Sunday, December 18, 2011

A few thoughts on abortion...

Well, it's not the simple debate either side claims. To clarify, two questions:

1) Under what circumstances and conditions is it justifiable to take a human life?

2) When does human life begin?

Traditionally, inconvenience/poor timing/negligence and "I don't wanna" have not been acceptable standards for killing someone. Nasty little names like murder, manslaughter, and negligent homicide have all been applied to such merry activities.

On the other hand, every legal system in the country has in it some provision in it for "he/she needed killing", typically wrapped in a self-defense statute, and usually with phrases like "threat to life", "engaged in a felonious act", or "reasonable threat to physical safety of self or others".

The felonious and assaultive abilities of an infant still in the womb are fairly minimal. There certainly exist medical circumstances where some variation of the dread choice "kid v. mom" needs to be made, as one is merely choosing coffin size, not the impending presence of coffins; and similarly, there exist at all points in life "quality of life" issues for a patient that we as a society have come to realize justify "plug-pulling".

Then we come to the challenging question - "At what point does human life begin?"

Surely, someplace between mitosis and age 70 we can come to an agreement that a human life, mostly worth protecting, is in progress.

The medieval definition could be considered "at birth" (whether natural or by primitive c-section). But the middle ages were a *long time* back, and survivability has advanced a little bit since then.

I think all the sane among us can agree that "once born, is life" and we can move on from that point with a narrower question - "Where, between mitosis and birth, does life begin?"

I would suggest that a reasonable expectation that if removed from the womb unmutilated by the process of infant survival indicates that the fetus/infant is a pretty clear indication that fetus/infant has achieved personhood. And killing off people without a damned good reason is murder, morally.

Being female, historically, has until quite recently not been a get out of jail free card. And in the presence of todays wide range of effective contraceptives and a 4-5 month pre-viability window (it ain't independently viable, thus not yet a person), there is no reason that it *should* be.

Now, I expect I'm in trouble now from both the "abortion is evil" and the "women are the only one that can make this decision, abortion is a RIGHT" crowds - and that's a good sign, because if you piss off the extremists at either end of a debate...you're probably making sense.

4 comments:

Lokidude said...

How about a comment agreeing with you completely? I mean, just because you're saying something I've said for a few years now...

For all intents and purposes, life begins at viability. Before that, it's a fleshy mass (at the risk of sounding crude.)

Old NFO said...

Good post and I agree also... There are two cases where I believe there is a legal/viable reason; rape, and to save the life of the mother.

Velcro8ball said...

On the other hand, viability doesn't really begin until the seventh or eighth year postpartum. Up to that point a good case can be, and has been, made that it is still a parasitic relationship and cannot survive without a host. Life must be considered to begin at conception because, other than that, the ability of people to rationalize killing is too horrible to contemplate.

AM said...

In the end abortion is really just another form of infanticide. After all the standard, "couldn't live without outside care" could apply to some 30 somethings I know. And I'm all for 100th Trimester Abortions.