Kansans have “the ability to control one’s own body, to assert bodily integrity, and to exercise self-determination. This right allows a woman to make her own decisions regarding her body, health, family formation, and family life — decisions that can include whether to continue a pregnancy.”
This is a controversial topic:
This ruling seems to be centered around a constitutional right – the autonomy of a person to make health decisions. But as someone who tries to be as consistently pro-life as possible, I also wonder about another constitutional right – to life itself. To me it seems, as is often enough the case, that the rights of one individual may interfere with the rights of another.
So, in the interest of dialog I’ll start out with some to the questions that I have stemming from this case:
- Just like the fuzziness of the question “when does someone die?”, I feel like there is probably some fuzziness in the question “when does life begin?”, but to me this does feel like an important question.
- At what point does an embryo/fetus/baby become a person distinct from its mother?
- Connecting these, at what point does a mother stop making decisions about her body and start making the decisions for another, dependent, person (potentially) inside her?
To me, it seems highly likely that what starts as the meeting of two gametes becomes a human life fairly early on. To me then, the constitutional issue becomes what do we do when the constitutional right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for two intimately connected persons seem to clash?
- Do we value one type of right over the other?
- Do we value one type of person (autonomous adult vs dependent child) over the other?
- Do we try to maximize both by limiting each?
Those are just some of my thoughts/questions.
It can’t go to the Supreme Court as the Kansas Supreme Count is the highest court for interpreting the Kansas Constitution.
These questions are part of every abortion case and discussion. The benchmark used often is viability to live outside the womb. That is why is legal limit for an abortion is usually and the end of the second trimester. Today, with all modern medicine, the viability line is usually drawn at 24 weeks. (My son was 23 weeks in 1992 and lived).
Note that today 93% of all abortions are done prior to the 10th week of pregnancy far from viability.
All efforts to make personhood at conception have failed across the country.
It’s understandable why people would use viability but it’s also a moving target. That also means it’s a bit sketchy as a philosophical definition of personhood.
So would you say that because most abortions are so early in development, that my point 3 is just no longer an issue because there is no second person there so it is solely about the right to make personal medical decisions?
When, and how many lives? When does that human life acquire a soul?
For society yes, for the individual mother no. My wife and I considered my son to be a real person very early, probably at the first ultrasound at seven weeks. But we didn’t want society, the church, the government, nor an insurance company making our decisions for us. I think it should be left to the individual mother to make her own decision about her and her baby.
Interesting, I haven’t really heard it articulated that way. Thanks.
I don’t have an answer, I wish I did. For now, I figure the safest thing to do is err on the side of assuming that the beginning of life is as early as possible.
Sure, it is easy to do this when you are not in the particular situation that most woman find themselves in.
I certainly wasn’t happy about the awful situation that I found myself in. Most woman who chose to have an abortion aren’t happy about the situation they are in. But I found myself in it as most woman do. We could have started blaming others or ourselves for our actions leading up to the decision point. I feel like I put my wife’s life in too much jeopardy waiting until it was life-or-death critical. You really don’t know what you are going to do until you are in the situation. And when women are in that situation they need good information, good healthcare, and don’t need preaching nor prayers. Be kind and emphatic to the woman for her plight and don’t harm her further by laying more guilt on her.
I would put “in addition to prayers” but otherwise agree.
I’ve seen quite a bit of guilt/shame on both sides. It certainly seems to be the mandate of the Church to care for the most vulnerable, and quite often these women are in a tough spot. We certainly should step up to help and not wag our fingers in their faces. On the other hand, I’ve also seen parents pressuring their daughters to get an abortion because they say it will damage their academic track or they don’t want anyone to know about the pregnancy. Or the pushy boyfriend/husband that just doesn’t want to deal with a child.
This is a very complex societal issue, and it seems easy to make black-and-white statements, but I do see it’s not so easy when you start actually talking to people.
To me the most difficult decisions are related to late term abortions due to major anomalies/disabilities. It is heart wrenching.
Are you kidding? Really?
“As early as possible” is an answer. What is your assumption about when a human life begins?
Usually the same parents who don’t want to have birth control available. These are the same parents who believe that abstinence is a form of birth control, yet believe that a virgin can get pregnant.
Do you support a legal limit on late term abortions, say during third trimester.
As I will repeatedly emphasize, do not interpret anything I write here as endorsement of any particular position.
Well, most of the conversations I’ve seen have centered around the grand political (legal vs not legal) question. While I have certainly seen libertarian arguments, none that I can remember were specifically about it being an individual decision on what constituted personhood.
I don’t know. I mean for bookends I see conception and viability. I’m assuming it’s somewhere in there (inclusive). I lean more towards the conception end, perhaps because viability is getting earlier and earlier. On the other hand, I’m open to the possibility that I’m going about this all wrong.
I have thought about this in light of the new New York law legalizing abortions in the third trimester. Doing an abortion in the third trimester is very dangerous to the mother. If the baby is viable, it can live outside the mother, so why not do a C-section or just leave the baby their undelivered. I am all for decriminalizing it for the mother and the doctor, but it really needs to be evaluated in a situational basis. In the third semester, I think it is imperative on the doctor and several doctors to evaluate the situation and do what is best to minimize harm to two people - mother and baby. That is what the NY law did -decriminalized it. NY State leaves it up to the mother and the medical professionals to decide the course of action if any.
Good. There’s an incredibly obvious bookend that you are missing, and every religion in the world AFAIK operates as though it exists. It sure ain’t conception. Are you interested?