Montréal, 11 novembre 2000  /  No 71
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David MacRae is a software consultant who works out of his home in St. Laurent, Quebec.
by David MacRae
          There are a couple of « litmus-test » issues which the left-liberal press uses in its tirade against social conservatives like Stockwell Day. Our editors have already addressed one of these: gay rights (see GAYS HAVE NO REASON TO FEAR STOCKWELL DAY). Martin Masse and Gilles Guénette appear to believe (correct me if I'm wrong, guys) that, while Day is wrong on at least some of these issues, his stand is less dangerous and less intolerant than that of his opponents. I can only agree.
          The same is true of abortion. Social conservatives may not have the answer on this issue but it is clear that they have the high ground. Even a casual reflection leads inexorably to the conclusion that the pro-life stance is much more ethically and morally coherent than that of their adversaries.  
          Unfortunately, like a lot of social conservative positions, it's not quite grounded in reality. This is a happy fact for the pro-choice crowd since otherwise we might spend more time reflecting on their moral bankruptcy. 
Human life as a process 
          Pro-lifers refuse to see the obvious: that the creation of human life is a process, not a single event. The law recognizes this. Legally, we consider the process of creating a human being to be complete at 18 years after birth, although in reality we continue to mature for a fair amount of time after that. One ethically-conceivable position would be that the parents should be able to abort the process any time before it is legally complete. I hope no one would adopt this particular position although, de facto, women come close to having this right. They are rarely jailed for the crime of killing their own children, whatever their ages. 
          Another logical idea would be to consider the process complete when the child has mastered the basics of human existence such as walking, talking and shitting in a toilet instead of his pants. This happens at around age three. Many cultures do recognize a difference between killing an infant and killing an older child. 
          The pre-modern Japanese did not celebrate a baby's birth until the parents had decided whether it was to survive. The Japanese believed that a couple should have exactly two children, a girl first and then a boy. In the days before birth control, it was hard to manage this without a fair amount of infanticide. 
          In nineteenth century England, parents would place an infant in the care of supposed nurses who consigned these babies to virtually-certain death. As a reflection of their role, these women were described as she-butchers. In France, babies were left to « orphanages » that did the same thing. 
          This distinction between infanticide and murder is still recognized in the Canadian criminal code. According to Section 233, infanticide occurs when a woman kills her newborn or nursing infant. The theory, today advanced more by feminists than conservatives, is that women are not responsible for their actions due to the effect of their hormones. The criminal code specifically talks about how giving birth and lactating disturb a woman's mind. Curiously, while hormones are supposed to explain irresponsible behaviour (in the case of PMS, we are talking one-third of each month), it does not follow that hormone-addled women should be kept out of positions of responsibility. Following this logic to its conclusion is called sexism. 
          I've gotten a little bit off the track. To get back, let me reiterate that social conservatives refuse to acknowledge that the creation of a human being is a process, that there is a difference between a fertilized egg, a foetus, a baby, a toddler, a child, an adolescent, an adult. All, they say, are equally human. They insist that human life begins at conception. Not only do they refuse to acknowledge the existence of the process, they also refuse to acknowledge that conception itself is a process which takes about a week to complete. 
          Actually, it's not even necessary any more. Dolly the sheep was born without conception. Her human counterpart can't be far down the road. He or she may already exist. 
          Still, the anti-abortion crowd sets out their position. Life starts at conception (I suppose you could argue that Dolly had her conception-moment), Conservatives don't shrink from the consequences of their stance either. When Alan Keyes was asked whether an exception should be made in the case of rape or incest, he responded that murdering the child does not absolve the crimes of his father. 
          When conservatives start saying things like this, most people recoil a bit. They feel that there is something wrong. They instinctively understand that life is a process. People close to the beginning of that process are less human – whatever that means – than those who are further along. Consequently, the right of fully-formed human beings to have a good life may trump the right of those who are still-only-potential to have a life at all. You often hear people say « I'm against abortion but… » 
     « When the baby's torso is out of the vagina, the abortionist reaches in and stabs it in the head, which is still inside. The abortionist then sucks out the baby's brain and completes the delivery of the now-dead infant. » 
          The bottom line is this: while their position clashes with our instinctive set of priorities, it is undeniable that conservatives are morally and logically consistent. Their stance is simple and clear: « A fertilized egg is a human life which is every bit as valuable as any other. Deal with it. »  
          There are other positions on the abortion issue which are solidly grounded in ethics, including that of the Catholic Church and also some positions in which abortion is legal. But that of the pro-choice crowd is not among them. It is utterly and irretrievably corrupt. 
The magic moment called birth 
          The pro- and anti-abortion people have something in common – they both insist that the development of a human being is not a process but rather an event. In the case of the pro-abortion bunch, this magic moment is called birth. Until this happens, a foetus is simply another part of its mother's body, something to be discarded as easily as her appendix. 
          This argument is ridiculous on the face of it. There is an obvious difference between a foetus and an appendix. I am not going to bother pointing it out. We all know it. 
          The fact that the pro-abortion people shout down their opponents shows that they know in their hearts that they have the poorer arguments. They violate their opponents' right to freedom of speech and go into hysterics if someone should actually attempt to show a picture of a foetus in order to illustrate its similarity to a human being.  
          As is typical of the politically-correct, they talk in euphemisms (and get away with it). Socialists are liberals or progressives. French-firsters are not separatists or indépendantistes but rather believers in sovereignty-something-or-other. Similarly, the abortion-rights activists refuse to talk about abortions. Instead they blather on about a woman's right to choose. 
          Actually, the reason why their position is morally bankrupt is precisely because they believe in « a woman's right to choose ». There are three people involved here: a potential mother, a potential father and a potential child. According to the pro-choice bunch, only the woman has any rights. Men and children have to deal with the consequences of her decision. This, by the way, is the feminist party line. Only women have rights. Men and children have to live with her decisions.  
          In order to maintain the fiction that the foetus has no rights, they claim that it is part of her body, not an independent entity. This conveniently leaves the man out in the cold as well. In Canada, this particular fiction has been taken to its logical extreme. A foetus has less rights vis-à-vis its own mother than anyone else. Not only can she poison it with alcohol, should she then go driving and injure it in a subsequent accident, she is immune from prosecution for negligence. She is also immune to a suit for redress from the child she brought in to the world while simultaneously destroying any chances he might have had to live life normally. The father, or any other person for that matter, would be jailed for any of this.  
Sucking out baby brain 
          The pro-choice crowd also insists on a woman's right to kill a baby seconds from its birth. They repeatedly attempt to suppress any description of what this really means, of exactly how a partial birth abortion works. Note that this procedure is called partial birth abortion, which underlines the fact that birth, like conception, is a process not an event. 
          It's worth a few seconds to describe exactly what a partial birth abortion is. Labour is artificially induced and the baby turned around to cause a breech birth – feet first. When the baby's torso is out of the vagina, the abortionist reaches in and stabs it in the head, which is still inside. The abortionist then sucks out the baby's brain and completes the delivery of the now-dead infant. 
          The pro-choice people claim that this procedure can be necessary to protect the mother's life or health. Like the nonsense about the foetus being an organ in his mother's body, this is also an obvious lie. It would be safer for her to kill the baby after it was born instead of stopping the process in the middle to do it. Using a breech birth at that! 
          If they're in favour of infanticide, let them say so instead of hiding behind this hypocrisy. As I've said, it's legitimate to make a distinction between infanticide and murder. A newborn is still far from human (the arms and legs are useless and the vocal box isn't even in the right place). The problem is that the pro-choice people don't believe in either abortion or infanticide. Rather they believe in the indefensible concept of « a woman's right to choose ». 
          In an ethical sense, the pro-choice mafia's refusal to admit that fathers have rights is worse than their insistence that babies have no rights. This has no justification whatsoever. It is valid to argue that a foetus is not a human being. But the father clearly is. Despite that, mom has a choice and he doesn't. He will be forced to deal with the consequences of her decision, whatever it is, for the rest of his life.  
          When the pro-life people say that he should have kept his pants on, they're being consistent because the stricture also applies to her. Not the pro-choice people, though. In their minds, his pants are clearly not the same as her pants. But then feminists refuse to admit that men have any rights at all, especially reproductive rights. 
Non-aggressive parenting 
          For what it's worth, my own position on abortion is based on the fuzzy idea of viability. E.g. first trimester, yes, third trimester no. Second? Umm, better to err on the safe side so it's no again. I suspect that most Canadians hold a similar position, perhaps drawing the line at 16 weeks or so instead of 12.  
          If the baby is to be born, both parents have a responsibility to keep it in good health until its birth. Obviously this responsibility weighs more heavily on the mother than the father. That's life, sister. Deal with it.  
          At birth, either parent should have the right to renounce the baby, to put it up for adoption. If only one does so, then the other would become the sole legal parent. The current law is that only the mother can put a child up for adoption. In practice, she can do so against the father's wishes.  
          This position is not perfect but it is, like that of the social conservatives, morally consistent. It allows viable babies to survive while also allowing both parents the right to a legal « abortion ». It seems to me that this does the least damage to everyone's rights and is thus the best application of the non-aggression principle to this difficult question. 
          I don't hold this position especially strongly and could be convinced to change it by a good enough argument. One thing I do know is that if I am forced to choose between the moral absolutists on the social Right and the moral bankrupts on the Left, I'll take the absolutists without question. 
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