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Friday, January 04, 2013

Contentious dialogue with a (narrowly-defined) pro-lifer

I've been in dialogue with someone on a variety of subjects, and it ended up turning to the contentious issue of abortion. He said he has never voted for a Democrat for statewide office or higher because of the "life issue," as he called it.

He believes Barack Obama is the most pro-abortion president in the country's history and believes in partial-birth abortion. He sent me a series of out-of-context quotes and claims from conservative pundits declaring it as fact.

I've voted for people who have labeled themselves pro-life and pro-choice - including Obama and George W. Bush - because I think those labels should matter less than potentially effective policy that will lower the abortion rate, primarily through encouraging people to make smarter decisions concerning sex - a tall order, I know - and the kinds of government programs and funding that prevent an estimated 800,000 abortions every year. The much-maligned Affordable Care Act is projected to increase that number, yes, to prevent even more abortions.

I'm happy that the abortion rate reached an all-time low during the early part of Obama's first term even if many who call themselves pro-life seem to not be as happy because Obama is pro-choice.

I'm also for parental notification laws and real restrictions on abortion, such as limiting the vast majority of them to the really early stage of pregnancy. I do not believe in abortion on demand or that it is only a woman's choice to make, even though I believe that in a free society it must be primarily a woman's decision. I just don't see how we can have it any other way and still say we are free. Yes, the fetus matters - but so does the woman.

I also believe in rare cases late in a pregnancy that the woman, her doctor, and ideally the man who impregnated her, should be the ones making the decision, because it is about medicine and the woman's health, not about politics.

It's not about my personal feelings. He asked when I thought life began. I told him that for my wife and I, the lives of our 3 children began the moment we began discussing trying to create them, and that only 2 of them made it into the world. (We even turned down tests the doctors recommended to determine if a defect in one of our children could be detected in the womb. We planned to go through with the pregnancy either way, so why bother with such tests, we thought.) We lost the other - Fabrice McKenzie Bailey - about 9 weeks into my wife's second pregnancy, at a stage of development where Fabrice hadn't yet developed a recognizable human body and could be described as just a small clump of cells. That's what the science says. But we loved (and love) her and named her because we never want to forget.

Her 11-year-old brother and 8-year-old sister know who she is. But that's the personal, not policy. I don't expect everyone to believe what we believe. Nor do I demand that the laws reflect my personal, faith beliefs. I fight against abortion in my own way, by opening up real lines of communication with young people and urging them to make wise decisions, as well as how, and giving them tools so their options will be plenty, providing them more incentive to avoided unwanted pregnancies. That, to me, is the key in this whole thing. The fewer unwanted pregnancies there are, the fewer abortions there will be.

The person I have been exchanging emails with has not been impressed with anything I said, so I began asking him a series of specific questions concerning the legality of abortion itself, which seems to be how he defines being pro-life, meaning a person who wants Roe v. Wade overturned - as a start - with a heavy focus on abstinence and not contraception. He said every abortion is murder, then said states should decide. I told him that didn't make much sense. We don't say murder is OK is South Carolina but not in California, which means that either he doesn't really believe each abortion is murder, or he doesn't value life as much as he insists he does.

Some of the other legal, technical questions I pressed him on are below.

If he provides answers, I'll update.

Some of those questions:

 

-- You say every abortion is murder and also say that each state should decide the abortion issue. Please explain why murder should be allowed in one state and not another?
-- You say you would go down the road to arresting women. When will arresting a woman be OK? If she plans the murder of her husband or her 10-year-old son and the authorities find out - before she actually gets to do it - she can be arrested on attempted murder, or something akin to it. Is that the standard you want to apply to pregnant women who are considering "murdering" their fetus?
-- When should the doctor be arrested? And for how long? About the same amount of time as someone who attempts to murder a 10-year-old girl?
-- Or do you believe these murders should only be punished after they have occurred, after the abortion? At that point, would you arrest the doctor and the woman for murder? Or just one?
-- And because your purpose as a staunch pro-lifer is life above everything else, what would you do to make sure these attempted murders (abortion) don't ever get a chance to occur at all? When women become pregnant, must they be monitored for the entire 40-week gestation period? Must they register with the state before being allowed to have unprotected sex? Must they be legally required to take folic acid pills and have prenatal care or be charged with neglect? And if the prenatal care is mandatory, does she have to pay for it, or will that be fully covered by the state?
-- And after a woman tries to have an abortion but is stopped then is forced to go through with the pregnancy, what if she refuses to push. Would it be OK if the doctor forced a C-section? And after the baby is removed from her womb, would she no longer have legal rights as a mother because she tried to murder her child?
These are not rhetorical questions, though some are meant to be provocative, to promote thought, at least contemplation. These are things that must be considered if we are certain that what women are doing is murder and we want to stop them. There is a moral argument and ethical argument and social one, but when you delve into a legal one in the U.S., you open up a whole can of worms that, apparently, many are not really willing to confront, no matter how much they declare their love of every single life.

 

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