I waiver on this question. I tend to believe it is the duty of the state to minimize abortions, because I can’t convince myself I know when life begins and I don’t know how anyone can be sure it’s not well before birth.
That said, I think that the main means to do so should be to subsidize heavily social services for young pregnant woman and subsidized birth control as well, including of course adoption. Conservatives point out that bans on guns will be widely violated, and maybe so. But how can you oppose gun control because it can’t be enforced without great infringement on liberty, and then heartily endorse a ban on abortion and not expect the same infringement of liberty, especially if any ban is truly enforced??
Most public policy is ultimately like national defense, including this one. For defense, we mostly accept that we make and pursue shared objectives. We do that for elimination of deprivation and poverty also. Anyone with a fully functioning heart does anyway. We do that in protection of the weak and helpless.
We set goals for all these things, and often we don’t completely agree on what the goals should be. Some are willing to accept degrees of poverty that others may not. We certainly often don’t agree on the level of national defense, but we do set collective goals and pursue them.
In all these case there is a burden to be born. Some of us have to fight in wars; pay for relief of the poor; and perhaps bear unwanted pregnancy. In the end, its best to spread the costs as almost all of us realize some benefit. I prefer to live in a society with less poverty; abortions and insecurity. Doe we share the burden? Not always.
The draft imposed a lot of the cost of defense on young men. In effect it was a tax for national defense only for young men. The volunteer army meant higher pay scales, and more cost for defense paid broadly by taxpayers. The burden was shared more widely, and coercive policy was reduced.
I’d argue that a ban on abortion is a lot like the draft. It imposes the total cost of protection of life on one group: young women. They must bear any pregnancy, including an unwanted one, even due to rape. They do this to benefit those of us who like and love children. The protection of life from a pro-life policy will be coercive, if enforced in an effective manner, and again is a lot like the draft.
I think abortion policy is like draft in another way. It became a bone of contention around the same time that the draft was with respect to the closing days of the Vietnam war. In the end the Supreme court made the policy that we have today to a large extent. Soon following that, two warring camps appeared that wanted the burden of unwanted pregnancy to be born either by young women or unborn children. I think it may be to a degree the genesis of the political polarization we see now.
I think that a better pro-life policy would be sharing the burden of unwanted pregnancy as widely as possible. There should be generous subsidy to women who carry pregnancy to term even if it isn’t wanted. Finally, I think that something so personal should not be subject to a ban on abortion. I’m not sure when life begins and I don’t think the state should act like it knows either, but mothers should be encouraged and enabled to make decisions that favor unborn children when there is more than a little uncertainty. Some would not like my share the cost of unwanted births because they see them as the result of immorality. Women should keep their legs together has been said recently. Imposing this kind of judgmentally driven guilt seems cruel to me, when imposed on young people who’ve simply made mistakes. Finally, opposing promotion of all forms of birth control other than abortion, including through the health care reform seems contrary to be being pro-life as well life affirming. Clearly the Catholic bishops are unconvinced.
For social conservative to be insistent on no abortion, and reduced social service at the same time is nothing but blue nosed cruelty of the worst kind. Pro choice liberals seem to me have a chilling certainty about life not beginning at conception. I’d like to think that what I propose could be a third way between these polar views, and maybe it would have emerged had the abortion debate not ended up in courts.
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