Abortion has been in the news again lately, with the controversy surrounding the president's speech at Notre Dame, and the Gallup poll indicating a public opinion shift toward the pro-life position. It occurred to me that I've never written about why I hold a pro-choice position.
My views on abortion have nothing to do with Roe vs. Wade. In that decision the court found an imaginary right based on the non-existent right to privacy. In my opinion there is clearly no right to abortion in the Constitution, and the only reason it is a Constitutional right today is because of government fiat. So why do I support it anyway?
My position on abortion went from being pro-life with certain exceptions, to pro-choice under limited circumstances, to fully pro-choice -- a position that I've now held for a long time. My shift from pro-life to a limited pro-choice position was a gradual change over a number of years. Basically I came to believe that there is a certain point at which a baby becomes a baby. In my view it was obvious that a fertilized egg was not a baby -- it was a fertilized egg and could be aborted with no moral problem. On the other hand, a baby in the womb one hour from being born was clearly a baby. Killing a late term baby, let alone a partial-birth abortion, looked a lot like infanticide. So for years I felt that early term abortions should be permitted, late term abortions should be prohibited, and middle term situations were debatable either way. But then my thinking took a radical shift.
Rather than just focusing on the baby, I began thinking, what if I were pregnant woman? Once I started looking at it from that angle, I realized that the rights of two people were at stake: the woman's and the baby. But the baby, even a fully-formed viable baby, existed inside the woman. Why should the rights of an unborn baby take precedence over of the rights of the mother, a person that contained the baby within her own body? I could no longer accept the idea that the state should determine what a woman could do with something inside her own body -- even if that something was another human being. It's not that I hadn't heard this argument before. But I had just rejected it out of hand, since I wasn't looking at it that way. But once my viewpoint shifted, my opinion changed to what it is today -- that a woman should have the ultimate decision over what happens to her unborn baby.
Even though I am strongly pro-choice, to the point that I would support a woman's right to kill her late term unborn baby (and unlike some, I recognize that she's doing exactly that), I don't agree with it in many cases. I think it is clearly immoral to abort a late-term baby without a very good reason, and the decision is morally questionable in many situations other than an early abortion. But ultimately I think that should be the woman's decision to make and live with.