Monday, August 20, 2007

The Abortion non-issue

I've thought long and hard about whether to write about this, but it is time. Most of my posts here have been in response national news or Congressional actions, but this issue is such a divisive issue, it can no longer wait.

It is without a doubt in my mind that the abortion act in and of itself is immoral. However, often there are extenuating circumstances that complicate this moral choice. Maybe crack babies, products of rape or incest, or children with severe birth defects would be better off never being born? Maybe we've aborted the next Hitler or Charles Manson or Jeffrey Dahmer? But then again maybe the next Einstein too? Is it wrong to terminate the pregnancy of a welfare mother's sixth or seventh child? What kind of life would they have?

Fortunately, as a man, it has never been and nor will ever be my choice to make.

In reality though, it is not the morality of abortion so many people debate, but the legality. Many claim it is murder. Let's look at it more closely.

In the US, states and their local jurisdictions are tasked with enforcing laws of violence, including murder. Clearly if one is the victim of murder, their right to life has been violated. It is for this reason that violent crimes such as murder correctly remain illegal: they are an infringement of rights of citizenry and our invited out of state guests. Pets cannot be murdered nor can any non-human animals.

So in order to be murdered, someone has to be a citizen: they have to have an identity and a social place in our society. Furthermore those with no brain functions who are then taken off life support and expire are not then murdered (although the circumstances of the loss capacity may still be at issue).

So this brings us to abortion. Is it murder? At the instant of birth, the newborn has a social identity and (most typically) brain function, therefore newborns are clearly entitled to the right to life. But so too is the viable child an instant before birth. A newly conceived human embryonic cell the instant after conception has neither social identity nor brain function; therefore, use of methods like a morning after pill, while potentially objectionable on moral grounds, should not be illegal.

It is somewhere in between conception and birth that murder laws become logically enforceable based on the two outlined criteria: 1. social identity and 2. brain activity. When a woman begins to show the signs of pregnancy, it is clear that the new life she is carrying is establishing an identity. It is also before the end of the first trimester that the brain activity of the fetus can be detected. Note that until the fetal stage, it is incorrect to call the developing life a fetus, instead it is properly referred to as an embryo.

So to summarize: there is no social identity and no brain activity until the fetal stage, so therefore abortions performed before this time cannot be called murder. They may be still morally objectionable, but they are not murder.

What should we do about Roe v. Wade? It was just another example of the feds sticking their nose where it doesn't belong. It should be up to the states to enforce all murder laws, including those of unborn children in fetal stages. Can the states be trusted to allow women to choose immoral actions that are not murder, including termination of pregancy for any reason up to 12 weeks? I hope so.

No comments: