Intermediate Form

On Abortion

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I generally oppose abortion, at least the completely unrestricted form of abortion that is practiced in the US. I changed my position recently (in the past year or so) after a series of discussions with Chris convinced me that my old position was ethically untenable.

I currently believe that there are far too many abortions. I don't believe that the fact that bearing a child will inconvenience a mother is enough to justify taking the life of that child. This is especially true in a modern society where birth control is available to all.

On the other hand, I'm not as extreme as may of the pro-life people out there. I don't have a problem with birth control that changes the probability of implantation after conception. I can see a case to be made for aborting children who would suffer from horrible diseases (I'm leaving this a bit vague, but I do think there is some ground between nothing and Gattaca.) I also support allowing abortion in cases where rape has occurred, or when the life of the mother is in jeopardy.

I believe most people in America believe something like this, but unfortunately the abortion debate has become dominated by extremist positions. To a large extent, I think that the abolition or nothing attitudes of many of the pro-life organizations in the world hurt, rather than help.

Take the following:


The Catholic church joined a public debate set off by an abortion performed on a 9-year-old rape victim, comparing the procedure to a bombing.

"Is there any difference between a bus full of passengers that receives the impact of a car bomb and a metallic instrument that impacts the maternal womb to suck out a fetus?" the nation's bishops asked in an open letter issued Monday night.

Ignoring the fact that I don't really consider the bus to be nearly as guilty as the bomb or the bomber in a car bombing (and assuming they meant to say "bomb" instead of "bus"), statements like this by representatives of the Catholic church seem to hurt efforts to reduce abortions.

They leave out the intent of the actions. A bomb on a bus is meant to destroy, where as (in the case of this one procedure on this one girl), an abortion can be meant to save a life. By failing to make distinctions like this, the pro-life side discredits itself in the minds of many.

A credible anti-abortion group would oppose unlimited abortion on demand, but support limited abortions and the availability of birth control. The pro-life organizations that exist today fail to do this, and many base their opposition on religious principles that are unlikely to change. Until new groups emerge, I don't see much of a change in the status quo.

- Tom | permalink | changelog | Last updated: 2003-02-25 20:03

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