Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Keep it simple:

There has been some commentary (e.g. Hilzoy, Drum) about Ross Douthat's op-ed on abortion. On first glance, it appears that there's a complex decision tree involving viability, circumstances of the pregnancy, and the judicial/democratic process to argue over. But that's a waste of time because the core belief of anti-abortion types is what Douthat wrote:
Either a fetus has a claim to life or it doesn’t.
That's an absolutist position that does not allow for any gradations throughout pregnancy. Gradations can be used in the political realm, which Douthat pretends to care about. And he throws a lot of sand in your face with talk about instances of rape or incest or the mother's mental health and how much better things would be if the courts stepped aside. But it's all a ruse to shrink the time frame by first making third trimester abortions verboten, leaving Douthat et al to argue against second trimester abortions (and subsequently first trimester, which means no abortions at all).

From reading Douthat, it's obvious that his position is deeply influenced by his religious beliefs. So why skirt around the issue arguing by about viability or even Douthat's "claim to life"? Get to the core issue, that of the fetus' soul. When does that happen? Because surely Douthat can't care if an unensouled fetus dies. Let's see how potent Douthat can be when he makes the argument on religious grounds.

CODA: Drum, writing about part of Douthat's argument, remarks:
I'm really not seeing the logic here.
Douthat isn't a good writer. His op-ed had three main threads (late term abortion, special exceptions like rape, the democratic process) that didn't mesh. None of what Douthat wrote about Tiller had any relevance to his argument at the end of his essay.


Going a little off topic but it's funny how religious views about abortion have changed over the years. In 1973, W.A. Criswell, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention had this to say about Roe v. Wade:

[i]"I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had life separate from the mother that it became an individual person, and it always has, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed."[/i]

Granted, Criswell later recanted this statement but it's amazing, in light of the current religious arguments against abortion, to believe that he ever uttered it in the first place.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/10/2009 6:45 AM  

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