I support a woman's unconditional right to abortion. The decision of a woman or a couple to have a child is an intensely personal event, and nobody should be compelled to bring an unwanted child into the world.
I do not believe abortion is morally wrong in any way. To me, the issue turns on my view that an unborn fetus has not yet become sentient or self-aware, has not yet acquired a right to life, and is not yet a "person."
I find the anti-abortion arguments, slogans and tactics completely unconvincing. Here are a few examples:
The Influence of Religion
Most people who oppose abortion do so on religious grounds. In the U.S., most abortion opponents are conservative Christians. While I'm certainly no expert on religion, I do find it interesting that the Christian Bible never condemns abortion, or even specifically mentions abortion. In fact, the only section of the Christian Bible that sheds any light on the authors' moral views on abortion clearly differentiates between a person and an unborn fetus in terms of the protection afforded each under the law:
"If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow; he shall be surely punished according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. . . And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth . . ." --Exodus 21:22-25
In other words, if you hit a pregnant woman such that the pregnancy is terminated, but the woman is not otherwise harmed, you pay a fine. If the woman is otherwise harmed, the penalty is much more severe (an eye for an eye, or a life for a life). This distinction is sort of like the difference between a parking ticket on the one hand, and committing first degree murder on the other. The unborn fetus, in the Old Testament, is clearly treated as some sort of property, rather than as a person.
Given the lack of biblical support for the anti-abortion position, I'm not clear on why the conservative Christian crowd is so adamant and unwavering in opposing women's reproductive rights. I suspect that there is something more sinister at work here, involving issues of control and a desire to maintain certain traditionally male-dominated gender roles.
22 July 2005