02 January 2008|
Among all of the political disputes bereft of reasonable voices, abortion has to be the most conspicuous. There are two common arguments aired, one to each side, and neither are particularly alluring. The pro-life crowd deplores infanticide, while the pro-choice side deplores the invasion of privacy. Now, if both sides wielded true arguments, pro-life would win. How can one argue privacy when privacy is being applied to allow a woman to commit infanticide?However, abortion is not infanticide, yet an insufficient number of pundits explain why.
The question isn't where life begins, but where biologically independent life begins.
The gestation of a fetus is a unique biological progression, yet one that completely lacks fetal independence. Sustenance is not only tied to, but inextricable from, the sustenance of the mother. Most importantly, the regulation of fetal health requires the direct coercion of a mother's body.
The fetus may be life, but it is certainly not independent life, and for that reason the right of termination justly belongs to the mother. If we were to offer the fetus full legal protection, what would be our rules? First, we would ensure that it had sufficient and healthy food. Second, we would ensure that it lacked pollutants such as tobacco, alcohol, or narcotics. Third, we would ensure that it was not subjected to physical damage.
Then, our method of enforcement would require the direct and complete control and supervision of the mother's body. It is dissimilar to cases of child abuse, where an independent child can be removed from irresponsible parents. In the case of pregnancy, the control of the mother's body must occur for the fetus to be protected, simply because the two are biologically inseparable.
Unlike the elderly and other dependents, the fetal situation is not of a quasi-competent human needing volunteer assistance. Rather, it is of a life within a life, with no basis for distinction or regulation without direct imposition on the mother's reproductive processes. As the fetus lives, so does the mother live. This important distinction explains how decisions regarding the fetus are legally the decision of the mother with her body.
Beyond this, the pro-life argument is often theological. The establishment clause of the First Amendment implies that legislation should not reflect the doctrines of evangelical Christianity.
There are also miscellaneous arguments screamed illogically by others. "I regret my abortion," pro-life women tell us. So what? Your "regret" does not constitute a probative legal opposition to the right to an abortion. Does a Hollywood activist's "regret" of President Bush's tax cut render the 38% upper tax bracket immoral? Does my "regret" of Maureen Dowd's newspaper syndication give cause for her censorship?
There is also a misunderstanding regarding the pro-life position. Abortion-rights supporters are content to call them "anti-choice," which is a pejorative infinitely more benign than the pro-life belief that pro-choice individuals are not just complicit in, but supportive of infanticide. As long as we refuse to seek common ground in natural law with this dispute, the urgency and fanaticism of the pro-life lobby will continue.
The Prometheus Institute hereby resolves to serve in a position heretofore unseen: a reasoned pro-choice supporter.
The above work is the opinion of the Prometheus Institute.