What if our society had the same attitude toward suicide that we currently have toward abortion?
Recently, Planned Parenthood dropped the phrase “pro-choice” from its vocabulary but made their commitment to that philosophy clear with a new PR campaign, “You’re not in her shoes.” It’s designed to convince people on the fence about abortion that any attempt to dissuade one is insensitive at best and judgmental at worst because one does not know what a woman may be experiencing.
The philosophy underlying this view is clear: Abortion is viewed as an individual choice only a woman can make because it concerns her body, her life and her future. Such philosophy completely ignores the fact that the unborn child’s body will be broken, life will be destroyed, and future will be taken. But for the sake of this argument, let’s focus on the woman and her choice.
Let me postulate a reality where physician-assisted suicide is legal for all cases for anyone of sound mind.
If the “You’re Not in Their Shoes Campaign” is applied to this scenario, then supporters have no right to speak against it, especially if they haven’t been suicidal.
Suicide is seen as an individual right because it primarily concerns an individual’s body, their life, and their future. This reality strikes most people as absurd, but I am just taking our current attitudes toward abortion and applying them to suicide.
It is very easy to be insensitive to someone facing a moral crisis, such as an unplanned pregnancy or suicide, and it’s better to help someone face those issues when one has experienced them.
However, this does not mean that those who have not experienced these circumstances have no say in these matters.
Although some people would argue that my comparison of abortion and suicide is flawed because suicide is often the result of mental illness, that is already addressed in my alternative reality that requires a mental health screening for people, not mandatory for abortions.
Women who are not mentally ill but experiencing an unplanned pregnancy may only a few weeks to make a life-altering choice. That does not lend itself to rational decision-making.
Under such pressure, many women can make decisions they regret later.
Suicide forever ends a life and so does abortion. But the closest similarity between the two is that people who see death as a solution to life’s problems do them.
What can we as society do in the face of such despair?
Shrugging off deadly decisions made by despairing individuals because “we’re not in their shoes,” and neglecting to provide resources to help and encourage them to choose life, speaks to the apathy in our society.
We have the obligation to show those who are struggling that death is not the answer to their problems.
This obligation, as a just society, needs to be reflected in our laws so all human life is protected. Failure to do so is not compassionate or progressive in any way.
It is merely cold, indifferent and uncaring.