Monday, January 22, 2007

Blogging for choice

Blogging for Choice



Somehow, I forgot to post this, but here it is now. I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I'm pro-choice, and think that the best way for people to avoid having to make that choice is affordable and available birth control. If people choose abstinence, that's just fine, but see below. And I don't think most women make the choice to have abortions cavalierly. So I'm not really going to talk about why I'm pro-choice.

I'm going to talk about Roe v. Wade, because I think it's a bad decision. No, I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. But I think it's a bad decision, and I can see it being overturned. Maybe. Because the Constitution doesn't guarantee a right to privacy, except as an implicit part of other rights, like not having people quartered in one's house, or not to submit to illegal search and seizure. Abortion is a First Amendment right.

There is no scientific evidence for when human life starts. Yes, a fertilized ovum is alive, but then so are the rest of my cells. There's no guarantee in nature that every fertilized ovum will implant and grow to term. As someone who has likely had a miscarriage, and friend of several people who have done everything they could to foster healthy pregnancies and still lost the fœtus in the first three months, it just doesn't work that way. So yes, it's life, but is it human life in any workable, real sense of 'an individual person'? If there is a soul, is it there from fertilization on? That's not a scientific question. Souls aren't scientifically provable. They belong to the realm of religion.

In the realm of religion, different religions have different views on when someone becomes a person. Even within certain religions, there is disagreement. If one's religion teaches that a fœtus is not a person till it emerges from the mother's body -- and some do -- that is very different from a religion that teaches that personhood begins at conception, or quickening. Here's where people who oppose abortion on religious grounds (are there any other?? really??) should thank their lucky stars for science. That viability thing comes in well before the end of term. And I'll let science trump religion in this case, as long as it's applied with good medical care and knowledge. I will never be convinced that the state has the right to force a woman to complete a pregnancy that puts her own life at risk.

Be that as it may, all of the fundamental objections to abortion are religious ones. That being the case, well, the First Amendment prevents any person, and especially the state, from forcing their religious beliefs on another.

2 comments:

Anastasia said...

I think the question of personhood and identity can be construed as philosophical questions, not just a religious ones. I also think a moral argument for or against abortion--religious or not--is going to rely on some notion of personhood.

so...I'm not sure I would agree that all of the fundamental objections to abortion are "religious" in some inherent sense, though the trappings may indeed be connected to specific religious traditions. I also don't think it makes sense to conclude that the state shouldn't (or doesn't, frankly) enforce laws that are based on moral reasoning.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

That's why I framed it as religious. Clearly the state makes all kinds of laws based on moral reasoning -- not killing people, for example. But the primary objections to abortion come from people who say that a fœtus is a person. When someone becomes a person seems to be to be a religious (and also philosophical) question, in that it is based on personal belief, and not science. Science shows viability at a certain stage -- a pretty early one, given technology -- so I can see taking that into account. Either way, person or not, I really do think the decision must remain in the hands of the pregnant woman. Because I am so uncomfortable with the choice, I want to make sure the government does everything it can to assist women who don't want to become pregnant from becoming pregnant. Free birth control is a minimum.