Wednesday, October 13, 2010

If abortion is made illegal, what then?

I'm curious what your thoughts are about this abortion question. It's just something I came across tonight that I've been playing around with in my head.

So the question I would have for my pro-life friends is about policy. What specific policy recommendations do you call for? If doctors continue to perform abortions once it has been made illegal, what charges do you intend to bring against them? What crime do you think a woman ought to be charged with if she seeks an abortion? If you believe that women are “victims” of abortion, do you see them as emotional children who cannot be held accountable for their actions? Do you think penalties should be enhanced for women who seek more than one abortion over the course of their lifetimes?

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Thanks for the thought provoking question! I may throw that out to my pro life friends as well. Actually, I think that strategically it makes more sense to talk about consequences than about just outlawing it. It shifts the debate to actually assuming that it should be illegal.

I think that what we need is an overall culture shift. In a relativistic culture, it is seen as moral because it is legal. To make abortion illegal would be to make it, to some degree, socially unacceptable, and force people to ask the question as to why it is illegal, and what it is about human life that is so worth protecting. So honestly, I don't think we would go straight to huge consequences- but start small. Here's the road map I would propose;

1. Stop paying for abortions through health care. Force it to be privatized and get it out of our hospitals.

2. Make abortion illegal- in so doing, we would close the abortion clinics. Doctors who continue to perform abortions would lose their licence, and could be charged in all the ways that doctors who practice illegal medicine or practice medicine without a licence, including jail time if necessary. (Restrictions on term length would have to be established by the courts, and we'd allow the courts to decide the particulars in each case.) During this phase, it would still be legal to go to other countries to get abortions, but due to the unavailablity in our own country this would be unlikely. (This is the present situation in Ireland, although the EU will probably force them to change it.)

3. Work to change the culture so that the very concept of abortion is morally repugnant, just as slavery or racism is. In time, people promoting abortion could be viewed with the same disdain as those who promote racially based slavery. Later there could be a discussion about limmiting freedom of speech on this topic, however that's a little totalitarian. The same abuses presently in place wherein you could be charged with promoting hatred for speaking against homosexuality could happen here, and in my opinion we don't want to go there.

This does beg an interesting question. Abortion is murder, by technical definition. In time I suppose the laws could reflect that, and the woman who has committed an abortion could be subject to the same consequences as the woman who murders her born baby. But I think that is so distasteful to our culture that we'd have to start smaller, by just treating it as an illegal medical procedure. Doctor is consequenced, patient is not. That would resolve most of the problems. I think the consequence to the crime has to reflect the culture the woman is in, so we have to change the culture before we can swing the consequence.

It makes me wonder. Is arguing that abortion is 'murder' (or even 'genocide') an effective technique, or is it so extreme as to be easily discredited by our oponents and therefore unlikely to ever effect policy?

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