February 07, 2011

Basic Yet Tough

I was able to do an hour of Kangaroo Care with Zoey on my chest this afternoon. She did awesome, with only one short apnea spell.

I have to say, unless you've held a baby that weighs less than two pounds--a baby that grasps at your chest and opens her eyes to investigate what's going on--you better have a really excellent argument for why abortion should be legal after a certain point. Like, a really solid, air tight argument.

I'm still not entirely certain what "a certain point" is, but I've definitely had reason to reflect on this particular human quandary over the last several weeks.

I'm not an expert, mind you. I'm just a father who is taking a crash course and is asking himself some basic yet tough questions.

Posted by Ryan at February 7, 2011 08:58 PM | TrackBack

Well said. Couldn't agree with you more.

Posted by: Lisa Muenkel at February 8, 2011 11:50 AM

The Lord does work in mysterious ways when He's trying to help us grow in wisdom. Then again, sometimes He just comes to us like a freight train and crashes things into our brains and says "Thus says ME! Get IT?!?!?" I love God :0) Sometimes love hurts though.

Posted by: Tina at February 8, 2011 12:51 PM

I had meant to comment that I think it's great that you and Zoey had some time together :0) So many times my mind drifts.

Posted by: Tina at February 8, 2011 12:52 PM

A resounding affirmation of your post, Ryan. Here, here!

Posted by: Danielle Teal at February 8, 2011 07:30 PM

I don't know, Ryan. I've never been of the school of thought that a fetus isn't a person. But I've also never been pregnant. Hyperbole aside, I can easily imagine how the idea of giving birth could be so terrifying that a woman or girl would almost rather die than do it. Or would actually rather die. That happens to.

I think the underlying ethical question is whether a woman should be legally forced to surrender control of this very intimate part of her body under any circumstances. Having been deprived of intimate control of my body on occasion, and knowing something of how that feels, my answer to that question is, "No. A woman should never be legally forced to surrender that control."

It's not a question of what I am or am not willing to do, personally. It's a question of what I am or am not willing to FORCE someone else to do.

Posted by: Joshua at February 9, 2011 11:36 PM

I tend to agree with Joshua. But I also agree with you that there is a certain point beyond which I think abortion should be off the table. But, like you, I don't know what that point is. I'd guess it would be on a case by case basis but that brings a whole host of other considerations.

It truly is an amazingly complex and thorny issue but I do believe that a woman's right to choose is the key issue and I simply cannot support a law that says the woman has no say over what takes in her own body.

Posted by: Erik at February 10, 2011 01:21 AM

Joshua, I generally agree about the "force someone else to do" concept, but what I'm wrestling with is the point at which it becomes who is forcing who.

So, like, at one month, and a woman/girl discovers she's pregnant, and she doesn't want to have a baby, so she opts for an abortion, I was previously on the side of "well, that's probably okay."

My issue is, at what point is a woman forcing a fetus/baby to give up its life? Granted, there are circumstances where a woman's life could be in jeopardy and that sort of thing, but generally speaking, I'm wondering when the baby/fetus gets a say in all this. At 23 weeks, my babies certainly didn't seem all that pleased to be removed from the womb, and that wasn't abortion, it was medical necessity.

As I said, I'm basically unsure about when the "certain point" exists, because at some point, the baby/fetus sure should get a say in all this.

Posted by: Ryan at February 10, 2011 08:36 AM

If that "certain point" is at 23 weeks, what about 1 day earlier? If that certain point is at 12 weeks, what about 1 day earlier? Having lost 4 babies before they were born, I miss each one of them and often wonder what they would have been like had I a chance to get to meet and know them. How can we decide at what point a human is no longer worth a chance at life? I can understand circumstances that would drive one to desire taking a life just as I can understand a women who is trapped in an abusive relationship who "snaps" and kills the abuser. None the less, it is still against the law to take another human life. Unless, of course, it is an unwanted baby's life.

Posted by: Laura at February 10, 2011 10:57 AM

Laura, you've brought in the "slippery slope" argument I've been thinking about a lot lately. If 23 weeks, why not 22 weeks, and so on? The argument can jogged back so far, you get into what about two seconds before conception, at which point you're splitting ridiculous hairs.

I honestly just don't know.

If someone really wants to be pregnant and have a baby, the answer is crystal clear. If someone is scared and isn't mature enough to deal with the responsibility, the answer is murkier (for them).

At the same time, if a girl/women has unprotected sex, pregnancy shouldn't be something unconsidered. I sorta see the argument of "well, she didn't really know the risks," but, on the other hand, if she didn't really know the risks, how is it she knows enough to have an abortion?

All I can say, from my experience, the "certain point" has become difficult to determine, and it's certainly something far more complex than trimesters and other such arbitrary goalposts.

Posted by: Ryan at February 10, 2011 08:45 PM

FWIW, we continue to make arbitrary legal distinctions about age after birth. Civil liability, criminal liability, whether the kid or the parents are responsible, duty of care and -- this is a big one -- when a child is an adult for purposes of criminal liability. We have to have rules, and they have to be rules everyone can understand. So we do trimesters.

I have a very specific philosophical framework for why I think abortion should be legal. I've never met anyone who agrees with it, so I won't get into it here.

And as far as "unprotected" sex -- there you're starting to get into much more unambiguous "right to privacy" type stuff. The only way to know if it was unprotected sex, or a birth control failure, is to ask the question. The only way to make sure they're telling the truth is to start letting the government make inquiries nobody wants the government making.

None the less, it is still against the law to take another human life. Unless, of course, it is an unwanted baby's life.

There are dozens of circumstances under which it's legal to take another person's life, not least of which -- let's not forget -- is if a state decides to execute them.

Posted by: Joshua at February 10, 2011 10:57 PM

From an equal protection position, I've always questioned the line of "reason" that says that the man is assumed to incur a moral and legal responsibility to financially provide for that (potential) child from the moment of conception for the next eighteen years, yet the woman is never assumed to have any responsibilty at all ever to even let the (potential) child live a single day.

While I find the idea of elective abortion for non-medical reasons an affront to life, I can accept that there is a convincing argument for the right of a woman to control her body. I also feel, though, at some point during the pregnancy that woman has made a tacit agreement to allow that child to live, and needs to then fulfil that responsibility she accepted.

Posted by: submandave at February 15, 2011 09:10 AM
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