Tuesday, October 25, 2011

U is for Unborn

The unborn and their rights have become a very big political/moral issue in the United States ever since the 1960’s. Most advocates for the unborn willingly admit that theirs is essentially a position that derives from religion. Which leads to the following question: Is God’s assent necessary for a sperm to fertilize an egg? (You’ll surely note that this question has been deliberately framed so as to compel a “yes” or “no” answer.)

If one answers the question above with a “yes” then, logically, one has to oppose any and all abortions as violations of the Divine Will. But since rape and incest victims sometimes get pregnant, those who say “yes” cannot deny that God sometimes allows a sperm produced in the testes of a rapist, or a father or a brother, to fertilize an egg. And, since God knows the future, He [or She or It] also allows sperms to fertilize eggs that will produce severely deformed children. One can only wonder why a just and merciful God would allow things like this to happen. (One possibility, of course, is that God is neither just nor merciful, nor extant.)

Now, suppose one answers the question with a “no.” There is no Divine Sanction for fertilization. The “life” produced by the fusion of sperm and egg is a purely random occurrence fully explicable by the science of biology. This being the case, what valid reason can there be for denying a pregnant woman the choice of having abortion? One might argue that she is incompetent to make such a decision on account of youthfulness. And one might wish that the abortion could be performed during the first 90 days of pregnancy. Or, one might insist that the sperm donor, or her parents, ought to have some say in the matter. But these are all procedural questions that can best be settled by elected legislators.

As a practical matter, many people will say that unborn life is “sacred” but, at the same time, they will wish to make exceptions to save the life of the mother or to preserve the health of the mother, or, if the woman was made pregnant by a rapist or as the result of incest. Very few people want to force a victim of rape or incest to bear an unwanted child. But suppose the woman was not raped. Suppose she consented to having sexual intercourse, but the condom leaked. Or, worse, imagine her lover punctured the condom in order to get her pregnant so she would agree to stay home and marry him and give up her plans to go to college. What about cases like these where a woman got pregnant by accident or through deception. Should an accident or a deception be turned into a baby by the force of law?

Those who are against “choice” necessarily believe that the government should use its awesome power to force a pregnant woman to have a child against her will. And that’s a power the government must be denied.

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