Monday, June 26, 2006

Choice and South Dakota

I read an interesting article by Cynthia Gorney in the New Yorker this weekend, "Reversing Roe." I recommend the article. Gorney explains that abortion opponents have said that South Dakota House Bill 1215 is the "Wrong bill. Wrong language. Wrong time."

Gorney argues that since the Roe v. Wade ruling, it has been easy for people to say they are "pro-life" without fully defining what that means. However, what South Dakota legislators have now done is create a situation which forces people that are usually "pro-life" to define what this means to them.

South Dakota law allows for voters to gather signatures and to have state legislation voted upon in a referendum. This is now what is happening in. HB 1215 will be voted on by South Dakota voters in November.

And when this happens, HB 1215 may not remain law because it only allows for one exception, a woman's near death. However, most "pro-lifers" believe that there are other exceptions such as rape, or incest.

This is where it gets interesting. The "right-to-life" premise is that human life begins at the moment of conception. Therefore there should technically be no exceptions. However, most "pro-lifers," including politicians and our dear President Bush, support exceptions. Following this line of logic, exceptions for rape, or incest mean that "either it is justifiable to kill children in some circumstances, or what grows in a woman's uterus is a child if the woman had sex voluntarily but not if she was forced to."

Making decisons for women is a complicated business. There are a multitude of exceptions and flaws in the moral argument and the more that are highlighted, the less absolute one can be. Quoting Gorney:

How prudent is it to push people who might otherwise be your allies-who might be at least partially helpful to your cause-to examine the inconsistency of their own positon?

The Richard McGuire illustration says it all. A pregnant woman stands in a room with fingers pointing at her. She protects her womb with her hands. How come the person who understands her own situation the most is the one person who is not asked?

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