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Monday, September 19, 2005

Abortion and Science

Wendy Mcelroy has written an interesting column on how science may affect the abortion debate:

New reproductive technologies may also redefine the politics surrounding reproduction, including the issue of abortion. I welcome the prospect. It is difficult to believe that science could do a worse job with the issue than courts and fanatic rhetoric. At the very least, science may offer new methods of ending a pregnancy without destroying an embryo or fetus.
Interesting stuff. I am probably a moderate on the abortion issue. In general though, once a think a fetus is viable, able to survive without the woman being required to sustain it, killing it for convenience is absolutely immoral. That is a big reason why I am against partial birth abortion. Viability (or at least a liklihood of being viable) seems to me to be a much more objective way of determining personhood (that the fetus has it's own inherent life) than location (in or not in a woman's body.) Advances such as Mcelroy is talking about will obviously move that line. It will be hard though for people who are pro-choice to remain pro-abortion in that scenario though, when the choices presented are continueing the pregnancy, killing the fetus, or moving the fetus to an artificial womb. At that point, abortion will probably be seen as pure sadism, for any fetus that is able to be transferred. I understand, and agree with, the concept that a woman has a sovereign right over her body. She might morally be required to do something (if for example, abortion is a sin) but that doesn't mean she should be coerced by government into doing that thing. However, it is also obvious to me, that at some point, and that point is probably well before 9 months, a fetus becomes biologically a person. I think any of us who have contact with a pre-mature baby are uncomfortable with the though that but for location that person could be legally killed. I hope that this technology does mature, and that the conflict between a woman and a fetus's rights can be solved in such a manner. Of course there are those on both sides of the debate who will not welcome such a development. On the extreme pro-abortion side are those who seem more motivated by a hatred of humanity than by any freedom for the women involved. Even more prevalent, are those on the pro-life side who want pregnancy to be a punishment for behavior they do not approve of. However, since I have no fondness for either of these groups, I will greatly enjoy their wailing as the public embraces an alternative that they both hate.


Blogger Katinula said...

Our views on abortion are quite similar. I also feel that viability should be a determining factor and that there should be a limit after which abortions can not be obtained. But I often hesitate with that view because as science advances, that arbitrary 'viability' date will get further and further in from nine months, thereby eliminating the possibility of an abortion. In 50 to 100 years, what if we can sustain a fetus after one months...what about two months. Moving a fetus to an artificial womb seems like a good idea, however you are still forcing the woman (and man) to have a child exist that they may not want. It would ostensibly be the same as forcing a woman to go through pregnancy and give the baby up for adoption. Its definitely not a clear cut option and those opposing that I think have a more nuanced opinion than just be able to be classified as 'sadists'. I personally think the answers lie in better ways to prevent pregnancy instead of solutions available once someone is pregnant.

9/22/2005 05:49:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

I would consider if an artificial technology could maintain a fetus that the parents didn't want we would treat it much like a child that the parents didn't want. It would become a ward of the state and not their responsibility any longer.

I would probably put the lower limit on when this sort of decision would be made at basic brain formation if it were up to me, but I could certainly agree with a society that said all life was precious enough for society to bare that cost.

I think that the severe discomfort a woman has to go through as a part of pregnancy is the only thing that gives the pro-choice side of the equation merit. If you were able to remove that, and assuming reasonable cost to the woman (not forcing her to pay 1000s of dollars for the care of the infant she wanted aborted) I don't think there is much of a leg to stand on.

We accept a woman giving up a child for adoption, we don't accept a woman killing a baby because it is a child she does not want.

As I said, pregnancy is different that a baby, primarily because the woman can't give up the child to another's care at that time. If this changes, the entire equation changes though.

9/22/2005 06:21:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

Obviously, not getting pregnant in the first place is better. I don't think we can reasonably expect much success there though, absent mandatory temporary sterilization and permits to reverse it for the purpose of having children, something I would oppose on other grounds.

9/22/2005 06:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Bob said...

I still don't think this science resolves two questions in which I do support abortion.

1. Rape or incest (why should a woman be forced to give birth to a child that is a result of a criminal act?)

2. When the woman's life is in danger (the moral question you have to ask is... if the fetus is a living human being, then which human's life is more important, the fetus or the woman?)

I do not approve of abortion as simply a means of birth control, though, but I don't think the government should be answering all the issues surrounding abortion.

9/22/2005 02:15:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

I am presuming transferring a fetus to an external support mechanism would generally, perhaps always, be as safe as an abortion.

As for Rape and Incest, that is an interesting question.

Does a person have a right to not only not want to carry the child, but to demand that it not exist due to external events? Generally I don't believe a man who is raped or the victim of incest can 'force' a woman to abort a child that may result of that. There is certainly something to be said that a woman shouldn't have to carry the product of a rape in her body for nine months.

However, that isn't the scenario I am proposing here.

9/23/2005 01:58:00 AM  

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