Friday, October 20, 2006

More Thoughts On Fabulous Abortions

An interesting response to my post on "The Medical Procedure That Dare Not Speak Its Name." Dani suggests a "cultural relativity" explanation that I thought was worthy of a more extended response. Dani comments:

The doctor is very cautious and roundabout in introducing the topic, as if he's not sure how she'll react to it, and perhaps as if he wants to protect himself. You know, give himself some deniability. The language that Snow uses to reject him is all about duty to the community, not the sacredness of life. She accuses him of mixing her up with a Mundy. She warns him that if he brings it up again, he'll be exiled.

Fabletown is a seperate community with its own laws. This exchange said to me that Abortion is considered a crime in Fabletown, not just morally, but legally, and carries some very stiff penalties. Probably has to do with the fact that it has such a small population base, with no new immigrants coming in.



It was an interesting thought, and I'm always open to the thought that rules that make sense in one cultural context wouldn't be appropriate in another. And I can see how, in a small, isolated community, the need to keep the community from being destroyed might trump the needs of any individual member of it. In this case, however, I don't think find the argument pursuasive. This was my response:

Hi Dani,

Interesting thoughts, but I'm not sure I'm convinced. First of all, the "laws" of Fabletown aren't externally enforceable. They are only a community to the extent that they all choose to be.

More importantly, though, while there is a small population base with no new immigrants, they are also remarkably steady, with no "normal" deaths and an unlimited lifespan. Nearly every birth increases the population.

As a result, there's really no difference between a "regular" population where, say, 1-2% of the population die each year, and another 1-2% are born, leaving a stable (but changing) total, and a Fable population with no births and no deaths, leaving a stable (and unchanging) total.

If anything, it would seem to be the Fables' "responsibility" not to overpopulate their area, since births don't get to take the place of deaths.

For those reasons, I don't see anything "special" enough about Fables to think that their abortion laws shouldn't be examined the same way that Mundies' are.

What do you think about the "responsibility" argument? Does one's responsibility to the community ever override personal needs? If the Fables all died eventually, and new births were very rare, could you defend the cultural choice? Are you a cultural relativist or a moral absolutist?

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Willow said...

Oddly enough when I read this, I thought it was a case of Snow being responsible to the Fables community as a whole. That is including the Land they left behind the deaths suffered there.

To me it read a little bit like someone who'd survived the Holocaust or the exterminations in the Balktics or in Somalia where so many of their people had died - being asked to end a life that was 'one of them'.

I suppose it could also be read as Snow's personal feelings and that she was using her position to hide her own feelings.

But I did honestly read it as 'there are so few of us left and the enemy is coming'

2:47 PM  

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