Birth and Death

Earlier this week, on the same day, two events caught my eye. The senate passed the partial-birth abortion ban, and the Florida legislature passed a law that gave the governor (Jeb Bush) the ability to force doctors to put a feeding tube back into a comatose patient. Neither of these may get past the courts, especially the feeding tube law – it was written for just this one patient.

Some of the most important decisions we will ever have to make involve those of birth and death, and these are often difficult and emotionally trying. In almost all cases, the people closest to the situation ought be the ones who make the difficult calls. I’ve been in those situations; as we get older we all end up in them; and I now refuse to second-guess anyone else caught in one of them. In both of the above cases, the government has decided to intervene in people’s lives and take these decisions away from us. I had always thought that one of the hallmarks of a conservative (and both these actions were taken by conservatives) was that the government ought to stay out of peoples’ lives.

Rather, it looks like the conservatives are willing to stay out of peoples’ lives just as long as the people behave in a manner the conservatives approve of. Which is to say, they favor intervening in peoples’ lives a great deal more than most liberals do. The liberals just want your money so they can spend it on their constituencies. The conservatives, on the other hand, want your soul. And if you don’t give it to them, they’ll pass a law and put you in jail. Just think back to Ashcroft’s actions against Oregon’s “right-to-die” law.

I read somewhere in a poll that even among the “right-to-lifers” a majority favor letting the woman make the decision. For the life of me, if that is so, then why are we having this struggle over abortion rights? After all, what the abortion foes want is to force, at the point of a gun, a women to carry her pregnancy to term, pretty much regardless of the circumstances.

In earlier writings I’ve expressed my support for the right to choose; not because I’m fond of abortions, they should always be a last resort. Rather I think of all the mischief and misery the politicians can cause in our lives if they have this kind of power. I just wonder if all those young Republicans, who have never experienced the outlawing of abortions, understand the program they have signed up for. As usual, time will tell.

October 29, 2003

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