The Republican party has long obsessed over four topics that statistically do not matter. At least, they do not matter in the sense that they keep claiming it does. Let’s review them here instead of needing to do this on every one of the 20 articles posted by them on BNR per day. The four topics are Illegal immigration, Abortion, Voter Fraud and Violent Crimes; today’s topic is Abortion.
TOPIC TWO: Abortion
Abortion is probably the most enduring wedge issue in US political history. A candidate’s stance on abortion rights can make or break them, regardless of other policy positions or experience. It is tied very tightly in with the theocratic vote from social conservatives, and often rests more on feelings than logic or science. But as we did with immigration, let’s look at the arguments posited and why when examined we also find this to be a non-issue.
The following are certainly not an exhaustive list of arguments made by those who call abortion a crisis issue that needs to be stopped, but these are IMO the most common claims:
“All abortion is Murder”
- This argument is used by people to make a moral case. They state that the illegal killing of another human is murder, and as such, abortion is murder. This runs into two logic walls:
- Abortion is legal. This means that is literally cannot be classified as murder, because murder is the illegal killing of another human. Just as lethal injection isn’t considered murder, nor is the killing of enemy combatants in a war (during conflict; killing them outside of combat is once again considered murder). As such, labelling it as murder is not a correct statement.
- Human life is not defined as a zygote at time of conception. Throughout history, human life has been defined as beginning at birth, even in theological discussions. Only recently have we begun to consider viability a better standard, since we have the technology to have a fetus survive post viability without a specific person doing the work. But it is as yet a non-defined term, and as such, not a good basis for policy.
“We are Pro-Life”
- This is another attempt at a moral argument, stating that policies in our nation should reflect an attitude of respect for life. This one runs into a few context walls:
- “Life” is a long-term thing. Most people who call themselves “pro-life” are focused solely on the issue of pregnancy and birth, and their policies do not extend past birth. As such, it’s not a good term to use for accurately describing someone’s position.
- Being “Pro-Life” as a national position is difficult to maintain, as there need to be defined criteria as to what life should be protected. Do we provide aid every time life is threatened? Can we sanction the state executing people, or war? Life is too vague of a concept to base a policy on.
“Heartbeat = life“
- Opponents of abortion seek to define having a heartbeat as being the defining criteria to be alive. This runs into scientific walls.
- It is entirely possible to make a muscle contract and expand without the organism being alive. Non-viable life is also found in people who have no neural activity (aka – braindead); they have a heartbeat, but cannot do anything associated with being alive. Thus having a heartbeat does not seem like a solid criteria for policy on life.
- Sentient life requires sentience, and that does not come from the heart. It comes from a developed neural structure, and one that is advanced enough to not only react to stimuli but to process it. By the 6th week (when a heartbeat can sometimes be detected) there is practically no brain function beyond what one might find in simple organisms.
“This is about rights”
- Abortion opponents posit that this is not simply a matter of moral principle, but legal ones. As a nation we believe that all people are entitled to rights, and that those rights may not be unduly removed by the state or by individuals. We call the removal of those rights crimes. As such, those who push this argument state that a fetus has rights, and thus should not be allowed to be aborted. This runs into a few legal walls.
- A fetus is not defined as a person for the scientific reasons above. As it stands, there is no status to base these claims to rights on. As bad as it might sound, fetus’s do not count as people, and certainly not as citizens of the USA who have rights under our laws. If they did, we’d include all pregnancies in the census, start child support from the time of conception, and all other policies requiring we count human beings who reside in the USA. Since we are not prepared or in some cases even able to do that, a fetus cannot be legally defined as a person until that changes (if it even can).
- This argument also runs into the problem of the rights of the woman. Her rights may also not be abridged, nor may others deprive her of her rights. That includes bodily autonomy, and anyone who enters into an activity that may risk their life significantly must sign a consent release form or have the person/organization be liable for their safety. Since this is not a position the States or opponents of abortion are willing to take, they are attempting to remove the rights of an individual without due cause, and certainly not with due process.
“Late term abortions are opposed by most people”
- On poll after poll, nationwide and even globally, most people agree that late-term (or post viability) abortions are problematic morally and ethically. Since so many people recognize that this is a problem, we should have no trouble agreeing on outlawing abortion after viability. This argument runs into a precedent wall and a math wall.
- On precedent, any establishment that the government has the right to determine what a person does in a private medical decision with zero impact on society writ large can have enormous consequences. While measures exist to allow interference to large scale events (such as with pandemics and their quarantine, participation and mandate rules), to write into law that the government may step into personal medical decisions entirely is IMO far too invasive a power to grant them. Even if we were to agree to something that we all agree is beneficial to us personally without societal impact, it would be a providence (as in, giving something) rather than a restriction of rights.
- On math, less than 0,1% of all abortions happen in the third trimester, and an infinitesimally small number of those are not medically related. As such, while it is still objectionable that any non-medical abortions occur post viability, it is an issue regarding 0-10 events approximately, out of a population of over 330,000,000. That’s less than 0.00000303%. It’s not something worth spending so much time and money on.
The terms used in this debate often preclude making any sensible policy. They are not meant to, because this is not a policy discussion. It’s simply meant to posture for voters with a sheen of morality. The actual creation of policy runs into too many scientific, logical, legal and mathematical barriers to be effective. All to solve a problem that barely exists. That is why this “crisis” issue doesn’t actually matter in government.