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I suppose that's fair enough, and a case can indeed be made for paternal "legal abortions" in which the father denies claim and cost for the child. But that is a question of how to structure people's financial obligations to one another. I consider that to be in an entirely different category than the right to your own body.

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There are several different meanings to the term human, and they tend to get confused - partly because they are partially overlapping.

As it happens, I do think that a human embryo is more valuable than - say - a pig embryo. For instance, I think that a human child with a mental handicap that puts it on the level of a chimpanzee (as far as we can measure, and keeping in mind that measuring mental prowess is hardly an exact science) should still be accorded more rights and protection than a chimp. In short, I think that careful thought must be given before terminating a viable human embryo, and I think that there is an ethical case to be made against abortion.

But at the present time, there is also a powerful ethical case to be made for it, just as there is a powerful ethical case to be made for the practise of infanticide by some pre-industrial cultures in areas and ages of tightly constrained carrying capacity. As technology changes, that may change - in fact I hope that it will. But that will be then, and now is now.

And the fact that an ethical issue can be argued both ways with almost equally compelling arguments leads me to believe that the decision should be made by the individual person, not the government.

If a woman thinks abortion is wrong, full stop, she can refrain from having one (forcing women to have abortions is probably an even bigger abomination than prohibiting them). If, on the other hand, she thinks that, on balance, she would rather not have the child, and finds that position ethically defensible, then I cannot in good conscience claim that she is obviously and clearly in the wrong.

Thus, I cannot in good conscience approve of the state using its power to prevent her from doing it, even in cases where I would disagree with her about the ethical soundness of the position she takes. The alternative would set a standard for government interference in both private matters and matters of conscience that I would find greatly troubling.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 25th, 2008 at 09:53:23 PM EST
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