Greg convincingly describes how the issue of abortion is truly no different than the issue of slavery. The issue to be considered is the issue of human rights.
Let me ask you a question. Are you against slavery? Do you believe that the issue of slavery is a moral position? Are laws legislating that particular moral position appropriate? What you’ve said is that it’s appropriate to legislate certain moral issues and that you’d be in favor of that. The economic issue would actually be on the side of the South because slavery is what propped up the economic system of the South. When slaves were emancipated it gutted them of their economic force. Let’s remove the economic argument.
Based solely on morality, are you willing to say that the moral issue of slavery should be enforced simply as a moral issue? This is a very important point. Many people have offered the objection that we should not force a particular morality in the issue of abortion. My questions are very pointed and leading, and they were simply to make the point that virtually everybody who makes that kind of objection actually does believe that there are cases in which morality should be legislated. We talked about the obvious issue of slavery because there is the human rights issue that is at stake.
The question for us is whether the unborn child is a human being that has inalienable rights in the same way that a black is a human being that has inalienable rights.
My encouragement to you and anyone else who would espouse the same position is to understand that the pro-life side is arguing this issue on the basis of human rights. The question for us is whether the unborn child is a human being that has inalienable rights in the same way that a black is a human being that has inalienable rights. If that is the case, it is just as appropriate for us to legislate on the abortion issue as it is in the slavery issue. It’s not just a casual parallel because in 1859 Judge Taney on the Supreme Court handed down the Dred Scott decision that declared that black people were not human beings and did not deserve protection under the law. That was a Supreme Court decision that was later overturned by The Emancipation Proclamation.
The point I’m making is that if you don’t address this issue on a human rights basis then you’re not addressing it on the basis that pro-lifers are addressing it. The questions should be asked about the appropriateness of abortion or about laws against abortion based on a human rights issue. To be honest with you, I and virtually every other pro-lifer will abandon the fight if the unborn child is not a human being worthy of being protected. We’re not interested in getting into people’s bedrooms and telling them how to have sex and how to live. We’re not interested in restricting choices because we are bigoted and want to make people’s lives miserable. We’re interested in human rights just like those who argued against slavery.
If you are to reject my position on abortion, that’s your prerogative. I respect your right to do that. But I would encourage you to engage intellectually the real critical issue: is the unborn child a human being? If you can answer for yourself with some rationality that there is no reason to believe that this is a human being, then I think you’ve justified your position. But I don’t think the simple objection that it’s not appropriate for one person to force their morality on someone else is ultimately legitimate. When questioned a little bit you acknowledge that that’s not a valid way of approaching human rights issues.
What about cases of rape and incest?
During the slavery debate, both in this country and at the turn of the century in England, the issues were framed in the same way: choice, the government shouldn’t be in the position of legislating morality, the government shouldn’t tell us how to run our private lives. Yet there a human being clearly was at issue.
I don’t say that it’s permissible in those cases. I think you’re pointing out an inconsistency in this discussion that is very valid. I agree entirely and this is why I do not hold that abortion should be allowed in those cases. This really demonstrates how important the question of the human rights of the child is because it compels us to certain conclusions. It removes from us the liberty of making ad hoc decisions based on our emotions. We must approach this in a disciplined way as a transcendent human rights issue. If we don’t do that we are not doing the issue justice.
But what I don’t want anybody to do is to mistakenly frame this issue as one of choice. It is not an issue of choice any more than slavery was an issue of choice. It’s not an issue of what a woman can do with her body. Frankly, a woman can’t do what she wants with her own body and neither can men. Laws restrict those freedoms given the right set of circumstances.
The issue to be considered here is the issue of human rights. It’s unfortunate that the press and certain people arguing for one position have framed the question differently because they have missed the entire point. During the slavery debate, both in this country and at the turn of the century in England, the issues were framed in the same way: choice, the government shouldn’t be in the position of legislating morality, the government shouldn’t tell us how to run our private lives. Yet there a human being clearly was at issue. Even then when you had a living, breathing human being standing there staring back, they still could argue that way. I’m not a bit surprised that it could be done with an unseen infant that is growing out of sight in the womb of its mother.
Anyway that’s my personal challenge to you to rethink this issue in a different fashion.