01 July 2010

The Scarlet "A"

No, not that one. Today, I'm going to speak of the single most divisive subject in America. It cuts across party lines, faith, gender, preference--every category of people. This post will likely make people on both sides fire up their flamethrowers. Well, I've got my Nomex undies on, so here goes.

Today's subject, friends...is abortion.

Not only is the issue divisive, it brings out the most extreme viewpoints of just about any other issue. On one side, you have the Hardcore Pro-Choice, who believe that abortion should be an absolute right of choice right up until the head crowns. On the other, you have the Hardcore Pro-Life, who believe that the instant sperm meets egg, the result is a full-fledged human being, no ifs ands or buts. One side concentrates solely on the rights of the woman. The other, solely on the rights of the fetus.

After thinking it over, I find that both extremes are entirely wrongheaded. On Day Zero, you have a cell which is dividing. I do not consider this a human being. On Day 270, you have a fully-formed baby. Anyone who does not consider this a human being has serious mental issues and should be considered sociopathic. So, somewhere between 0 and nine months, one person becomes two.* The question is, where can that line be objectively drawn?
(Bear in mind, I'm an atheist. Arguments concerning religious dogma do not sway me. While I respect peaceful people of faith, I am very leery of codifying any form of religious belief into law. We may be a Christian nation, but we were very clearly meant to have a secular government. Our Founders had just broken away from a land where Church and State were all but one, and they realized that whenever that happens, both Church and State are corrupted and humanity loses big.)

Digression over. I believe I have found the best compromise we're ever going to get on the issue. The reasoning behind this law has been maligned as an attempt to 'exploit a loophole' in Roe v. Wade, but regardless, it makes sense. If something can feel pain, it is, to some degree, self-aware. If the fetus is self-aware, to any degree, then it is an independent being, and as such it has rights. It might not be fully human, but in my view, it's close enough.

When I first heard about this law, my Secular Sense went on high alert. But after thinking on it, I found I could raise no objection. There was no talk of banning contraception, or the morning-after pill, or even first-trimester abortions. The time limit is 20 weeks. That's more than halfway through gestation. Five months is more than enough time to make up your mind on the matter.

This is a subject which has no easy answers, and due to the intense polarization concerned, is unlikely to ever be fully resolved. But this is the best objective solution I've found which takes into account the rights of both the woman and the developing person. If anyone has a better idea, I'd love to hear it. Until then, the Pro-Choice faction would do well not to pick this hill to die on.

It should go without saying that I am absolutely opposed to any public funding of the procedure.  No one should be forced to financially support what they believe is murder.  Ever.

* Or nine, in that horrendous "Octomom" fiasco.

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