Thursday, January 27, 2005

Abortion

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.

17 Comments:

At 7:50 PM, Blogger Matt said...

Last Saturday (Roe's 32 anniversary), blogger Ben Domenech posted the following touching poem by G.K. Chesterton:


By The Babe UnbornG. K. ChestertonIf trees were tall and grasses short,
As in some crazy tale,
If here and there a sea were blue
Beyond the breaking pale,

If a fixed fire hung in the air
To warm me one day through,
If deep green hair grew on great hills,
I know what I should do.

In dark I lie: dreaming that there
Are great eyes cold or kind,
And twisted streets and silent doors,
And living men behind.

Let storm-clouds come: better an hour,
And leave to weep and fight,
Than all the ages I have ruled
The empires of the night.

I think that if they gave me leave
Within that world to stand,
I would be good through all the day
I spent in fairyland.

They should not hear a word from me
Of selfishness or scorn,
If only I could find the door,
If only I were born.

 
At 7:54 PM, Blogger Matt said...

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.Thus bringing to mind two quotes from past presidents:

Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.-- Abraham Lincoln

I've noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.Ronald Reagan

 
At 11:51 PM, Blogger Nick Speth said...

Here's the bottom line. We will probably never overturn Rowe v. Wade. Sorry, but it won't happen because of two reasons. A) the machine against it is too strong. And B) It's a question of conflicting rights, and judges, having established one right (that of the mother) as higher that another (that of the baby), they are unlikely to reverse that.

Maybe I'm just a pessimist.

 
At 7:13 AM, Blogger allen said...

I think you are being a pessimist.

Saint Hillary wouldn't be making "safe,legal and rare" noises unless she had too. I raises the hackles of the true believers who are much more of the "safe, legal and mandatory" persuasion.

The issue, to the chagrin and suprise of the true believers, hasn't died and, given the right case, the Supreme Court could easily find fault with a decision that construed a right out of thin air. And that leaves aside the legislature rediscovering its spine and chiming in on the issue.

 
At 3:21 PM, Blogger Dan Cuzz said...

Excellent column. Though my verious liberal leanings tend to put me on the opposite side of most debates from you, glad to see theres an issue we can agree on. I couldn't have put it better myself and I look forward to seeing your column in the Trident.

 
At 1:37 AM, Blogger James Howard Shott said...

A very good, well thought out, and concisely written opinion.

The pro-choice crowd's argument has no logical basis, other than the flimsy woman's-right-to-choose standard. By that standard, a woman has control of her body when she decides to have sex, and she should also have control of her body so that she doesn't have to "suffer" the negative consequences of having sex.

It is unfortunate that someone who has taken the necessary steps to prevent pregnancy gets pregnant anyway. But that's life, sometimes. You have to live with the consequences of your actions, even if those consequences are inconvenient. There is no Constitutional protection against many things that may happen to a person, like getting fired from their job or wrecking their car. Why, then, should there be a Constitutional protection against getting pregnant, when the sexual act was voluntary?

I do not believe that a woman ought to have to endure a pregnancy and have a child that is the result of rape or incest. And I don't believe that a woman ought to risk a full-term pregnancy if that pregnancy would truly threaten her life. Otherwise, aborting a fetus/child should not be legal.

I especially liked the quote above on abortion from Ronald Reagan.

 
At 6:07 PM, Blogger Chava said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 6:08 PM, Blogger Chava said...

But, Dan. I don't get it. Killing babies is just an alternate lifestyle.

Chava
http://www.supportmycar.blogspot.com/

 
At 12:50 PM, Blogger Megan said...

Yes, I will agree that this post is a rather rational pro-life response to the current discussions on abortion. However, I have a comment/question: You had mentioned that you don't understand how some liberals/leftists can be pro-choice and then against the death penalty. To that end, how can some conservatives be both pro-life and pro-death penalty? Yes, I understand that those on death row are "convicted" criminals and not the innocent young...however there still seems to be an odd rift. Also, many who are pro-life and pro-death penalty also support many of the very inadequate environmental policies of the current administration....policies that show very little regard for preserving the innocent and beautiful natural life that God has provided for us. So, to be fair, there are complexities on all ends of the political spectrum, and it is important to recognize this.

 
At 10:44 PM, Blogger Alec Brandon said...

Regardless of the morality, I would LOVE to see the Republicans pack the Supreme Court, overturn Roe v. Wade and then realize, that it a popular thing to have the right to an abortion. You are a fringe minority, Pew puts you at about 23%, last I checked more support Socialism, but regardless, good luck with giving the Democrats a voting issue when Roe is overturned. Democrats will be taking it to the bank...or voting booth.

 
At 8:24 PM, Blogger SinaMoravej said...

hey, about abortion... im for it
what if the girl was raped? why should she be forced to carry a living memory? what if having the baby poses a health risk to the mother and/or the baby

 
At 12:46 PM, Blogger Megadork said...

I don't think that you can even compare killing a co-worker to removing a group of cells from a women's uterus.

 
At 3:59 PM, Blogger Lester said...

The way a baby was concieved does not affect it's moral value; it's still human.

 
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At 9:33 PM, Blogger TheDevilIsInTheDetails said...

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At 5:43 PM, Blogger Lawren said...

megadork said:
"I don't think that you can even compare killing a co-worker to removing a group of cells from a women's uterus."

well i think you can easily compare removing a group of cells (that happens to work with you) from this world to killing a fellow human being (who happens not to be very big - or born - yet)

by the way, excellent treatment of the topic, congratulations

 

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