Friday, February 03, 2006

Will and Katha - just one question - what are the unborn?

Slate's William Saletan and the Nation's Katha Pollit have been having a discussion over what kind of strategies pro-choice groups and individuals should partake in. Though both writers are pro-choice and would like it if the number of abortions in our country decreased, Saletan believes that abortion is bad while Pollitt doesn't share that conviction. Saletan proposes that pro-choice groups pit contraception (good) against abortion (bad) and that this strategy would gain popular support.

I found Thursday's discussion quite interesting in that it exposes the enormous problem that many of those in the pro-choice movement face. Mainly, that they can't rationally and logically discuss what the unborn are and what abortion is.

On Wednesday, Katha asked Saletan to explain why he thinks abortion is bad. His response follows:

"You ask why I think abortion is bad. I think it's bad because the fetus is of us and is becoming us. It's not a person, but it's on the way to becoming a person, and the longer it develops, the more I recoil at the idea of killing it. Most people, according to polls, think the same way."

While I'm much more sympathetic to Saletan's view than Pollitt's, the above statement would get flipped on its head by most prolifers who have decent experience arguing about abortion.

So it's "of us" but it isn't yet one of us? How can two organisms produce something that isn't one of them but then later becomes one of them? Doesn't that violate the Law of Biogenesis? If it's not currently "one of us," then why is it bad to kill it? When and how do the unborn traverse into the realm of personhood? Why should I accept your definition of personhood over the definition of anyone else?

Katha's view is even worse. After saying that abortion isn't "morally trivial" and that it's a "sad necessity" and "morally serious, very unfortunate event," Katha would rather just try to avoid answering the question of what the unborn are and what abortion really is.

You ask what my own view of abortion is. I think the meaning of abortion is what the woman says it is: For a woman who wants a child but can't have this one it can be sad; for a woman who doesn't want a baby, it can feel like a huge relief, like having your whole life given back to you......I think women have the right to consult their own wishes, needs, and capacities and produce only loved, wanted children they can care for—or even no children at all.

So to Katha abortion isn't really an objective thing. It's a subjective act that means whatever the woman having an abortion wants it to mean. Sounds a lot like, "personally i feel a human being begins when the mother decides the fetus in her body is a human being and she wants a baby and she accepts reponsibility for its care." Hiding behind this kind of relativistic hogwash has been mainstream pro-choice strategy for years.

What I think Katha realizes but Will doesn't is that if pro-choice organizations admit "abortion is bad" they'll have to have a good answer to "why is abortion bad?" Planned Parenthood will have to explain why it's performing 250,000 "bad" abortion procedures a year. NARAL will have to explain why it thinks tax-dollars should pay for hundreds of thousands of "bad" surgeries. NOW will have to explain why they vehemently oppose parental involvement laws for "bad" teen abortions.

They don't have good answers to these questions. Which is why it's unlikely that pro-choice organizations are going to be latching on to Saletan's proposal anytime soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment