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Okay, we agree abortion is bad, now what?

Posted by Chance on January 17, 2008

Many Christians, and for that matter non-Christians, believe that abortion is a bad thing. Many believe it is equivalent to murder. But even some of those people don’t think it should be illegal. I think many pro-choicers have good intentions. They genuinely hate abortion, but they think that either outlawing abortion would not be effective, or they want to reduce the number of abortions without condemning the women who do them.

Those are important considerations. However, one of the reasons I do believe in using government to stop abortion is simply that I see it as an issue of equal protection under the law. I believe that an unborn baby deserves the same protection as anybody else. For the most part, whatever laws we have should apply equally to all people. The foundation of liberty is that there are not classes of “lesser” persons. Yes, people attain certain rights with age, but the right to be protected from another human being is one that is not age-dependent. In fact, we take extra steps to ensure that the young and vulnerable are not exploited by the older.

Keep in mind, many people are pro-life, not because they are trying to force morality upon someone or that they want to take back the country for Christ or anything like that, they simply see it as a matter of justice. Yes, I typically harp upon the fact that government is not the solution to our problems. But the one thing government is supposed to do is to protect us from other people. I think liberals sometimes don’t understand where pro-lifers are coming from, as conservatives typically support government action concerning abortion, but support less government action in other areas, such as helping the poor.

I think this criticism is half-right. Those passionate about this issue shouldn’t focus solely on outlawing abortion, but as previous posts have shown I believe voluntary efforts are more powerful than government programs. Pro-lifers should not look to the government as the only means to support the protection of life. There are many volunteer organizations that discourage abortion and they do what they can to help out the mother in that situation. We should look to the government to provide protection for the unborn for the same reason we look to it to protect other people. At the same time, we should look to the church and other voluntary efforts to also reduce abortions and help out those in need.

Update: Neil provides one such example of an effective tool, Crisis Pregnancy Centers.


13 Responses to “Okay, we agree abortion is bad, now what?”

  1. Neil said

    Good points, Chance. If you don’t mind I’d like to put in a plug for crisis pregnancy centers (Crisis Pregnancy Centers). Staffed largely with volunteers and funded mostly by donations (100% in many cases), they help women and families in their time of need. They significantly outnumber abortion clinics.

    In theory, pro-choicers should support these as well (at least pro-choice Christians). The centers aren’t lobbying against abortion, they are just helping women make a good “choice” and helping them when they choose life.

    I encourage people to visit their local pregnancy center for a tour. There are many volunteer options (counselors, teachers, repair/maintenance) and of course they welcome donations. If nothing else, at least have the phone number handy for when you hear of people in crisis pregnancies.

  2. Chance said

    Thanks Neil, I put it in the update.

  3. Dan Trabue said

    There are also those of us out there who agree that aborting a baby/fetus is the same as killing a child and yet we think it closer to being a Right to Die/keep gov’t out of medical decisions issue.

    We want families to be the ones to decide what medical options to choose for themselves – including end of life issues. In the case of someone who is ill-unto-death, we support that person/family making a decision about whether or not to try to keep them alive a little longer or to “pull the plug,” and let them die.

    As in the case of Terri Schiavo. We don’t want gov’t interfering in end of life decisions. We DO agree that gov’t is there to protect life from harm and if, for instance, there was some evidence that someone was wanting to kill off his rich aunt for her money, we support gov’t intervention.

    But in the case of someone who is dying and wishes to end treatment, we don’t want gov’t interference.

    I may not agree with where that person or family draws the line, but it’s not really my decision to make.

    Some of us think abortion is like that: There’s a mother’s life and a baby’s life at stake and it really is that family’s call to make.

    Now, I may really disagree with someone who takes it lightly and says, “Well, a baby would just like, totally inconvenience me!” and so, seeks an abortion. But I’m still very wary of gov’t making that call.

    IF – IF! – we could talk about some sort of ruling that strictly dealt with the issue of so-called “abortions of convenience,” pro-lifers might gain a little more ground and find some commonality.

    But I think the majority of Americans are opposed to the notion of criminalizing what we think should be rightly considered a medical option to be decided by families, not the gov’t.

  4. Chance said

    Thanks for your comments Dan. In response:

    “Some of us think abortion is like that: There’s a mother’s life and a baby’s life at stake and it really is that family’s call to make.”

    Most pro-lifers, including myself, support the right to an abortion if it will seriously risk the life of the mother. But I’m talking about a serious risk, not the general risk that is present with all pregnant mothers.

    “There are also those of us out there who agree that aborting a baby/fetus is the same as killing a child and yet we think it closer to being a Right to Die/keep gov’t out of medical decisions issue. “

    I disagree with equating the abortion issue to end-of-life issues for two primary reasons.

    For one, making medical decisions in end of life issues primarily concerns what is best for the “medical subject” for lack of a better term. For instance, someone may stop wanting their grandfather to suffer needlessly, so they pull the plug for someone being kept artificially alive anyway. Abortion is different. I would argue that the best interest of the fetus is to allow it to live. Yes, there are issues such as “I don’t want the baby to live in an impoverished family, with a severe handicap, etc…” but if we use this argument for toddlers, or even for the old people in end-of-life decisions, that is indeed very troubling. Now, you may think a fetus is different from a toddler so it’s different, but that is an argument apart from the “medical decisions” issue.

    Secondly, abortion is nothing like end-of-life issues because it is not end of life. (Yes, there are exceptions, baby without a brain,etc…) But look at it this way. Let’s say my grandfather is very ill and needs life support. But, let’s say that there is a very good chance in 8 or 9 months that my grandpa will get well and be able to live outside a coma, even with some sort of handicap or reduced mental deficiency, and we know that. It would be very immoral and should be illegal to end the life of a patient who is very likely going to get well again.

    In other words, I find a big difference between end-of-life issues, where someone makes a decision for someone else in their best interest, for someone who is terminal or brain-dead anyway, vs. someone aborting a fetus who will not be brain dead and would probably prefer to live.

    I respect your opinion. But I think if liberalism is ever going to defend liberty, liberals will have to offend someone else other than the rich and powerful. Sometimes people have to defend the weaker person, even if it means reducing the rights of the weak.

  5. Dan Trabue said

    Secondly, abortion is nothing like end-of-life issues because it is not end of life.

    I think abortion is similar to – but not the same as – a Terri Schiavo kind of a situation. A situation where a family member is having to make a decision about the life/death of a loved one who can’t speak for themselves.

    It’s different in that in a pregnancy, there are TWO lives involved medically, mother and child. From what I’ve read from you, Chance, I suppose you would agree that if there were a 90% chance that going through with a pregnancy would result in the loss of the mother’s life, that if that family opted for the medical procedure of abortion, you’d go along with it. Yes?

    Conversely, I’d be of the opinion that if a couple got pregnant and found out that there was a 1% chance that giving birth might endanger the life of the woman, that morally, they ought to go through with the pregnancy. It’s not the infant’s fault that the parents got pregnant.

    Where I have a problem is with the state making the call as to when it is medically advisable for an abortion and when it isn’t. I think that call should be a family’s.

    If the state makes the call, would it be okay to have an abortion if the mother was 85% likely to die, but NOT okay if it was 50/50? Where and how would we draw the line?

    Seems to me that abortion is a medical procedure and should be treated and monitored as a medical procedure, not a crime. I hate the thought of “abortions of convenience,” and that was why I used to support criminalizing abortions, but I just don’t know how to effectively draw that line and so opt for trusting families to make this very difficult call.

    I fully support educational efforts that let folk know that infants ARE infants, prenatally or post-natally and efforts to keep people from minimalizing abortion (“aww, it’s not REALLY a baby”), but ultimately, I want families to make their own medical decisions.

  6. Chance said

    Although I ultimately disagree, I do have, I think, a better understanding of where you’re coming from.

    I understand that it can be a fuzzy line sometimes, but I think it is a line we should try to draw. I’d have to find the numbers, but I would venture that an overwhelming number of abortions are that of convenience.

    So I think we both agree that the primary concern is the mother’s life. If I read you correctly, you don’t want the gov’t to err on the side of caution of the baby and have both mother and baby die.

    I think one thing to keep in mind that, concerning the health of the mother, the percentages can change throughout the pregnancy. It’s not like at 3 months they give a risk evaluation and a decision has to be made then. High risk pregnancies are closely monitored week by week. That way when 1% risk all of a sudden becomes 99%, that’s when the doctors can intervene. I don’t see it as a situation where someone has to decide right away based on a certain factor of risk. They can see how things go.

    I suppose we differ on what can be lost. By drawing a line, you fear that more women AND babies would die, but I see the significant loss of life by not drawing a line at all.

  7. Dan Trabue said

    Actually, I fear/bemoan the loss of lives due to “abortions of convenience” greatly. What I fear more is the growth of State Power. For me, it is a small gov’t in its place issue.

  8. Dan Trabue said

    Out of curiosity, where would you think we’d draw a line, if we tried to do so?

    (So’s you know, I’m not totally opposed to the notion of trying to draw some lines as to when an abortion is acceptable and when not. I just think it’s a grey enough area that we’d have a VERY hard time coming to a consensus on what’s moral to the point that we could legislate it.)

  9. Chance said

    Good question. I’ll give it some thought. I’ll be deposed for a little bit, so it’ll be some time before i get back to you.

  10. Chance said

    I’ll still need more time to think about it, but I would, at the very least, outlaw abortions in which there is no more than the normal amount of risk associated with pregnancy.

    “What I fear more is the growth of State Power. For me, it is a small gov’t in its place issue.”

    I can admire this sentiment, and, despite our conversations, I don’t know how you feel about every issue, so this is a railing against liberals in general perhaps.

    What perplexes me is that abortion is one of the few times that the “family” is given much more preference than the “State”.

    I think it is up to the family to have the most say where their kids go to school, not the government’s. I think it is up to the parents to choose how they want to plan for retirement, not the government’s. I think parent’s should be able to decide how their money is spent when they die, not the government’s.

    I’m just a little confused why, in all these situations more trust is given to the government than the family when it comes to what to do with their resources, and the one exception, when it comes to the defense of human life, that happens to be the time to be concerned about State power.

    Anyway, just my rant.

  11. Dan Trabue said

    While there may be some truth in your rant, Chance, I don’t think it’s to the degree you suggest. You are, after all, entirely free to educate your child how you wish (well, except that you’d run into problems if you chose to NOT educate your child, I suppose or if you educated a child abusively, but we probably agree that we want some gov’t input on keeping children safe).

    In fact, I have that same question in reverse: It seems that conservatives are for a small gov’t that doesn’t do much EXCEPT…

    When it comes to a huge military (that conservatives don’t trust gov’t to manage ~$25 billion in welfare money but they DO trust gov’t to manage nearly $1 trillion worth of WMD and militarization is one of life’s puzzles, to me).

    When it comes to who people marry

    When it comes to what we ingest

    When it comes to abortion

    for a few.

    Seems to me that liberals (the ones I know and associate with) DON’T trust gov’t much at all and are therefore in favor of limited gov’t interference except in cases where it makes logical, civic sense.

    We want a small but smart gov’t. If it’s going to cost us $x billion to educate or to assist with medical, BUT it’s going to cost us $2x billion if we DON’T intervene at the gov’t level, then we support gov’t intervention, as a matter of fiscal responsibility if naught else.

    I wonder who would fight it the most if a Means Test were applied to how we spend gov’t moneys? That is, if an agency can’t provide data that shows their program is saving American dollars, then we’d have to reconsider that program.

    Do you think we could justify a trillion dollar military budget?

    The war on drugs?

  12. Chance said

    Back to your question about where to draw the line, it would probably be best to let the doctors decide…however, if a doctor is pro-choice, I could quickly see where that would go. But doctors typically make those decisions about when life is truly at stake.

    Yeah, I suppose my rant opened up a whole can of worms there huh?

    I suppose we have different priorities and values when it comes to government, so sometimes things seem to be a contradiction.

    Concerning a conservative’s view of gov’t (I consider myself a limited gov’t conservative – much more than the Republican nominees – save Paul). I will say that the priority of our budget should go to military simply because I believe that is gov’t’s primary role, to protect us from other people. Does that justify every dollar spent in the name of the military and defense? No, not at all. I feel the same way about the military that I do about taxes. More is not always better.

    Concerning the War on Drugs, as a previous post indicates, that is something I am seriously questioning. Have I taken a solid stand against it, no, not really, but that could happen.

    “When it comes to abortion” again, I’m all for gov’t involvement when it comes to saving lives.

    Concerning marriage, that is a tricky issue, because I’m all for not enforcing my views on other people. At the same time, “the people” may not want to acknowledge something they disagree with. Perhaps a state-by-state vote would be the best way.

    I guess we are the same in the sense that we want no more gov’t than necessary, but how much is necessary and where is what we disagree on.

    But I will say this, I believe the gov’t, at the very least, should be devoted to 2 things. Protection of individuals from each other, and equal protection under the law. It is for both these reasons that I am pro-life.

  13. Chance said

    I’ve been gone for about a week. I don’t know if you are following this thread, Dan, but I’ll add a couple more thoughts.

    The difficulty in drawing a line doesn’t necessarily mean we shouldn’t try to draw one at all. We allow parents freedom somewhat in raising their children, but we don’t allow abuse. We allow for property rights, but that doesn’t mean someone can kill someone on their property just because it’s their property, yet we do allow a right for self-defense. That being said, I don’t think it is unreasonable to try to draw a line between outlawing abortions of convenience yet allowing room for a mother to save her own life if needed.

    “Seems to me that liberals (the ones I know and associate with) DON’T trust gov’t much at all and are therefore in favor of limited gov’t interference except in cases where it makes logical, civic sense.”

    I would disagree that liberals do not trust gov’t much. Much trust has to be invested in the government in order to allow it to run health care, run our retirement, run our schools, etc…

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