Sunday, September 07, 2008


Categorizing American Attitudes About Abortion

There seem to be three main camps here in America regarding abortion.

  1. There are those who think that human life does not begin at conception and certainly the non-human has no human (or American Constitutional) rights and can be killed terminated at the will or even whim of the mother. This camp thinks that what goes on inside the mother is only the mothers' concern and no one else can make any judgement or law concerning it. This is generally the pro-choice crowd. I wouldn't think that many of them are actually pro abortion. They have Supreme Court precedents, most importantly Planned Parenthood of Southeast Pa. v. Casey, on their side, and therefore, no law can seriously intrude on the mother's medical choice regarding the foetus in her womb.
  2. There are those who think that human life does indeed begin at conception but that the foetus does not get rights until birth. This allows members of this camp to disparage but not criminalize abortions of 'not viable outside the womb' foetuses. Members of this camp, and I am one, are with the Catholic Church's teaching that abortions to save the mother's life are OK as a living mother is more important than a not yet born baby. Unlike with Catholics, there is room in this camp for differing opinions about abortions after rape and incest. Just as in early American history it was not murder to kill a slave (as the slave had life, obviously, but no rights), it is at least legal to kill the foetus for other reasons.
  3. The final camp are the pro-lifers, who think that human life and human rights both begin at conception and abortion or the use of abortifacients are the exact same as murder, indeed, is the worst sort of murder, the slaughter of the innocent. They counter the charge of being against choice by saying that the mother seeking abortion is taking away the unvoiced choice of the baby to live, and that we don't recognize the choice some women make to murder their small born children after birth (or their husbands, sisters, friends or strangers) as socially tolerable.

I don't have much more to say about the merits of the different positions. except that each seems to be internally, logically sound. I do wonder, however, if there are substantial positions which I have left out. I also don't know the relative membership of each of the three camps. If I had to guess, I'd say three is the most numerous one, but I really don't know.


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