Abortion is murder. In my view women have — and ought to continue to have — the right to murder their unborn babies. Each abortion is a tragedy, some necessary and others not, and all of them are murder.Contra the best intentions of a Don Marquis, Rall recognizes that for a critical minded liberal, this is a Gordian knot that cannot be untied by logic, only cut in a way that, however and wherever the cutting is done, involves some brutality. (Marquis' argument philosophically fails otherwise; he stacks the decks by excluding utilitarian/consequentialist theories of ethics from the beginning.)
And, I'm not alone in this. One progressive blogger quoted from my previous blog post on this issue, where I had quoted the Rall quote above. More of Rall's thoughts here. You can also go to his website.
That said, this is also a Gordian knot for conservatives in some ways, too. I tackle that issue below.
Every abortion that is at least post-implantation affects a potentially human life. And, while not traumatic in the way or degree that Religious Righters claim, isn't without psychological pain (and physical, too, even with somewhat early abortions).
Viability? It's where I cut the Gordian knot myself, even while recognizing that the PZ Myers-es of the world would, if followed to their logical conclusion, could use "viability" as a justification for early childhood euthanasia.
Beyond this? I want to make abortion safe, legal and rare.
And less necessary. That includes these things, among others.
Public school sex education that doesn't fixate on abstinence only;
Better prenatal health;
Easier access to various methods of contraception.
Most of those are standard liberal tropes.
I also want to encourage better social responsibility. A baby isn't a puppy. If "scared straight" programs need to be part of the work of making teens, white and minority, rich, middle class or poor, worried about child raising, fine.
If these "scared straight" programs would work better with a "terrible twos" doll than a baby doll, fine.
I generally deny being a utilitarian, but, dammit, sometimes I guess I am, at least to some degree.
My background on this issue is that, before I became a nontheist and politically liberal to left liberal, I actually marched in a few pro-life rallies.
Since then, although I realize the strong value of reproductive freedom, I ultimately feel like Rall. I could never march in a pro-choice rally. I've marched in gay rights rallies, but I could never march in a pro-choice one.
And, if this commenter on a recent blog post by Massimo is being straightforward when she says:
The vast majority of abortions are performed while the pregnancy is a collection of barely differentiated cells. What are the significant ethical consequences of that? How are they more significant than say, my right to fly to Europe in nine months ...That's why I wouldn't be marching in a pro-choice rally.
As for another claim in that vein?
The idea that men have "no right" to comment on abortion is ridiculous.
I have a right to oppose capital punishment, even if no relative or close friend has ever been murdered, for example. And, trying to shut down pro-life claims, or anti-capital punishment claims, on such tribalist grounds just doesn't fly with me. Nor does insult mongering. Pro-lifers aren't "looney tunes" overall, though a fair amount may be.
Nor, also per the piece by Massimo, from a commenter whom I generally respect a lot, is the pro-life movement an "intellectual fraud."
If you said the pro-life political movement, I'd agree. But, as a lot of Republicans who are selective about pope-quoting know or should know, folks like the Catholic Church, with a stance of both pro-life and anti-capital punishment, and with at least some emphasis on social justice issues, and with concerns about the effects of capitalism, are not intellectual frauds.
I understand the political sociology behind the pro-choice movement, and how strong of an issue that is for most pro-choice women and many pro-choice men.
This isn't a "symmetrical" issue politically, though, either. I wouldn't support a pro-choice politician just because he or she is pro-choice. But, I'm likely to not support a pro-lifer unless he or she has a LOT of other political stances with which I am in agreement.
Another asymmetry is that pro-choicers don't use violence to support their claims. A noticeable minority of pro-life folks, though, do push their goals violently. They're still a minority, though.
At the same time, I know this is part of why (although there's a number of other reasons) I never really jumped on the Wendy Davis for governor bandwagon here in Texas. Her campaign was kickstarted by her filibustering an abortion restrictions bill. It didn't help that, two-three months after launching her campaign, she then clumsily backed away from that, and that she did not, at the start, present a broad-based campaign announcement with pizzazz.
That said, the "Gordian knot" of course applies to pro-lifers, too. Their arguments usually start from ignorance of the basic evolutionary biology fact that from one-quarter to one-third of human conceptions are spontaneously aborted. And, that sim ple biological fact shows that abortion (and per various exemptions that some pro-lifers will allow), and even abortion post-implantation, is not some human-devised intervention and nothing else.
If you accept that "nature" causes abortions, primarily because of genetic abnormalities, but perhaps even due to reasons we don't yet recognize, like epigenetic reasons or simply high maternal stress, then you've got a big can of worms on your side of the issue, too.
Meanwhile, Massimo has had a follow-up post, in response to P.Z. Myers and Greta Christina (with Stephanie Zvan, to whom he graciously did not link) flaming him, mainly through all sorts of misinterpretations. And, result? Some of the Social Justice Warrior types are running hot and heavy in comment threads there.
And, if any pro-lifer reading this thread says "original sin," you get deleted and blocked.