On January 24th, two days after the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion on demand, the Family Planning Advocates of New York State held their 28th annual abortion-rights conference. It was attended by about 1000 pro-choicers including Senator Hillary Clinton. They represented, in effect, the 34% of Americans (according to an NY Times poll) that want to keep abortion generally legal.
Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” and winning party of Roe v. Wade, did not attend. Instead, she chose that day to go to (and speak at) the 32nd annual March for Life in Washington DC. She says that she regrets her abortion, having formally asked the Supreme Court a week earlier to overturn their decision and end the “covenant of death.” She was surrounded by women who had had abortions holding signs saying “I Regret.”
When does life begin? A Senate Subcommittee held hearings in 1981 to answer that question. The testimony, given by world-renowned geneticists and biologists, was surprisingly one-sided – the vast majority agreed that life begins at conception. Dr. Jerome Lejeune (often called “The Father of Modern Genetics”) said “to accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion ... it is plain experimental evidence.” Dr. Michelle Mathews-Roth of Harvard Medical School agreed, sighting evidence from more than 20 medical texts to support her claim. “The Father of In Vitro Fertilization”, Dr. Landrum Shettles, said, “Conception confers life…to deny a truth [about when life begins] should not be a basis for legalizing abortion.”
Suppose for a minute, though, that there is no scientific evidence to support the claim the life begins at conception (we are going to examine the way pro-choicers think). If life does not begin at conception, when does it begin? I do not see how one can say that at this finite point in time, life begins, so that there is one second (or maybe one micro-second) when a baby becomes human. Do pro-choicers suggest that if you kill this ‘thing’ one minute before this time that it is morally okay, but that one minute later it suddenly becomes murder?
On the extreme left end of that argument is MIT professor Steven Pinker, who would like infanticide to be legal, so that a mother can “coolly assess the infant and her situation” before deciding whether or not to kill her baby.
Senator Clinton echoed the general sentiment in the room at the Family Planning conference, when she said that they want to bring about a day when abortion is “safe, legal, and rare.” I don’t understand the last part of this. I can tell why they want abortion to be safe and legal, but if abortion really has no moral implications, why should they want it to be rare? To save women the time, perhaps?
I further find it difficult to see why these leftists have no problem with killing a baby and yet oppose the death penalty for convicted murderers. If death is not appropriate for a criminal, why should it be appropriate for an innocent?
An unwanted baby can be adopted, of course, though that would probably take more time than an abortion, and in the case of a junior probably require the parents to be informed. I suppose that having to tell the parents would cause a great deal of embarrassment. So instead of getting overly inconvenienced or embarrassed, the girl in question secretly goes to have her baby exterminated. Morally clean?
Some pro-choicers argue that, after all, it’s her body and she can do whatever she wants with it. No matter whether it’s moral or not, she has a right to kill her baby. Maybe the woman who chooses to have an abortion recognizes that she is actually killing a human being, but that it’s something she can live with (or just avoid thinking about in those terms). Does that make it right? If someone doesn’t ‘feel bad’ about killing one of his coworkers, does that mean that we should let it happen?
The pro-abortion argument seems confused, and requires at the very least that a certain finite and arbitrary time is selected to separate “choice” and “murder.” In the search for clarification, you yourself can conduct an experiment: try asking a pro-choice activist if he wouldn’t have minded being aborted.