Skip to comments.Outside view: Flawed logic [Roe v Wade, Doe v Bolton]
Posted on 02/14/2003 10:35:04 AM PST by victim soul
On the 30-year anniversary of the Supreme Court's epochal 1973 Roe vs. Wade on abortion, there were almost as many headlines about the decline in the number of abortion providers as there were about the still-controversial decision itself and about the practice it legalized, at a stroke, in all 50 states.
The concern over the number of abortion providers stems from a study done by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, showing that the number of doctors, clinics and hospitals willing to abort pregnancies shows a steady and significant decline over the years. There are now, in the United States, 1,819 known abortion providers.
It would be interesting to speculate on the reasons for this decline -- fear of being killed by anti-abortion activists, the advances in fetology that make it easier to see what is being killed, and easier to keep it alive -- but there is another issue too: the nexus between rights and responsibilities.
Educators often link "rights" with "responsibilities" in an interesting way, speaking of "responsibilities" that come with "rights." Their implication is that if you have a right, you have a responsibility to exercise that right responsibly. No one can argue with that point, but there is another connection between "rights" and "responsibilities" that is quite different, and which in the case of abortion, may not be so benign.
What does the "right to life" mean? It means that if one person has a right to life, someone else has a responsibility not to kill him or her, and can be punished, in fact, if he or she infringes that right.
So one person's "right" imposes an obligation on other people. Other people have a "responsibility" to act so that another's right is not infringed.
There is another more problematic "right," the "right to health care."
This "right" is often asserted, but who bears the brunt of the "responsibility"? If one person has a "right" to health care, can he or she impose an obligation on other people to pay for it? Can we, as a society, forcibly take money from some people to pay for others' medical services? We do it.
What then does it mean to say that a woman has a "right" to an abortion? Suppose the Guttmacher numbers continue their downward trend, and the day comes when the 1,819 have become zero? If a woman has a "right" to an abortion, someone has a "responsibility" to perform it. If there are no willing providers, can someone be forced to do it?
These are not idle speculations. In more than half the counties in the United States there is no abortion provider, yet surely a woman in Dolores County, Colo., has as much "right" to an abortion as one in Kings County, N.Y.
Some teaching hospitals are making noises about requiring medical students to be trained in abortion technique, whether they want to be or not, or even if their religious beliefs make abortion repugnant to them. The hospitals contend that a woman's "right" to an abortion amounts to an affirmative obligation on the part of society to make someone "responsible" for providing it, even at the cost of the First Amendment guarantees of religious freedom.
Last year, in Congress, the House of Representatives passed legislation affirming the right of hospitals, medical plans and doctors to refuse to perform, pay for or provide referrals for, abortion services. The bill was designed especially to protect those opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but it would also protect the growing number of abortion opponents whose attitude is based on sound science and observation.
This bill passed the House by 40 votes, and the Senate refused to deal with it. Its impetus was an effort by the state of Alaska to compel abortion training inside its borders.
Back in 1973, there were thoughtful articles written about Justice Harry Blackmun's decision in Roe vs. Wade. Some of the best were written by supporters of abortion, as a matter of policy, who thought Blackmun's legal reasoning less than competent. They wrote of the logic of an unlimited right to abortion and its capacity for consuming all other rights.
What is happening now confirms their fears.
In the news stories surrounding the 30th anniversary of Roe, a Planned Parenthood vice president was quoted as follows: "It is not just having the legal right, you have to have access to the medical centers and reproductive health care (read: abortion). Certainly we are going to be concerned with access to reproductive health care."
And they are, because the logic of abortion requires it. The logic of abortion carries all before it, as it has for 30 years, making a mockery of science, of medicine, of law, of humanity, of common sense, of "responsibilities" and of course of the "rights" of the unborn.
(Gordon S. Jones is a long-time congressional staff member who resides and observes life from Draper, Utah.)
The end result of this madness will be a shift in the demographics of the medical profession towards individuals with less regard for human life. This is an obligation? Last time I checked, "Life" came before "Liberty and the Persuit of Happiness."
Some abortion advocates are willing to concede that unborn children are human beings. Surprisingly enough, they claim that they would still be able to justify abortion. According to their argument, no person-no unborn child-has a right to access the bodily resources of an unwilling host. Unborn children may have a right to life, but that right to life ends where it encroaches upon a mother's right to bodily autonomy. The argument is called the bodyright argument, and it is refuted in the following essays...
Why would it be wrong to kill an adult? Why would it be wrong to kill a baby after it has been born? Questions like these seems trivial, but their answers are extremely important to the abortion debate. What many people fail to realize is that most of the arguments used to justify killing unborn children could be used with just as much force to justify killing newborn children and, in some cases, even full-grown adults. The wrongness of killing is discussed in the following essays...