Wednesday, August 11, 2010

veganism and pro-choice politics are compatible

Every once in a while, I hear the argument that, if a vegan valued life, a vegan would necessarily be anti-choice. This is incorrect.

For the sake of argument, let's talk first-trimester abortion. Pro-choicers, including myself, often hold that a fetus in its first trimester is not conscious and, as such, may be aborted without violating an ethical duty to the fetus.

The abortion debate from a pro-choice perspective can only logically relate to eggs--not animals. Animals are conscious, and many are intelligent. Like a fetus in its first trimester, however, a chicken fetus is also unconscious. By my same rationale, then, a chicken fetus could be aborted without violating an ethical duty to the fetus.

Then why don't vegans eat eggs?

I suppose different vegans may have different views on eggs, so I will only speak for myself. I do not abstain from eggs because I believe the chicken fetus is tortured in the egg production process; rather, I abstain from eggs because the hen is tortured in order to produce the egg (and free-range is legally meaningless).

Both the abortion debate and my vegan perspective on eggs turn on the same issue: the rights of the animal producing the offspring (humans are animals). I do not think that women or hens should be forced to reproduce, particularly when the circumstances are abusive or disenfranchising to either animal.

I'm sure some reader is wondering, then, whether I would eat an egg if it were produced without coercion in a natural setting. Honestly, that answer has changed over time. I have been a vegan for over 2.5 years. If I were given that option in year 1, perhaps it would have sounded appealing. But now eggs are so off my radar that I no longer frame them as food and have zero desire to consume them under any circumstances--apart from the unlikely event that I were starving and only eggs could save me.

Although I believe that a vegan can logically be pro-choice, I do not believe that an anti-choicer can logically be omnivorous. If one values unconscious life before birth, then it would seem one would certainly value conscious life after birth. Pigs, after all, are believed to have the intelligence of three-year-old children; chickens can process surrounding circumstances enough to flap wildly when shackled in the live hang.

I suppose the only scapegoat would be a brutal sense of speciesm where pre-human consciousness is priceless and animal consciousness is worthless. I find that problematic.

It is very difficult for me to wrap my head around a person who will protest an abortion, but be perfectly comfortable with the institutionalized torture of animals.

While I realize the narrator has an agenda, I think the footage speaks for itself.