• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

No exceptions

It's the 35th anniversary today of Roe v. Wade, one of the worst Supreme Court decisions ever made, along with Dred Scott and a few others. When some of us passionately rail against the court making up constitutional rights out of thin air, this is the case that usually comes up first.

I happen to believe that life starts neither with conception nor with birth but with the development of the brain's cognitive function. So my opinion of the state's efforts to thwart abortions differs based on whether that development has happened; it's my own version of "viability," I suppose. That probably makes me too pro-choice for the pro-life crowd but not pro-choice enough for the pro-choice crowd. I came to this position a long time ago, and I've written about it a lot over the years. I bring it up again now just so you have a context for my remarks and can judge them accordingly.

Of all the things I don't get about the abortion debate -- and there are many -- the one I most wish someone could explain clearly to me is the exception even many staunch pro-lifers are willing to make for rape and incest. This guy tries, but I don't think it quite gets the job done.

Over the years I have come to the conclusion that as abhorrent as abortion is, by holding fast to an all-or-nothing ideology instead of compromising, millions of unborn Americans have been denied the inalienable right to life and have been swept into the abyss of death by the cascading waters of Roe v. Wade.

At this point some of you might be thinking if this compromise I propose isn't supporting abortion then what would I call it? I call it "Pro-life Triage."

Those who have watched the television series "M*A*S*H" have heard the term "triage" uttered by Hawkeye, B.J. and company. Simply stated, when overwhelmed with casualties doctors determine who has the best chance of survival and they attend to them first.

Does this mean that some of the most seriously injured face a distinct possibility of death? Yes. Cold hearted? Callused? Playing God? No, it is a sound medical practice in real-world terms that allow for the best chance for saving the most lives. That should be considered when discussing legislation dealing with abortion.

He is assuming that there are pro-choice advocates out there who would accept his "compromise" of a pro-life constitutional amendment with an exception for rape and incest. I think he is wrong. Pro-lifers seem to have the reputation for being the most intransigent, but I don't think that's so. Committed pro-choicers seem less willing to make any kind of exception, even for something as abominable as partial-birth abortion. I think there are far more pro-life zealots who accept the rape-and-incest exception than there are pro-choice zealots willing to accept the partial-birth exception.

And accepting the rape-and-incest exception undercuts the whole case for fighting abortion. There are always two human beings involved -- the mother and the child. The core principle of the pro-life position is that, whatever is or is not true about the adult in the case, the baby is always the more innocent one and is a full-fledged human being deserving the same protections as any other human being. If we accept this premise, they do not become less human just because the mother was raped or the victim of incest.

The author also oversimplified the "triage" concept a bit. That practice usually involves sorting -- rather quickly, under difficult circumstances -- patients into three distinct groups: Those who will survive even without treatment, those who will die even with treatment, and those who can survive only with treatment. Only the latter group gets treatment -- that's the whole point. Those things in the womb -- whether you call them fetal tissue or pre-born babies -- are all in the same category. They will survive to see this world if left alone or be stopped before they get here if somebody wants it that way.


ob G.
Tue, 01/22/2008 - 9:37am

And here I was thinking that, after being told by SO many people that "Life begins at FORTY".

Silly me.



Kevin Knuth
Tue, 01/22/2008 - 9:56am


This reminds me of a converasation I had on my front porch with a News Sentinel columnist a few years back.

We discussed the Choice/Right to Life issue- me supporting choice and him supporting right to life.

His argument is that God should decide. Then I asked about cases of rape and incest. He said, "I am wiling to make exceptions in those cases."

I replied, "who made you god?"

end of conversation!

Kevin Knuth
Tue, 01/22/2008 - 9:57am

make that "conversation" not "converasation" ;)

Larry Morris
Tue, 01/22/2008 - 1:21pm

Regardless of when you think life begins and ends, seems to me we have managed, for the most part, to leave God out of the discussions dealing with end of life issues and have left it up to the individuals and families involved with advice from medical professionals. Why can

Tue, 01/22/2008 - 1:57pm

There are many millions of people who believe life is sacred from the moment of conception until the moment of natural death. These are not issues that can swing with the prevailing trend of whatever the popular viewpoint of the time is. So maybe YOU " have managed, for the most part, to leave God out of the discussions of end of life issues", but don't include me in that we.

A J Bogle
Tue, 01/22/2008 - 7:56pm

It seems to me that most of the same folks that are "pro life" are also agianst the very things that prevent unwanted pregnancies - contraception, education, health care for the poor, and so forth. Most are also pro death penalty. All very contradictory positions.

I also see contradiction in that the small govt, keep government out of private lives crowd wants govt to dictate this very private matter between a person, their doctors and their clergy.

I do not condone abortion. I am appalled by it. I would never recommend it to anyone I am acquainted with. With that said I do not think its the govt's business to get involved here on either side - this is where roe v wade went wrong.

The best way to prevent abortion is to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

I think the democrats make a big mistake being so militantly pro choice.

tim zank
Wed, 01/23/2008 - 11:21am

AJ sez "I think the democrats make a big mistake being so militantly pro choice."

Yes they do, but it's inherently in dems nature to be contrary and oppose anything that remotely resembles personal responsibility and accepting the consequences of their actions.

There really is no logical reason for abortion other than convenience.

Bob G.
Wed, 01/23/2008 - 1:20pm

Yeah, Tim...I mean after all...who REALLY has the TIME to properly RAISE a child THESE days, hmm?
It's SUCH a "bother"....

We're MUCH to busy trying to find that next "fix" of entertainment, aren't we?

(wow, such sarcasm Bob...)

(isn't the death sentence really a VERY,VERY late-term abortion anyway?)

Z Man
Wed, 01/23/2008 - 9:51pm

AJ -- I am with you on most of your points except for the phrase "militant pro-choice". I don't think I've ever heard of pro choice people bombing churches or murdering anti-abortion advocates. Most pro-choice people and organizations are working to prevent unwanted pregnancies - sex ed, birth control, adoption, etc. Meanwhile the pope continues to decree the use of condoms as genocide.