Thursday, February 17, 2005

A Reset of the Abortion Debate

     At the risk of sounding hackneyed, I'd like to revisit the abortion debate. Off the bat, let me tell you, I'm a staunch supporter of abortion rights. That's correct - I didn't say "Pro-Choice".
     Here's what I feel is the largest barrier to having an honest dialogue regarding abortion. Supporters of Roe v. Wade call it a battle over a woman's right to make choices over her body. Opponents call it a fight over the right of a fetus to live. While I strongly disagree that a fetus (or embryo) is alive, these "Pro-Lifers" are the only ones engaging in honest language. Everybody agrees that women should be allowed to make choices about their own bodies (except for certain right-wing nuts who like their women barefoot and pregnant). The real question is: Are embryos and fetuses alive? Are embryos and fetuses human?
     I'm not here to make the argument right now. But it seems like the only way to come to terms with the controversy is to get people talking in the same language. It would allow abortion rights advocates to clearly define their reasoning, and it would stop abortion foes from hiding behind religious rhetoric and start engaging in real discussion.

7 comments:

Brian S (Anti-Life) said...

Why would you suggest that a women's right to choose is not clearly defining the argument? I like it when things can be summarized so succintly.

Scott said...

The point is, it is illegal if a woman chooses to steal, to assault, to download free music from teh internet. Nobody cares if a woman chooses blueberry yogurt instead of raspberry, Applebees over Longhorn.
So, if we collectively decided that a fetus was alive and human, there would be no debate over abortion and it would be illegal. Conversely, if we conclusively show that a 15-week fetus is nothing more than a mass of tissue - no more human than a collection of sperm in a sock in your hamper - that ends the debate too.

Ben said...

While trying to reframe the debate, I think all you did was resummarize the debate in the terms that are currently being used. It all comes down to whether a fetus is a person, or simply a part of the person within whom it resides. Pro-life, pro-choice, pro-rights, whatever. It all amounts to the fetus question. That's the question that cannot be resolved. If you could convince a Pro-lifer that fetuses aren't people in any way, then they'd be fine with abortion. But you can't. And if you could convince a pro-choicer that a fetus is a living, functioning person that feels pain, then they would probably be against abortion.

So basically what you ahve said is, "If we could resolve the debate, then the debate would be resolved."

There's an interesting episode of "House" coming up next week where a man will die if he doesn't get some sort of tissue transplant. Turns out the wife just got pregnant. She wants to kill the fetus and use it's tissue to save her husband. The husband says that would be murder and she has to give birth to the child. Should be very thought-provoking.

Scott said...

Well, Ben, that's exactly my point. I know that among the 2 1/2 people who read my blog I'm preaching to the choir. And what you said seems so obvious. But nobody is discussing whether a fetus is a person! Pro-Choicers keep talking about a woman's inviolate right to choose, and Pro-Lifers declare outright that a fetus is a person. All I'm saying is maybe we can at least get on the same page and have a rational discussion about the personhood of a fetus instead of posturing around discussing apples and oranges. I never said we'd resolve the debate, just that maybe we could engage in some real dialogue and perhaps reach some peace with the issue.

Brian S (Anti-Life) said...

Scott, Ben... I don't think the one central decision is whether the fetus is a person. It's just that everyone having trouble choosing between two very important rules.

Imagine if everytime the vagina game (you know where you repeatedly yell out the word 'vagina' in a public place) was played some guy named Scott died (or maybe Skott).

I would probably vote to make the game illegal, because I like you guys _at_least_as_much_as_ I like yelling out the word 'vagina'. But if the choice was between actual vagina and you, I'm sorry...

Is this too crass to be considered a political opinion??

Ben said...

Not too crass, it just doesn't make sense. But back to the point at hand... Scott, I guess it depends onw hat you read. The Wall Street Journal's opinion page has been framing the abortion debate around the fetus issue for years. If you just read pro-choice stuff, then you won't see much mention of fetus versus extra body part, because they want to avoid at all costs anyone picturing an actual baby being killed inside the womb. It's against the pro-chocie agenda to appeal to logic in this case, as emotion and anger work so much better, and logic would jsut hurt their cause.

That said, I'm still pro-choice, but only to a point. I got no problem with parental notification if the mother is udner 18, no problem with a waiting period, etc. But in cases where the mother's life is in danger, I'm all for saving the mother over the unborn child/fetus. And I'm totally against partial birth abortion, again except when the mother's life is in danger.

Brian S (Anti-Fetus) said...

Ah well, I guess it's better to be accused of making no sense than being a liberal. I still think it works though.