Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Do opponents of abortion really believe abortion is murder?
I have always had some respect for many opponents of abortion, even if I disagreed with their position on the issue, and even more with some of the tactics of their movement. If you believe abortion is murder, then I can certainly respect your decision to devote a fair portion of your life to ending the practice. Recently, however, I've been rethinking this respect, as the success of anti-abortion groups in states like South Dakota has begun to high-light the moral and political contradictions of the movement. If you believe abortion is murder, then why not favor more funding for contraception and sex education, two well-established ways to reduce abortion rates? And if abortion is murder, why are opponents of abortion, like US senate candidate Lynn Swann, and likely presidential candidate John McCain, cagey about what criminal penalties should apply to those responsible for the murder of fetuses? It just doesn't make any sense. This post from the blog 'Alas' puts such contradictions in a nice tabular format, and comes to the conclusion that opponents of abortion likely do not really believe abortion is murder. I'm agnostic on the author's contention that abortion opponents--or "people who favor forced childbirth," as he puts it (a nice bit of framing, I think)--are actually motivated by the desire to punish women for having sex, but I think the post lays out the issues involved pretty well. No one that I know of likes abortion, but at least those of us who believe the procedure should be a safe and legal option have some specific and morally consistent policy recommendations. Advocates of forced childbirth, perhaps closer now than ever to recriminalizing abortion, ought to be asked for the same. If they can't or won't come up with any, then I have to conclude that their stand is merely another example of shallow 'if it makes you feel righteous, do it' politics.