Transcendental Commentary on the Issues of the Day

The abortion debate has grown tedious, as flavorless as hour-old bubble gum. Pro-lifers march on Washington. demanding the overturn of Roe v.Wade, wailing that abortion is murder. Pro-choicers countermarch, equally emotional about a woman's right to control her own body. It's all so predictable. The standoff needs new life.


There's some hope in the pro-lifers' recent acts of civil disobedience, some excitement in seeing demonstrators carted off to jail. At least they've raised the conflict to a new level: they're acting on the premise that America's million-plus annual abortions are murder.

To increase the excitement, pro-choicers ought to up the ante too. If the fetus isn't a human being, or even a living being, they should take that to heart. If, as they say, the religious talk about pregnancy being sacred (theBhagavatam, for instance, says that the individual person, or soul the living force in every body, fetal and full-grown enters the womb at the time of conception!) is just that, talk, then answering "murder" charges is a waste of time. a petty, rear-guard action. Pro-choicers need to take the offensive.

As Jonathan Swift hinted more than two hundred fifty years ago in A Modest Proposal, unwanted pregnancies can have their uses. If veal is the tenderest of all cow flesh, how tender a fetus must be. Get fetal flesh into the American diet as fetus burgers, say and Americans would be far less inclined to protest abortion. Why do the animal rights people make so much more noise about cruelty to seals, minks, cats, dogs, and rabbits than about cruelty to chickens, pigs, and cows? Because everyone, including some animal rights people, eats chickens, pigs, and cows. So get everyone munching on fetus and you pull the rug right out from under the pro-lifers.

Fetus cuisine has great potential. Think of what it could do to revitalize the hamburger industry, or any sector of the food industry. Health food specialists rave about the nutritive value of wheat sprouts, and what is a fetus but a comparably germinal ball of flesh?

Why worry? Most of us make no moral distinction between eating sprouts and eating animal flesh, so why distinguish between animal and fetus barbecues? Advances have already been made in the medical use of fetal products, and the Europeans, we hear, already have fetal-based cosmetics on the market. If we can smear it on our skin, surely we can put it in our mouths.

As Swift so eloquently proposed, this creative use of children, or, in the modern context fetuses, would also serve to increase a man's affection for his wife, and for women in general, since everyone knows that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. A fetus industry would also provide a steady source of income for unwed mothers, thus greatly decreasing welfare rolls.

In any case, let's not dally around debating "murder" with the pro-lifers. Take the initiative, as they have. Go to jail, if necessary, as they have. Demonstrate to the world the depth of your conviction that the fetus isn't human, and that eating fetus is therefore no more unusual than eating veal and sprouts.