Here is one of the least profound statements that you’ll ever hear: Abortion is a difficult and divisive issue.
This is because many people on both sides of the debate look at abortion in a black/white manner.
People’s views on abortion can be roughly divided into two groups: those who think abortion is murder, and those who are in the “my body, my choice” group.
If someone says, “After conception, the fetus is a human being. So abortion is murder”. You can’t really argue this point because that is their belief.
If another person says, “As long as the fetus is in my body, It is part of my body, and thus it is my decision whether or not to have an abortion”. You can’t really argue this point either because that is their belief.
We have a conundrum. Is there a way to handle this?
It’s important to look at abortion from both a moral point of view as well as a legal point of view. Let’s look at the moral point of view first.
For those who think abortion is moral, there are many who think that abortion would be immoral after a certain gestational period. One thought I’ve heard was that abortion would be immoral once the child could live outside the womb. Others have suggested that abortion would be immoral once the fetus can feel pain. Although there is no medical consensus about this, it seems that most researchers would agree that after 26 weeks, the fetus could feel pain. This is at roughly 6 months. An abortion after this period would be considered a late-term abortion.
So morally, most people would think that abortion is immoral after the 6th month of pregnancy (unless the mother’s health is at risk, or the baby is not viable).
For those who think abortion is murder, either at conception or shortly thereafter, abortion is immoral.
Deciding when and if abortion should be illegal is different than deciding when and if it is immoral.
One concept I like in the philosophy of law is that a good law is one that at least 95% of adults agree with. A complete ban on abortion does not meet this criterion, as only about 40% of Americans agree with this law.
Thinking about laws such as those that criminalize murder (after birth), rape, child abuse, or theft, well over 95% of people agree with these laws. Fortunately, most laws are related to these.
However, we could reach that 95% threshold if we made abortion illegal after the 6th month.
With respect to abortion laws, most of them give punishments for those who provide abortions. But rarely do they indicate punishments for the women who get an abortion. These laws treat women as if they are not responsible for their own decisions. Rational abortion laws should penalize the women who get them equally to those who provide them.
This might sound callous, but there is a good reason to require abortion laws to be this way. After all, how many people (or state legislators) would vote to put women who have an abortion in jail? Not many. And that’s because most of us know many women who have had abortions, and even if we don’t agree with them doing so, most of us don’t want to see them in jail.
Thus, the most compelling conclusion is that abortion should be legal until the last trimester. And in the last trimester, it should be legal if the mother’s health is at risk, or if the baby is not viable.
We can all come together when we acknowledge that no woman gets pregnant in order to have an abortion. What can we do to decrease the number of abortions without making it illegal?
Educating teens and adults about sex and birth control is a good first step. If you are going to have sexual intercourse, and you don’t want to get pregnant, the man and/or woman should use birth control.
Our culture is overly sexualized and is pushing the message that any consensual sex is good.
But sex between those who do not love each other, or do not respect each other can be harmful emotionally.
Men are much less discerning when it comes to sex. Women are more discerning because only they can get pregnant. We should teach our girls and women to say no to sexual intercourse unless they love and respect the man they are with, and that the man that loves and respects them.
Boys should be taught that girls are not ‘play things’, and to have respect for girls and women as they do for their mothers or sisters.
For a woman who does get pregnant, and doesn’t want the baby, she should be informed about the possibility of adoption.
The process of adoption could be much more streamlined and less expensive. Certainly, we want adopting couples to be well-vetted. Once that is done, and a mother is found who wants to give her child up for adoption, the couple should be introduced to the mother (if she so desires). Immediately after birth, and after the child has been cleaned and examined, the baby should be given to its adoptive parents. This allows the baby to immediately bond with its adoptive mother and father, an extremely important process.
We all want to decrease unwanted pregnancies. Doing this would decrease the number of abortions without making it illegal.
Tim Farage writes about the application of Natural Law to all areas of society, including education, government, economics, science, math, technology, environmentalism, and relationships.