Recently I was reflecting on the relationship between abortion policy and the Democratic Party. The divide between pro-life and pro-choice is very simple. The pro-life position is that life occurs at the moment of conception. The pro-choice opinion is that life does not begin until the instant the fetus exits the birth canal. I believe the former position is the truth, but I would not doubt the sincerity of anyone holding the opposing view.
Recently I asked an obstetrician friend who occasionally performed termination of pregnancy procedures on what basis he made his decision. As I understood his answer it was that in the early stages of development a life was not present. For him life did not begin until this mass of tissue transformed into an entity that could live (albeit with significant medical intervention) outside the womb. In other words, for him life began at the point of viability.
My concern is that both sides of this argument cast the other as either morally repugnant or simply stupid. I am afraid the pro-choice adherents have painted themselves into a corner over late term abortion. Since their philosophy is that life does not occur until the moment the fetus exits the womb they are left with endorsing some fairly gruesome medical procedures. In order to justify their position they have to assume that, as late in the pregnancy as mere seconds before the fetus enters the world, they are solely the property of the mother’s body. This leaves them in a seemingly untenable position that the mother can assent to and the physician can perform any manner of macabre procedure including crushing the fetus’s head to ensure a child is not born alive.
What I think has happened is the concern that if pro-choice believers give an inch then the pro-life people will ultimately win the argument and move back the time when an abortion can be performed, even past the point of viability.
It’s unfortunate the two sides in this intense argument cannot discuss the subject without criticizing their opponents’ morality or intelligence.