jackets, thinking constraints that are defined as ‘truth’ and ‘faith’. I like the gray area, the road verge defined by the conclusions I can derive, and believe. If you have a right to faith, I have a right to believe in the derivatives of my thought.

So, most Ugandans are ‘pro-life’. They believe, without question, that the right to life triumphs every other choice. It is an instinctive belief, for most, without having thought through the pros and cons. Uganda is a religious country- whether it is the Christian Pentecostals, Orombi’s protestants, or the Tabliqs, they all believe fervently in their religions. Even the much maligned believers in traditional religions are also there, sacrificing humans for wealth, prescribing ‘under-the-lake rituals’ and the casting of the ‘evil eye’ on our neighbors. [Maybe the true statement is that Ugandans are very superstitious, not religious.]

The result is the same,- most Ugandans have pro-life sentiments. One time while listening to a Ugandan fm station, I eavesdropped the dj musing; apparently someone had calculated that more than 200,000 unsafe abortions were done in Uganda annually. And the dj was disgusted. What was the police doing? Why weren’t all these abortionists in prison, she demanded.

But that does not look at the other side of the coin. What are the figures for availability of contraception? What kind of contraception is available, and how expensive or cheap is it? How many mothers die of abortion and pregnancy related complications? I have heard at least one doctor lament that we have one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Must have been Ian Clarke or someone like that… Or maybe he doesn’t matter because he is not Ugandan and only Ugandan women die in that way…!

Museveni (and Nadduli) have been quoted telling the population that they do not believe in contraception. Oh well.

Pro-lifers who are weirdly weird? I will roll into the same breath the Pope, who believes that despite not having sex, he can outlaw the use of condoms- to the people who kill doctors for doing abortions. Did you know that it is the medical doctors in Uganda who actually are at the forefront of the support for the legalization of abortion?

And the pro-choicers?

Someone made a sweeping statement on Princess’s blog. If you don’t want a baby, just don’t have sex. Really?

[Poor me, I want a baby, and have been practicing all these years, and have no baby!!!!, but I am bringing my sexuality into the debate, which seems to anger many people. Ha!]

Sex and babies. Seems to be intrinsically linked, huh?

Bad beginning. To the argument, I mean.

I once saw this photo of a woman in the depth of Africa’s villages. She was hugely pregnant. She had a baby suckling at her breast, and one on her back, and a kid about two or three holding her hand. She was dressed in rugs. Sigh. Did that African woman really have any choice at all? I have blogged about the Saudi girl who was married off at 9 years of age to solve her daddy’s debt problem. Her distressed mom took the case to the Saudi courts, which upheld the marriage. Only one caveat. The 45 year old husband was not to have sex with the child until she had passed puberty. Translated, till the first menses. Does this girl-woman have any choice?

What about the 12 year old girl who was convicted of adultery in Somalia, and stoned to death in a stadium, with 1000 people looking on? According to her mother, she was raped. The court of laws refused that defence. Was Sarah Palin right to keep the pregnancy when she knew the child had Down’s Syndrome? Was she right to convince her daughter to keep the pregnancy when she was going to become a teenage mother?

I am being intentionally obtuse in my arguments. Who needs an essay that is factual and well argued in this polarized debate? Of course, by now, you the reader has gotten incensed at my point of view, or the lack thereof. GWB, in the first days of his presidency, signed a presidential order denying… Why am I going into that? Obama has reversed that order, almost as quickly, days into his presidency. I do not happen to be any kind of expert into the details of the abortion debate. All I really know is that there are some true areas of craziness.

So, am I pro-choice, or pro-life?

Why, do I have to make a decision on that? It is a false choice. I don’t want to, nor do I need to decide to be on any side of that debate. Conditions differ, and I certainly do not want to be drawn into the ‘cultural wars’ of this planet. Life is too complex to be resolved into the various labels that are so easy for those who think they are thinking… or that they know what they believe.

And, after all, I am gay. Devil incarnate? Maybe. And maybe not.


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Blogger Liz said...

I have read this twice. First time to know what you think. The second, to confirm what I think. For the most part, I agree, life is rarely black and white. But personally it is a belief in God that helps to develop an opinion on a case by case basis. I believe that all life stems for God, that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made,and that children are a gift from God. Belief in the omnipotence in God will mean that by the time one is pregnant, and carru the child to full term, there is a specific destiny for that Child. also for the pregnant mother in Comma, that God will decide who goes.
My belief in God naivety or a krutch? Maybe but the bottom line its functional in my world view. And that's what its all really about, the pro-life and pro-choice movement, do take their stand based on differing world views.As much as the the cases concerning abortions may be gray, the choices prescribed aren't because the world views aren't grey. They are absolute. Black or white

enjoyed the post

February 26, 2009 at 11:36 AM  
Blogger gayuganda said...

Interesting take on it,

I am upping the ante,

next post, carried from my blog.


March 23, 2009 at 12:44 PM  

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