Political ‘Yay’ and ‘Nay’ Grounded in Normative Gray

Image for post
Image for post

Part of the beauty of political processes subsisting within well developed capitalist economies, such as that of the United States, is the artfulness with which matters of normative grayness are transformed into political Yays and Nays, political Yays and Nays that create jobs in society.

In presence of job creation within context of disagreements over matters that in reality are not possessing of any normative Yay or Nay characteristics, political Yays and Nays must be tolerated, welcomed, celebrated. If political Yays and Nays are taken too seriously, some segments of society are disenfranchised in context of matters that lack any normative merit — an outcome not to be celebrated whenever societies are both diverse and secular.

Take for instance all of the hoopla over Pro Life vis-a-vis Pro Choice. An intellectual comparison of the two sides reveals absence of any normative distinctiveness, yields a subject matter characterized by normative grayness, demonstrates absence of any white versus black, absence of any normative Yay versus Nay.

How do we know the argument merely is political, not normative? The Pro Life group argues that once a woman gets pregnant, the life of the baby takes precedent. The Pro Choice group argues it is the life (desires, goals, fears, wantedness or unwantedness) of the pregnant woman that takes precedence. We find then that in reality both groups are ‘Pro Someone Lives (Pro SL)— both mother and child do not die’. The only difference? Support for the baby vis-a-vis the baby mother.

The question then is: Who is sufficient for arguing a baby’s life is objectively and universally worth more than that of its mother, or vice versa? Consider that some babies have over the course of history gone on to kill their mothers. Consider also that some mothers have in past killed their children. With the historical objective evidence in perspective or background, clearly no one can objectively and universally argue a child’s life is worth more than that of its mother, or vice versa for that matter.

Consider the Pro Life argument. Is it really safe to argue that if a suicidal woman somehow gets pregnant, it is best to allow her carry a pregnancy to term? How exactly does a suicidal woman produce a ‘normal’ baby? And if such a woman produces a baby who has significant challenges, can it be moral to saddle the woman with responsibility for taking care of the child? If saddling of the woman with the challenged baby is immoral, who then must take moral responsibility for upbringing of the child?

If we switch to consideration of the Pro Choice argument, can we really argue that abortion can be justified merely by wariness of a healthy adolescent girl at becoming a mother? If all teenage girls who get pregnant have a non-blockaded path to abortion, abortion within the teenage population becomes unrestrained, most pregnancies end up as abortions. In presence of blockades, blockades which ensure teenage girls and their families think through available options (consider consequences of two different paths), hopefully the right proportions of teenage pregnancies end up as birth events for healthy babies. When such healthy babies are taken care of by teenage girls who thought through their options and arrived at conscious decisions, we are more likely to have healthy babies taken care of by healthy teenage adults.

Do not get me wrong, in an ideal world, every pregnancy would go to term, result in a healthy baby taken care of by healthy adults. But movies on television, in theaters, on Amazon Prime, or on HBO promoting teenage sex are not part of an ideal world. When a teenage girl becomes pregnant, the pregnancy cannot be dissociated from her location in, and participation in a world that is not ideal, a world within which sex has been dissociated from marriage (intimacy between financially responsible agents) and rearing of children (procreation).

We conclude then that the Pro Life vis-a-vis Pro Choice debate is political Yay and Nay arranged carefully around normative gray. In presence of normative gray — inability to objectively and universally determine whose life is worth more, that of mother or child — all Yays and Nays are political, not grounded in normative reality, construed in context of normative gray.

Absent some partisan order by the courts, neither of the Pro Life nor Pro Choice groups have enough ammunition for winning of the debate. So long as money keeps on pouring into both groups, and jobs are created, and women who arrive at unanticipated pregnancies have two paths to consider, this perhaps is the best we can hope for — people gainfully employed around normative gray.

But then please, let’s not take the debate all too seriously. Issues latent to the debate possess far greater importance and significance than the debate itself.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store