Thursday, November 06, 2003

Grisly Procedural Questions

David Hogberg from Cornfield Commentary and I are having a bit of a discussion. David had a post on the recent Partial Birth Abortion ban. I responded in his comments. He (to my great surprise and delight… ) responded to my comment.

Okay, Dave… I’ll bite… what exactly IS it you’re sprinkling on your breakfast cereal???

Truth be told, you and I are probably not that far away on our personal positions on seeking a compromise on abortion regulation. Personally, I have a huge problem with any woman who would knowingly wait until her second trimester to have an abortion. Unless… she discovers at that point that, by bringing the baby to term she risks her life or health . And I don’t mean health in the sense that she could be emotionally scarred… Or… she discovers that she is carrying a severely deformed fetus that has no chance of life without sustained, extreme artificial means.

If I were Philosopher-King, (my version of “with the powers invested in my by absolutely no one…”) thus would it be written. Thus would it be done.

Thank God for all concerned that I am not.

I think that some kind of compromise can and will be reached. I agree with you that those on both sides of the dialectic poison the debate to achieve their absolutist ends. However, I stand by my assertion that Partial Birth Abortion is a political “buzz term” used by Right to Life folks.

Other terms used with similar intent:

Special Rights
Assault Weapon
Hate Crime
Family Values

I don’t care if they are used by the Right or the Left, these sorts of terms are typically meant as a limbic sound bite; an attempt to emotionalize an issue in the public forum. In my view, they are meant to obfuscate not clarify. Abortion is the kind of issue that needs sober deliberation and debate, in quantity and duration.

Okay… let’s take a look at the term at hand. I can’t argue about its accuracy. Partial birth abortion is precisely what it is. But, is it any less grisly to dilate a woman’s cervix, insert a sharp object into her womb and render a fetus into convenient chunks suitable for removal? Less grisly? Why? Because we can’t see it as clearly in our mind’s eye?

If one procedure is illegal, the other must be. After all, the outcome is the same. Concentrating on the method, because it’s grisly misses the mark. Open heart surgery is grisly. Hell, I had an impacted wisdom tooth drilled and fractured out of my head while awake and under a local… gaaah… that was grisly. Ever field dress a deer that’s been gut shot?

And… if the life of the mother is at stake and her physician is of the opinion that the procedure is less likely to kill her than a second trimester D&C… should it still be illegal? Shouldn’t the woman and her doctor be allowed to choose the procedure that would give her the best chance of a good outcome? Should she not have access to the best care option no matter how distasteful the procedure itself may be.

I was never trying to suggest in my comment that there was a reasonable chance that Pro Lifers will leverage a ban on Partial Birth Abortions into a total ban on abortions. In fact, there’s a very good chance that the new law will be overturned in the Federal Courts. Similar state laws have met that very fate.

What I am saying is that the use of the term is not helpful in gaining the kind of compromise that you, I and (I believe) most Americans want.

As for “assault weapons”… sorry… I’m not willing to compromise on that issue. From my cold, dead hand…