Moral relativity and the slippery slope

Friday, February 27, 2009 Comments

One of the arguments that is often made by pro-abortion folks is that they personally find abortion wrong, but that we can't legislate that moral belief for others.

Really? I disagree. In the words of our new president - Yes, we can!

We lesiglate morality all the time, why should this be any different? After all, murder is against the law, and a murderer who claims that they personally don't find killing another human being morally wrong will not find leniency due to their personal beliefs. When it comes to issues of life and death, we most certainly do "legislate morality." And it doesn't stop there, we have laws against physically harming another person (assault, rape, kidnapping, etc.), and our laws even allow for compensation in the case of "mental anguish," in which physical harm doesn't even need to be present.

In other words, we have a whole range of laws around what we have deemed to be acceptable and unacceptable behavior toward other human beings, and these are based on socially-accepted moral standards and do not vary according to the moral standards of the individual in question.

But, if we overlook the fact that we're talking about another human being here, what about the individual rights of the woman?

The pro-abortion argument claims that this is all about a woman's right to control her own body. As a woman (and a person in general), I'm in favor of being able to make decisions about my body and my health without government intervention. But again, our government has a number of laws that infringe on that already. We have laws against substance abuse, with a whole range of drugs that one can be arrested for using. State laws have varying degrees of legal requirements regarding vaccinations, so the government is not only legislating what you can't do with regard to your own health, but what you must do with regard to your own health. I've heard recent reports that some states are even considering laws regarding what kinds of food their citizens can eat (primarily targeted at fast food). We can certainly expect more of that if "universal healthcare" becomes a reality.

I'm not saying I agree or disagree with any of these laws. My point is that these laws exist. So, if it's fair game for the law to establish that one cannot harm another human being, and it's fair game for the law to determine what an individual may and may not do to their own bodies, how then can anyone make the argument that we couldn't possibly outlaw abortion just because some people (and who knows how many that actually is) don't believe it to be wrong. That argument just doesn't hold water.

And quite frankly, I find the argument that this is about women's freedom to choose to be disingenuous at best. If there is one ugly truth revealed by the 2008 election it is that those who are pro-abortion do not support women's "choice" unless it is the choice they would have made. The level of hatred directed at Sarah Palin simply for her "choice" to give birth to her son with Down Syndrome is proof of that.

What's ironic is that many of these same people are wholeheartedly devoted to what they call "human rights." What about the most basic of human rights, the right to live? America holds dear the God-given, inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. There is no qualifier for size or location, no requirement that one have attained a particular weight or gestational age, or be located outside of a womb, in order to be granted the right to live.

Make no mistake, a child inside the womb is a child, a human being. They may be small, but even from the earliest weeks of pregnancy they have a beating heart, they react to their environment, and they even have personalities that one can recognize after they are born. There is nothing magical about 9 months gestation. As a mother of preemies, I can assure you my children born prematurely were no less alive, no less deserving of basic human rights, than a child born full-term. And they were no less so before delivery than after. Children have been born much earlier than mine were and survived, even as early as 21 weeks. Never underestimate the human spirit and the will to live, if only given a chance.

I think that those who fight for abortion "rights" would have us become numb to the reality of what abortion really means, to both the child and the mother. I'm hoping that those who may be casual observers thinking "well, I wouldn't but if someone else wants to I guess that's ok," will stop to think about the implications of that line of thinking. I'm hoping that those who truly believe that abortion is wrong but don't feel justified in asking others to believe that, will find the courage to stand up for what they believe is right.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for freedom and individual liberty and I don't think that we need laws to govern every little aspect of our lives. By and large, we should all be free to live our lives and make decisions based on our own understanding of what is right and wrong, and accept that our notions of right and wrong may be different that someone else's.

However, this goes well beyond personal decision-making. When it comes to matters of life and death, the moral relativity argument is on shaky ground at the edge of a very slippery slope. Once we decide as a society that literally anything goes, no matter who gets hurt (or loses their life), we lose a piece of our humanity. And with every innocent life lost, society as a whole loses forever a lifetime of potential that person would have contributed, and the ripple effect of every person that individual would have touched in life.

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