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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

More on Abortion

The challenge with discussing abortion, in my opinion, is that it confounds the sharp lines that we need for making laws. Laws settle who has the right to go on a piece of property and who gets to make copies of a document and who is responsible for a defective product. Whether someone should terminate a pregnancy involves a number of impossible shades of grey. The absurd claim that life begins at conception is an effort to project certainty where it does not exist. Note what the anti-abortion groups are pushing for--criminalizing abortion. If their real effort was to reduce the number of abortions they would focus on making contraception more available and attacking poverty. Criminalizing abortion only makes sense if the question is easy. The life begins at conception claim is the tool to do this.

People do not believe life begins at conception. Matt sent me a link to this post from Slacktivist that makes the case in one regard: most anti-abortion activist suggest stop short of bombing abortion clinics. Indeed, as I've pointed out, none of the anti-abortion Republican candidates advocated life in prison or the death penalty for doctors or mothers who participated in abortions in a theoretical world without Roe v. Wade and subsequent anti-abortion laws. How is that possible? If abortion is murder, why would you not advocate life in prison? Answer, you don't think abortion is murder.

The other argument, that I know I've made before, is a comparison between a miscarriage and losing a child. Thankfully, Pat & I have never had to suffer through either of these tragedies, but we have been close to those that have. Losing a pregnancy is a heart wrenching tragedy. It does not compare to losing a child. At the risk of being out of line, I will tell you that I would find it offensive if someone made the comparison. It makes me angry.

Likewise, the suggestion that women who chose to terminate their pregnancies are committing murder is sickening. It is the kind of evil crap that has to end.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can't speak for the entire movement, but in my mind, abortion is wrong because we simply don't know when life begins. We know it begins at some point during that nine month period but no one knows for certain when. Killing something that might be an innocent living human being is not a risk that a life-loving nation should allow simply so a woman can avoid the inconvenient consequences of her choices. If the pregnancy was from rape - the balance might tip the other way.

Therefore, you are right: abortion is not the same as murder because with murder we know the victim was alive and with abortion we just aren't sure. But I just can't justify killing a human that might be alive. If Drs are ever able to determine that a 1 month old embryo is not alive with certainty, I would be willing to reconsider my position.

JimII said...

Anonymous,

First, thank you for your thoughtful comment. It is the kind of perspective that I love to see in discussions.

You wrote, "Killing something that might be an innocent living human being is not a risk that a life-loving nation should allow simply so a woman can avoid the inconvenient consequences of her choices."

I appreciate your rational and reasoned approach. However, I think "incovenient consequences" trivializes the nature of the decisions women make in these circumstances. More important than providing a revision, which I'm sure you would be willing to do because the other side of the scale is the risk of killing an innocent, let me tell you how I have come to this decision.

In the last few months to a year, I have been surrounded by the deaths of people close to me and my friends. Epic and traumatic deaths of important precious people. In and around those deaths have been decisions like whether to continue treatment, in what manner shall a person die, how hard should we fight the pain, what risk is too great? Exposure to those I love making these decisions has transformed me. It has caused me to become angry at the idea of society as a whole dictating the outcome of such choices to a family. It is that experience that informs my opinion that the government has no place in the decision, but also, that there is no single moral rule that should governs every situation.