Monday, March 16, 2009

If it's Illegal, continued...

In the previous post, I outlined my belief that making a particular act illegal does not automatically invoke public adherence. Although the motivation for many laws are justifiable, too many of these laws are directed at the symptom rather than the illness.

To reiterate this point, look again at laws against phone usage will driving. The impetus behind such a law is to protect the fundamental right of life, as in the life of everybody put in danger by irresponsible drivers. Despite widespread agreement that such a law is adventitious in promoting safety, there will continue to be widespread disregard for this regulation, just as there has been for similar laws - drunk driving, drowsy driving, distracted driving, and delinquent driving. The symptom of reckless endangerment of others may be punished by stricter laws, but the illness of self centered concern remains untouched. To be ameliorated, there must be more oversight into the education of drivers. Teach them of societal responsibility, of potential consequences, and of unselfish concern. If people are inherently good, as many will argue, then they will make the right decision.

The same logic can be applied to abortion. The two conflicting political arguments for adjustment of current laws are that the mother has the right to choose a safe and legal abortion, and the sanctity and rights of an unborn child. The motivation behind both of these movements is actually very similar - freedom of choice. Amazingly, the two ideologies are not mutually exclusive. In other words, both arguments are correct. The mother does have the right to choose a safe and legal abortion, and the unborn child is a precious miracle that must be protected. The confounding difference is that the first puts the individual rights of the mother above all other virtue, while the second upholds the ambiguous definitions of "life."

The individual right of choice is just that, and individual right. Were the mother the only person involved in the decision of abortion, then she indeed has the right to choose what she does with her own body. What is overlooked is 1) the freedom of choice was already exercised when coitus was chosen, 2) the unborn child can not be ignored. Obviously there may be extenuating circumstances on a moral level that would result in a decision of abortion. These have been addressed according to LDS doctrine. Read more here, here, and here.

The ambiguous definition of what is alive, viable, or cognisant, must also be addressed. According to current medical technology and opinion, it is impossible for a fetus to remain alive and grow, if removed from the uterus during the first trimester. Hence, before this time the unborn child is not "alive" and is therefore not entitled to the same rights as other human beings. Others advocate that the moment of fertilization is when life begins.

I feel that both of these arguments are flawed. If 22 weeks is the benchmark of life, then why is it that a fetus has independent circulation, detectable brain function, and response to stimuli at much earlier time points? If fertilization is the only requirement for life, then why is it impossible to produce a completely extrauterine child? I've commented on conception before, but I would also like to add that if fertilization is truly the moment that life is viable, then several forms of birth control would need to be rethought.

Now that we've explored the two sides of the abortion debate, a point needs to be made. Arguing about the details of mother and child's rights, debating the moment of viability, and deliberating on the legality of abortion only serve to detract from the real issues: Life is precious and sacred. All individuals have the freedom of choice, but not the freedom from consequences.

Abortion itself is a minor symptom of a significantly greater social epidemic. Making abortion illegal will do little to ameliorate those fundamental problems; identically, making if easier to "empty life's creative chamber" is not a solution. If laws are to be made, these should be addressed at the cause that lead to contemplating abortion - "problems such as poverty, injustice, intolerance, ignorance, immorality, and selfishness."

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