Thursday, February 19, 2009

I can't believe I haven't explicitly stated this before

This evening, a friend was asking me to clarify some points of catholic doctrine, as regards communion, one's conscience, and the teachings of the church.

We had what I hope was a fruitful discussion; but there was a specific element I wanted to address.

Apparently, I've managed to go four years without explicitly stating this; though I know I've made reference to it in the past several times:

Abortion is morally wrong, in all cases and at all times. Abortion is always homicide (though in some cases, for grave reasons, homicide can be justified). Abortion for anything other than grave reasons is murder. Certainly abortions of convenience are murder.

Pro-choice is just a polite way of saying pro-murder; and believing anything else is just sophistry.

It IS murder. If you are "pro choice" either you are deluding yourself; or you just think it's OK because an unborn life isn't worth as much as the one who wants to end it.

In this, you are wrong.

Choosing to end the life of a baby because it is inconvenient to you (even if it would "ruin your life") is no different than choosing to shoot a grown man because HE was "ruining your life".

And trying to say "but it isn't a life" is, again, sophistry. If you must take action to destroy that life, or he will be born; that is no different than waiting for him to be born and strangling him.

You may rail and scream all you want, it won't make you right on this point. You are wrong, and there is simply no way around it.

There is no morally defensible argument, that abortion is anything other than morally wrong.

HOWEVER, that doesn't mean it should be outlawed. There are circumstances under which abortion should be allowed. There are circumstances under which abortion is necessary.

There are some practical, legal considerations which need to be addressed.

I don't believe the government should have the power to decide matters of life and death arbitrarily (and yes, I know, in many cases they do today. That doesn't make it right or good).

The Government should not be able to legislate such things as this; except in the most basic way, laying out a framework for an ethical choice to be made.

At the most basic level, it should be made legally clear, that prior to decidualization (the successful implantation of a fertilized egg, and formation of protective constructs that allow the embryo to safely develop), that there is no murder; because there is no pregnancy.

The mere presence of a fertilized egg that does not implant, does not mean a human life has been ended. The human body spontaneously rejects such things on it's own many times.

This would allow for some variants of chemical pregnancy prevention; including various treatments currently referred to as "morning after" pills.

On the other side of things, it should be made legally clear that a viable baby (which can be as early as six months) should NEVER be aborted, even in the case of grave need. In the event of an emergency threatening the mothers life; her life, and that of the baby should be treated equally, and all measures should be taken to save both.

Finally, it should be made legally clear that all termination of a viable pregnancy (that is a pregnancy which is past decidulization) IS homicide; but as with other homicides, it may be justified under grave circumstances.

The government would be perfectly justified in requiring that all doctors recieve ethical training as to the above; and that those who seek abortions receive counseling in such matters.

The government is also justified in requiring that parents of girls under 16 who seek abortions must be notified (though I do not believe the parents should have the right to say no; they should be notified).

However, the choice as to the gravity of need should be left up to the woman, and her doctor.

Notice, this doesn't change the moral status of such a choice. It is always wrong, and nothing can change that. However, involving the government in such a matter as choosing who lives and who dies is an even greater wrong.

Yes, this will result in women and doctors who perform unjustified abortions. That is a better alternative than giving a bureaucrat the power to decide.

Everyone is responsible for their own moral choices; and they will face the consequences of those choices; both in life, and if you believe as I do, after it.

In general, one should have to bear the consequences of ones actions; and if you choose to have sex, even if you use birth control which fails; then you should be forced to bear the consequences.

For example however, there is in fact one specific instance (though not necessarily the only instance, it is the clearest example... and even in that it's muddier than the mississippi), that of rape.

One should not be required by law to bear the consequences of someone removing your free will.

I believe abortion in that circumstance is acceptable, because it would be equally wrong to force a woman to accept the consequences that were forced on them by another, against their will.

I believe this, because the forcible abrogation of anothers free will without great justification, is as great an evil as murder is (and in fact I believe; born both of my philosophy, and my experience with rap survivors, and rapists; that rape is a greater evil than murder).
An aside note, I believe there are three crimes worse than murder: On an individual basis, slavery and rape; along with their equivalents (like child molestation; and true torture, which is effectively both, and of course their mass forms like systemic slavery, concentration camps etc... ). On a mass basis, genocide and democide.
This stance will displease those who have a strict "right to life" philosophy; but I don't much care. They will say "but what about the babys interests? They aren't guilty and shouldn't be punished"...

...which is true, the baby isn't guilty and shouldn't be punished; but forcing a woman to accept the consequences of having their free will forcibly abrogated is more evil than aborting a baby (unless that baby is viable, as I said above. Under no circumstances should a viable baby be aborted. If she wanted not to live with the consequences forced upon her, she should have made her decision before the baby was viable).

Again however, none of this makes abortion morally right under any circumstances. Abortion is always morally wrong.

The fact is, we do not live in a moral world. Sometimes you have to make bad choices, because they are the only options you have; or because the other options are far worse. Sometimes you have to make the least bad choice, and sometimes abortion is that choice

Just because it was the least wrong thing to do at that moment however, doesn't change the fact that abortion is always morally wrong.

I came to this moral judgment completely independent of my religious views; and believe this fully, outside the context of my religion. I came to this judgment during the time in which I explicitly rejected the church and its teachings; and I believe it is true in any moral context, without regard to religion.

Abortion is always morally wrong, no matter what belief system you follow.

Though of course, I am a catholic, and I cannot say my moral sense is not informed by my Catholicism. Of course it is, and to say otherwise would also be sophistry.

EDIT: In response to comments, I added some exposition on the role of government and law, and practical considerations; and I clarified some language.

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