It did get me thinking about a related question, which will be briefly discussed later in this post. However, first it's time to describe my perspective on the subject so anyone reading this will have an idea about what my particular biases may be. First, I don't like the state of abortion law in this country. I think the Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade was mistaken and misguided. I have two grounds for this belief. First, I believe abortion is killing, and the Court's decision basically gave women an unrestricted right to kill, as long as the subject is an unborn child. Second, the Court should not have taken the case in the first place, and should have left the question in the hands of state legislatures. Why? Mostly because in order to come up with a right to an abortion they had to invent a right to privacy to base the idea of a right to abortion on. It seems to me rather a reach to undemocratically impose a solution to a political, but not constitutional, issue.
Now, on to the question. If Roe v Wade was overturned tomorrow, what sort of regulation should there be? Right now, there seem to be two positions. The pro-lifers want the procedure banned except in cases where the life or health of the woman is in jeopardy. The pro-choicers want no restrictions at all, and want abortions for low-income women paid for by government. Personally, I find both positions lacking. The pro-choice position gives no consideration to the other lives affected by the abortion decision: the father and the unborn child. The pro-life position acknowledges that abortion is killing. However, for all that people preach that killing is wrong society does in fact recognize legitimate reasons to kill other human lives, including those normally considered innocent. An example would be civilians killed during the course of legal actions in war, for instance. So where does one draw the permissible/not permissible line for abortion?
I am thinking that there are three factors to consider:
- Is the woman's life/health in danger? If so, it cannot be expected that a woman risk death to carry a child to term, unless she decides herself to do so.
- Was the pregnancy the result of consensual sex? If a woman is pregnant as a result of sex she did not consent to(ie. rape, incest, child abuse,etc.), it seems unreasonable to force her to carry a child to term. If the sex was consensual, it seems to me that both the man and the woman should be aware that pregnancy is one of the possible results of sex, and bear the responsibility accordingly. An inconvenience is not justification for killing, and both parties knew the risk. If, after all, it is expected that a man should keep it in his pants if he doesn't want to be a father, why shouldn't a similar rule apply to the ladies if they do not want to become mothers?
- Is the woman able to give consent? If a woman is a minor or not legally competent, this deserves some consideration. Rules requiring that that a legal guardian be informed or give consent do not seem unreasonable, given that a means is provided to make exceptions if the woman's home situation is bad (abuse, for example).
Naturally, in order to make sure the responsibility for a child is relatively evenly distributed, state laws concening child support would need to be fully enforced, with cooperation across state lines. At the same time, a woman should not be able to demand child support from a man who is not the father of her child, which now can happen in some states.
Anyhow, that's where my thinking on the subject is at the moment. Feel free to make comments/corrections/criticisms in the comment section.