I’ve been pondering the “partial-birth abortion” debate, and I’ve finally gathered what (at least for today) seem to be coherent thoughts. As I’ve written earlier, I support the right of women to obtain abortions, but I recognize the moral problems with abortion. At the risk of getting shot at from both sides, how about a compromise along the following lines.
First, if there is any risk to the mother’s health that would indicate an abortion, she has the right to obtain it. To me, this is fundamental. Our women are not our breeding machines.
Second, (1)if the fetus is viable, and (2)the women’s health is not at issue, and (3)someone is willing to take the fetus, then the woman could be forced to go through with the birth. At first, this proposal may seem to be a cave-in to the pro-lifers, but the devil’s in the details.
Let me cover the three criteria. Viability is a hard one to nail down, and would be subject to change as technology changes. The main principle would be that the fetus could survive on its own. I assume someone could come up with a reasonable set of standards for this, and maybe there could be a medical board set up to judge these things. Women’s health should be fairly self-evident. We would not sacrifice a woman for an unborn child. Good medical practice and a review board could probably handle this one. Someone is where it gets stickier. That someone would be an individual (groups get too complicated) and would have to meet financial and “good character” standards. That someone would be absolutely responsible for the welfare of the child, as well as the health of the mother during the birth. That someone could not have the birth forced, and then refuse the child for any reason. If the child has health problems, that someone will pay for necessary care, even to bankruptcy. The taxpayers will not be responsible for any part of that cost, should it occur. After that someone becomes bankrupt, then the government would have to pick up the cost; what choice would we have? Of course, that now-bankrupt someone’s earnings would be garnished for the remainder of their lives, and that someone would never again be allowed to force a birth.
If people want to force their morality on others, they are going to be stuck with the potential consequences. Sounds fair to me.
December 5, 2003