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Abortion rights

This is a tough issue since there are good people and good arguments on both sides.  Demonization of either side is unfair and counterproductive.  “Pro-life” people are not trying to mount a war on women, but to prevent a war on the unborn.  “Pro-choice” people are not baby killers, but want women to be able to defend themselves against an unwanted invasion of their body.

I find the pro-choice arguments more compelling.  First, the right to life is not absolute.  We send innocent people off to Afghanistan to die for our freedom.  We kill certain criminals. We have many policies that we know will kill people, for example high speed limits on freeways, allowing unstable people to own assault weapons, not providing basic health care to millions, allowing pollutants to be spewed into our air and water, etc.  Sometimes freedom is more important than life.  When freedom is more important and when protecting life is more important is a matter for debate.  If it is never right to take a life we should disband the army and take guns away from the police.

Second, many rights have age limitations that are arbitrary, not fair in some cases, but are picked so that on average they are best for society.  There are age limits on the right to vote, drink alcohol, serve in Congress, collect Social Security, etc.  The key question is not when does life begin, but when does the civil right to life begin?

Some say that right should begin at conception.  This is wrong.  It cannot be that life begins only at conception.  If that were true identical twins, who shared a single conception, would have only one life, not two.

I think almost all agree that that right exists at birth.  But some Jewish tradition does not give a boy his name until 8 days of age and he doesn’t receive his full soul till then.

Where to draw the line between conception and birth?

Roe v. Wade grants the civil right to life if the child could survive outside the mother, and I find this the best solution.

If a less developed fetus has all the civil rights of a 2-year old, every miscarriage would be a homicide.  Drinking a glass of wine while pregnant would be assault.  Freezing embryos in a fertility clinic would be kidnapping.  Assigning full civil rights to an individual incapable of independent existence makes for legal issues that would be extremely disruptive.

Many conservatives believe in “stand your ground” laws where it is legitimate to use deadly force if you feel your personal space is threatened, even if it turns out there was no threat after all.  An unwanted pregnancy is the ultimate threat to personal space.  Anyone for stand your ground should be pro-choice.

Some argue that abortion to save the life of the mother is illegitimate.  If so, this mocks the right to use force in self-defense.  Some argue that exceptions for rape or incest inflict punishment on an innocent person for the sins of the father.  This ignores the right of the real victim, the pregnant woman, to rid herself of the wound of the crime.

Advocating adoption instead of abortion ignores the fact that the foster care system is totally overloaded already and adoption opportunities are dwarfed by the need for abortions.

Maintaining that the fetus should not be punished for failure to use contraception ignores the fact that contraception is not 100% effective.

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