Thursday, August 09, 2007

Abortion Legislation

The rationale behind current abortion legislation is interesting. Indeed, it seems completely to ignore what seems quite obvious about the nature of the fetus.

Instead it seems to focus on the issue of viability - how capable the fetus is of survival without the mother.

Of course, on one level, this seems to be a ludicrous idea - a baby is not capable of independent survival at least until it can crawl, and in almost every case, for a long time afterwards. But it seems to me that the specific issue here is the dependence on the mother rather than on other human beings. After 24 weeks, the baby would need help to survive, but that help does not have to come from the mother.

Abortion legislation then seems to rest on the idea that no-one has an obligation to help another. If someone is lying bleeding by the side of the road, we do not have to call an ambulance. If we do not want to support our children, we can put them into the care of social services. If we do not want to support elderly relatives, ditto. If we do not want to support non-viable fetuses, we do not have to. But since there is no-one else who can support them other than the mother, the fetus is killed.

And to an extent, that is a logical point of view, though harsh, and I have stated it harshly to make a point. It is the idea that we have a right not to be responsible for others if we don't want to, which we place more highly than the right to continued life.

I don't agree with that, of course. I think the act of bringing the child into existence confers a responsibility on those who did so to support it until it becomes independent, just as I think that that support confers the responsibility on the child to look after the parents when they can no longer look after themselves.

And neither does that point of view provide any justification for taking action to end the life of the fetus, which is what abortion is. Even if it was a valid point of view, it would only confer the right to mistreat the child by eating unsuitable or inadequate food, using drugs, etc. It would not give the ability to remove life, any more than society deciding it no longer wanted to look after Jews would give society the right to kill them.

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