Pro-life or pro-punishment? Further thoughts on Roe v. Wade
A commenter in the previous post "Random thoughts..." spoke about a so-called conservative woman friend who ultimately didn't care about Roe v. Wade being overruled because she at least had access to doctors who could cover up an abortion by calling it a miscarriage (which happened quite a lot at the Mayo Clinic, which was where Justice Harry Blackburn served as corporate counsel--which is why he understood the abortion issue quite dramatically).
This got me to thinking once again about why Roe v. Wade needs to be reread and better understood.
If people would just take the time to read Roe v. Wade, they would find it is merely a balancing of rights between woman and fetus. It basically says, "If the baby can't survive outside the womb of the mom even with technology, then the mom's privacy right prevails. After all, the baby grows inside her body. Once the baby is 'medically viable,' or can survive outside the womb, then the mother's right to say, 'Kill it,' is lost--except where the mother's life or health is at stake."
This takes both a pro-life and pro-choice position because the mother's life--and health--has priority in any civilized society. Pro-lifers who are sophisticated say the term "health" as used in Doe v. Bolton (the companion case at the time) is too broad. Not once, however, did they try to enact legislation to define the limits of the word "health," particularly for third trimester abortions. If they did, we could solve the issue as medical science and technology develop. But no, they want to scream about dead fetuses and put women's autonomy back in a gilded cage.
That's why too many people who claim to be pro-life are more into punishing women who find themselves pregnant. When they say, "She should have thought of the consequences before she had sex," well, that's not pro-life, that's just seeing pregnancy as punishment. So Old Testament, dontcha think?
And let's quit using analogies that compare abortion to the Holocaust or slavery. Jews were not growing inside German's or Pole's bodies. Slaves were not growing inside their master's bodies (except in Mandingo*). To compare abortion to the Holocaust or slavery is to reduce something real and often scary for women (Men, do you really want to go through childbirth?) to a metaphor, e.g. "Well, the Jews were growing inside the German body politic." That's a sick way to use metaphor when we think about it as it demeans the reality women face in a pregnancy. Pro lifers need to find another analogy, if one can be found.
Overall, there really is no analogy in human affairs. One sex of our species has to grow the baby inside of her. It is a great miracle, yes. It is also filled with danger and deep distress for many women. Society (not just individual husbands and families) owes women a duty to make that process as painless and supportive as possible. Banning abortion, particularly in a society that doesn't show much concern for post-partum humans, is the opposite of caring for women and their babies. I can think of one hundred issues more worth straightening out before we even get to discuss abortion--and so can you. Roe v. Wade stays at least until medical technology can take out an embryo and grow it outside the womb. Then, we'll have to discuss "Brave New World" a lot more than we currently do...
*Mostly, it was male masters impregnating female slaves and turning the offspring into slaves. (Link is a pdf).