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It Is Time To Abort Abortion: Issues Of Choice

Robert Meyer | January 11 2005

Besides New Year’s resolutions and bone-chilling temperatures, January reminds me of an important issue. I think of Roe v. Wade, that horrendous act of judicial fiat mandated 32 years ago.

The pro-choice argument is really one without merit. Many people try softening the pro-choice position by saying it's not equivalent to favoring abortion. But that logic would be laughed silly were it applied to other issues. Imagine someone of another time saying; "I’m not for slavery, I just think people ought to have a right to decide about owning them." Doesn’t pass the sniff test, does it?

We hear that the only foundation for stipulating that the life of the fetus to be valuable, is whether the child is wanted. This sort of reasoning never considers the right to life of the unborn. Could similar criteria be used to determine if elderly citizens should be kept around? Most pregnancies are the product of willful sexual acts, so don't let the tail wag the dog thinking the exceptions justify the rules. Issues of choice start long before expectant mothers decide the fate of the fruit in their womb. If a woman engages in behaviors likely to produce an unwanted child, has she not already made a choice–and an immoral choice at that? One of the primary motivations for abortion on demand, is the desire for license to do as one chooses, with the expectation that there should be no adverse consequences. Is this a good ideological framework for an enlightened society?

The abortion issue is a slam-dunk for anyone who has considered it objectively. The idea that the pro-life movement is some dreadful attempt to impose religiously based moral values on women, or deny them basic civil liberties, is more sophistry than substance. Arguments that there is genuine controversy in the medical and scientific communities over the beginning point of life, shouldn’t ease anyone’s conscience. There will always be objections against the obvious when someone has an agenda. A fundamental principle of American jurisprudence renders the accused innocent unless proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Any ambivalence about whether a developing fetus is fully human, pleads for proceeding cautiously, and is not a green light to rush forward capriciously with certainty as though it is not.

The libertine philosophers among us may inquire why those claiming "abortion is murder", don’t lobby for capital penalties for the health care providers performing abortions, or criminal charges against the women having them. Funny how the opposition never views this situation an overture of tolerance–a tacit acknowledgment that some are yet struggling with the moral implications, having been influenced by the abortion clinic profiteers and "cultural progressives". Remember that the semantic war is always waged long before indelible principles are ingrained into the culture, or before a legal framework on a given issue is established. Additionally, people must identify themselves as social activists, not self-deputized vigilantes.

It would be foolish to put the cart before the horse though, and try to establish some sort of legal penalty before we have a law banning abortion altogether. Having said that, and to avoid accusations that I’m trying to weasel out of a predicament, I think we have some guidelines to determine what appropriate penalties should be. In the Scott Peterson case, the defendant was charged with double murder though the baby was unborn. In my hometown, a woman ran a red light, and an ensuing accident caused the death of an unborn baby in her womb. She was charged with manslaughter. Whatever makes the fetus intrinsically valuable in these cases, makes the fetus intrinsically valuable in all cases. Outside of my hometown there is an eagle nesting area. I am told that there is a prohibitive fine for harming an eagle egg. Whatever gives the egg intrinsic value, must give the same to the fetus.

But the issues of criminal penalties hinge on public awareness of the reality of the action. 25 years ago, drunk driving was killing at least as many people as it is today, but the penalty was not so severe. Public awareness changed that. We have seen the horrors of war through the cinema. We have vicarious experience with many social ills, but how much experience do we have with abortion? We decry protesters displaying graphic posters and the like, but maybe if we were exposed to the horrors of abortion we would rail against it more passionately.

Can we really respect the rationale of someone who says that an abortion is fundamentally the same an removing hair, or some undesirable growth? Let’s test this absurd proposition by putting someone’s whiskers in an incubator to see if we get a crying baby in nine months.

Partial-birth abortions are particularly onerous. The recent law against them is seen by some courts as unconstitutional, since it makes no provision for the life (or in many cases "health") of the mother. I am curious to know in what medical instances would delivering a baby, all but the head, be less life threatening, then delivery of the whole baby?

Then of course we could entertain the utilitarian argument, about how it's worse to bring children into the world that are liable to grow up in a poor environment. That would have been a good argument for terminating Abe Lincoln in his infancy. Perceived opportunity and eventual achievement aren’t a predictable rocket science. A recent president named Bill Clinton had a disadvantaged early home environment.

What about adoption? Some will say it is emotional hardship carrying a baby to term then giving it up. But does it ease the conscience to remember that you killed it, rather than arranging placement in a good home?

As a former fetus, I stand against the practice of abortion.