Thursday, January 22, 2009

"Once life has begun, no matter at what stage of growth ...."

This is the anniversary of Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court decision that overturned every state law banning abortion, effectively legalizing abortion during every stage of pregnancy. Today the politics of abortion largely breaks along partisan and liberal/conservative lines. That wasn't always true. There was a time when liberals and Democrats were as likely to be as anti-abortion as any modern conservative. In an Alex Chediak interview with Anne Hendershott, she noted that
...Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson, Al Gore and Ted Kennedy were strongly pro-life. For example, Ted Kennedy wrote to a constituent in 1971 pledging his support for the unborn - from the moment of conception. I document others in my book. Jesse Jackson compared abortion to slavery.
Each one of them, today, is a defender of "the woman's right to choose" to end the life of the unborn child. Hendershott has written a book about how that political transformation happened. A quotation from Senator Edward M. Kennedy in 1971:
.... While the deep concern of a woman bearing an unwanted child merits consideration and sympathy, it is my personal feeling that the legalization of abortion on demand is not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life. Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain right[s] which must be recognized - the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old.

On the question of the individual's freedom of choice there are easily available birth control methods and information which women may employ to prevent or postpone pregnancy. But once life has begun, no matter at what stage of growth, it is my belief that termination should not be decided merely by desire. ....

When history looks back on this era it should recognize this generation as one which cared about human beings enough to halt the practice of war, to provide a decent living for every family, and to fulfill its responsibility to its children from the moment of conception.
Gene Edward Veith wonders "why do liberals support abortion?"
I know the usual arguments–that women should have the right to control their own bodies and no government should be able to force them to keep their babies, etc.–but these are not LIBERAL arguments, as such. It would make sense for an Ayn Rand, laissez faire, virtue-of-selfishness libertarian to talk like this, emphasizing a radical individualism and opposition to all restrictive laws. But liberals, as a rule, believe that the state should take benevolent actions and sometimes limit extreme individualism for the common good. Liberals claim to be on the side of the poor, the marginalized, and the downtrodden. So on what ideological grounds is an exception made for the unwanted child in the womb?

Is it because liberals, in their openness to change, back in the 1960’s embraced the sexual revolution and so reject any thing that would limit or place consequences on sexual freedom? Is that what it is? I don’t see how that is particularly liberal either. ....
Exactly what is liberal about fifty million abortions?

Why do liberals support abortion? — Cranach: The Blog of Veith, Alex Chediak Blog: Interview - Anne Hendershott - The Politics of Abortion

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