Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Middle Ground in Abortion

Is an unborn child a human life? This is the question that radicalizes the abortion debate in America. Steve Waldman thinks that the question forces us into a false dichotomy. He suggests that human life is a progressive continuum between less human and more human:

Open minded pro-lifers would take note of these concessions from their "enemies," viewing them as a sign that these pro-choicers--far from being hideous baby killers--fully embrace a moral dimension to the abortion decision.

Meanwhile, any pro-lifers who accept this framework would be making a concession, too. They'd be saying, in effect, that if the other side can concede that something precious is alive - and becoming more alive with each day - then they could, in turn, acknowledge that reasonable people, of different faiths, can disagree about when exactly that baby becomes alive enough to have legal rights.

My thoughts:

1. Waldman seems very focused on getting pro-choice and pro-life sides to be nice to each other. I'm more concerned with not killing babies than sparing the feelings of people on the other side of the debate.

2. Human life a continuum of becoming? Interesting idea. But when in doubt, I err in favor of not killing babies.

3. Would a developmentally disabled person be considered less of a human being in this new understanding of human life as a continuum?

4. Should murdering a developmentally disabled person be considered a less serious crime, perhaps on par with cruelty to animals?


Marcel said...

Is the unborn child a human life? Sure, and everyone in his heart of hearts knows it. The supposed doubts and competing definitions of human life are rhetorical cover for people who simply think the ability to occasionally sacrifice a child is, on balance, worth it, but don't want to say so.

Earl said...

Pro-abortion advocates are as reasonable in their beliefs as those who advocated the elimination of "life unworthy of life" in the Nazi era. There is no difference. Today in Germany it is a chargeable crime to deny the holocaust. Yet today in America it is perfectly legal to kill a unborn child simply because that child is in the way of someone doing as they please. It does not matter if the unborn child will be developmentally challenged, etc. What matters is convenience and cost.

Lou said...

If there is a continuum then what should we do with premature babies? "Dispose" of them because they are human enough yet?


Rick said...


I've had a similar thought for a while. If a child is born two months prematurely, does that give the mom two months after birth to conduct a post-birth abortion?

That is why the continuum idea will never work, no matter how pragmatic it sounds. Preemies throw an irrefutable wrench into the pro-choice argument.