Monday, November 15, 2004

Forced Pregnancy 

I want to make a change to my list of basic Democratic principles from the other day. I want to change "keep abortion safe, legal and rare" to "the Democratic party opposes any effort by the government to force women to give birth."

Why do we let the other side define the abortion debate? (Pro-life vs. Pro-choice.) I think this hides the real issue, and lures many "pro-choice" voters into a false sense of security about what it is that George Bush actually wants to do. The Republican platform quite explicitly favors a Constitutional amendment that extends the rights of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to unborn children. More realistically and more immediately, the Republicans will soon appoint Supreme Court justices who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, and hand the issue of abortion over to the states.

Take a moment to envision the type of world your friends who are Republican have just voted in favor of. What will happen to pregnant woman? If the authorities learn that a woman in her first trimester is thinking of having an abortion, will she be put in jail until she gives birth? Will women be handcuffed to hospital beds for months so that they cannot harm the fetus inside their body? Will they have to be fed through an IV so that their hands are never free to touch their stomach?

How exactly will this work? Why did so many women vote to grant this authority over their own bodies to George Bush? Why do Republicans want women to endure forced pregnancy?

And if the GOP sees its platform enacted, and a fetus is granted the same rights as a person, what is the justification for a rape or incest exception? And will the morning after pill be similarly illegal? What if a rape victim goes to the police and indicates that she is thinking of taking the morning after pill? Will she have to be detained until it is known for sure that is she is not pregnant? If she is pregnant, and the police still suspect that she may have an abortion, how will the rights of these two equal individuals be protected? Will two lawyers be brought in - one for the woman and one for the fetus? What standard will the male prosecutor have to meet so that the male police officers can detain the female until she gives birth?

I don't know if abortion is right or wrong; I suspect it may be wrong. (Actually, Instapundit has a fascinating post on the moral issue; and I don't know why it is that I support abortion rights yet become so angry at a mother when I see a child with fetal alcohol syndrome.) I am glad that pro-life people provide information about the consequences of and the alternatives to abortion. But I am not so presumptuous nor so confidence in my own standards of right and wrong so as to force this choice on others; especially when it is a choice that I will never have to make.

Nothing I have said above is crazy; it seems to me to flow as a natural consequence from granting a fetus Constitutional rights. If Roe is overturned - and if enough justices retire then that is a very real possibility - abortion will be illegal in many states.

The above seems like a horrifying world to me; I wonder how many people actually want it. I wonder how many so-called "pro life" people have actually thought about it. I wonder why it is that so many "pro choice" people feel that electing Bush is worth the price of forced pregnancy. Perhaps it is because Democrats have not stated their case strongly enough. We think the choice belongs to a woman; Republicans support forced pregnancy.

(One thing about the above: we made need a better term than "forced pregnancy", only because this is a term used by human rights organizations to define incidents of systematic rape and subsequent pregnancy. It's really not fair, and would be counterproductive, to use the same term to define the Republican party's position on abortion - although making abortion illegal even in cases of rape comes pretty close.)
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