Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Abortion: The overestimation of "choice" and denial of duress

The choice to have an abortion is not coerced by a tyrant, but is made within the privacy of an individual woman's heart, in concert with her beliefs, her physician's recommendations and her spiritual/ethical values. Julie Bogart

Is that so? I ask because all kinds of evidence, both documentary and anecdotal, suggests that abortion takes place under duress. The duress might be internal - overwhelming fear or despair - or it might be external, in the pressure exerted by others on the woman to "get rid of it."

South Dakota's own abortion statistics show the vast majority of abortions performed because "The mother did not desire to have the child." This is elective abortion, almost always a kind of crude "birth control" made to eliminate the duress of an unwanted pregnancy. Only a tiny percentage cited rape/incest, danger to maternal health or even financial hardship - situations where one would expect values, beliefs and medical advice to be weighed.

Yet even in those "hard cases", duress might be a factor more significant than values. A just released study of religiously inclined women found that their beliefs and values tend to be put on hold when it comes to an abortion: “This research suggests that young, unmarried women are confronted with a number of social, financial and health-related factors that can make it difficult for them to act according to religious values when deciding whether to keep or abort a pregnancy,” said the study’s author, sociologist Amy Adamczyk, an assistant professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. In other words, duress - the very real fear of potential outcomes.

And what of those "social factors"? A West Coast blogger who goes by Perptua of Carthage posted a disturbing story on how murder has become the main cause of death for pregnant women in some communities. Jack Levin of Northeastern University is quoted as explaining: "It seems to me that these guys hope against hope for a miscarriage or an abortion, but when everything else fails, they take the life of the woman to avoid having the baby..." Men, parents, circles of girlfriends and others bring pressure on women to have abortions, and can inflict "penalties" if their demands don't lead to the desired "choice." It is hard to quantify how many elective abortions take place under this kind of duress.

If duress is a significant contributor to elective abortion, then the marketing/propaganda aspect of the "pro-choice" slogan comes into view.

To quote Julie Bogart, who is pro-life but also seeks to avoid coercion of women, Certainly the baby (or fetus - you choose) has no choice and is coerced into birth or death based on that choice (the crux of the debate is really - does the fetus/baby have rights? Not, is it a baby or is it alive?).

"Rights", as understood in Western political thought and certainly in America's foundational values, do adhere if one is alive. Rights - life being the first and foremost - proceed from "Nature's God" and cannot be taken away without individual consent (such as turning over some of our right to self-protection to the military and the police). Rights are not granted - not by the state, a mother or any other earthly entity. This is why the Constitution affirms individual rights over against the state and, in the 5th and 14th Amendments, is clear that neither the Federal or State governments can deprive an individual of life "without due process of law." In fact, government is instituted to keep individuals and groups from taking an individual's rights away - life, again, being the first and foremost right to be protected.

As the junk science of Roe v. Wade is exposed, we need to reclaim the truth that a rights-bearing human life exists very early in the womb.

The only way to obscure the wrong of elective abortion is with the high sounding argument that one is defending "choice." But there is good reason to suspect that this claim of "choice" is as empty as Roe's suggestion of a lifeless, non-human first trimester in the womb.

h/ts TitusOneNine, Dakota Voice, Madville Times


Perpetua said...

This inspired me to post an old New York Times Magazine article that tells How one father coerced his daughter into having an abortion.

Perpetua said...

Ooops, I'm not sure why the link didn't work. But here it is


TLF+ said...

Thanks, Perpetua - YOUR work inspired me to be thinking on this issue.