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Tricked Into Abortion: Liberal Dilemma

A woman in Florida was tricked into taking an abortion pill by her boyfriend–see the CNN video report here.

The difficult question for liberals to answer is this: on what grounds is this wrong?

J.L. writes: 

It’s like we’re living in the Theater of the Absurd. There are really only two intellectually coherent positions regarding abortion: Either you believe that life begins at conception, in which case abortion is tantamount to taking a human life, or, you believe that life begins at birth, in which case abortion should and must be legal until the minute the mother goes into labor. Anything in between is, (at least) morally speaking, arbitrary. Sadly, however, it’s been a long time since liberals even aspired to some semblance of critical thinking. Anything goes as long as it fits the liberal storyline. Keep up the good work!

Alex writes:

I suppose a liberal might argue that the boyfriend’s “trick” interfered with his “partner’s right to choose”. In this case the woman’s choice was, or would have been, to go through with her pregnancy. Her wishes were denied and so she suffered a wrong.

However, these grounds, if they are rational grounds, confuse the so-called “human right” to choose (whether to abort or not) with a moral principle.

Bruce writes:

This liberal doesn’t think the boyfriend behaved in a moral way.

There’s a difference between moral acceptability and intellectual coherence. For example, I think my position is completely intellectually coherent: I believe a woman has a right to choose an abortion up to the viability of the fetus. After that, I would say it’s morally acceptable only if the woman faces grave health risks if the pregnancy continues. Even then, if a cesarian section eliminates those health risks, that should be preferable over an abortion.

I know that those who believe that life begins at conception believe all, or virtually all, abortions are immoral, and that’s an intellectually coherent position, but one I believe to be immoral in that it denies the woman the freedom to choose.

On that basis, what the boyfriend did was morally wrong. Neither her boyfriend, her parents, her husband, nor the state should be able to compel her either way. The individuals in her life may well want to influence her, and she may want to seek their guidance, but in the end it should be her decision and hers alone. Her boyfriend was wrong to take that decision on himself, especially in the sneaky way he did it.

WI responds: 

Bruce’s comments reflect the standard liberal view that the woman’s choice is the highest consideration in any issue regarding a pregnancy. What becomes immediately obvious when considering this case is that it is extremely difficult to express the nature of of the moral outrage in terms of choice. If it had been another person who had poisoned her and killed her fetus, could a liberal support the fetus’s father in pressing criminal charges if the mother were unwilling to, on the grounds that his choice to be a father had been violated? Presumably not, as only the mother’s choice seems to hold any sway when considering a related issue–legal abortion. But why is only the mother’s choice important? Most will say that this is because she carries the fetus in her body, while the father does not. And so we conclude that the specific point of violation here is that the woman’s control over her own body has been violated.

But the absurdity of that moral framework becomes evident when we consider a case such as this one. She was poisoned, and her fetus was killed. The poison, in so far as it affected her, was very mild, probably not much worse than giving someone a strong laxative, or an emetic. Within a few days, she is physically recovered. But the poison killed the fetus. The fetus, within the liberal’s framework, has no value unto itself, and only the violation of the woman’s body, which was very mild, can be considered criminal, if liberals are to be consistent. If they wish to extend their outrage on behalf of the fetus, or the abstract “choice to become a parent(of either father or mother),” then they introduce other moral concerns, and it becomes apparent that “woman’s choice” is not the only thing.

The central argument of the pro-choice crowd, that the the woman’s right to her body must be protected at all costs has always struck me as unbalanced. If choice, as an abstraction, is the highest principle, then why is the father’s choice ignored, legally? Surely, within this framework of choice-as-the-highest-principle, there must be some balance struck between the woman’s choice over her body for the next nine months, and the father’s choice over his finances, moral and legal obligations for the next 18 years, 9 months. It has always struck me that a truly consistent pro-choicer would necessarily want to strike down many laws by which a man could be forced to pay child support for a child he didn’t choose to father.

Not, of course, that this is my position.  Being a Christian, the answers are much simpler–God has given life, and these little lives are much more important than any abstraction our minds can come up with.

WI writes:

For those that are interested, this line of discussion is carried a bit further in an additional post.

Brenda writes:

I’m reminded while reading this of an episode of the Phil Donahue show I once saw, where a woman had given birth to a baby girl shortly after she’d tried to have the child aborted. The abortionist “botched” the procedure, & the baby was born minus one arm (it must have been a D&C abortion). The mother was in the process of suing the abortionist.

Phil Donahue was holding the sleeping baby, & waltzing up & down the aisles through the studio, all the while murmuring things like “this beautiful little girl….” I wanted to gag. So, uh, she’s beautiful now, but when she was something the woman wanted to get rid of, then she was just a blob?

Can you imagine how that child has felt, growing up knowing that the reason she has one of her arms missing is because her own mother had paid someone to try & kill her, & was unsuccessful?

WI writes: 

And of course this is the essence of the issue: does something fundamental change intrinsically at any point during the pregnancy? There’s a certain absurdity in cooing about the preciousness of the infant in one moment, but holding a political belief that a violent destruction of it should be entirely permissible a few weeks before. Above, Bruce writes that he believes life should be respected and abortion considered wrong at the point that the fetus becomes viable. I’ll assume that by viable he means that the fetus is capable of surviving outside of the mother’s body. (Of course, strictly speaking, the fetus is “viable” from the moment of conception in the majority of cases, provided it is permitted to live.) But the underlying point remains–is there an intrinsic difference in the fetus itself, something essential that changes in that moment it becomes “viable?” And of course the answer is no.

It’s too obvious to point out to the liberal they he has just made himself God. That he has decided to set out a set of criteria, and when they are met, he will respect the (obvious) form of life therein. Once such obvious points become self-evident, it is no longer a matter of the intellect, but a matter of the conscience. If a person realizes that he has just set up a criteria for respecting innocent life, and doesn’t see the inherent absurdity of that, then the issue no longer an intellectual issue, but a moral one. And our job, as best we may, is to be a part of the process of awakening these consciences.



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