Tuesday, June 9, 2009

On Abortion: No Rules, Only Exceptions

NYT's Ross Douthat weighs in (and quite reasonably) on George Tiller's murder.

Money Q:
The argument for unregulated abortion rests on the idea that where there are exceptions, there cannot be a rule. Because rape and incest can lead to pregnancy, because abortion can save women’s lives, because babies can be born into suffering and certain death, there should be no restrictions on abortion whatsoever.

As a matter of moral philosophy, this makes a certain sense. Either a fetus has a claim to life or it doesn’t. The circumstances of its conception and the state of its health shouldn’t enter into the equation.

But the law is a not a philosophy seminar. It’s the place where morality meets custom, and compromise, and common sense. And it can take account of tragic situations without universalizing their lessons.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first argument for legalized abortion that I remember, was to end back alley abortions. Keep in mind that like driving to fast there is a danger to all chancy decisions made. The decision for a back alley abortion comes from a person who knows the consequences. The unborn child makes no decision in it's own tragic death. One question that has always puzzled me is this---there have been nearly fifty million abortions since the seventies, I am wondering in comparision how many back alley abortion deaths (women) would there have been in the same period of time and how many abortions would have taken place if abortion were still against the law? I doubt that there would be any where near fifty million dead women. Fifty million prisoners in the womb killed and some simply because it was the convenient thing to do.

June 9, 2009 at 9:14 AM 
Blogger /mr said...

Hilzoy in the Washington Monthly dispatched the absurd reasoning of Douthat's article here:


June 10, 2009 at 10:44 AM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

Hey, Matt,
I thought that might be you. How's things at in the finance biz and your blog? A little slow I guess.

See you tomorrow night.

June 10, 2009 at 11:44 AM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

P.S. I read the Hilzoy piece and don't see how it dispatches Douthat's "absurd reasoning" on the matter.

The cases Hilzoy writes about are the very exceptions Douthat and many others would understandably permit. It's the purely elective late-term abortions on healthy fetuses and healthy mothers that Tiller performed over his career that bothered moderates on abortion.

June 10, 2009 at 11:54 AM 
Blogger /mr said...

Douthat's basic premise is that if those that support a right to choose are willing to give up some of their rights, the pro lifers will agree to a few less doctor killings.

June 11, 2009 at 4:33 PM 

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