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Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Instapunk070604

The Doorway


THE CHOICE. John Kerry's stealth campaign for the presidency made a mistake over the holiday weekend and got noticed:

...even as he tried to avoid making news Sunday, Kerry broke new ground in an interview that ran in the Dubuque, Iowa, Telegraph Herald. A Catholic who supports abortion rights and has taken heat from some in the church hierarchy for his stance, Kerry told the paper, "I oppose abortion, personally. I don't like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception."

Spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said that although Kerry has often said abortion should be "safe, legal and rare," and that his religion shapes that view, she could not recall him ever publicly discussing when life begins.

Kerry's positions on life and abortion are contradictory, but so are almost everyone else's. If the senator were capable of thinking, his remarks over the weekend could represent the beginning of the first honest discussion about abortion in this country since it became a political issue. Why? Because his contradiction is the important one. All the others are merely confusion factors, concealing selfishness, hypocrisy, political and moralistic cant, specious reasoning, and legalistic chicanery.

The hardcore feminist position doesn't exist on a moral spectrum at all. It is, at its core, amoral. Women should be able to have abortions because they want them. They're allowed to justify their wants in any way that occurs to them. If they want a baby, the fertilized egg in the uterus is a baby. If they don't want a baby, the fertilized egg in the uterus is trash. The hypocrisy that has wrapped itself in layers around the subject is camouflage for this self-serving postulate: the whim of a woman should take precedence over reason, philosophy, law, and religion.

There is, of course, what appears to be an appeal to reason. We are told it is unreasonable and unjust that women should die at the hands of back-alley abortionists, and since women will always seek abortions, it is only reasonable to make it legal and safe for them to do so. But if we consider that in the pre-Roe V. Wade days, about 5,000 women a year died having abortions in this country and since then about one to two million fetuses a year have been aborted, this argument is clearly anti-rational unless a fetus is not a person. There can be no rational basis for trading two million lives for 5,000.

That's why there must be an appeal to law and, specifically, the Constitution. In their eagerness to placate the feminists, the justices of the Supreme Court fabricated a right of privacy that seems to apply to the uterus and nothing else (And don't stand up wagging you finger at me about other so-called privacy rights. They don't exist. Don't tell me about the bedroom privacy established by the gay lobby. If you want to engage in incest with your minor child, you'd better do it in a woman's uterus, or the cops have every right to haul you away. And if you want to protect any of your private financial information from the IRS, I suggest you file it in a woman's uterus.)(Why hasn't anyone thought to set up Uter-Rent, Inc? It's closer than the Caimans.)

But all the constitutional interpretation to date has been hypocritical nonsense. Lawyers' minds work backward on issues that are more philosophical than statutorial. They always seek out the narrowest principle they can apply. An intelligence that hasn't been mutilated by law school, however, would seek out the broadest principles that might illuminate the central question, which is: what can the Constitution tell us about when life begins? Roe V. Wade ducked the key question entirely, the hallmark of an opinion promulgated by idiots.

As it happens, the Constitution is not at all silent about how Americans should decide the abortion issue. The answer lies in the Bill of Rights, which displays a completely consistent determination that the individual, however poor and defenseless, should not be abused by the state simply because the state has more power than he does. Whatever his station, he has a right to a fair trial, and he must be assumed innocent until proven guilty. He has a right to confront his accusers, and he has a right to speak his mind on any matter that occurs to him. He cannot be silenced no matter how small his voice.

It takes nothing like the kind of semantic trickery underpinning Roe V. Wade to see how this philosphical bent of the framers relates to the abortion question. If a fetus is a life, no one has the right under the Constitution to kill it. And as for deciding the question of when life begins, the Constitution's intrinsic prejudice is on the side of the fetus, because we have an obligation to prove that the fetus is not a life before declaring that it has no rights. Just because we cannot hear its voice does not mean that it has no right to speak. And just because it is small and young does not mean that it merits no protection under the law.

Thus, a self-serving pagan desire has managed to overthrow reason, philosophy, and the law. If these truly have been stood on their head, isn't there some place where we can detect it -- a flagrant absurdity of some sort? Yes. We can see the absurdity at work in what I call the Magic Doorway.

Imagine there is a special room. It is special because its state of being is always that there is no one inside the room. This room may have a window, and someone looking through the window can observe what looks like a person in the room, but even then, there is no one in the room. The room also has a doorway, a magic doorway. Its magical property is that what looks like a person through the window but isn't actually becomes a person by walking out of the room through the doorway. It is this act of walking through the doorway which is solely responsible for creating the person who suddenly emerges into the light.

This is how we have tricked out the status of a fetus under the law. The courts are telling us that it's even legal to grab a fetus a few inches from the doorway and take him apart one limb at a time a few days or hours before he would naturally have passed through the life-giving portal. And note that there is no physical change of state we can define medically or anatomically that accompanies the passing through the doorway. It is the doorway alone which makes all the difference. It is not legal, for example, for a doctor to cut the throat of a baby(?) that has emerged from the vagina even if she has not yet started to breathe and still has the umbilical cord attached. The only physical difference in that baby is her location.

This is about as primitive and heathen a definition of the beginning of life as one could imagine. It arises, in fact, from a stupefyingly complete lack of imagination. The only difference in the baby before she passed through the magic doorway was that we could not see her or touch her. Because she was not visible, she did not exist? Nonsense.

Nowadays we have ultrasound. Women have at last acquired the capability to see into the special room, to see features, movement, thumb-sucking. There are many who believe that ultrasound technology is responsible for the increasing shift in the general population away from the pro-choice position. Just how stupid and shortsighted are we?

The abortion question will never be solved until we all stop fooling ourselves. And by all I mean both the right and the left. Senator Kerry is right, as we all know he is. Life begins at conception. All the outrageous semantics aside, it's a no-brainer. When we talk about abortion we are talking about killing. When we legalize abortion, we are legalizing infanticide. But that is not the end of the discussion.

As soon as we accept that we are indeed talking about killing human life, additional hypocrisies on the left and the right are evident. The same people who march in pro-choice rallies also march in rallies opposing the death sentence. Why? Because they are against killing. No, they're not. The same people who defend the death penalty march in right-to-life rallies. Why? Because they're against killing. No, they're not.

As a people and a nation, we generally accept that there is legally defensible killing. There is room in an honest discussion for all the perspectives that people might offer. Should the couple who learn a few months into pregnancy that their baby has Down Syndrome be legally entitled to end that baby's life? Should the ignorant teenager who is 13 and looks 18 be obligated to carry the baby she got from her statutory rapist? I don't know the answers to these questions. But collectively, we can find an answer to the questions. Reason, philosophy, religion, all have a legitimate role to play. It's a matter for debate, not a screaming match.

What I insist on, however, as a point of common sense is that infanticide is not, and cannot be, legal under the Constitution as written because of the clear guidance provided by the Bill of Rights. If we decide that infanticide should be legalized, then the Constitution nonetheless provides us with a mechanism for doing so. It's called a Constitutional Amendment. All the time we have spent covering up the fact that abortion is killing has been time wasted.

I would welcome it if John Kerry would go the next step in explaining his positions that life begins at conception AND abortion should be legal. If he will now say what is obvious, that he favors legalized killing of unborn babies, maybe the real discussion can begin.

I'm not holding my breath.







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