Against Abortion :: The Right to Life, Pro-Life Essays

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I am simply interested in this paper in the moral arguments about abortionwithout regard to whether they might also support some particular Scripturalinterpretations or not. This paper will deal, not with unsubstantiatedand unargued, non-reasoned claims for ethical principles based on authority,but with evidence that is given either for abortions in certain cases oragainst them in others, evidence that is meant to be logical and also compassionateand understanding. Such a method is not infallible, but the mistakes itengenders are at least correctable by use of the method itself. Logic isalways open to other logical rebuttal; and compassion is always open tocompassion that encompasses more correct understanding. The nature of arational, intelligent, compassionate ethical discussion gives the hopethat if error of either sort is made, it can be discovered and correctedby further thought, understanding of experience, and discussion. Presentpolitical and judicial rhetoric and decisions do not give me that hope.I am also not given that hope by some seemingly entrenched, unreflective,and irrationally dogmatic religious views or by some of the equally unreflectiveand irrationally dogmatic supposedly "liberal" or "modern" views. Neitherthe total "pro-life" nor the total "pro-choice" side seems to me to havea monopoly on the right or even on being reasonable on this issue. In thispaper I also wish to point out the lack of merit, and sometimes even thetotal lack of relevance, of some of the more politically popular or well-publicizedarguments on both sides of the abortion issue. I think there are betterand more relevant considerations that can shed more light on the subject.

4) On the issue of trying to decide whether thefetus has a soul or when, or whether it is alive, or a live human beingor when, or whether killing a fetus is murder or not, and if so, when:
this is a question that either is more difficult than the questionof the rightness of abortion, or is impossible to answer because therecan be no answer other than simply one by fiat. It is impossible to discoverwhether a fetus is alive or is a human being or can be murdered becausethere is nothing to discover about either life or fetuses (or fertilizedeggs) that can count for or against whether they coincide or not. We alreadyknow to a great extent in what ways fetuses are like born people and inwhat ways they are different. The question is whether the similaritiesor differences are more relevant. That cannot be answered because the conceptof "alive" and "human being" have never before been either readily appliedto, nor kept from applying to, fetuses in the past and because there arenot clear cut enough definitions already for us to be able to tell whetherthey should apply or not.

So, a reasonable thing to ask yourself is: Was there anything else going on in the late 1980s that might be causing young Black males to be killing each other at alarming rates that might be swamping the impact of legalized abortion over a short time period? The obvious culprit you might think about is crack cocaine. Crack cocaine was hitting the inner cities at exactly this time, disproportionately affecting minorities, and the violence was heavily concentrated among young Black males such as the gang members we write about in Freakonomics. So to figure out whether this spike in young Black male homicides is evidence against legalized abortion reducing crime, or even evidence legalized abortion causes crime, one needs to control for the crack epidemic to find the answer. This is the argument that I have been making for years. First in the with Steve Sailer back in 1999, then in the , and now in .

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Take the case of brutal rape-induced pregnancy, for example. Surelyno one would want their child to be raised by a person with a brutal rapistmentality, taught in school by someone with such a mentality, to be friendswith such a person, nor to be married to such a person. We would do everythingwe could to prevent such exposures to our children. But if genetic make-uphas much to do with such a mentality, if we allow our child to be born,we are quite possibly dooming someone who is in part like us to be always influenced by someone who has the very kind of character we would neverwant our child exposed to, because it would be a permanent, inherent partof them. Even if a sensitive woman would not have to rear, or even gestate,such a child, does she not have some very strong right to want to terminatethe fetal life at a very early stage in order to prevent the kind of qualityof life she envisions for a child that is genetically (and in certain ways,emotionally) half hers? I do not know. I am not certain enough is knownabout how we develop into the kinds of human beings we become, and/or howwe develop our views on the value of the quality of our own life to knowhow reasonable such an argument might be. Again, however, the argumentof the friend of mine -- that the (prospective) baby is innocent, and shouldnot be terminated because of his father's crime -- is irrelevant, becausethe pregnant woman who would give the above kind of argument also seesthe child as innocent and therefore undeserving of being made to live akind of life that would be horrible. I doubt any rape-induced woman evenentertains the idea of aborting the child in order to punish the rapistfor his crime. Tay-Sachs disease or Downs syndrome is perhaps a more obviousor more arguable kind of case. The compassionate prospective parent isnot arguing that the baby should be aborted because it is somehow guiltyof something, or would be hard to rear, but because the child is innocentand does not deserve to be made to live the kind of life and die the kindof early death that such defects cause. Compassion and appreciation ofthe baby's innocence can be on both sides of the argument. They, by themselves,do not determine what is right to do.

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Second, each embryo is a particular individual that has the potentialto become, in a relatively short time, a particular person. Conceptionis a rather miraculous, complex event (even, and perhaps especially, ifone understands it scientifically) and it seems to me that, at the veryleast, unnecessary, unjustified abortion is in some sense insensitivelywasteful, and unappreciative of the event and of the value of each particularindividual character that is already, by virtue of conception, partly alongthe path to becoming a particular person. Life, because it can be good,is not something to squander needlessly or take for granted. And to endthe already beginning development of a particular individual that can neverbe recreated is not something to take lightly even though that individualmay not yet have attained the consciousness to be aware of its own end.(Even in adults, it is not the self-awareness of one's own dying that isthe worst thing about death; it is not even always a bad thing about deathif it allows one to "come to terms" with one's own death. It is the lossof potential for good, particularly for good that has been, in a sense,earned by the individual's struggle toward development and maturity, and/orfor potential good that seems very likely to occur, given a particularperson's gifts and promise.It is hardly a defense against homicide or a satisfying diminution of itstragedy that one killed an innocent and good person instantly while thatperson was asleep or unconscious or in a way that "he never knew what hithim". Similarly, the fact that a relatively young person dies of naturalcauses painlessly and without warning may lessen the tragedy of such anevent relative to his dying in a more traumatic way, but it does not keepthe death from being a tragic loss).

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