So why am I discussing it? Because clearly there are hardcore believers on both sides of this issue that make it the explosive, controversial topic that it is.
President Barack Obama enflamed the issue this week when (inncoently enough) he had accepted to speak at the graduation commencement at the University of Notre Dame, a traditionally Catholic University.
This is an almost impossible topic to discuss rationally. And that is why I always try to stay away from it with a 10 foot pole. As a blogger, politician, or anyone else, there is nothing you can talk about this issue which will embolden people’s admiration of you once you start discussing this topic.
And my views are even worse. Why, do you ask? Because I neither satisfy the Pro-Life or Pro-Choice camps.
So what do I believe?
1. The morality of abortion is questionable at best.
No one who is honest can tell you that they are totally comfortable with abortion. You are ending ‘a life’, depending on how you want to define that charged term. I don’t know if life begins at conception, but I think we can all agree it begins well before the fetus leaves the birth canal; therefore sometime between conception and birth, someone achieves ‘life’, correct? If we are honest, we must accept that.
So if that is the case, what point in time do you want to choose? That is the $64 billion question. Pro-lifers generally chose conception; pro-choicers are generally more ambiguous, though the hard core believers believe it is only at the time of birth. That doesn’t seem to meet any logical bar, in my humble opinion.
2. There are conflicting rights.
Like most issues that have difficult Constitutional arguments, there are conflicting rights here. Where does the woman’s right end, and the fetus/child’s rights begin? God if I know.
And Pro-choicers out there: If you are intellectually honest, you will admit that Roe v. Wade was one of the craziest, illogical decisions of all time. Even if you strongly, morally believe in the right to choose, the decision was such a debacle of intellectual honesty, that it has led to much of the hatred and arguments arising to this day.
3. Both extremes are wrong.
To argue that life begins at conception is absurd. Do you realize that 75% of pregnancies end in loss of the embryo? Three out of four. Now, given that most of them are pre-implantation. And most women don’t even know they were transiently pregnant; only close testing could even tell you of that. So to argue that we are losing 3/4 of all children…well, you either must think we are a weak species, or that our God hates us.
That said, to believe that life starts at birth is absurd as well. Clearly, a fetus can feel pain; it is argued they can be seen to respond with ‘fear’, so they are emotional. They respond to stimuli. They are alive at some point. Those that argue late term (3rd trimester) abortions are not killing of a child, I just don’t accept that reasoning. Now, at least accept that you are choosing between two lives: that of the mother, and the child. If you do that, at least you are being honest. But anything short of that, and you are lying to yourself, to make your own conscience feel better.
So what do I believe the law should be?
- I think it should be based on viability. If we are going to define life as the moment when a fetus can live separate from its mother, I think it is difficult for Pro-choice advocates to argue that this definition is unrealistic. A being that thrive and survive separate from any other is clearly alive.
- Prior to the moment of viability, we can still consider, at least legally (if not absolutely morally) as tissue. Let us think of it in another manner; since the fetus is not viable, it is not a separate being; and logically as a unified being, it is still part of the mother.
- The age of viability is generally considered around 26 weeks; I don’t want to get into technical issues, but basically this is the age that a child can breathe on its own. Using steroids and other medications, this can be quickened to about 24 weeks.
- So I would argue that any abortion after that point in time should be illegal. Once you achieve viability, you must equally consider the rights of the child and mother. Some argue that the mental health of the mother should be used as a factor. I disagree. Do we consider the mental health of the fetus? Of course not; it is ludicrous. We can consider only those factors that are measurable. Before viability, the fetus basically has no rights. After viability, the fetus has equal rights. Just because you cannot evaluate its mental health doesn’t mean we can discount it, just for the sake of expediency.
- Those that argue late term abortion is necessary; I have yet to see the medical evidence for this. There are many articles (one example here) that argue patients would have died without late term abortion. But none of them explain why a Cesarion section would have caused them any more difficulty than a classic abortion. The American Medical Association has mixed stands on this as well. But the logic and morality of equating the mother’s life, close to birth and certainly at the point of viability, greater than than the child’s is highly questionable at best.
Now, I am sure I will get attacked from both sides on this; I always do. That is why I avoid the topic at all costs. But I think a large, silent majority generally agrees with me on this. In a recent poll, 52% versus 42% were against abortion. Now, that said, I doubt that many of these people want to ban all abortions. But like me, they have many ethical and moral questions that simply cannot be answered by the black-and-white arguments that are presented by extremists on both sides.
So let the attacks begin. I welcome them. I would prefer logical, thoughtful comments that challenge my logic, science, or just plain idiocy without name calling or knee jerk reactions. I think a acommon ground can be obtained on central issues, although I am sure that people on either sides of the spectrum will never accept the opposite view. But in the middle, maybe we can make some progress.