Saturday, July 30, 2005

Insanity On Both Sides of the Abortion Rights Debate - Precis

To summarize my recent argument about abortion rights which I posted to this site, the subjectivity of the fetus insofar as it may be inferred through scientific demonstration should always remain the focus of any discussion of abortion rights, not because such a (theoretical) subjectivity is more important than that of a pregnant woman but because so much more is at stake, i.e., its very survival. This simple rule would probably lead to some restrictions on abortion rights, i.e. to the conclusion that abortion on demand is not a fundamental right or condition of being respected as fully human. In my investigation I found, however, that the subjectivity of any fetus cannot be abstracted from that of the pregnant woman who through her expectations and intentions for its future functions as its "co-creator." In other words there may be circumstances in which through her own discernment and with the assistance of wise counsel a pregnant woman determines that to function in such a capacity on behalf of a fetus would cause considerable violence to herself, so much so that terminating the pregnancy at an early stage (a stage in which the subjectivity of the fetus apart from her intentions for it has barely begun to form) may be justified. Unanimously accepted examples of such a circumstance include pregancies resulting from rape or incest, yet the same principle could apply to other circumstances commonly faced by pregnant women. Opponents of abortion rights must accept that women who wish to terminate their pregnancies are not homicidal or mentally disturbed and that the abortion decision can be a rational one. Thus pregnant women should be given maximal responsibility for determining the course of their pregnancy, with the understanding that such responsibility is not one-sided and that abortion rights are by no means absolute. One conclusion to this approach is that blanket criminalizations of abortion are probably the least effective way to deal with the abortion problem because they simply exclude women from their own pregnancies - an impossible and dehumanizing state of affairs. A much more effective approach would deal with the root causes of abortion, i.e. unplanned pregnancies. In other words, any solution to the abortion problem must be focused on the rights and needs of women and their families, i.e., expanding access to contraception, reducing poverty, making child care available and affordable, funding job training programs in rural and urban areas. The fact that the so-called right to life movement unceasingly opposes all of these things will be the subject of the next post.

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