The Politics of Abortion

Jared’s Preface

The following post started as a response to an article arguing in favor of abortion (the link is not provided here). So what does abortion have to do with the 2008 elections? There are a few core issues that I feel are the most important political issues. Abortion is one of them. I find it very difficult to vote for someone who supports abortions. It would take a lot of issue agreement in other areas between that candidate and myself for me to vote for her or him. I won’t go as far as saying that I will never vote for candidates who support abortion but I am disinclined to favorably cast my vote for them. This is why that for all the admirable qualities that the various Democratic candidates have, I have not been able to get behind any of them and offer true support. I admire and respect their good politics and policies (and conversely don’t admire their bad politics and policies) but the social issues are like a gorilla in a family of chimpanzees; they outweigh the rest. Therefore, the candidates that I can really support are, at their core, socially conservative.

Main Article

By Jared Tanner & Daniel Kay

Advocates of “abortion rights” have labeled their movement pro-choice, as if without abortion there is no choice. It’s an insidious term because it leads to the implication that if you oppose abortion you are againstfreedom, liberty, and personal choice (e.g., “Don’t tell me what to do with my body!”). The issue about abortion has never been about choice though, it’s about morality and responsibility. The evidence for this is argued as follows: We are pro-choice when it comes to abortion – a woman can choose not to get pregnant in the first place. [We are not insinuating that women are solely responsible for pregnancies or for abortions, they clearly are not; however, we chose to limit our focus to women for conciseness]. A choice was made at some point to take some action (even if it was choosing to do nothing) that directly led to pregnancy. This leads into one of the exceptions when abortions should be allowed: in cases of rape (and incest). If a woman is raped and becomes pregnant, she should be able to get an abortion if it’s what she wants to do. This is because the woman’s choice was taken away from her; in a sense, pregnancy was violently forced upon her. Again, abortion is not really about choice – choice is always there whether or not abortions are legal. Most pro-choice supporters are actually pro-abortion – in which the term pro-choice is used as a clever cover. Common tenets of this movement are: first, the idea that the world is over-populated and abortion is a means of minimizing the growth of the population; second, and most importantly, is the idea that women who are aborting their children are the kinds of people that will raise poor quality citizens and abortion will limit this. To the elitist, abortion is killing two birds with one choice (pun intended).

Many forget that abortion is about morality and life. When does human life begin – at conception, at birth, or somewhere in between? We don’t know. It’s actually irrelevant. A little protoplasmic bundle, a little blastocyst will turn into a person if a pregnancy is allowed to continue. There is no question about that. If there is something wrong with the embryo, oftentimes the embryo or fetus will spontaneously abort. As inane as this sounds, humans don’t have penguin babies or trees or whatever else. Humans have human babies, so the fertilized egg, the blastocyst, the embryo – whether or not it constitutes human life – will in fact grow into a person. The clearest point at which the formula to a single human life is set in motion and on a self-driven course of development is at conception.

There are two other acceptable exceptions for abortion in our view. If the life of the mother is in serious danger because of a pregnancy, she should be able to get an abortion. Also, if the fetus will not survive past birth (i.e., life is not viable), then the mother should be able to receive an abortion. Other than that, there is no reason for abortion. We should note that these are fairly rare circumstances. In such cases the choice of abortion should not be made lightly or necessarily at all.
Yet some continue to argue for abortion using the “slippery slope” argument (i.e., if some abortions are outlawed then soon all abortions will be outlawed including the one we all agree should be legal). However, using the same faulty logic it can be argued that all abortion needs to be outlawed because once some are allowed, the slippery slope will soon lead to the right to kill neonates. Granted there are advocates for pushing society down both slopes. This does not mean that society as a whole will slip into an uncontrollable tumble down either if it moves in one direction or another. Nonetheless, there are consequences for moving down either direction. Moving in the direction that places the right of the mother over the right of her unborn child will move society to place higher value on the self over another other person, while moving towards putting the rights of one individual on par with another moves society in the direction of equal rights (i.e., unborn children have the same rights as born ones).

Legally, governments have picked various time points at which there are legal consequences for terminating development – usually at or before birth. However, individuals in society maintain a continuum with no clear cut-off where terminating one’s offspring is ubiquitously unjustified. Statistically our society places higher value on life the more developed it is. For example, abortions decrease as gestational age increases. This trend continues after birth as well, with murder of children decreasing with the age of the child. There are several factors that play into this trend but one is certainly the idea that the act is justified by the one doing the terminating. The justifications that aborting parents use are often used by parents who murder their newly-born children (which unfortunately occurs in the world): financial burdens, social inconvenience, and partnership dissolution. These explanations used to justify the killing of a 6 mouth old will disgust most people. Fewer people are disgusted by killing younger infants, such as those less than a minute old (e.g., in a partial birth abortion); the earlier in a pregnancy, the less disgusting the thought becomes. Eliminating these justifications should be the goal of or society regardless the age of the life.

Abortion is morally ambiguous at best. Why not take the safest route and outlaw abortions except in the instances of rape and incest, the life of the mother, and lack of newborn viability? This would remove the moral ambiguity and give no foothold for parents to justify terminating a life for selfish reasons. Granted, with the aforementioned exceptions to illegal abortion, some may argue that the issue still is ambiguous. That may be but at least the moral ground is much firmer than before. If a person does not want children, the solution is to not get pregnant. If an undesired pregnancy occurs due to poor choices, the mother should carry the baby to term; after delivery she then has the option to put the baby up for adoption. If we, as a nation, get to the point where we have more infants available for adoption than parents seeking children, then we have other problems to worry about (I limited this solely to infants because adopting older children is a whole different issue).

Arguments also abound that the government has no right to legislate morality. However, that is exactly what governments are organized to do. The whole criminal system (and much of the civil legislation) is legislation of morality. For example, stealing is illegal because it is morally wrong (e.g., it breaks our society’s value of private property). Other pro-abortion advocates argue that making abortion illegal infringes on personal liberty and that it is needless governmental interference. Removing government from a person’s personal life does not mean more liberty. The lack of laws does not equal liberty. Laws make us free. Importantly, they protect individual rights from the right of others to do whatever they feel like doing. We’re not advocating having the government involved in everything we do, but the argument that all reductions in the size or scope of government automatically means more freedom is false. Some people believe that true freedom comes from supporting the pro-choice movement – being able to have safe, convenient, and government-subsidized abortions. We say that true freedom, when children are not desired, is being able to make the choice to not get pregnant in the first place. The natural consequence of pregnancy is the development of a living human being. Like all humans, the unborn have the right to fulfill their natural development. It is the responsibility of the mother to protect the right of her offspring. Having an abortion is eschewing personal responsibility in favor of personal convenience and denying the right of another to continue on his or her natural course.

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