Ohio lawmakers are considering a controversial bill that would ban abortions sought because the baby has Down syndrome, placing the swing state at the center of a new battle for anti-abortion advocates.
“What does that say of us as a society if we make decisions about who lives or who dies dependent on if they are going to be an inconvenience, or they are [costing] too much money for health care costs?” Ohio Right to Life President Michael Gonidakis told FoxNews.com. “Someday we are going to find a genetic marker for autism. Are we going to have a 90 percent abortion rate for people with autism? I hope not.” [foxnews.com 8/24/15]
Here’s my question: What does it say about us as a society if some people use the force of government to impose the life of raising a child with Down Syndrome on unwilling victims, i.e. parents?
I realize that some will say, “Life begins at conception. Therefore, you must respect all life, Down Syndrome, or not.”
I could not disagree more that life begins at conception. Life begins when life begins — at the moment of birth. Prior to birth, or at least prior to viability, a fetus is — by its very nature — an extension of the body of the pregnant woman. It’s a potential life, or a life in the making, but not a life in the actual, objective sense.
Anti-abortion laws are based on two assumptions.
One, the entirely faith-based belief that God inserts the divinity of life into a fetus at conception; this is entirely faith-based, and has no relevance to a secular Constitution based on separation of church and state.
Two, the biological claim that a non-viable fetus is just as much a biological life as a newborn infant. But there’s an essential difference between the two. The non-viable fetus cannot function yet — biologically — as a life, apart from or outside of the mother’s body. The infant obviously can. You cannot ignore such a crucial distinction; you cannot evade the difference between a potential life and an actual, self-sustaining (biologically speaking) life.
I am impervious to the arguments by threat, emotion, or intimidation. I am impervious to arguments with pictures or videos of out-of-context body parts or blood stains, because pictures and videos are not, in and of themselves, stand-alone substitutes for rational arguments. I am not writing this article right now to persuade anyone who feels abortion is murder to change their minds, because I know that nothing will do that.
It’s perfectly fine for people to believe whatever they wish to believe. For example, one is free to believe in life after death. But we do not pass laws involving the activities of people in that “life” after death. That would be absurd. Others believe in reincarnation. But we don’t pass laws referring to actions that you allegedly took against me, or I against you, when we each inhabited different bodies in different “lives.” That would be insanity. (Given how things are going, we might be closer to proposals for such laws than you think.)
There’s a reason why we celebrate our birthdays on the date of our births, and not the date of our conceptions. It’s because we all plainly know that our lives began on the date of our births — not nine months earlier.
People are free to believe what they wish about souls (i.e., one’s consciousness) detached from the body, not only before birth or after death, but at any other time. But in a free society, we don’t codify those exclusively faith-based beliefs into law. Not unless it’s a religious dictatorship, or some other kind of dictatorship.
If you discover only after birth that your child has Down Syndrome, or any other illness, you have no right to kill that child. However, if technology gets us to the point where you can know about this tragic development prior to birth, early on in the pregnancy no less, then no moral government would ever force its citizens to bring such pregnancies to term.
I consider this a new low.
We’re rapidly becoming a society of “brother’s keepers.” More and more, the government decides that everyone must be cared for, protected and nurtured at others’ expense. One price of such a society is that the government that makes the commitment to caring for everyone will eventually control the activities, behaviors and choices of everyone.
The legislation is unique [foxnews.com reports], though not unprecedented. North Dakota passed a similar measure in 2013 that banned abortions motivated by the sex of the baby; a diagnosis for a genetic abnormality such as Down syndrome; or the potential for a genetic abnormality.
Notice that governments (state level, for the moment) now feel empowered to decide the preferences of their child’s gender. So far, it’s only in the negative. “You have no right to terminate your pregnancy based on gender.” How long before government gets to decide how many children you have, when you have them, or in what order of gender you must have them? In principle, there’s nothing to stop this, once you start down the path North Dakota has already gone, and Ohio seems poised to go down now.
Whether religious or otherwise, “left wing” or “right wing,” authoritarian and totalitarian governments always rely on the same thing: the creed of self-sacrifice. Even more than most anti-abortion laws, these North Dakota and Ohio forms of legislation advocate the imposition of sacrifice as an end in itself — primarily because it’s a sacrifice, the laws imply, it should be imposed on people for that reason. It’s involuntary servitude, applied to parenthood.
Forcing people to be parents of a mentally or physically disabled child whether they wish to be, or not, is one of the most ruthless, sadistic and mind-numbing forms of totalitarianism possible. Stop saying, “It can’t happen in America.” It’s already starting.
“Rape and incest is [sic] violence perpetuated against an innocent victim, which of course is also true for abortion since unborn children are innocent but have the ultimate act of violence perpetuated against them.”[Why Abortion in Case of Rape is a Non-Argument]
First, the term “unborn children” is an oxymoron. It is an invalid concept. There are fetuses, which in the first two trimesters, cannot be called “children” because they are not only unconscious, but cannot sustain their own lives once out of the womb. They are the equivalent of appendages in a woman’s body. As an arm or a hand cannot sustain itself without a body, neither can a fetus.
Secondly, abortions are justified in cases of rape and involuntary or forced incest (because not all instances of incest are involuntary) because the victim of a rape owns her own body and it has been expropriated by a rapist. She is left with the unwanted and unjust consequences of that initiation of force on her person. She has a right to dispose of it. Victims of rape do that fairly quickly, and don’t wait until the third trimester or at the 11th hour.
Thirdly, the term “innocent victim” is a redundant term. Being a victim implies innocence. I do get tired of that old sawhorse.
Lastly, being pro-abortion doesn’t necessarily mean one is a leftist trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. I get tired of that argument, too, because it’s so hackneyed and is the usual tactic of “rightists” searching for another crime committed by the left. The left is guilty of a Sears catalogue of crimes, and the last thing they would ever uphold or champion is the individual right of a woman to own her own body. They don’t, and this is a policy or idea shared by left and right.
Writes Dr. Ellen Kenner, “If you have had an abortion and are struggling with guilt – I want you to know that there many individuals who would love to help you see that the guilt you are carrying is totally unfounded.” Read the rest at ABORTION: A MORAL CHOICE.
Women do have the right of ownership of their bodies; unconscious, dependent fetuses do not own the bodies of their hosts. You can argue the subject from an emotionalist perspective – and then it’s not arguing, but just shouting – or you can calm down and examine the issue scientifically, rationally, from a medical perspective. And also argue for getting the government out of the issue entirely. But then we live in a political atmosphere in which the government or society or demagogues claim that everyone belongs to the state and exists for the state. How do you reconcile individual rights and collectivism? You are not doing it here, because it can’t be done regardless of the subject.
And again later, Cline:
What is your attitude towards women as individuals? This latest essay of yours shows a tendency to stereotype women — “Sarah Lawrence grads”, “activists”, poor teenagers with vague “dreams”, etc. — while shifting the focus to the imagery of dead fetuses.
Do you understand why an individual woman may conclude that having children is a poor choice for her on grounds of temperament, ambitions, and other personal preferences? What do you think supersedes that? Why do you conclude that her rights are suspended in the instant she conceives? Are you hostile towards sex for reasons other than procreation? Do you define “human being” in the mystical sense of a “soul” implanted by a god at conception – when it is merely a drop of unconscious protoplasm in a vagina – or are you open to a rational definition?
Do you at least recognize that an impregnated woman may disagree with you about the mystical “soul” and that your faith is not conclusive on the issue?
I ask these questions because your implicit position on women seems to parallel that of Islam, that women are merely to serve as obedient baby-factories whose nature doesn’t permit individual minds, choices, or lives. This emotionalist take on women and in particular the issue of abortion (and perhaps even on contraception) beggars my esteem for you as one of the most rational observers of contemporary issues and culture. You seem to harbor a very serious conflict in premises and conclusions.
In cases of a “botched” abortion, once delivered outside of the woman all efforts must be taken to support the newborn assuming it is viable. This is a far more complex issue to deal with (as opposed to the clear cut case of an abortion, say at one month into a pregnancy). But as in the case of “partial birth” abortions this is a woman’s right.
Here we have in this video (which I watched in its entirety) a woman being literally badgered by politicians asking her loaded questions (e.g., that hoary old chestnut of a courtroom question, “When did you stop beating your wife?”). Every one of them tried to coax out of her a confession that she condones “murder.” Not one queries her about the term or trimester in which an abortion has been performed. Was it at four months? Six months? Seven? Eight? And what is the physical condition of the “baby on the table”? Is it damaged? Is it an unsalvageable “preemie?” Was it going to be born defective, mentally or physically? Is it crying? Is it really a “patient on the table,” as the one snarky lawmaker remarked? There are a multitude of other issues appended to the abortion issue. But obviously the legislators weren’t interested in facts, not even medical facts. They were only interested in indicting the woman and abortionists and women who want an abortion for “murder,” who were all deemed guilty before the hearing convened. This was a witch hunt, not a civil enquiry.
The Ayn Rand Institute has just released the first episode of their new podcast Eye to Eye which focuses on Abortion and Roe vs. Wade.
From their website:
On January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court handed down the decision on the landmark case of Roe v. Wade. With a 7-to-2 majority vote, the court struck down state bans on abortion, prompting a national debate that continues forty years later. That decision — as well the subject of abortion itself — remains divisive. Activists on both sides debate whether and to what extent abortion should be legal, how the Supreme Court shapes the law on issues of constitutionality, and the role of morality and religious views in the political sphere. On this episode of Eye to Eye, ARI’s new podcast, hosts Jordan McGillis and Amanda Maxham sit down with Dr. Onkar Ghate, ARI’s senior fellow, and Tom Bowden, legal analyst, to discuss the political, legal and moral questions surrounding abortion.
Some of the topics covered include:
Ayn Rand’s view on abortion and the Roe v. Wade ruling