Sunday, August 26, 2012
The Political Litmus Test
Abortion seems to be one of the issues that has helped tear our country apart. That's ironic, really, because when the US Supreme Court made their Roe Vs Wade decision in 1973, Justice Harry Blackmun thought that he had helped settle the matter once and for all. (This is just another example of judicial ignorance, but we're not here to talk about that today.) In a pretty obvious case, "Jane Roe" sued to have the legal chance to have an abortion in her home state of Texas. She found it unfair that if she was living in a different state where abortions were less rigidly controlled she might be able to get an abortion. Now let's stop and think about this for a minute. When the USA was formed by thirteen individual states, this type of "unfairness" was common. Each state had autonomy over its own citizens. In the past 100 or so years, however, there has been less and less autonomy and more and more standardization. Nowadays it seems that "all men are created equal" has become "all men are treated equally."
I'm not against this, it just seems different than when the Union was formed is all.
That was the basis of Roe vs. Wade, which found that all US women, no matter where they lived, had fundamental control over their own bodies. The decision balanced that right against the conflicting state interest in the plight of the aborted fetus. Almost immediately, foes of the decision hit this point hard: it is NOT the woman's body she is in control of: it's somebody else's. In this view, killing that other person makes abortion murder. And the two sides have been miles apart ever since.
One quick point before we go on: I refuse to use the established rhetorical terms involved in this debate. One side is not "Pro-Life" and the other "Pro-Choice." I reject both those terms for being factious and duplicitious. We can discuss this in the comments if anyone wants to, but that is why I am not using these terms. I prefer "Against Abortion" and "For Abortion Rights."
As a man I have no stake in this discussion other than philosophically. That being said, I was taught not to enforce any of my personal beliefs on others. If my wife or sisters or daughter ever wanted to get an abortion, who am I to tell them they can't have one? As long as it is the law of the land, I do not feel it is my place to try to outlaw it.
However, I *am* all for shortening the acceptable time period for legal abortions. The issue of fetal "viability" (ability to live outside of the mother's womb) is a perfect cutting off period. I am not a doctor, but I am a father who has had to deal with pregnancies. I would suggest that any abortion in the first trimester would not be morally objectionable.
Sure, there are those out there who say that life begins at conception. Well, couples who suffer through miscarriages don't lose a child in the physical sense. A miscarriage in the first trimester is not the same as a still-birth. It just isn't. Besides, if God knows you from your time in the womb, He also knows that your parents were going to abort you. He isn't clueless, you know. So that argument doesn't wash, either.
We have all seen pictures of pre-natal babies with a face, fingers, and toes. Obviously, later abortions should be outlawed or strictly controlled. "Partial birth" abortions are especially difficult to justify. If babies can survive on their own they should not be killed. If they cannot survive on their own and their mothers don't want them, they should be allowed to be killed. This is not a step to be taken lightly, but it is not the same as murder, either. Aborting 3-4 month old fetuses should not be equated with murdering a real person. Rhetoric saying that so many abortions were done for "convenience" makes the choices harder, not easier. I will never have to face this dilemma, but I hope that each woman who does chooses whichever path is best for her.
Speaking of what is best for women, what would happen if both sides of this argument came together and created some sort of "adoption not abortion" program? It could work something like this: a woman who wants an abortion goes to her doctor and s/he recommends she contacts ANA (Adoption Not Abortion). ANA would pay the costs of the prenatal care for the unborn child for the next few months, and when it is born, it would be handed off to them to dispose of for her. And in this case "dispose of" means getting adopted, not being thrown away. My explanation of this sounds a bit like a puppy mill, haha, but you get the idea. If people really are "pro-life" and "pro-choice," this seems like a perfect plan. Sure, the woman has to live with her pregnancy for several additional months, but as soon as the fetus is judged viable, pregnancy can be induced. Would that be a more difficult surgical procedure than an abortion? I don't know, but it would definitely be more of a "pro-life choice" than either we have now.