Monday, July 30, 2007

What Punishment for Illegal Abortions?

Well, here's a peculiar thing. Via Metafilter I found this at YouTube. It's a video of a guy asking a bunch of anti-abortion protesters what the punishment should be for having an abortion if the procedure should become illegal. Every one of them stops and thinks and says that she doesn't know. The interviewer then mildly berates them and acts as if this is a stupid answer, and that they should have given this more thought. The thing has a clear gotcha tone.

Now, I'm anti-anti-abortion; that is, basically pro-choice. I actually think the abortion question is a tough one, and that we don't really know the answer. That's why I'm fairly strongly inclined to think that the choice should be left up to the pregnant woman in question. Without fairly strong reasons for believing that the fetus is a person, there are no good grounds for prohibiting a woman from exercising freedom with regard to her own body. But, unlike some liberals, I don't think that being anti-abortion necessarily makes you a wacko or a bad person. In fact, I know smart, good, humane, reasonably liberal people who are anti-abortion.

But anyway, this video is strange because it's supposed to show how stupid and/or unreflective anti-abortion protesters are, but, so far as I can tell, it does no such thing. It's a tough question, and at least they're sharp enough to admit that they don't know the answer. The interviewer acts as if punishment for violations is the sine qua non of legal prohibitions, which--though it's not my area--doesn't seem true to me. I think that highly addictive drugs like crack and meth should be illegal, but I don't know what the punishment should be for possession. I mostly want the cops to have the authority to shut down dealers and manufacturing sites and take it away when they find it.

Anyway, though I think that the anti-abortion movement is largely deluded, this video, despite its pretensions, does nothing to prove that.


Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Michael Vick's dogs have more rights than a nine-month fetus. Why is that?

Anyone? Bueller? Professor Singer?

4:40 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, if someone were forcing the fetuses to fight...

8:52 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Oh, they don't need any forcing. I was kinda focusing on the killing part.

5:15 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...



5:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Corporations have more rights than a nine-month fetus OR Michael Vick's dogs, for that matter. This despite the fact that dogs, as opposed to corporations, are more loyal to people, have at least some sentience, can experience pleasure and pain etc. and bring joy to children as well as adults. Oh, and a lot of times they're cute and cuddly too.

So was that supposed to be an argument? Anyone? Beuller? Professor Singer?

Seriously, though, Winston, I think an important question here is what the opponent of legalized abortion is alleging. If they're actually calling it murder, should we engage their accusation and consider murder charges for the woman and her doctor?

On first consideration, I would think not, because I believe that often the accusation is a bit of hyperbole by those opposed to legal abortion. Most opponents of legalized abortion I know, and I know many very thoughtful people whom I respect who are opposed, don't go as far as to equate abortion with the murder of a living autonomous person.

But I remain open to arguments otherwise.

8:47 PM  

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