Imagine you are driving on a foggy night and you see a dark figure ahead. It could be a fallen branch. It might even be a little deer, or, God forbid, a little child. Do you keep on driving full speed and crash through it, or put on the brakes? If you think it might be a human person, either dead or alive, what should you do?
Most of us would say that even if we are uncertain, we should stop and check. We should give the benefit of the doubt to something that might be human, and, if it is, treat it with care.
But a recent article for Gatestone suggests that society has no obligation to interfere with a woman who chooses to get an abortion. The article concedes that the question of when life begins is complex, and suggests that after the first trimester the question becomes more difficult. But it fails to distinguish between early and late abortions. The author criticizes “anti-abortion right-to-life advocates” who say that the state should sometimes step in:
“They do not want any woman to have the right to choose abortion for herself. They want to have the state choose for her — to deny her the right to choose between giving birth to an unwanted child and having an abortion.”
According to the article, the question comes down to who should make decisions about life and death — the pregnant woman or the “impersonal state.” Of course, conservatives agree that in most cases there should be individual freedom, particularly when it comes to very personal choices about pregnancy and children. But while conservatives differ on public policy for abortions in the first trimester and in cases of incest and rape (which according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute total less than one percent), they agree with some liberals that the state should protect life in the last trimester. Perhaps a majority of liberals, however, would say the state should never intervene on abortion, even when the baby is healthy and viable in the last trimester.
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