Monday, June 14, 2010
When is a baby a baby?
There has been a reopening of the abortion debate in Canada — kind of — as a result of the Conservative government's actions concerning worldwide maternal and child health. Although it's unlikely that the status quo in abortion will be changed short-term, what this renewed debate has done is remind everyone that Canada is one of the only Western nations without an abortion law.
As a result, even ardent supporters of "abortion rights" have to acknowledge the legal vacuum that exists in this country. More importantly, I think some of them even realize the unsustainability of unfetterred access to abortions all the way into late-term pregnancies. Let's not forget that many European countries, which are supposed to be at the leading edge of progessive socialist policy, put restrictions on abortions after a certain point in the pregnancy. Therefore, if Canada does ever decide to finally write a law on the matter, something approaching the European consensus is probably where we're heading.
Now, the reason I bring this up is because of numerous references I've come across lately in the media about "babies" in the womb. Here's a precise example of what I'm talking about:
That's right. The ad talks about the "baby" in the womb as though, well, it's an actually baby! And I've heard other similar references, too. Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, which certainly isn't a champion of social conservatism, had an episode I watched recently where the fetus in the womb was referred to a "baby". In the movie 40 Year Old Virgin, one of the characters has an ultrasound of their "baby" in the womb displayed on a large screen TV and they're oohing and aaahing at what the little cutie is up to.
Indeed, people constantly refer to the fetus in the womb as though it's an actual baby that moves, kicks, and is talked to and appreciated as though, wait for it, it's a person. Yet the entire justification for "abortion rights" is that that "person" in the womb has no rights. Only the mother apparently does.
So, I do believe that there is some appetite in Canada to protect "the baby" in the womb, especially as it looks more like an actual baby as a pregnancy proceeds. I think that's a good thing and that anything that can be done to protect human life is something to be desired. This might be where we're headed, and it would bring us closer to what other developed countries have done with their abortion laws.
However, for me, one fundamental question remains: Why stop at late-term abortions? Is it only because the fetus looks like a baby at that point? We know that as young as seven weeks the fetus has human-like features such as a face, body, limbs, fingers, and so on.
For people who are born, basic rights aren't given to more developed individuals and taken away from less mature human beings. In other words, a newborn baby has as much right to life as a 30-yr-old or a 70-yr-old. We don't create different laws for different categories of people, so I'm not sure why we'd create different abortion laws for different artificial categories of fetuses.
If we're going to protect some life in the womb, why not protect all of it?
OK, social policy lecture is over. I know this isn't a particularly easy topic to discuss, which is why I hope I've done it in a way that wasn't too harsh or insensitive.