Monday, September 3, 2012

RAPE OR INCEST

It has become fashionable to label as a right wing fanatic anyone who does not approve of abortions in cases of rape or incest.

The Hippocratic Oath, taken by physicians since the fifth century, forbade abortive medications without exceptions.

I have not found any state criminal abortion law which excluded rape or incest.

The land mark case of Roe v Wade, by which the Supreme Court of the United States gave physicians carte blanche authority to perform abortions, said nothing about rape or incest.

But the ‘rape or incest’ issue has entered the abortion debate for a very real reason.

Those who favor legal abortions insist that theirs is the majority opinion in the United States.

They see it as an issue which will help re-elect the President.

In truth, there is no majority opinion about abortion.

If the question is whether abortion should be allowed as a means of gender selection, the public will say ‘No.’

If the question is whether abortion should be allowed to save the life of the mother, the public will say, ‘Yes.’

If the question is whether abortion should be allowed as a means of placating an angry boyfriend or husband, or avoiding parental discipline or disapproval the public will say, ‘Maybe.’

The point here is that public opinion is visceral.

Public opinion supported the guillotine during the French Revolution as it has occasioned countless other atrocities throughout human history.

Which is why we have a constitution. And a Bill of Rights. And the rule of law.

And trial by a jury of one’s peers.

John Dethmers, an old timer who was a colleague of mine on the Michigan Supreme Court, often remarked that the first issue in every murder trial is “should the deceased have went?”

It was his folksy way of saying that jurors bring a certain gut sense of right and wrong to their task.

But a jury is not a mob.

They are required to sit still and listen to testimony, arguments by the lawyers, instructions by the judge.

Admittedly there are many examples of juries being swayed by passion and prejudice and despite the best efforts of trial and appellate judges, miscarriages of justice occur.

“Life,” as my son, the Professor, tells me, “is messy.”

But it seems to me that the noblest instincts of the human race are to rise above the mess, to temper the process of visceral decision making by clinging to proven principles and reach always for the unreachable perfection of truth and justice.

Which is why I cannot shake off the conviction that the destruction of an innocent human life to avoid embarrassment, expense, inconvenience, or discomfort is just plain wrong.

And to allow it is bad public policy.

The first child conceived in a petri dish was born in 1978. I have no doubt that the plastic placenta is not so far off.

In a day when human beings are manufactured without the discomfort of gestation or the pain of childbirth, what will become of the words, “all men are created equal and they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Will children be chattels? Will they have owners rather than parents?

Or will they belong to the government?

3 comments:

  1. This whole issue is a distraction to the larger issue of the Nation's citizens having a bigger appetite for public benefits in comparison to their tolerance for paying for them with fees and taxes. That is where most of Europe is now. A major challenge inherent in a democracy is that people cannot resist voting themselves benefits with willing elected representatives showing faux generosity with other people's money. Finding that balance of compassion ( public funding) that does not undermine self determination and pursuit of self reliance underlies much of what separates us politically. I don't see us finding that sweet spot of just the right amount of government, levels of entitlements, and size of safety nets anytime soon.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your post reminded me of what a German commentator said the common European view of Americans politics is:

    "In America everyone is obsessed with 'freedom.' But half of Americans think guns are freedom and abortion is murder, the other half believe abortion is freedom and guns are murder."

    ReplyDelete
  3. If the victims of Rape and Incest were not prohibited from defending themselves, in direct violation to our Constitution and to the fundamental justification provided for the colonies joining forces to separate themselves from English tyranny, there would be a lot few Rapes and Incest cases to deal with.

    The unborn child is a human being and deserves the same trial by jury protections before anyone deprives him or her of his or her life that every other living person deserves.

    Abortion should be permissible only after a trial condemns the unborn child to death for a crime that warrants a death penalty, which I suspect is a practical impossibility.

    ReplyDelete