Abortion Vocabulary

Abortion Vocabulary May 23, 2009

As I’ve noted before, my prefered terms in the abortion debate are pro-abortion and anti-abortion.  Over the past generation, the two sides have adopted the terms pro-choice and pro-life.  More recently we have seen people attempt to distinguish between pro-abortion and pro-choice and likewise anti-abortion and pro-life.  I’ve generally tried to stay out of these debates, because I think they are unproductive.

When someone states they are pro-choice, they aren’t saying that they are compelled to tolerate abortion because of their libertarian ideals.  Well, I suppose libertarian ideals could be behind their position, but it isn’t the reason they describe themselves as pro-choice.  On the pro-life side, the argument is that “I’m not just anti-abortion.”  A secondary issue often listed is euthanasia.  However if we had two candidates, one supportive of abortion and the other supportive of euthanasia, we would not (likely) see “pro-life” advocates claiming the pro-abortion candidate would be preferred, despite the issue in greatest flux right now has to do with end of life decisions.  While some may claim “neither” is a good choice (as if the choices before us are ever “good”) the point is that pro-life is clearly understood to denote a position with abortion at its core.  So in short, I do think the whole matter is a semantic game.

What has had some popularity, including in the pages of L’Observatorio Romano, is the idea that no one is really pro-abortion.  In the American context, this is plain nonsense.  It creates a straw man pro-abortion position to make a pro-choice position appear more reasonable.  Pro-choice rhetoric about allowing a mother to have dominion over her reproductive choices may be a moderate position and even laudable in a place like China, but it isn’t here.  And if words are going to mean anything, there is no foundation for calling one’s support of abortion tepid when one supports abortion in the 2nd and 3rd trimester without cause (like fetal abnormality, health of the mother, etc.)  Part of an honest dialogue on abortion must begin with being honest about our respective positions.  If you support unrestricted abortion up through birth, you aren’t conflicted about the rights of the child/fetus.  I should add that this is why I’ve been quiet about efforts to engage President Obama over the issue.  To make a long story short, I don’t think abortion reduction will be achieved by efforts at delaying family formation.

My position on abortion is quite simple.  I believe abortion is a criminal offense.  I believe the criminal actors are the mother, doctor, and anyone that contributes materially and formally, e.g. a boyfriend that pays for the abortion.  People occasionally get confused over my position, because I didn’t see it as an important issue in the last presidential election.  For those unclear, hopefully that is plain enough.  There are some that believe we need to wait until society opposes abortion until we can bring laws against abortion and until such time abortion shouldn’t be politically opposed.  I find that position untenable, particularly if that view is held in principle.  Practically, I do believe greater consideration needs to be given to those political decisions likely to be approved and persist.  So, I am likely to not give significantly greater consideration to a person that supports the Human Life Amendment over a person that just supports banning 3rd trimester abortions.  I’m not suggesting anti-abortion groups draw the line where I draw it, but I do think in places like New York and California, the greatest threats are conscience protections being respected, and our efforts are wasted in those places focusing on 1st trimester abortions.  On the other hand, it would be nice to get constitutional protections in places like South Dakota and Utah, places where there is a reasonable chance for success with a reasonably well run campaign.

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  • Despite the poorness of the “pro-choice” label, I don’t like calling the position signified by that term “pro-abortion” instead, mainly because one can believe that an act ought to be legal while also believing that the act is immoral. The pro-choice position is generally a position on the legality of abortion, not on the morality of abortion. I reserve the label “pro-abortion” for those people who defend abortion itself as a good thing or a morally good practice.

    It seems to me that if we need to have simple labels then we need to have more than just two. There are multiple positions on the abortion issue that cannot easily be contained by the pro-choice/pro-life binary.

  • Despite the poorness of the “pro-choice” label, I don’t like calling the position signified by that term “pro-abortion” instead, mainly because one can believe that an act ought to be legal while also believing that the act is immoral. The pro-choice position is generally a position on the legality of abortion, not on the morality of abortion. I reserve the label “pro-abortion” for those people who defend abortion itself as a good thing or a morally good practice.

    It seems to me that if we need to have simple labels then we need to have more than just two. There are multiple positions on the abortion issue that cannot easily be contained by the pro-choice/pro-life binary.

  • Kevin

    Despite the poorness of the “pro-choice” label, I don’t like calling the position signified by that term “pro-slavery” instead, mainly because one can believe that an act ought to be legal while also believing that the act is immoral. The pro-choice position is generally a position on the legality of slavery, not on the morality of slavery. I reserve the label “pro-slavery” for those people who defend slavery itself as a good thing or a morally good practice.

    It seems to me that if we need to have simple labels then we need to have more than just two. There are multiple positions on the slavery issue that cannot easily be contained by the pro-choice/pro-abolitionist binary.

    Amazing the twisted logic some people will go through to imagine that pro-choice is anything but pro-abortion.

  • Kevin

    Despite the poorness of the “pro-choice” label, I don’t like calling the position signified by that term “pro-slavery” instead, mainly because one can believe that an act ought to be legal while also believing that the act is immoral. The pro-choice position is generally a position on the legality of slavery, not on the morality of slavery. I reserve the label “pro-slavery” for those people who defend slavery itself as a good thing or a morally good practice.

    It seems to me that if we need to have simple labels then we need to have more than just two. There are multiple positions on the slavery issue that cannot easily be contained by the pro-choice/pro-abolitionist binary.

    Amazing the twisted logic some people will go through to imagine that pro-choice is anything but pro-abortion.

  • While there may be a distinction between people who celebrate abortion as a good, and those who think abortion is immoral but should not be illegal, I think the term ‘pro-abortion’ is generally understood to mean pro-(legalization of)abortion. That being the case, I have few reservations about using it.

    See, for instance:
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Pro-abortion
    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pro-abortion

    Perhaps it’s a lack of imagination, but it strikes me as somewhat pedantic to insist on using idiosyncratic definitions.

  • While there may be a distinction between people who celebrate abortion as a good, and those who think abortion is immoral but should not be illegal, I think the term ‘pro-abortion’ is generally understood to mean pro-(legalization of)abortion. That being the case, I have few reservations about using it.

    See, for instance:
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Pro-abortion
    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pro-abortion

    Perhaps it’s a lack of imagination, but it strikes me as somewhat pedantic to insist on using idiosyncratic definitions.

  • It’s not twisted logic. It’s called making distinctions.

  • It’s not twisted logic. It’s called making distinctions.

  • M.Z.

    It helps to have little or no knowledge of the civil rights movement if one is going to make analogizes with the struggle to end abortion. It is one of many cases where a terrible argument is allowed to persist because the person making the argument lives in an insular bubble that doesn’t critically address arguments but prefers to treat the merits of an argument as mere tribal affiliation.

  • M.Z.

    It helps to have little or no knowledge of the civil rights movement if one is going to make analogizes with the struggle to end abortion. It is one of many cases where a terrible argument is allowed to persist because the person making the argument lives in an insular bubble that doesn’t critically address arguments but prefers to treat the merits of an argument as mere tribal affiliation.

  • jeremy

    The pro-choice position is generally a position on the legality of abortion, not on the morality of abortion.
    In my experience, the opposite is more common. Most of the time pro-choice reflects the persons moral position on abortion.

    Maintaining that abortion is immoral, and still should be legally protected requires cognitive dissonance. You really cannot hold that an act should never be done, and yet propose that a person must have the right to do it. Pro-choice is not toleration. Legal toleration is generally a strategy when we recognize that people are going to do something anyway Legal toleration does not mean protecting the right to do it. Pro-choice is a stronger stance than legal toleration.

  • jeremy

    The pro-choice position is generally a position on the legality of abortion, not on the morality of abortion.
    In my experience, the opposite is more common. Most of the time pro-choice reflects the persons moral position on abortion.

    Maintaining that abortion is immoral, and still should be legally protected requires cognitive dissonance. You really cannot hold that an act should never be done, and yet propose that a person must have the right to do it. Pro-choice is not toleration. Legal toleration is generally a strategy when we recognize that people are going to do something anyway Legal toleration does not mean protecting the right to do it. Pro-choice is a stronger stance than legal toleration.

  • “Maintaining that abortion is immoral, and still should be legally protected requires cognitive dissonance. You really cannot hold that an act should never be done, and yet propose that a person must have the right to do it.”

    Okay. I can see why the use of rights language could indicate a sense of approval of abortion.

  • “Maintaining that abortion is immoral, and still should be legally protected requires cognitive dissonance. You really cannot hold that an act should never be done, and yet propose that a person must have the right to do it.”

    Okay. I can see why the use of rights language could indicate a sense of approval of abortion.

  • jessie

    Those who are pro-choice but not ‘pro-abortion’ need to answer some questions. If you are personally opposed to abortion but support letting some women kill some babies (by keeping it legal), then just which babies is it ok to kill? Disabled babies? Black babies? Downs babies? Only babies who were concieved by rape? Only those babies whose mothers want to kill them? Only those babies whose mothers ‘agonize’ over the decision before deciding to kill them? Babies whose mothers are too young, or old, or already have too many children?

    Really, those who argue that the pro-life movement needs to stop focusing on outlawing abortion should start answering these questions. Because if we accept the legality of abortion, then we accept that some babies (currently 1,200,000 per YEAR in the US alone) will be killed in the womb. Only those who really don’t consider their lives worthy (ie. don’t really have a problem with the morality of abortion) would support keeping their deaths a legally protected ‘right’.

    And don’t give me that false ‘either/or’ argument. Working to outlaw abortion, even one proceedure or limitation at a time, is part and parcel of any pro-life strategy. There are many front in this war against the culture of death which includes abortion, ESCR, Euthanasia, etc. All must be dealt with and, yes, all must be dealt with in the legal realm as well as culturally. Its not enough to just work on ‘hearts and minds’ when the other side is working on laws as well as ‘hearts and minds’.

    The whole ‘work on changing the culture and then abortion will be outlawed’ argument is just plain wrong. It would be like a general saying ‘ignore the enemy on our flank, after all, we need to make real progress on the front first’. And lest we forget, we are in a battle so long as we are in this world. It may be a spiritual battle, but it is fought in the material realm as well.

  • jessie

    Those who are pro-choice but not ‘pro-abortion’ need to answer some questions. If you are personally opposed to abortion but support letting some women kill some babies (by keeping it legal), then just which babies is it ok to kill? Disabled babies? Black babies? Downs babies? Only babies who were concieved by rape? Only those babies whose mothers want to kill them? Only those babies whose mothers ‘agonize’ over the decision before deciding to kill them? Babies whose mothers are too young, or old, or already have too many children?

    Really, those who argue that the pro-life movement needs to stop focusing on outlawing abortion should start answering these questions. Because if we accept the legality of abortion, then we accept that some babies (currently 1,200,000 per YEAR in the US alone) will be killed in the womb. Only those who really don’t consider their lives worthy (ie. don’t really have a problem with the morality of abortion) would support keeping their deaths a legally protected ‘right’.

    And don’t give me that false ‘either/or’ argument. Working to outlaw abortion, even one proceedure or limitation at a time, is part and parcel of any pro-life strategy. There are many front in this war against the culture of death which includes abortion, ESCR, Euthanasia, etc. All must be dealt with and, yes, all must be dealt with in the legal realm as well as culturally. Its not enough to just work on ‘hearts and minds’ when the other side is working on laws as well as ‘hearts and minds’.

    The whole ‘work on changing the culture and then abortion will be outlawed’ argument is just plain wrong. It would be like a general saying ‘ignore the enemy on our flank, after all, we need to make real progress on the front first’. And lest we forget, we are in a battle so long as we are in this world. It may be a spiritual battle, but it is fought in the material realm as well.

  • David Nickol

    Maintaining that abortion is immoral, and still should be legally protected requires cognitive dissonance. You really cannot hold that an act should never be done, and yet propose that a person must have the right to do it.

    Apostasy, heresy, schism – Legal

    Violation of sacred species – Legal

    Physical attack on pope – Illegal

    Absolution of an accomplice – Legal

    Pretended celebration of Eucharist or conferral of sacramental absolution by one not a priest – Legal

    Unauthorized episcopal consecration – Legal

    Direct violation of confessional seal by confessor – Legal

    Violation of confessional seal by interpreter and others – Legal

    Procuring of abortion – Legal

  • David Nickol

    Maintaining that abortion is immoral, and still should be legally protected requires cognitive dissonance. You really cannot hold that an act should never be done, and yet propose that a person must have the right to do it.

    Apostasy, heresy, schism – Legal

    Violation of sacred species – Legal

    Physical attack on pope – Illegal

    Absolution of an accomplice – Legal

    Pretended celebration of Eucharist or conferral of sacramental absolution by one not a priest – Legal

    Unauthorized episcopal consecration – Legal

    Direct violation of confessional seal by confessor – Legal

    Violation of confessional seal by interpreter and others – Legal

    Procuring of abortion – Legal

  • David Nickol

    Maintaining that abortion is immoral, and still should be legally protected requires cognitive dissonance. You really cannot hold that an act should never be done, and yet propose that a person must have the right to do it.

    Getting drunk – In and of itself, legal, although there may be some situations in which it is not

    Telling “little white lies” – Legal

    Masturbation – Legal

    Receiving communion in the state of mortal sin – Legal

    Skipping mass on Sundays – Legal

    Worshipping false idols – Legal

    Burning the American flag – Legal (Justice Scalia is “pro-flag burning”)

    Blasphemy – Legal

    Remarriage after divorce – Legal

  • David Nickol

    Maintaining that abortion is immoral, and still should be legally protected requires cognitive dissonance. You really cannot hold that an act should never be done, and yet propose that a person must have the right to do it.

    Getting drunk – In and of itself, legal, although there may be some situations in which it is not

    Telling “little white lies” – Legal

    Masturbation – Legal

    Receiving communion in the state of mortal sin – Legal

    Skipping mass on Sundays – Legal

    Worshipping false idols – Legal

    Burning the American flag – Legal (Justice Scalia is “pro-flag burning”)

    Blasphemy – Legal

    Remarriage after divorce – Legal

  • David Nickol

    If you are personally opposed to abortion but support letting some women kill some babies (by keeping it legal), then just which babies is it ok to kill?

    Of course, the problem here is that you are assuming that abortion is “killing babies.” If everyone agreed that abortion was “killing babies,” it would not be difficult to find a consensus on prohibiting abortion.

    While in most cases, Orthodox Judaism could work in cooperation with Catholicism to prohibit abortion, the Jewish position does not consider abortion to be “killing babies”:

    Rabbi Sacks rescued the conversation by stressing that the Jewish position regarding abortion is quite close to the Catholic position. His exposition is worth a detailed summary, as it is a close to an official Orthodox Jewish view as we will hear in the English-speaking world. Only in the case of danger to the life of the mother, and only after extensive investigation by competent Jewish authorities, would Orthodox Judaism ever permit abortion. Abortion on demand is inconceivable. As to the question of where the human person begins, Judaism makes a distinction between human life, which is everywhere and always sacred, and the human person. The mother is a person; the fetus is human life. In the exceptional event of a conflict the person takes precedence. Physis (nature) is gradual, but nomos (law) is discrete. Precisely because we cannot say with precision where life begins we cannot allow that abortion is permissible at any stage of pregnancy. Unlike the Catholic position, which proceeds from natural theology, the Jewish position emerges from the legal consideration of the human person, which requires the community to establish a distinction—and that distinction is the event of birth, the physical separation of the baby from its mother’s body. Rabbi Sacks emphasized that the Jewish and Catholic positions converge on nearly the same result, with the only distinction being abortion to save the mother’s life.

    If Orthodox Jews and Catholics worked together to prohibit all abortions except those in which the life of the mother was in danger, this would be an example of finding common ground, not of arriving at a compromise. It is not necessary to share the same moral opinion in order to find common ground.

  • David Nickol

    If you are personally opposed to abortion but support letting some women kill some babies (by keeping it legal), then just which babies is it ok to kill?

    Of course, the problem here is that you are assuming that abortion is “killing babies.” If everyone agreed that abortion was “killing babies,” it would not be difficult to find a consensus on prohibiting abortion.

    While in most cases, Orthodox Judaism could work in cooperation with Catholicism to prohibit abortion, the Jewish position does not consider abortion to be “killing babies”:

    Rabbi Sacks rescued the conversation by stressing that the Jewish position regarding abortion is quite close to the Catholic position. His exposition is worth a detailed summary, as it is a close to an official Orthodox Jewish view as we will hear in the English-speaking world. Only in the case of danger to the life of the mother, and only after extensive investigation by competent Jewish authorities, would Orthodox Judaism ever permit abortion. Abortion on demand is inconceivable. As to the question of where the human person begins, Judaism makes a distinction between human life, which is everywhere and always sacred, and the human person. The mother is a person; the fetus is human life. In the exceptional event of a conflict the person takes precedence. Physis (nature) is gradual, but nomos (law) is discrete. Precisely because we cannot say with precision where life begins we cannot allow that abortion is permissible at any stage of pregnancy. Unlike the Catholic position, which proceeds from natural theology, the Jewish position emerges from the legal consideration of the human person, which requires the community to establish a distinction—and that distinction is the event of birth, the physical separation of the baby from its mother’s body. Rabbi Sacks emphasized that the Jewish and Catholic positions converge on nearly the same result, with the only distinction being abortion to save the mother’s life.

    If Orthodox Jews and Catholics worked together to prohibit all abortions except those in which the life of the mother was in danger, this would be an example of finding common ground, not of arriving at a compromise. It is not necessary to share the same moral opinion in order to find common ground.

  • David Nickol

    Lincoln’s position on slavery — personally opposed, but not necessarily in favor of legal prohibition?

    My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

    I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.

  • David Nickol

    Lincoln’s position on slavery — personally opposed, but not necessarily in favor of legal prohibition?

    My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

    I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.

  • David Nickol

    There is an issue that I don’t recall ever seeing discussed on a Catholic blog which I think is somewhat related to abortion. That is whether or not parents have a right to refuse medical treatment for their children on religious grounds. There was an interesting report on Religion & Ethics Newsweekly recently (you can watch it or read a transcript here.)

    At least 30 states have “faith-healing exemptions” for parents whose children die because the parents do not obtain medical care for them, relying instead on faith healing.

    When children have treatable and even curable conditions, do their parents have a right to refuse conventional medical treatment in favor of faith healing? Is it an infringement on parents’ rights to freely practice their religion to force them to submit their children to modern medicine when their religious beliefs oppose it?

    Here we have an issue where absolutely nobody can deny that the children are human persons, and where the parents have the power of life and death over them.

    Should there be exemptions for parents who rely on faith healing rather than seek life-saving medical treatment for their children?

  • David Nickol

    There is an issue that I don’t recall ever seeing discussed on a Catholic blog which I think is somewhat related to abortion. That is whether or not parents have a right to refuse medical treatment for their children on religious grounds. There was an interesting report on Religion & Ethics Newsweekly recently (you can watch it or read a transcript here.)

    At least 30 states have “faith-healing exemptions” for parents whose children die because the parents do not obtain medical care for them, relying instead on faith healing.

    When children have treatable and even curable conditions, do their parents have a right to refuse conventional medical treatment in favor of faith healing? Is it an infringement on parents’ rights to freely practice their religion to force them to submit their children to modern medicine when their religious beliefs oppose it?

    Here we have an issue where absolutely nobody can deny that the children are human persons, and where the parents have the power of life and death over them.

    Should there be exemptions for parents who rely on faith healing rather than seek life-saving medical treatment for their children?

  • jeremy

    David,
    Nice list of things that don’t kill people.

    Thanks for pointing out the hypocrasy of a society that allows the killing of your unborn children, but not your born children

    I’ll restate Jessie’s question: Which human lives is it ok to kill?

  • jeremy

    David,
    Nice list of things that don’t kill people.

    Thanks for pointing out the hypocrasy of a society that allows the killing of your unborn children, but not your born children

    I’ll restate Jessie’s question: Which human lives is it ok to kill?

  • David Nickol

    Nice list of things that don’t kill people.

    Jeremy,

    I was responding to this statement of yours: “You really cannot hold that an act should never be done, and yet propose that a person must have the right to do it.” You didn’t say anything about restricting things to cases in which a person is allegedly killed.

    I’ll restate Jessie’s question: Which human lives is it ok to kill?

    You are begging the question, as usual. Many on the pro-choice side do not believe abortion is killing a human person. You always insist on criticizing people who don’t agree with you — based on your own assumptions. Many do not agree that abortion is killing people, and most do not agree that stem-cell research is killing people.

    You don’t debate the issues. You don’t grant that other people of good will might not see things the way you see them. You work from your own basic assumptions, simply positing that they are true, and then wonder how anybody could approve of “killing babies” when those people actually don’t approve of killing babies.

    You also ignored my quote from the rabbi making a distinction about human persons and human life, and you ignored my questions about parents who believe only in “faith healing” letting their children die rather than take them to the doctor. Would you pass laws prohibiting Jewish women from having abortions to save their lives? Would you allow parents who believe in “faith healing” to let their children die rather than take them to the hospital?

  • David Nickol

    Nice list of things that don’t kill people.

    Jeremy,

    I was responding to this statement of yours: “You really cannot hold that an act should never be done, and yet propose that a person must have the right to do it.” You didn’t say anything about restricting things to cases in which a person is allegedly killed.

    I’ll restate Jessie’s question: Which human lives is it ok to kill?

    You are begging the question, as usual. Many on the pro-choice side do not believe abortion is killing a human person. You always insist on criticizing people who don’t agree with you — based on your own assumptions. Many do not agree that abortion is killing people, and most do not agree that stem-cell research is killing people.

    You don’t debate the issues. You don’t grant that other people of good will might not see things the way you see them. You work from your own basic assumptions, simply positing that they are true, and then wonder how anybody could approve of “killing babies” when those people actually don’t approve of killing babies.

    You also ignored my quote from the rabbi making a distinction about human persons and human life, and you ignored my questions about parents who believe only in “faith healing” letting their children die rather than take them to the doctor. Would you pass laws prohibiting Jewish women from having abortions to save their lives? Would you allow parents who believe in “faith healing” to let their children die rather than take them to the hospital?

  • jessie

    Dave, in response to your comment: of course, many do not think that waterboarding is torture. I am not ignoring that some people think abortion, ESCR, or euthanasia is not murder anymore than the posters here are “simply criticizing people who don’t agree” about the definition of torture. Likewise, some men don’t believe that forcing sex on a woman is really rape (because she wanted it), or that slapping a woman is really assault or that killing the old/disabled/ill is murder. But this thread is about abortion.

    The really honest thinkers who support abortion are quite willing to acknowledge that they are killing an innocent human being. Now, they may deny that human being ‘personhood’ as they define it, but they do acknowledge that it is the strong killing the weak and they are ok with that. (See Singer, Meyers, or Paglia)

    According to your worldview, it would appear that we could never pass any law restricting any behavior unless we all agreed that the victim was a victim and didn’t deserve what they got. Sorry, but just because some people disagree with the definition of abuse, assault, murder, personhood, etc. does not excuse us (who are informed by our great Catholic faith and plain old reason) from seeking always to err on the side of protecting the innocent and passing laws accordingly.

    Waterboarding may or may not rise to the level of ‘torture’, but it should be banned nonetheless and abortion, ESCR, and euthanasia may not be ‘murder’ but should also be banned not only because of the fact that they end a vunerable life, but because of the callousness that we acquire towards all life when we begin to treat some human life as less than human.

    The question stands: which lives do you feel are ‘life unworthy of life’?

  • jessie

    Dave, in response to your comment: of course, many do not think that waterboarding is torture. I am not ignoring that some people think abortion, ESCR, or euthanasia is not murder anymore than the posters here are “simply criticizing people who don’t agree” about the definition of torture. Likewise, some men don’t believe that forcing sex on a woman is really rape (because she wanted it), or that slapping a woman is really assault or that killing the old/disabled/ill is murder. But this thread is about abortion.

    The really honest thinkers who support abortion are quite willing to acknowledge that they are killing an innocent human being. Now, they may deny that human being ‘personhood’ as they define it, but they do acknowledge that it is the strong killing the weak and they are ok with that. (See Singer, Meyers, or Paglia)

    According to your worldview, it would appear that we could never pass any law restricting any behavior unless we all agreed that the victim was a victim and didn’t deserve what they got. Sorry, but just because some people disagree with the definition of abuse, assault, murder, personhood, etc. does not excuse us (who are informed by our great Catholic faith and plain old reason) from seeking always to err on the side of protecting the innocent and passing laws accordingly.

    Waterboarding may or may not rise to the level of ‘torture’, but it should be banned nonetheless and abortion, ESCR, and euthanasia may not be ‘murder’ but should also be banned not only because of the fact that they end a vunerable life, but because of the callousness that we acquire towards all life when we begin to treat some human life as less than human.

    The question stands: which lives do you feel are ‘life unworthy of life’?

  • jessie

    Dave,

    Faith healing and parental rights is another issue and requires more indepth analysis then we have time for and you don’t really seem interested in debating that topic so much as using it to deflect the topic on hand which is abortion.

    And you have not answered the question I asked. If you do not believe that the unborn child is a child or that the embryo is a human being, then please state so honestly.

    If your sole goal however, is merely to enter into an endless he said/she said about how some people disagree so we can’t ever actually define what abortion actually does, then save us all the trouble and just say so.

  • Kevin

    David,

    […] the excerpt from the Catechism below is all you need to know and believe about abortion. Please stop obscuring abortion as anything but the taking of innocent life

    The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.'(79)

    ‘The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.’ (80)

    [Enough with the virtual excommunications. They won’t be tolerated.]

  • David Nickol

    jessie,

    The topic of the thread, to simplify or oversimplify, is whether people who do not believe abortion should be criminalized — for whatever reason — may reasonably be called “pro-abortion.” My answer is No.

    What bothers me about some “pro-lifers” is the tendency not merely to be certain of their own position, but to believe they are so self-evidently right that anyone who disagrees with them is either fooling himself or lying. You just gave evidence of this above by saying, “The really honest thinkers who support abortion are quite willing to acknowledge that they are killing an innocent human being.” So, according to you, we have two classes of people who support abortion — the dishonest ones who will not acknowledge that abortion is the killing of a human being (although it is), and the really honest ones who do acknowledge that abortion is the killing of an innocent human being. Therefore, the conclusion must be that there can be no doubt that abortion is the killing of an innocent human being.

    Faith healing and parental rights is another issue and requires more indepth analysis then we have time for and you don’t really seem interested in debating that topic so much as using it to deflect the topic on hand which is abortion.

    Actually, I find it a very difficult issue and one which I would love to see debated. It seems to me, as with abortion, it can be viewed as giving parents the power of life or death over their own children. And unlike in discussions of abortion, there is no complicating issue as to whether children are human persons or not.

    And you have not answered the question I asked. If you do not believe that the unborn child is a child or that the embryo is a human being, then please state so honestly.

    I don’t know the answer. Of course, I do not deny that a fertilized human egg or a human embryo is human in the sense that a human heart or a human kidney is human. But whether it is a person with rights is a question that can be answered, in my opinion, only by religion. If God creates an immortal soul at the moment of conception, then I would agree that human life, in the fullest sense of the word, begins at conception.

    What is troubling, of course, is that 60 to 80 percent of the time (although estimates vary), early embryos die within the first ten days of life. So if human persons come into existence at conception, the majority of human beings never have eyes, or ears, or a heart, or a brain. Those of us who develop to the point where we can debate whether life begins at conception would be a minority. One would have to answer the question why some human beings live an earthly existence but most do not.

  • David Nickol

    If you claim to be Catholic, then the excerpt from the Catechism below is all you need to know and believe about abortion. Please stop obscuring abortion as anything but the taking of innocent life.

    Kevin,

    Even if I claim to be Catholic, I must face the reality that the United States is a democracy made up of people — most of them not Catholic — who all must have representation and the right to vote. The teachings of the Church on procuring an abortion are ancient and weighty. The teachings of the Church on what civil law ought to be in a modern democracy are another matter entirely, especially when what some claim the Church requires of the United States may not be politically achievable.

  • jeremy

    You always insist on criticizing people who don’t agree with you […] You don’t debate the issues. You don’t grant that other people of good will might not see things the way you see them. […] You also ignored my quote from the rabbi […] and you ignored my questions about parents who believe only in “faith healing”

    Hmm, having a bad day? Normally when the conversation degenerates to this point, it seems pointless to continue it.

  • jeremy

    But I just can’t help myself …
    If Orthodox Jews and Catholics worked together to prohibit all abortions except those in which the life of the mother was in danger, this would be an example of finding common ground, not of arriving at a compromise. It is not necessary to share the same moral opinion in order to find common ground.

    That is because we share a functionally equivalent view of what abortion is. There is very little to debate, and I think we would leave that to the Rabi’s and theologians. This is in stark contrast to the view in which abortion on demand is a right which should be protected.

  • jeremy

    Legal and Immoral
    What we are talking about is abortion, which is currently a right. A pro-choice position is a position in favor of protecting the right to abortion.
    People may protect the right to free speech, but they are not voting to protect the right to lie. In fact, there is not a right to lie.

  • jessie

    Dave, the fertilized egg is in fact the first stage of a new human being, in no way like an organ. This is scientific fact and is not debated by any one who studies even rudimentary biology. So the embryo and the unborn fetus are in fact human beings.

    Your second paragraph is more honest where you admit that for you it is a question of personhood and not so much the humanity of the being in question. Which is why the intellectually honest abortion supporters do not bother with that ‘lump of tissue’ argument. They have intellectual integrity and do not pretend reality is anything other than it is.

    I have no doubt there are those who wish reality were other than it is and so will figuratively put their fingers in their ears and sing loudly whenever biological facts intrude into their nice world where we can dispose of the inconvenient without qualms. But the fact that there is so much ‘agonizing’ and ‘I can’t answer that question’ and ‘its above my pay grade’ in this debate shows that those who deny the humanity of the unborn or disabled are really just trying to convince themselves in order to sooth their conscience.

    If personhood can only be determined by faith, and a democracy must never come to a definative answer on contentious issues then we are culturally doomed. Nazi Germany denied personhood and its attendant rights to the jews, homosexual, disabled, etc. And look where that thinking got them. The list of disposables without rights just kept getting longer and longer.

    So my question still stands: What human life do you consider unworthy of being treated with the dignity of personhood? Is it ok to rip the arms, legs, and head off a 20 wk old fetus before pulling out its eternal organs and crushing its skull? Or does the 20 wk old fetus deserve the dignity we accord people to not be ripped apart? How about just suctioning out the 9 wk old fetus (which is already recognizable as human)? What about the embryo? The cognitively disabled (also dehumanized by the term ‘vegetable’)?

    Go ahead, use the brain God gave you and reason about it for a while. Which life is unworthy? Who gets to decide who dies? Where would a decision on one side or the other logically take us as a society? If it is ok to kill the embryo but not the fetus, then what is the difference? What is the difference between the first trimester and the third, if that is where you draw the line.

    We need not answer the question of ensoulment or why all life must die in this world before tackling the above questions. Failure to answer them is intellectually dishonest.

  • David Nickol

    Your second paragraph is more honest where you admit . . . . Failure to answer them is intellectually dishonest.

    jessie,

    I am not sure it makes sense to run through all of the arguments about the morality and legality of abortion in a string on “abortion vocabulary.” I can’t devote much time to Vox Nova today, since I am at the office. I will try to find the time to answer you fully later, or in another thread.

    I would say, though, that I don’t think the discussion should be about whether or not I am “honest” or “intellectually dishonest.” Let me quote again what I said above:

    What bothers me about some “pro-lifers” is the tendency not merely to be certain of their own position, but to believe they are so self-evidently right that anyone who disagrees with them is either fooling himself or lying.

    I don’t mind it if you see your task as pointing out to me that I am mistaken or wrong. I do mind if you feel your task is to force me to admit that I am intellectually dishonest because the truth of your position is so self-evident that I can’t possibly question it.

  • David Nickol

    That is because we share a functionally equivalent view of what abortion is. There is very little to debate, and I think we would leave that to the Rabi’s and theologians. This is in stark contrast to the view in which abortion on demand is a right which should be protected.

    jeremy,

    It seems to me the same argument could be made against the Orthodox Jewish position as is generally made against the current situation in the United States: It leaves a whole class of people unprotected. While the Orthodox Jewish position and the Catholic position would be in agreement on about 99 percent of the abortions performed in the United States today, the Orthodox Jewish position does not protect the lives of a “whole class of people,” (a) because it doesn’t recognize the unborn as people and (b) because it allows an embryo or fetus to be directly killed in certain circumstances. The difference between the current position in America under Roe v Wade and the Orthodox Jewish position is that the former recognizes many cases in which abortion is permissible, and the latter recognizes very few. But neither protects “a whole class of people.”

    Having said that, it does seem to me that you have budged somewhat and now seem to be willing to accept an alliance with a group (Orthodox Jews) with whom you have philosophical disagreements but with whom you can find common ground.

    Suppose you were a legislator, and you had a bill that banned all abortions. Your bill was just a few votes short of the number needed to pass it. Some Jewish legislators say, “We will support your bill and guarantee passage if you will include exceptions to your abortion ban when the life of the mother is in danger.” Are you willing to make the exceptions in your bill and ban 99 percent of abortions? Or do you say, “No deal. We must protect all human life”?

  • jeremy

    Having said that, it does seem to me that you have budged somewhat and now seem to be willing to accept an alliance with a group (Orthodox Jews) with whom you have philosophical disagreements but with whom you can find common ground.
    Actually I haven’t budged. You have straw-manned my positions, and you did a fine job ripping those straw men to shreds. Congratulations.

    Here is why we can find common ground with the Rabi

    … human life, which is everywhere and always sacred …

    This statement applies to the embryo/fetus/pre-born human. This is common ground that can be built upon. Without that common understanding that human life is sacred, the immediate next question is going to be how do we reduce the number of abortions? Without that common understanding, ‘how’ is just going to be where the fight get’s moved to – except that fight will not be about the real issue – the inherit dignity of all human life – it will be about issues that flow from that foundational issue.

    When people are only arguing over something that flows from a foundational issue, and refuse to move that argument to the to the fundamental area of disagreement, they will argue forever. Hence our current landscape.

  • David Nickol

    jeremy,

    It seems to me that “all human life is sacred” is a very different position from the Catholic teaching that a human person, with a right to life, exists from the moment of conception. Saying that an embryo or fetus is “human life” but that an embryo or a fetus does not become a person until the moment of birth definitely leaves the door open to abortion when the mother’s life is at risk (which is the Orthodox Jewish position). It could certainly open the door to arguing that abortion is permissible for other serious reasons. And in fact, Israel allows abortion in a number of circumstances other than when the mother’s life is at risk. (“Most abortions were authorized because the woman was unmarried (42%), because of illegal circumstances (11%), health risks to the woman (about 20%), age of the woman (11%) and fetal birth defects (about 17%).”) Of course, Orthodox Jews do not have total control, but they do have a say in the process.

    Here’s an interesting article in First Things by a Jew (David Klinghoffer, Literary Editor of National Review) who objects to the use of language like “holocaust,” “killing babies,” and “murder” in discussions of abortion.

    There is indeed a lot of common ground to be found between Catholics and Orthodox Jews on the issue of abortion, but the differences are (in my opinion) really profound.

  • David Nickol

    This is in stark contrast to the view in which abortion on demand is a right which should be protected.

    jeremy,

    By the way, my understanding is that we are discussing abortion here, not necessarily “abortion on demand.” The Catholic Church is opposed to abortion under any circumstances whatsoever, and not just abortion on demand. If by “abortion on demand” is meant abortion at any time in pregnancy for any reason, then I have hesitation, even with all of my uncertainties, in saying I am opposed. For example, I am perfectly willing to consider restrictions on abortion for sex selection, although as a practical matter, how a law against it would or could be enforced I don’t know.

  • David Nickol

    Important word omitted above . . .

    If by “abortion on demand” is meant abortion at any time in pregnancy for any reason, then I have no hesitation, even with all of my uncertainties, in saying I am opposed.

  • jeremy

    It seems to me that “all human life is sacred” is a very different position from the Catholic teaching that a human person, with a right to life, exists from the moment of conception.
    But there is common ground there. Which is what we were talking about. Yes the position is different, but not profoundly so. There is agreement that the embryo-fetus-baby is not just human the way kidney’s are human. There is agreement that the life is precious, and that killing that life has a moral impact on all of society. The killing of that life shouldn’t be done without consulting multiple authorities – and if and only if there is some pathology that requires intervention in order to preserve life. That is a lot of common ground.

  • David Nickol

    That is a lot of common ground.

    jeremy,

    I agree.

    What I do not understand, though — if I understand your position correctly — is why common ground cannot be found with those who might feel, for example, that while abortion is morally neutral, it is medically undesirable, because it is preventable surgery. If pro-lifers want to reduce the number of abortions (or the need for abortion), it seems to me that common ground can be found with a number of groups who have very different views of the morality of abortion. This is what Obama is getting at. To participate in an effort to decrease abortion in the United States, no agreement on the morality of abortion is necessary. All that is necessary is an agreement that reducing the need for (or number of) abortions is a worthy goal. That is something a great many pro-choice people could agree on.

    Perhaps I am misinterpreting you, but you seem to believe that for the pro-lifers to find common ground with any other group, that group must hold the same or very similar views about the morality of abortion.

  • jeremy

    Yes, and I have explained why. Common ground really must be common, and grounded. If I understand what you are saying, you think that two groups can work fine together with minimal agreement on why they are trying to accomplish, and no agreement on why they are trying to accomplish it? Seriously, do you know of any group in existence that is advocating to reduce abortions because it is preventable surgery? What methods of abortion reduction do they recommend? If you are asking if I can stretch my mind and visualize that happening, yes I can. If you are asking me if I believe that can or would happen, I have explained why I don’t think that would happen. It all boils down to values.

    “All that is necessary is an agreement that reducing the need for (or number of) abortions is a worthy goal. That is something a great many pro-choice people could agree on.”

    Agreement that something abstract should happen doesn’t make it happen in the concrete real world. How is it going to happen is the real question? In fact, How is the next question that will be asked, and if there isn’t a foundation that is both common and grounded – the bickering is just going to start right up again with one side saying ‘need’ and the other ‘number’.

  • David Nickol

    Seriously, do you know of any group in existence that is advocating to reduce abortions because it is preventable surgery?

    Planned Parenthood

    1.94 MILLION UNINTENDED PREGNANCIES AND 810,000 ABORTIONS ARE PREVENTED EACH YEAR BY PUBLICLY FUNDED FAMILY PLANNING SERVICES

    Six in 10 Clients Consider a Family Planning Center
    Their Main Source of Health Care

    $4 Saved for Every $1 Invested; Expanding Medicaid Services to More Low-Income Women Would More Than Pay for Itself

    By providing millions of young and low-income women access to voluntary contraceptive services, the national family planning program prevents 1.94 million unintended pregnancies, including almost 400,000 teen pregnancies, each year. These pregnancies would result in 860,000 unintended births, 810,000 abortions and 270,000 miscarriages, according to a new Guttmacher Institute report.

    Absent publicly funded family planning services, the U.S. abortion rate would be nearly two-thirds higher than it currently is, and nearly twice as high among poor women.

    Publicly funded family planning services are highly cost-effective. More than nine in 10 women receiving them would be eligible for Medicaid-funded prenatal, delivery and postpartum care services if they became pregnant. Avoiding the significant costs associated with these unintended births saves taxpayers $4 for every $1 spent on family planning.

  • grega

    I am a bit puzzled that the word “Compromise” seem to be frowned upon in some circles. Isn’t it quite clear that Abortions for reasons like danger to the health of the mother, Rape and Incests are here to stay?

    You know I think it is a healthy way to live to accept the fact that our society reserves the right to organically develop laws – even those with clear moral implications like Abortion and Gay rights. These things cut both ways – the very same society that abolished Slavery and made Torture illegal gravitated towards the current status quo on Abortion. Why? IMHO not because we are infiltrated by a majority of evil cynical selfish fellow Americans, Europeans, Russians, Chinese, Japanese and whoever else with Abortion related laws on the books?
    These things do not fall out of the sky but are results of rather long societal developments.
    IMHO it will take time to adjust this properly – I trust it will be done – but likely it will not be the “All Abortions are criminal” type of adjustment.

  • jeremy

    David,
    Seriously, do you know of any group in existence that is advocating to reduce abortions because it is preventable surgery?

    Planned Parenthood

    Do you think Catholics should make common cause with Planned Parenthood to reduce the number of abortions?

  • David Nickol

    Do you think Catholics should make common cause with Planned Parenthood to reduce the number of abortions?

    jeremy,

    I do not think the fact that Planned Parenthood provides abortion services should necessarily be a barrier, but it’s a moot point, in any case, since the way Planned Parenthood prevents abortions is by contraception. Although it’s estimated that 90 to 95 percent of Catholic married couples (not to mention cohabiting Catholic couples) use “artificial” birth control, I can’t imagine any Catholic organizations working with Planned Parenthood on contraception. So while I think Planned Parenthood can and does play a role in preventing abortions — in addition to providing them — I don’t imagine any joining of hands between Planned Parenthood and Catholic pro-life organizations.

    It does seem to me a little ironic, given the numbers of Catholics who use “artificial” birth control, that Catholic organizations would probably be wise not to appear to promote it. But of course the official position of the Church is against contraception, no matter what the majority of Catholics do in private.

    It does seem to me that it’s unfortunate that Catholics can’t promote contraception, since in my opinion it’s the surest way to decrease the number of (or need for) abortion. I am sure most people would find it the lesser of two evils, except, of course, it is an “intrinsic evil,” which complicates matters.

  • jeremy

    The main problem with PP’s approach is that they promote pre-marital sex and teenage sexual activity. Even with training in contraception, and free access to contraception, you are still going to end up with far too many lining up for abortions under their approach. I remember the PP info I got in high school, from my experience PP plays as much more of a role promoting abortion than they do preventing it.

    Their are plenty of protestant sects that can promote contraception, and that doesn’t seem to matter much. The Catholic church stands out because the church has drawn a line in the sand on contraception. I’m sure you already have heard all the reasons why. I think the biggest problem with the contraceptive society that we have is that people think that sex should have no consequences. Young women and girls are shocked when they get pregnant. The Catholic church is one of the few voices out there telling every one that the natural purpose of sex is babies. Self evident, but with the current culture, it needs to be constantly said because you would never know it by watching TV and the movies.

    – A quick little detour –
    I don’t mind it if you see your task as pointing out to me that I am mistaken or wrong. I do mind if you feel your task is to force me to admit that I am intellectually dishonest because the truth of your position is so self-evident that I can’t possibly question it.

    It’s not that you can’t question it, it is that you don’t bother to. If you never actually try to answer the question of what person-hood is and when it begins – you are being intellectually dishonest. All the information is there, and it isn’t that complicated. If you are pro-choice, then you can say that it is the mother who decides when person hood begins. Shrugging your shoulders and saying ‘Who can know’ means that you don’t really care. For someone who doesn’t care, you spend a lot of time debating the issue?

    You have already said that you support some restrictions on abortion, so you recognize that the unborn becomes a person, deserving of protection – In your view, when does that happen?

  • David Nickol

    It’s not that you can’t question it, it is that you don’t bother to. If you never actually try to answer the question of what person-hood is and when it begins – you are being intellectually dishonest.

    Why should I have to answer this question when there are many others that affect me more directly? (For example, how can I, in good conscience, allow myself anything but the bare necessities of life while there are children starving? How much should I give to charity? It’s a question I have posed since I was in high school, and I still don’t know the answer! ) It seems to me you are attempting to bully me into answer a question by accusing me of intellectual dishonesty if I don’t answer it. There are some things it is difficult or impossible to know. Why doesn’t the Church give a definitive answer to the question of what happens to babies who die unbaptized?

    I write a lot about these questions because they are fascinating, and because I believe the people who are so sure they have the answers (one way or the other) are basing their position on gut feelings and then looking for reasons to support what they already believe. (Probably that’s what most of us do most of the time, and I am not knocking it. It might be thought of as going with what comes from the heart.)

    The outline of the answer is this, though. If an immortal soul is infused at the moment of conception — a soul that can leave the body when the person dies — then personhood begins at conception. If that is not the case, then it seems to me personhood must be identified with something like a certaub kevek if consciousness and self-consciousness (or maybe intellect and will). Without brain activity in human beings, there is no consciousness. So I would say personhood is dependent on some kind of meaningful brain activity. Certainly, based on such criteria, a fetus would not be a person within the first trimester (12 weeks) of pregnancy.

    An interesting question is how to come up with a definition of person. If we were to come upon some new form of life (say, from outer space), how would we know if the beings were persons. What’s the difference between a very smart animal (like a dolphin or a chimp) and a human being. It is not, of course, whether or not a brain is present. But it is what the brain is capable of. We say that God is a person (or three person), and presumably angels are persons. Certainly the character ET in the Spielberg movie was a person. I would say that even the robots R2D2 and C3PO were persons. Personhood doesn’t depend on what your DNA is or what species you belong to.

    By the way, it does not seem to me to be necessary to establish personhood to make a case for protecting the unborn. As I have discussed above, Orthodox Jews don’t consider the unborn child a human life, not a human person. It can be agreed that all human life is precious without arguing that all human lives are persons with a right to life. I remember a famous issue of Life magazine from decades ago that had spectacular photos of babies in the womb. One need not consider a fetus a person in order to be in awe of the process between conception and birth. From that point of view, one might still permit abortion in serious cases, but oppose it for, say, sex selection.

  • David Nickol

    You have already said that you support some restrictions on abortion, so you recognize that the unborn becomes a person, deserving of protection – In your view, when does that happen?

    As I said, I don’t believe it is necessary to establish a fetus is a person in order to say it should not be destroyed except for serious reasons. American law prohibiting abortion prior to Roe v Wade did not regard the fetus as a person with a right to life. Abortion was never prosecuted as murder.

  • Jeremy

    Certainly, based on such criteria, a fetus would not be a person within the first trimester (12 weeks) of pregnancy.
    Are you saying that we have common ground, and agree that fetuses past the age of 12 weeks of gestation should be legally protected? Any limits you would like to see on those legal protections?

  • Jeremy

    It seems to me you are attempting to bully me into answer a question by accusing me of intellectual dishonesty if I don’t answer it.
    I have two things to say to this –
    1) It was pointless to continue the conversation without an answer to this question. I and others have asked it of you several times, and you always shied away from giving an actual answer.
    2) My intent wasn’t to bully you so much as to drive home the point that this is a crucial question. While Roe v. Wade stands, the abortion debate is about rights. Roe v. Wade cemented abortion as a question of rights at the federal level. Because of Roe v. Wade, the debate and the morality is framed primarily in rights. While Roe v. Wade stands, we must push to either overturn the decision, or get person-hood rights to the unborn.

    If people really want to settle the debate and be able to find common ground, then we really need to get past the limits imposed by Roe v. Wade.

  • David Nickol

    Are you saying that we have common ground, and agree that fetuses past the age of 12 weeks of gestation should be legally protected? Any limits you would like to see on those legal protections?

    I don’t think this is politically practical, but I would find it reasonable to permit only first trimester abortions under somewhat the same conditions as Germany and Israel. There might be a panel of professionals (doctor, social worker, counsellor) who discussed all options with the woman — without attempting to coerce her — and if she still chose abortion, then she could have one up to 12 weeks. After 12 weeks there would have to be special circumstances to permit abortion (rape, incest, clear life or health threat to the mother).

    I would not support legal personhood for the unborn, since it is unprecedented, unnecessary, and would undoubtedly have unintended consequences. If you want to put a fetus on an equal footing with the woman carrying it, you could have bizarre results like arresting a pregnant woman who had a glass of wine for serving alcohol to minors. If that sounds foolish, there have already been cases of pregnant women incarcerated for taking illegal drugs while pregnant to protect their unborn babies.

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