Archive » September 18, 2008
FROM THE RIGHT
By Harris Sherline, Contributing Writer
Pro-life vs. pro-choice
If you favor a womanís right to choose, you may be labeled a baby killer by many pro-life advocates, because their position is rooted in a religious belief that abortion is murder. However, as with most complex issues, the devil is in the details.
In this instance, the pro-life reasoning presumes that life begins at conception and that the embryo must be protected from that point.
A legal dividing line initially was established at the end of the first trimester. However, since the Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973, the concept has evolved to the point that terminating the fetus has become permissible as late as the ninth month, in what is called partial-birth abortion.
In many jurisdictions a fetus is considered a person if the mother is injured by someone and loses her baby. In such cases, the perpetrator can be tried for murder. But, if the same woman decides to have an abortion and terminates the life of that same unborn baby, thatís not a crime, itís her right. Same mother, same baby, but in one situation terminating the birth is considered murder, in the other it is simply the motherís right.
Passing laws or amending the Constitution to make abortion illegal would undoubtedly have significant unintended consequences, such as the possibility of prosecuting some pregnant women for having an abortion, while others — say, those who can afford to leave the country for the same procedure — would be free to do so. If it also should become criminal for an expectant mother to leave the country to have an abortion, on what basis would the authorities prosecute such cases?
The historical record is pretty clear that anti-abortion laws lead to so-called back-room abortions or attempts by pregnant women to cause miscarriages — or worse. If those on the pro-life side prevail, it could have serious unintended consequences for our society.
However, looking at the issue from another perspective, China mandates abortion to prevent families from having more than one child. One result of this has been the murder of many girl babies, because the Chinese culture places a higher value on male offspring. Since the state made it illegal for Chinese families to have more than one child, newborn girls are often killed so the parents can try again for a boy. This in turn has created a situation where there are fewer girls of marriageable age than boys, which has caused other societal problems.
Another troubling example of the consequences of an unfettered right to abortion is found in the United Kingdom, where in 2006 the Daily Mail reported that babies are now being aborted simply because they are not perfect, that is, they have club feet, webbed fingers or extra digits, even though they can often be corrected with a simple operation or physiotherapy. The revelation sparked fears that abortion is increasingly being used to satisfy couplesí desires for the perfect baby. In one case, a baby was aborted at 28 weeks after scans showed it had a cleft palate. One official commented, ďActions like these are fostering a disposable attitude to human life and Iím extremely concerned it is going on.Ē
In the final analysis, there is no easy answer to the dilemma posed by the abortion issue, which will undoubtedly continue to divide and bedevil Americans for a long time to come. And the unlimited right to abort at any stage of pregnancy for any reason is certainly not the answer.