After a life of being pro-choice, I began to seriously ponder the question. I oppose the death penalty because there is a slim chance that an innocent person might be executed and I don’t believe the state should have the authority to take a citizen’s life. So don’t I owe an nascent human life at least the same deference? Just in case?
You may not consider a fetus a “human life” in early pregnancy, though it has its own DNA and medical science continues to find ways to keep the fetus viable outside the womb earlier and earlier.
But it’s difficult to understand how those who harp about the importance of “science” in public policy can draw an arbitrary timeline in the pregnancy, defining when human life is worth saving and when it can be terminated.
The more I thought about it, the creepier the issue got.
Newsweek, for instance, recently reported that 90 percent of women whose fetuses test positive for Down syndrome choose an abortion. Another survey showed only a small percentage of mothers even used the test. So what happens when 90 percent of parents test their fetuses? Does it mean the end of the disease or are we stepping perilously close to eugenics?
What about future DNA tests that can detect any “defects” in a fetus? What happens when we can use abortion to weed out the blind, mentally ill, the ugly, or any other any “undesirable” human being?
Recently, Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare ruled that women are permitted to abort their children based on the sex of the fetus. In the United States, a woman can have an abortion for nearly any reason she chooses. In fact, a health exemption for the mother allows abortions to be performed virtually on demand.
If you oppose selective abortions, but not abortion overall, I wonder why? How is terminating the fetus because it’s the wrong sex any worse than terminating the fetus for convenience’s sake? The fate of the fetus does not change, only the reasoning for its extinction does.
Now, I happen to believe (as the civil libertarian and pro-life activist Nat Hentoff once noted) that the right to life and liberty is the foundation of a moral society. Then again, I also believe a government ban on abortion would only criminalize the procedure and do little to mitigate the amount of abortions.
Obviously, these are a few of the complex and uncomfortable issues to ponder. So maybe this poll tells us that the dynamics of the abortion debate are about to change, that Americans are getting past the politics and into the morality of the issue.
Then again, it’s entirely possible that I’m just projecting.