Monday, November 13, 2006

Controversial abortion restriction before the Supreme Court

Pro-life or pro-choice. It seems like an unwinnable either-or proposition. I think I'm both. Of course, I am pro-life. I want people to live healthy, happy lives. I am also pro-choice. I believe people have the right to do with their bodies what they wish.

I wish abortion were a topic only talked about rhetorically. But the fact is, abortions, millions of them in fact, take place in the US every year. It is an unfortunate result of, in some cases, poor planning on the part of two consenting adults.

The Supreme Court has ruled that a woman has a right to choose how she uses her body. While I disagree that it's only a woman's right (what about the potential child's rights and the rights of the father?), I do believe that on balance, it is much more HER choice than anybody else's. So, on this matter, while I cannot wholly support it, I do agree with the Court's decision.

The article at the Jump , however, deals with a perhaps misunderstood form of abortion that many opponents have been calling "partial birth" abortion. This is a misnomer at best and purposely false and misleading at worst. I don't know all the details of how abortions are performed, much less this one, but I can only guess that if one watched one, one would be inclined to vomit. But I'd say the same about brain surgery, cancer removal, or breast reduction: They're all gruesome to watch. But their gruesomeness does not reflect negatively on their necessity.

There are varying degrees by which abortions are "necessary." Let's say that a woman was raped and became pregnant (most rapists, I would guess, do not take the time to slip a condom on before they commit the crime; therefore, birth control is not an issue). She's 12. Should she choose to carry out the pregnancy? She's 12. She can't even decide if she wants a pink dress or a blue dress. So, as a society, do we wish to support her and her baby into adulthood?

For it is the conservatives who believe that family is all-important, and this future child has no father (he'll presumably be caught and imprisoned) and really won't have a mother until he's 12. So, are these abortion opponents ready to pony up and create a social program that cares for not only the child but the mother and her family? It wasn't her fault that she was raped. Remember, rape in the criminal courts, is considered a crime against society, not against just the victim.

I really don't think that anti-abortion activists are ready to take on this financial and societal challenge.

Or let's say that a competent doctor decides that carrying out a pregnancy will not only result in the death of the child but the death of the mother. The only viable way to keep the mother alive is to abort the fetus. Now, do we let both die ("It's God's will") or do we choose to save the mother?

In these two cases, I'd imagine, most thoughtful people would choose abortion. They'd be pro-choice, I think. Now, how this abortion is carried out ought to be a choice between the patient and her doctor. Politicians and judges ought not to be encouraged or allowed to make this determination. After all, they don't necessarily get involved in how breast cancer is treated, for example (remove the cancer only or the entire breast?). So they should not get involved in this delicate and sometimes necessary procedure.

I am doubtful, however, that the very conservative Supreme Court will overturn this ban on a controversial form of abortion.