Abortion Ambivalence

The abortion issue is one where I am firmly in the undecided camp.  Not because I disagree with either side but because I agree with both.

The Libertarian streak in me bristles at the thought that the state should control what a woman can and cannot do with their own bodies when it comes to having babies.  What could be a more intrinsic and natural right than the right to decide one’s own reproduction?  So a part of me agrees that a woman should have an absolute right to abort a fetus if she so chooses to do so — it’s her body.  And there are ancillary arguments that are not without weight as well: 1) that if abortions aren’t legal and carried out by licensed doctors, they will be done anyway but by quacks with potentially fatal results for the woman, and 2) that if the pregnant woman is poor and without material support from either a husband or a family or both, by forcing the woman to have the baby, you are condemning her to a financially precarious and very difficult life.

But there’s the other part of me that cannot deny that killing a fetus is to some degree, inescapably, murder.  To deny that is simply that — you’re just in denial.  So if you endorse legal abortions, there is no doubt in my mind that you are also endorsing murder, and that of completely innocent, albeit still unborn, infants.  And to make matters even more egregious, you are doing this murder for what reason?  Really, just for the mere convenience of the woman — she just decides that having a baby is not something she  wants to do right now because, for whatever reason, it is inconvenient.  There you have it — murder for convenience.  How do you square that one?   No one can.

In fact, I think even young women who wholeheartedly endorse the Free-Choice point of view must know in their heart of hearts, having had an abortion, that they have killed an infant, and that must be a dreadful passing thought and a cross to bear.  But even worse, the woman who has abortions but then goes all the way through her child-bearing years without having had children, and then, when it’s too late, wants to have children, only to realize the door is now closed for that option, so she has murdered the children she could have had, but now will have none.  Dreadful.

So I am firmly in the undecided camp because both arguments seem compelling to me, which leaves me in nowheresville.  But the one thing I do think might be a better solution than what we have now is a different approach to legal abortion.  Right now, Roe v. Wade makes abortion legal throughout the entire United States, even though there are states where the Pro-Lifers are clearly in the majority, so you are forcing those people to live under a form of government that they may despise — a highly unrepresentative situation, which goes against all of our traditions of democratic government.   One can see why states like that could engender so much animosity that you end up with abortion clinic bombings and murders, as there are many fanatics on the Pro-Life side that believe they are doing god’s work by such acts.

Therefore, what I think would be a better solution than what we have now — and certainly one more in sync with representative and therefore democratic government — would be if the abortion issue were decided by each state, not by the federal government.  Fanatics on both side of the argument would then have the choice to live in a state whose abortion policy they agreed with, and since a good many states would certainly remain Free-Choice states, women who found themselves in Prof-Life states but wanted an abortion could always get a legal and medically sound one simply by travelling to one of the Free-Choice states to have it.

This alternative approach to legal abortion would go a long way toward defusing acrimony around this issue simply because a larger percentage of the population would be living under a state government whose abortion policy they agree with.

State by state voter breakdown on abortion

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