I mentioned Human Rights the other day, and I wanted to talk about that again, to mention something that ought to be obvious but doesn’t appear to be. Abortion is a fundamental failure to defend human rights. If you want abortion, you don’t want human rights. You can’t have both. By all means choose, but choose carefully.
Abortion is predicated on the judgment that the embryo/fetus has no fundamental right to life. On what grounds is that judgment made, though? It’s human because it has human genetic material (and no other). It’s alive because it can do things like grow. So it’s a living human with no right to life, why?
There are various arguments made. The first and most common is that it’s a contingent human life, and so it has only contingent rights. Since it depends entirely upon another, its rights exist only so long as that other chooses to support it. Unfortunately this standard is too broad; it could be applied in ways that even most abortion advocates would find repugnant. Most obviously, newborn babies are still contingent beings–they can’t take care of themselves at all–but most people object to infanticide when it’s so obvious. (Not everyone, unfortunately, but more on that another time.)
Actually, without a clear delineation of what qualifies as contingency, it’s not immediately apparent that anyone claimed as a dependent on taxes, anyone who receives government aid, most teenagers, and a sizable minority of senior citizens wouldn’t be subject to the same contingency clause. If we support them because they aren’t currently able to support themselves, do we have the right to kill them if we no longer want to support them?
Obviously not, so perhaps we’re talking about a kind of radical physical dependency: embryos are radically physically dependent on their mother’s support for survival, so do mothers have the right to withdraw that support? Unfortunately this still wouldn’t help us. In fact in most cases any similar withdrawal of necessary support is considered abuse. It’s the reality behind such horrors as neglect in nursing homes and hospitals, the neglect of children, even the neglect of pets. (Why yes, we do have laws to protect pets but not babies.)
The contingency argument underlies the bulk of “pro-choice” material, including the rather misleading name “pro-choice.” Since the baby’s life is dependent upon the woman’s body, and the woman ought to have the right to do with her body as she pleases, the baby’s life should be the choice of the mother. Its life is contingent upon her, so its rights are contingent upon her. The contingency argument doesn’t hold in any other case though, so it doesn’t appear to be very strong.
(It’s also largely self-defeating. The smaller and weaker half of the species is simply never going to be best served by undermining protections on the small and weak. I don’t say this to be horrifying, merely objective. Objectively, the contingency argument for abortion is horrifying.)
There are other arguments, of course. The next most popular, (although it’s gaining in popularity), is that unborn babies are less than human in one way or another, and therefore have less than human rights.
Sadly I’m out of time. More on that tomorrow, perhaps.