As I look back on my own personal journey of discovery and awareness (or at least an attempt to be aware), sometimes I laugh at myself out of embarrassment. I used to be anti-gay rights. And that’s really embarrassing. Today I am a staunch supporter of gay rights. So I hope somehow, I have repaid my debts to my gay friends and fellow Americans through my activism in that space.
But I have also made a more recent change in a position I have long held – abortion. For as long as I can remember, I was pro-choice. I mean, no one has a right to tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body, right?
Who has the right?
Many pro-animal agriculture people claim that “no one has the right to tell a private business what they can and cannot do.” Sounds familiar, huh? And yet we chain ourselves to machines and gates in an effort to physically impact those factory farms and egg houses.
When pro-life people chain themselves to abortion clinics, they are labeled as “religious nut-jobs” and the mainstream media propagates this stereotype. As a vegan, I also hate being called a nut-job when fighting for what I think is right and just. We may share more in common with the pro-life crowd than we think.
I remember even being spit on when leading a demonstration for Sea Shepherd in Burlington, Vermont. I also remember flipping off a pig transport truck for hauling pigs in sweltering heat. He called me a nut-job.
So why on one hand is it OK to defend the voiceless with intervention (when it comes to animals) and yet simultaneously support a human’s ability to murder the defenseless?
Irony hits the streets
I felt a twang of irony, as I often stood at animal rights demonstrations, in an effort to “defend the voiceless.” We’d march in Anchorage against the fur and trapping industries. Fight to end aerial wolf hunting. Bear baiting.
And yet, many friends and colleagues were supportive of abortion. Which is, the exact same killing of the voiceless.
How can we, as vegans, support the voiceless when it comes to animals, yet deprive the voiceless a chance at life because it is a human? Isn’t that the definition of speciesism? Just in reverse?
“speciesism is a form of discrimination based on species membership. It involves treating members of one species as morally more important than members of other species even when their interests are equivalent.”
On the blog “I am Going Vegan” they also address this apparent hypocrisy. What’s interesting is that many of their points center around when a fetus feels pain. But as vegans, we know that is only part of the story when defending animals.
We hate seeing a scared animal. One that knows it’s next for the bolt gun. Or a goose about to be force fed. Or a male chick headed to the shredder. They just know. But to me, at least, the foundation of my desire to be vegan centers around one key principle:
Just leave them alone. I believe animals (and now, human fetuses) are sentient beings, and should be free to live. I don’t want to ever dictate the future life or death of a pig. Or a cow. Or a human.
Sistah Vegan also has a very interesting poll. The majority (although slim) of vegans are actually pro life.
One of my favorite moments as a vegan is during the holidays. I absolutely love eating a feast, while also knowing that NOT ONE SINGLE animal suffered so that I could enjoy that moment. And I know many fellow vegans share the same sentiment. It boosts my soul.
What is the impact to one’s soul knowing their entire life, that they chose to kill?
I understand there are circumstances where abortion is the only option (medically necessary, incest, rape, etc). I am not addressing these examples in this opinion piece. I am talking primarily of abortion for convenience.
Just as we look to “ignorant carnivores” sometimes, and are shocked at their unwillingness to challenge themselves and inconvenience themselves for positive change, I also look to those abortion cases with the same thinking.
And let’s not forget the hypocrisy on the other side of the spectrum, too – the meat eating pro-lifers. How you can defend human life, while eating a cheeseburger is beyond me.