Monday, July 31, 2006

The Intellectual Dishonesty of "Pro-Lifers"

Though I could write about this in the sense of right-wingers caring more about already-discarded embryos (stem cell research) than the actual killing of infants (the Israeli offensive on Lebanon), I want to bring up another "pro-life" issue.

Firstly, a new poll shows that South Dakota voters are leaning against supporting the abortion ban that was passed by lawmakers earlier this year. It was to become law on July 1, but opponents gathered enough signatures to delay it and to let voters decide in November whether the ban should take effect. If voters reject the abortion ban at the ballot box, they would effectively repeal it. The statewide survey of 800 registered voters found 47 percent opposed the strict ban, while 39 percent favored it.

This is certainly good news and will be a tremendous setback for the anti-choice lobby. However, in the same poll, 59% of respondents said they'd support the ban if exceptions were in place for unwanted pregnancies due to rape or incest. So, the issue for many is not the restriction of abortion rights for women, but that the only exception is for the life of the mother and not these other sympathetic cases.

Ok, here's my thing. While I respect the "pro-life" side in the abortion debate - and even agree with them on partial-birth abortion (as long as their is a medical exception) and parental notification (as long as there's a judicial recourse for those girls who have been raped by a relative) - and I certainly appreciate being sympathetic to those women who had pregnancy forced upon them by vile men, is there really an intellectual consistency here?

Look, if you *truly* believe abortion is murder, if you truly believe it is the killing of an innocent life, you can't support it no matter what the circumstances (except "life of the mother" where it's hard to say whose life is more important, though I know Catholic doctrine would hold that the woman is dying a natural death, and the baby, murder). Though in cases of rape and incest it may be more understandable to a pro-life person, you still can't support the destruction of an innocent life. If we are being honest, to do so is to say that the real issue is the sexual history of the woman. If she wanted to have sex and got pregnancy, well she has to bear the child. If she was raped, well you can kill it. No, that doesn't make any sense.

And given that many who are opposed to abortion adrently support the death penalty, they should support the death penalty for the women and doctors involved in any abortion right? I mean, is it not murder? Yet many only favor a fine or small prison sentence. I do not mean to be harsh or overly cynical, and obviously I don't believe any of this myself, but would this not be more logically consistent?

While I would certainly not argue for anyone to become more ideologically extreme here, and it's obvious many do honestly hold this "pro-life" view, I would ask them to consider whether they are looking more at the nature of the woman's sexuality than protecting life. While there is also intellectual dishonesty on the pro-choice/left in regards to some of these issues (and many who would make the "slippery slope" argument from the other end), at least there are some well-thought out positions on why it's acceptable to be pro-choice up to a certain point (including my personal favorite discussion on the abortion issue by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan).

But whatever side we are on here, let's just be honest with what we really believe and why we believe it.

1 comment:

Xanthippas said...

I think the fact that many pro-lifers cannot be as intellectually and philosophically honest as their position would seem to require is an indication that they themselves do not as firmly believe in what they do espouse as they say they do.

Adam is right; when it comes to abortion, our only choice is compromise because no reasonable pro-lifer and no reasonable pro-choicer is willing to carry their justifications out to their logical ends.

Like many on the left who support a woman's right to choose, I am nonetheless uncomfortable with the destruction of any potential human life. But unlike many conservatives, liberals do not believe that forcing women to have unwanted children while dismantling the social safety net that would allow such women to raise their children in decent conditions, is the way to go. No, we need better sex education (real sex ed, not that abstinence-only crap), more parents talking to their kids about sex, more soft persuasion of teens to avoid sex at an early age, and more access to birth control when all of that fails. If pro-lifers were willing to do all of that in addition to cracking down on abortion, we might actually have somewhere in the middle we could meet. As they are not, we don't.