Daily Archives: April 1, 2015

Science Fiction Today – Abortion

A

If I were going to start writing Science Fiction Today more regularly, I think the topic I would start with would be abortion. Because whoa, you want to talk about a heated political issue of today, with no answer that people can come to a consensus on? An issue that has come up in every election I can remember for my entire life, without there ever being any big changes in the argument or solutions?

In our Science Fiction Today posts, which we are running as our theme for the April A to Z Challenge, we don’t try to provide an answer to today’s problems in today’s terms. Nor do we try to take a side on the issue in today’s terms. Instead, we look at what the issue could look like in a science fiction sense: with new technology, with society having moved on. What it might look like in 50 years, or 200. And how maybe the whole issue might go away. So what might that look like for Abortion?

The Perfect Birth Control

Abortion is a big issue with complicated opinions on it. But I can imagine a future where the entire debate is gone. What would it take? Why, something small and easy, right? Just the perfect birth control.

It could take different forms. The one most like our world today would be some form of birth control that is 100% effective, cheap so everyone can get access, and easily accessible. Even better, one that no one has any moral problems with, that in some way does not interfere with conception.

Okay, I can imagine such a thing, even if I don’t think it’s completely realistic. However, there are simpler solutions, and you see them sometimes in science fiction. And that would be virtual sex. It could be virtual but in-person, like in a movie like Demolition Man. Or it could be distant and separate but virtual, in a Second Life sort of situation like in the book Ready Player One. It might be easier to envision a virtual solution like this for our near future!

Completely Planned Children

Of course, there’s the tendency with discussions about childbirth to worry that we are straying into territory of “playing god.” And really, this can be taken to an extreme. In lots of science fiction, you see societies where children are fully planned, fully raised by society. Maybe genetically modified, maybe not. Maybe all artificially inseminated.

This would dismantle a lot of what the world looks like today, in terms of family structures, or even in terms of what it means to be human. Abortion, or even a form of perfect birth control, could be a part of it all. But rather than a situation where conception is avoided, it’s more about a future where it’s all planned, or all dictated by a controlling society. Where a child would not be yours, but would be society’s. The abortion debate would be gone – but would this be a better world?

This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, and also part of our occasional series on Science Fiction Today. You can read an explanation of both here. We are striving to keep these posts short, and know that we have not covered every example or angle – plenty of room for discussion!