Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Philosophy Series: Filling Out the Abortion Discussion

An article from 2008, which I recently saw linked in the comments of a blog I was reading: When Moral Issues Become Political Issues. This article addresses the practical ramifications of making abortion illegal with exceptions, and many of them were things I'd never considered--like the fact that in order to make it legal in the case of rape, all allegations of rape would have to be tried and proven in a court. The two issues I see as the biggest problems with that: 
  • Court cases, even simple ones, usually take several months, and it would be impossible to conclude them in time to perform an abortion. 
  • In order to prevent all women who want abortions from claiming rape, the women whose cases could not be proven would have to be punished. This is problematic for two reasons: one, that rape often can't be proved even when it did happen; and two, that it would discourage even more women from coming forward when they have been raped, because they would be afraid of the consequences if they couldn't prove it. These are not casualties I am willing to accept.
For the record: I believe that forcing a woman to go through with a pregnancy that resulted from rape is a kind of rape in itself.

  • "The Church opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience," but "allows for possible exceptions for its members."
  • "Abortion is a most serious matter and should be considered only after the persons involved have consulted with their local church leaders and feel through personal prayer that their decision is correct." Italics added, to emphasize that the Church believes this is a personal decision.
  • "The Church has not favored or opposed legislative proposals or public demonstrations concerning abortion." In its policy of political neutrality, the Church has made clear that they "reserve the right as an institution to address, in a nonpartisan way, issues that it believes have significant community or moral consequences or that directly affect the interests of the Church." This is what the Church did in regard to Prop 8; they have not done it for abortion.
Some things to think about. 

For the record (because it seems to bear repeating): My personal beliefs are identical to those of the writer of the article I linked to--and, incidentally, mesh very cleanly with the Church's stance.

Morally, I believe that elective abortion is very wrong, and in the case of rape, incest, or danger to the mother's life, I believe it should be considered seriously first. 

Politically, I believe that it should be legal. Unlike that of gay marriage, the question of abortion is one in which I can understand wanting to involve the law, because we are talking about a human life. But there are too many reasons why it would be wrong to do so; there are too many cases where exceptions would have to be made, and there is no way to legislate those without seriously wronging innocent women. (And for those in the camp of not making those exceptions, there are even more things that are just wrong about what they want to do--like the hypocrisy of being "pro-life" when you would not allow an abortion that would save the live of the mother.) In the end, plain and simple, I believe that the responsibility and choice can lie only with the woman.