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Abortion: The Fallacy of Bifurcation

Mark A. Foster, Ph.D.

Both pro-life and pro-choice are liberal, or Enlightenment, positions. Why?

The pro-life, or right-to-life, movement frames the discussion around liberty or freedom. Likewise, the pro-choice movement grounds its own dialogue on reproductive freedom.

Let us reject the libertarian equation of abortion with reproductive choice or the right to life. No one has, by virtue of some natural law, the privilege of living for a predetermined duration of time, and no one, short of self-defense (if the mother's life is in jeopardy) or other issues (such as rape), should have the legal entitlement to kill another human being.

Both movements, as they are socially constructed, reflect the essentializing values of the Enlightenment. A shared focus on freedom, either in choosing whether to continue a pregnancy or in the supposed right of the unborn child to live to term, reveals that the rationalistic assumptions of the pro-life and pro-choice movements have a great deal in common.

Electing to have an abortion is evidence of the human capacity for free will. It is not a right. The faculty of volition is merely a name, a universal or structurization, for one of the observed functions of minds.

Some choices may, contextually, be regarded by certain people as undesirable or even criminalized. Other decisions may, relative to various circumstances, be seen as desirable.

Neither is life a right. We live by the grace of the Creator and, perhaps, the accidents of circumstance. Due to perceived justice or to error, lives may even be taken by some governments.

Furthermore, the commencement of human life at conception, while accepted by this writer, remains a religious or philosophical, not a scientific, proposition. Some religious movements, such as The Way Ministries of the late Victor Paul Wierwille, teach that the newborn infant, prior to taking its first independent breath, is only an appendage of its mother and maintained by her breath.

Clearly, the current discourse on abortion, structured around two liberal or Enlightenment positions, fails to cover the available ground. One might, for instance, oppose most categories of abortion, and find as reprehensible the gleefulness with which some woman proclaim their reproductive freedom, while simultaneously believing that a radically and spiritually transformed system of sex education, not an enactment of new legislation, is the preferred remedy for our pandemic of pre-infanticides.

My views are solely my own. Given that I am not a partisan, I do not consider that my perspectives occupy a side and have no desire to defend any standpoint but my own.

Copyright © 2005 Mark A. Foster. All rights reserved.