Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Point about Abortion

Andrew Sullivan does an excellent job of summing up my position on abortion, and he does it in the context of what "conservatism" really means. His point about the term "conservative" being hijacked by religious extremists is especially interesting:

    [T]he word 'conservative' has been hijacked by religious extremists. I find the attempt of the government to police a woman's body in the first stages of pregnancy to be a deeply unconservative idea. I find the absolutist stance of those who say a zygote is as morally significant as an infant lacking in the moderation and common sense that has long been the hallmark of conservatism. I abhor abortion as a moral matter and can never condone it. But in the balancing of goods, I'd keep it legal in the first trimester, strongly restrict later abortions, while doing all I can to facilitate care, adoption options and support for pregnant mothers. I'd also aggressively encourage contraception, the morning-after pill, and the institution of marriage as bulwarks against unwanted pregnancy. And all of this makes me part of a "party of death" because I don't agree with banning all abortion by law?
The context of the discussion surrounds a new book called The Party of Death, which, of course, refers to the Democratic party. Sully notes:
    Conservative writers have now made fortunes calling their partisan opponents traitors, godless, and now pro-death. Their rhetoric increasingly equates being a Christian with being a Republican. I never thought someone as civilized and intelligent as [the author of the book] would sink to this kind of rhetoric. But it tells you something about the state of conservatism that he has.
I'm not sure where Sully has been the last twelve years, but this kind of stuff is what earned Republicans the majority in Congress in 1994. Well, that and the people who fell for their "fiscal responsibility" rhetoric, to whom I can now only offer comfort.

1 comment:

Bobby said...

But in the balancing of goods, I'd keep it legal in the first trimester, strongly restrict later abortions, while doing all I can to facilitate care, adoption options and support for pregnant mothers.

While this argument is logically consistent the problem I see with it is that "trimester" has only an incidental relationship to development (trimester itself being a measure of time and fetal development proceding with time.) Ultimately, there is nothing "magic" that happens at the three month mark that somehow makes a child more or less worthy of existing.

A more logical argument would be to set a series of developmental standards that must be met for a fetus to be considering "worthy" to live. For example: making abortion legal until the moment a fetus has a heartbeat, or brainwaves, or both.

Bobby