Monday, October 26, 2015

Let's see if this thing still works

Wow, the engine turned over.

Sorry for the long absence.  I'll try not to take so long with the next one.

Today's post is about abortion.  The reason why it's about abortion is because some brain surgeon, and I mean that in the literal sense in that this fellow was an actual brain surgeon, and not in the figurative sense that he's a really smart guy (he's not all that smart about stuff other than brain surgery), said over the weekend that he's against abortion in all cases, including when the conception occurred as the result of rape or incest.  I'm of course talking about Dr. Ben Carson of Maryland, candidate for the Republican nomination for President in 2016.*

* - Dr. Carson has never held elective office. So, kudos for aiming high.

This position of his is sort of controversial.  Even though most Americans can be put into one of two camps regarding abortion--"pro-choice" and "pro-life"**--it turns out you can split those two groups up into finer and finer distinctions.

** - That's the name most people use.  I find that name to be deceptively misdescriptive of their actual position, but let's not have that debate right now.

Over on the "pro-choice" side, you've got some people who think that abortion ought to be available, just sort of hard to get, and only in the first trimester.  There are others who think it ought to be more easily available.  And there are some folks who think it needs to be available at any point before actual birth, at least in some cases.

(I don't have a uterus, and I prefer to let people who do make their own choices about how those uteri are used, so I guess that puts me mostly in that latter group.  So I'd prefer that abortion be fully legal up to the point of genuinely reasonable fetal viability, which is about 6.5 months--yes, I know that some babies have survived birth at 24 weeks, but it's rare--then available only in cases of rape or incest, gross fetal deformity, to save the life or health of the mother, or, with some sort of review, when there are extenuating circumstances that prevented an earlier abortion from being obtained.)

On the "pro-life" side, you've got some people who are 100% against abortion in all cases, like Dr. Carson.  You've got some people who are against abortion almost all of the time, but will allow a woman to have an abortion to save her life.  And you've got some people who are willing to let abortion be legal in cases of rape or incest, even though some of them don't believe rape can result in pregnancy.

And let's not forget that most of the above people are OK with abortion when pregnancy interferes with their personal interests, like when they accidentally impregnate a prostitute.

But Dr. Carson's position goes well beyond even where most pro-lifers are willing to stand.

I find that to be a compellingly consistent and coherent position on his part. After all, if you are a member of the cult of the fetus, it shouldn't matter how conception occurred. A baby is a baby, even when it's not yet a baby.

But what that position really means, when you look at it carefully, is that the less militant part of the anti-abortion crowd, the ones who say abortion should be legal in cases of rape or incest, isn't really all that anti-abortion.  Instead, they're more interested in taking away the bodily autonomy of women. 

If you're raped or you're the victim of incest, that wasn't a choice, it was just something that happened to you and you shouldn't face the consequences. But choosing an abortion because the condom broke, or because your financial circumstances mean extreme poverty if you continue an accidental pregnancy, or because you're 15 and were unfortunate enough to grow up in a place where they teach abstinence-only--those are wrong choices. Bad choices.  Evil choices that must be punished with consequences.  Even though many if not most of those people make those same choices and don't consider them to be evil--they were just lucky enough to avoid the consequences, in some cases because we pro-choice folks took a stand.

(Yes, I know that was a bunch of sentence fragments in a row.  Send the grammar police after me.)

So Dr. Carson gets points for being honest about an extreme, if highly consistent, position.  But it also means he has no business being President of the United States.  After all, POTUS nominates Supreme Court justices.  And the right to an abortion, which most Americans openly agree is a right and should be available, and which many more Americans agree should be available (for them, if they need it), hangs by a slender thread.

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