10 Questions a Pro-Choice Candidate Is Never Asked by the Media

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25 October 2012

My friend has again posted a link to an article about abortion. I find myself unable to avoid addressing it.

The article poses 10 questions. Theoretically the article is complaining about how the media doesn’t ever ask pro-choice candidates about those questions, but other than the paragraph at the top mentioning that complaint, the rest is just the list of 10 questions. I don’t much care whether the media asks those questions (see: some future blog post), so I’m not going to worry about addressing that issue. Instead, I’ll just reply with my own opinions about the 10 questions.

You’ll need to have read my previous post giving an overview of my opinions if you want to understand my answers. I’m not going to restate those opinions here.

1. You say you support a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices in regards to abortion and contraception. Are there any restrictions you would approve of?

Yes: no abortions after the first trimester unless the pregnancy puts the mother’s life at an unusually-high level of risk.

2. In 2010, The Economist featured a cover story on “the war on girls” and the growth of “gendercide” in the world – abortion based solely on the sex of the baby. Does this phenomenon pose a problem for you or do you believe in the absolute right of a woman to terminate a pregnancy because the unborn fetus is female?

During the first trimester, she doesn’t have to justify the abortion to me or anybody else. I find that practice reprehensible, but that doesn’t mean I have the right to stop it.

3. In many states, a teenager can have an abortion without her parents’ consent or knowledge but cannot get an aspirin from the school nurse without parental authorization. Do you support any restrictions or parental notification regarding abortion access for minors?

I generally believe that once you’re pregnant, you’re an adult, whether you’re ready to be or not. Under that postulate, then abortion should not require parental consent or notification. I am nearly on the fence about “notification” but I figure if the teenager’s relationship with the parents is good, then the parents will find out, and if it’s bad, then we (society) shouldn’t put the teenager at more risk by harming that relationship even more. Sometimes the outcome won’t fall in a positive way, but that’s also true if we always notify.

In terms of aspirin, schools shouldn’t give drugs to children without authorization. If that child has been declared an adult, then they shouldn’t need authorization. If they’ve been declared an adult because they were pregnant… well, that requires parental notification, which violates the earlier rule. It should be up to the teenager whether to make their adulthood formal.

4. If you do not believe that human life begins at conception, when do you believe it begins? At what stage of development should an unborn child have human rights?

Human life begins at conception; that’s a biological fact. Self-awareness does not begin until much later, and I’m sure it’s after the first trimester. (Or at least sure enough that I’m willing to work with it as a safe assumption.) So the fetus should not have human rights during the first trimester, and then to be on the safe side, it should have the right to not be arbitrarily murdered after that. I didn’t say it should have “human rights” – those are fuzzy and generally considered in terms of adults. If you look at the UN declaration of human rights, many of them are violated by constraints imposed by nature (i.e. the placenta) so long as the fetus is still in the womb, because they don’t really consider the rights of children at all, let alone fetuses.

5. Currently, when genetic testing reveals an unborn child has Down Syndrome, most women choose to abort. How do you answer the charge that this phenomenon resembles the “eugenics” movement a century ago – the slow, but deliberate “weeding out” of those our society would deem “unfit” to live?

That the charge is dumb. The eugenics movement was a societally-promoted effort to improve the race, at the level of the entire race. Women choosing to abort a child with Down Syndrome is a personal choice based on weighing many, many issues specific to their immediate life and situation. The fact that they both use the same mechanism for achieving their ends does not make them the same, just like me driving a car to work does not make me the same as someone who drives a car into another person.

6. Do you believe an employer should be forced to violate his or her religious conscience by providing access to abortifacient drugs and contraception to employees?


On the other hand, I don’t believe an employer should force his or her religious conscience on employees by only providing medical insurance coverage that the employer finds tasteful. Why should we allow employers to force their religious ideas on employees, but not allow employees to force their religious ideas on employers? The fact is, providing health insurance that lets the employees make their own choice is the only way to respect the rights of each party; the employers who care about this are just trying to say that their rights supersede their employees’.

But practically, I don’t see a reason to stop them, either; the employees aren’t forced to work there. It’s also dumb that we have employer-sponsored healthcare in the first place, but that problem will take many years to fix.

7. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. has said that “abortion is the white supremacist’s best friend,” pointing to the fact that Black and Latinos represent 25% of our population but account for 59% of all abortions. How do you respond to the charge that the majority of abortion clinics are found in inner-city areas with large numbers of minorities?

Correlation does not imply causation, nor does it imply intent or conspiracy. Take a logic or statistics class.

8. You describe abortion as a “tragic choice.” If abortion is not morally objectionable, then why is it tragic? Does this mean there is something about abortion that is different than other standard surgical procedures?

I didn’t actually describe it that way. I think it’s often not the worst choice; that’s what the economists tell us, anyway. So in that sense, if abortion is the lesser of two evils, then I can’t see it as wholly tragic.

But… as “the lesser evil” it is still evil. But that doesn’t mean that the tragedy is the abortion itself; the tragedy is all the things that led to a point where the abortion is the better option. In such a situation, it might actually be more tragic to deliver the baby.

The question as written also implies that no other surgical procedures are tragic. Is removing a limb not tragic? Again, if removing the limb saves a life, then it doesn’t seem wholly tragic. The tragedy was really at whatever event caused it to be necessary, and it would be further tragedy to leave the limb in place and have the patient die.

9. Do you believe abortion should be legal once the unborn fetus is viable – able to survive outside the womb?

For now, no. The fetus isn’t viable until after the first trimester, under today’s medical science. Over time, that will probably change, though – maybe we’ll eventually be able to get a baby entirely without a human mother directly involved. In such a case, the overriding issue is still self-awareness, and abortion should be legal so long as we’re sure the fetus isn’t self-aware.

10. If a pregnant woman and her unborn child are murdered, do you believe the criminal should face two counts of murder and serve a harsher sentence?

During the first trimester, no. After… well, if they knew they were killing the fetus, then yes. But if they didn’t, then the second count shouldn’t actually be “murder”; it should be “involuntary manslaughter”.

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