Sorry for so many posts about this lately, but the Dr. Henry Morgentaler controversy has stirred up the abortion issue again. The great and awful thing about the Internet is that any idiot can post their opinions online; unfortunately, many do. You may consider me as just such an idiot, but please at least listen to my reasons for what I think first, because, unlike most of the pro-Morgentaler writing I've read, I actually give reasons and don't just make blind assertions.

Today's article is "Courageous Morgentaler is worthy" by Jennifer Charles which apparently appeared in the Ottawa Citizen, or at least it's currently on their website.

Awarding the Order of Canada to Dr. Henry Morgentaler has re-ignited the flames of the national abortion debate. The issue is whether a woman should have the right to a safe abortion. I find it hard to believe that anyone would want to deny a woman that choice.

This is not the issue. The issue is whether or not it is moral to have elective abortions. If it is moral, then we could ask the question "should a woman have the right to a safe abortion," for which the answer is clearly yes. But this author assumes the answer to the first question and asks an obvious and frivolous question in an attempt to poison the well.

What gives anyone the right to force a woman to bear a child? Whether she has the baby or not is a traumatic and life-altering decision that only she can make.

Like the previous article the idea of "forc[ing] a woman to bear a child" comes into play. This again clouds the issue. No one is forcing a woman to get pregnant (as previously noted even if we exclude rape and incest from this discussion that is less than 1.5% of all cases).

The concern here is for the rights of the child (as the article author calls it) which do not supersede the rights of the mother, but neither should the rights of the mother supersede those of the child. Why should the rights of the mother come first? Is it because the child is not as in a late stage of development as the mother? Well, a toddler is in an earlier stage of development than a teenager … is it okay then to kill a toddler?

To me, it is far more responsible to decide not to bring another human being into the world …

I totally agree! Not getting pregnant in the first place is the best way …

… than to do so when the pregnancy is not planned and the circumstances are wrong. If a person feels that abortion is morally wrong, that does not give him or her the right to impose that opinion on women who are the ones affected.

Here's the problem: There is no neutral position with regards to abortion. A pro-choice position is a pro-abortion position. Take a look at any other moral issue. Take slavery for example. Could we say "Slavery is a matter that should be left up to each individual; who are you to impose your views about slavery on others?" No, we wouldn't accept that. Why would abortion be any different?

All laws are based on moral principles. We are right to impose our "opinions" on others if they are committing immoral acts. (And if a person takes a moral relativist view, which I certainly do not, then we shouldn't have any laws at all.)

And that brings us back to the central question: Is abortion immoral or not? And when answering that, we need to keep in mind a simple dichotomy:
– If the unborn is not a human person, then no justification of abortion is necessary.
– But if the unborn is a human person, no justification is sufficient.

It's not enough to state whether the unborn is or isn't; you have to give reasons why. And it's no good to say "We don't know when life begins" because if we're not sure if an unborn child (embyro, whatever) is a human person or not, shouldn't we err on the side of caution and not kill it?

I would ask these people to empathize with any woman who finds herself in this position.

I do emphasize with a women who finds themselves in this position. At least, I try to. I can't say that I could ever fully understand the emotional anguish a woman might feel in such a situation. That's why we need to have more support services for pregnant women, especially given the medical risks and emotional risks involved with abortions. Of course, it's also important to emphasize with the unborn child (again, the article author's term) as well.