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.