CC, I think your "inner Moses" is coming through loud and clear.
You and I may disagree on what constitutes "truth," and we will certainly disagree on matters of opinion (even if the majority share certain opinions and generally consider them to be moral or religious truths). Regardless, I think that we are both striving to be good people, and I appreciate that in spite of our lack of accord on all things - in spite of our continued debate on this topic - you're willing to acknowledge that of me, as well. It's a difficult thing to do when discussing an issue that has very little religious, philosophical, or emotional middle ground, and incites so much passionate debate.
Or, as Mr. Justice Blackmun says in Roe v. Wade ( https://www.tourolaw.edu/patch/Roe/ ):
"We forthwith acknowledge our awareness of the sensitive and emotional nature of the abortion controversy, of the vigorous opposing views, even among physicians, and of the deep and seemingly absolute convictions that the subject inspires. One's philosophy, one's experiences, one's exposure to the raw edges of human existence, one's religious training, one's attitudes toward life and family and their values, and the moral standards one establishes and seeks to observe, are all likely to influence and to color one's thinking and conclusions about abortion.
In addition, population growth, pollution, poverty, and racial overtones tend to complicate and not to simplify the problem.
Our task, of course, is to resolve the issue by constitutional measurement, free of emotion and of predilection. We seek earnestly to do this, and, because we do, we have inquired into, and in this opinion place some emphasis upon, medical and medical-legal history and what that history reveals about man's attitudes toward the abortion procedure over the centuries. We bear in mind, too, Mr. Justice Holmes' admonition in his now-vindicated dissent in Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45, 76 (1905):
"[The Constitution] is made for people of fundamentally differing views, and the accident of our finding certain opinions natural and familiar or novel and even shocking ought not to conclude our judgment upon the question whether statutes embodying them conflict with the Constitution of the United States."
The law is often required to consider conflicting values and analyze their relative importance. The right to life and the right to autonomy over our own bodies are both important rights. The right to believe and worship as we see fit and the right to express our opinions freely are important rights in our society.
Morality is relative. One of the things that makes our society work fairly well is our recognition of the right to disagree on what constitutes religious or moral "truth" (as distinguishable from scientific, provable, proven fact) and our freedom to worship as we see fit. Another is our right to express our opinions, whether they are right or wrong, pleasant or offensive. These are rights our founding fathers felt strongly about, and they were given the full force of law. So, while reasonable men can disagree (and so frequently do, as evidenced by the many court cases on any given issue), U.S. citizens (and citizens of many other countries) generally accept these (or similar) laws, and the premises on which they were based, as citizens of a free democracy. We, the people, govern - and we govern each other by consent. Not all nations or societies are organized around the same premises.
You can read Supreme court opinions in Roe v. Wade here. ( https://www.tourolaw.edu/patch/Roe )
The Catholic church did not always hold the view that G-d imbued the fetus with a soul from the moment of conception. But it's fair to say that none of us knows - with certainty - the moment that event occurs. If it occurs at all. Atheists and people of other faiths have equal rights under the law.
Early philosophers believed that the embryo or fetus did not become formed and begin to live until at least 40 days after conception for a male, and 80 to 90 days for a female. See, for example, Aristotle, Hist. Anim. 7.3.583b; Gen. Anim. 2.3.736, 2.5.741; Hippocrates, Lib. de Nat. Puer., No. 10. Aristotle's thinking derived from his three-stage theory of life: vegetable, animal, rational. The vegetable stage was reached at conception, the animal at "animation," and the rational soon after live birth. This theory, together with the 40/80 day view, came to be accepted by early Christian thinkers.
I should just ignore the fact that this is incredibly misogynistic on its face. In fact, I'll posit the notion that "early philosophers" were merely acknowledging the relative complexity of the female. That simpler creature, the male, could be knocked out in forty days; however, like a great work of art or architecture (a Cathedral, if you will) Of course it would take an additional forty days for her to reach her full potential as a person.
Gianna Beretta Molla died of cancer in 1962 after refusing life-saving treatment that would have involved the termination of her pregnancy.
She is the first married woman to become a Roman Catholic saint in modern times, Vatican officials say.
. . .
The Vatican sees Molla as an example, and correspondents say her elevation underlines the Church's absolute opposition to abortion.
During her pregnancy she told doctors that the baby's life was more important than her own.
She died at the age of 39, shortly after giving birth.
Critics have said the decision suggests the Church values the life of an unborn child above the well-being and safety of a woman.
(from https://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3718475.stm )
To me, it doesn't matter whether the Catholic church values the life of an unborn child above - or absolutely equal to - the well-being and safety of a woman. In this instance, Molla valued her child's life above her own, and she had the right to refuse treatment that would have saved hers, but jeopardized the child's. She was free to live according to her values, and as a Catholic woman, the values taught by her Church.
Is it fair of me to say that "life" isn't what's sacred to you, but rather the "soul"? Not everyone believes in a "soul." Would you attempt to argue that a non-human animal is not "alive" just because you believe it to be soulless? Among those who do believe in a soul, there is disagreement as to when the soul enters the body. All citizens of the nation are entitled to the protection of its laws, and so long as the right to freedom of religion is recognized, the law cannot side with one or another in determining when "life" becomes endowed with a "soul." But you are free to live in accordance with your beliefs; all I'm suggesting is that you must accept that others are equally entitled to do so.
You say "animals are not people. Period. Most people don't believe this. Most philosophers agree. Most religions agree. There is no reason anyone should think differently, though they are perfectly welcome to do so. However, our government can not protect the rights of non-humans."
What are you thinking? The law does recognize and protect the rights of non-humans and recognizes that cruelty to animals is unlawful. Non-human animals are simply not accorded legal rights equal to those of humans. So there you have it - most of us do "rank" the importance of life. The Jains do not. Some members of PETA would rank animal rights ahead of human rights. Society's ranking of human life as being of higher importance and legal standing than animal life is not even based on whether animals have a soul (many people do, in fact, believe that animals have souls). It's based on the fact that they're not human. Species discrimination is quite legal in this country, largely due to practical considerations. We have enough trouble enforcing laws designed to protect us humans. (Be careful; remember that cows are quite sacred to the Hindus. Even so, in the U.S., Hindus can only choose not to buy or eat beef, or to work in the beef industry. They can protest against it. They cannot shut down McDonald's or forcibly stop non-Hindus from eating beef.) But I'm not arguing whether a human fetus is biologically human. And, as I've already pointed out, you're not arguing for or against its biological, scientific, DNA-evidenced humanity, either - what you're really arguing is the point at which you believe it is endowed with a soul. Ironically, science seems more inclined to side with you in saying "at the moment of conception" than philosophy or religious doctrine, with the exception of Catholic doctrine.
All I'm asking is that you accept it as a woman's right to disagree with you (as learned men throughout the ages have been unable to reach accord on this point) and to terminate her pregnancy, up to that point where the fetus becomes an autonomous human being, capable of living apart from her.
IF you're right, and she chooses abortion, then she's the one who has to answer to G-d.
IF you're wrong, and she is forced to carry the child to term, you've done her irreparable harm.
You can feel free to pray for her soul, and you may think what you like about its ultimate posthumous destination, but in this life, in this country, it is her right to decide whether abortion is "okay" or not. I think that freedom of religion and the right to determine what happens to our own bodies - be it carrying a pregnancy to term or accepting chemotherapy as cancer treatment or choosing who we have sex with or even deciding to end all medical treatment and die when we are ill - are important rights. I believe they rank right up there with the right to live. So we have to put them on the scales and balance them. With Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court determined that the State does not have a compelling interest in protecting the life of the unborn child, up to the point at which the child becomes viable, or capable of survival outside the womb.
If one believes that from the moment of conception, there is human life AND that that life is absolutely equal to every other human life - that there is NO room for quibbling. You believe that this is an absolute truth not tied to Catholicism. A self-evident, objective truth.
Since the fetus is guilty of no wrong-doing, regardless of how it was conceived, I don't see how you could compromise and accept ANY exception - from health and life of the mother to rape or incest - under your religious beliefs. Even though "self-defense" is an affirmative defense that allows one person to lawfully cause the death of another, I don't know that it's ever been called into play when the deceased is innocent of any wrongdoing and did not, in fact, willfully place the defendant's life in jeopardy.
What Redzilla was saying, and I absolutely agree with, is that we respect your beliefs enough that we would not knowingly, willingly, aid and abet you in going against them. Not that we agree that your soul would be eternally damned for choosing to terminate a pregnancy, but that your belief is worthy of protection and support from those who disagree.
The "inconvenience" argument is largely an appeal to emotion. I really don't know of a woman who has obtained an abortion simply because it would be "inconvenient" to her to have a child. Would I respect such a woman, if I knew that was her sole motive in obtaining an abortion? No. DO I believe there's a "special place in Hell" for her? Doesn't matter. Even if I do, I also believe that G-d is merciful. Would I abridge her lawful right to procure an abortion and terminate an unwanted pregnancy, even if it's merely for her convenience? No. This is where "privacy rights" come into play, in my opinion - her motives are none of our business. Her beliefs and her conscience are her own. Either abortion is legal or it's not. Legal for all, or legal for none.
I think the law would serve the citizens best by leaving certain moral struggles to us, and to us alone, provided we're legally prevented from imposing our beliefs on our neighbors. I have no objections to anyone sharing their beliefs, only to browbeating or bullying others with them, or forcing them to concur.
"Truth" and "morality" are, pretty much, relative and subjective in society. You may believe your truths are absolute and objective (this notion being reinforced when the majority of people in your community agree wholeheartedly with you), but where someone else's truths would be trampled by yours, the law has to step in and determine what serves society best. And to say "We hold these truths to be self-evident..." does not, in fact, mean that everyone in the world will agree. We, the citizens of this nation, have founded our laws on certain general, guiding principles that we (generally) agree are entitled to the highest degree of legal protection and enforcement. That doesn't mean that people of another nation cannot disagree and form their government and their laws differently. (That's how we keep getting into trouble around the world, by not always keeping sight of this fact.) You admit that it "would be far reaching ... to attempt to comprehend God's design for our world." And yet, you can say "with confidence that there are times when God means us to suffer and there are times when God means for us to be joyful. This world is a saint making factory - every event in our lives helps prepare us for our reward, whichever we chose." That's your belief. I agree that it would be far-reaching, not to "try to comprehend," but to assert absolute comprehension and attempt to convince another or to force another to accept the same understanding. Unfortunately, that's exactly what religious fanatics do, every day. And unfortunately, I can understand that their belief in the absolute necessity to do that may conflict with the law. But aren't we all entitled to our own struggles with conscience and faith? I think it's hubris to presume that we are so right that we can treat those who disagree like wayward children in need of "saving" - by us.
I am no expert on adoption, but I do have a friend who was not only adopted but works for the NCFA. She has said that there are more than enough willing adoptive parents in the US (heck, African adoption is the new black), but it is such a complex, expensive, and unpleasant thing to go through in America, it is far more appealing to look abroad for an adoption. This is a whole other issue that I am not nearly so knowledgeable about. However, our adoption system is definitely something that needs to be fixed.
We have so many things that need fixing. It pains me that we have children here in the US that need good homes and families, and yet parents go overseas to adopt because it's easier and cheaper to do so. What is wrong with this picture?
We send aid overseas and try to look generous and magnanimous, while we have citizens of our own country who are unemployed, homeless, and/or starving. What's wrong with this picture??
I'm not laughing at your "punishment" at all. I'm simply questioning whether it is, in fact, a "punishment." I'm sorry, but you could have given that adorable child up for adoption and still lived consistently with your beliefs. That said, you not only valued her life, but you believed it was important to marry and give her a family. You see - I see just from a few photos - what you get in return. And I don't care how driven you are, you chose in accordance with your higher values. And now you have another child. That's not "punishment." Look, I have two children; one's eighteen, now. She was born just before the start of my last year of law school. I was working full time in a professional position and carrying nine to twelve hours a semester while pregnant and for a year after that. I'm not rich; I relied on my company's tuition reimbursement program to help pay my law school tuition - and that required that I maintain good grades and be a productive employee. I relied on my husband a lot, which required that we be fully committed to our marriage. It's hard for many childless couples to stay married when one's in law school or med school, never mind working and trying to bring a child into the world at the same time, because the demands of the program leave very little time or energy for anything or anyone else. We lived near my parents and relied on them a lot, as well.
I'm not unique. In an earlier post, I described how my parents married young and promised my mom's parents they would get their college educations. That meant a four-year degree for each of them. Surprise! I wasn't exactly "planned." Which is not to say I wasn't wanted. My mother could have aborted me; it wasn't inconsistent with her personal beliefs. But they had me. Did my parents renege on their promise? NO. They studied, worked, raised me, and graduated when I was four. Where there's a will, there's a way. Don't sit around feeling "punished," CC. If you really want something badly enough, don't use your children as an excuse to hold back. They won't thank you for it. In fact, if you end up with bitter regrets or an attitude of martyrdom over it, they'll resent you for it. Maybe you and your wife can take turns supporting the family financially while furthering your educations. Maybe you can get assistance from your employer, or look into government grants and scholarships. Just...do whatever it is you need to do, and don't look back.
[China's] One-Child Policy, while disputed in it's implementation, certainly coerced millions of women to abort. This certainly was not a question of Choice. God forbid such a situation ever be realized any where else in the world, but I will not sit back and allow it to happen.
And I agree with you. I will stand by your side in that fight, should the day ever come. Which just means our "relative" morals are in accord on this one when it comes to balancing our personal and religious views on the rights of the individual and what constitute legitimate and compelling state interests.
On the question of "disabled people" and abortion, I--I don't even want to go there. No, really. There are degrees of "disabled." I will only reiterate that I think it's reprehensible to terminate a pregnancy based on physical traits such as gender, eye color, hair color, etc. Should it be illegal? Yes. I know that, earlier, I said "Legal for all or not at all," but even the mother's mere "convenience" is more compelling than a cosmetic preference. I think that the state does have a compelling interest in preventing another Holocaust. I can't really imagine that the mother can have a compelling interest (let's use the same standard the law applies to the state's interests) in aborting a child based solely on these things. That does not preclude her from claiming "inconvenience," or other motive, of course - so it's probably a moot point. She can lie, and it's not up to us to question it further.
The time and expense of caring for an individual with disabling genetic abnormalities is not insignificant and actually has a greater impact on the mother and on society than mere "inconvenience." This isn't just "opinion" on what constitutes "desireable traits" in humans; this isn't a question of whether little blond, blue-eyed babies are "superior." This isn't a matter of discriminating against physically or mentally challenged citizens with regard to education, employment, or social services once they are, in fact, individuals. We're talking about flaws in the DNA that result in normal development of the body being derailed in some way.
Argue for me the value of human life when it comes to a fetus afflicted with anencephaly. Really. Please.
I will say that there is a time when I thought I could not raise a child afflicted with Down's Syndrome. And around that time, I saw people with Down's Syndrome leading not just happy lives, but productive and independent ones as well. I held my own daughter in my arms and realized how unimportant some things are, but until that moment, I couldn't have known that. That's personal, though - my choices may differ from another woman's, but all I'm arguing is my freedom to choose, and hers. Not whether she will or won't make the "right" choice in my opinion, but whether I have any right to even think of it in those terms. I don't.
I don't think we have to worry about Nazis here, though - because I would not extend any rights at all to any persons other than the mother. I would reserve to her even the decision to let the father have any influence or say in her decision. By NOT making the state's interests more compelling than hers, this approach may do more to safeguard us from the kind of societal prejudices you fear will come into play.
We wouldn't have to be having this debate if it were possible for anyone blessed with an unexpected pregnancy, no matter their state in life, carry the pregnancy to term. Our incredibly philanthropic government fails to emphasize this. Although there are medical benefits available for all underprivileged women and children, medical benefits are not nearly enough to raise a child. In fact, I feel strongly enough about this issue that my wife and I testified before Congress regarding such a bill (follow the links to the transcripts - we are the only couple who presented).
No, you'd eliminate many abortions, I think, but you would not eradicate them all. For many women, nine months of pregnancy is too onerous. I hate to drag this into the debate, but no man can fully understand what a woman's body goes through during pregnancy. Some of us have a pretty easy time of it. There's a lot of wonder and joy in it. But when I say it's a little like having your body hijacked by aliens, I'm not really exaggerating. It has an effect on every system in your body. It even causes your brain to shrink (temporarily, guys, so stop snickering!). I mean, it's not just nine months of getting bigger around the middle and a little discomfort in giving birth. Some women just aren't up to dealing with it mentally, psychologically, or physically. Girls are hitting puberty earlier and earlier; it's no longer rare for children as young as eight or so to be "fertile." Would you really say that having good medical care eliminates any reason for a pregnant eight year old to have an abortion? Women are living longer and remaining able to bear children later in life. But not every fifty year old woman wants to start a family, just because - ooops, guess menopause hasn't fully kicked in yet! It's not just availability and affordability of care that's at issue, though that would help tremendously.
I don't know about you, but I'd rather not make this issue the main focus of my blog, and I think I've exhausted my arguments on it for the time being. Feel free to have the last word on the subject, if you're so inclined... for now. Maybe we can continue this discussion over coffee, one day. :)