Response: Can We Legislate Against Abortion Even If We Don’t Know the Woman’s Situation?

Response by Alexander P.

In today’s blog post, I want to address a response received from a reader arguing a moral relativist’s pro-choice position. In a previous article, Quinn argued that the moral relativist position, “I don’t like abortion, but women should have the right to choose,” is incorrect and insufficient to block pro-life legislation. I’ve copied out part of the reader’s response below:

...I have never been put in the situation of deciding between getting an abortion or not and I don't think I qualify to make any argument about whether one can or cannot have one. If I were to have a unexpected pregnancy in my life, I would make the decision of abortion or not based on whether I could raise this child or at least find a way to give this child a fair life when they are born. This is how, I think, all situations should work, where the circumstances of individual faced with making the decision are what matter.

In this case, I am very literally saying the exact same thing as what is being discussed in the article, "I wouldn't choose to have an abortion (depending on my circumstances), BUT I WOULDN'T RESTRICT A WOMEN'S CHOICE." I think that last part is key here, when I say that this statement made by people is in no way a middle ground, but saying that they are pro-choice. It is completely up to the person in that situation to decide what is best for them and their potential child.

First, thank you to everyone who has submitted responses and questions to Life Source!

In a nutshell, the pro-life position holds that, because the unborn are full human persons with the same rights as born human beings, abortion is absolutely wrong as it violates their basic human rights.

As people living in a society, we come together to create laws that prohibit actions we view as absolutely wrong and dangerous to others. I’m using the words “absolutely wrong” to refer to actions that are wrong no matter the circumstances, and the words “dangerous to others” to mean those which violate other people’s basic human rights, such as life and liberty. For absolutely wrong and dangerous actions, the circumstances of a person’s situation do not change the permissibility of the action.

Assault, for example, is one of the these actions which we prohibit by law. We do not say that because we are not in the assailant’s position that we cannot decide for him whether to assault someone or not, and likewise we have made it illegal regardless of the assailant’s circumstances. We may sympathize with him depending on his circumstances and be lenient in his sentence, but nonetheless what he did remains justifiably illegal. In the same way, since all people living in an organized society accept that absolutely wrong and dangerous actions should be illegal, the pro-life position concludes that abortion, which is an assault on an unborn human’s right to life, should also be illegal.

It is important to understand here that the pro-life position still has compassion for a woman who wants an abortion. Pro-lifers advocate numerous programs and efforts, from the government level to the charitable, to help pregnant women who are in need or in desperate situations support themselves and their children. For example, Live Action UCLA, our school’s pro-life club and the founder of this publication, also runs the Pregnant on Campus Initiative, which seeks to connect pregnant women with resources and support them through their pregnancy and beyond. At a national level, understanding the situations pregnant women face certainly has a role in the conversation about legislation; this is why the latest string of pro-life bills in the United States do not have penalties for a woman seeking an abortion. However, while a pro-life person should recognize, account for, and assist in difficult situations, these situations are irrelevant to whether or not abortion should be legal. Abortion still violates the human rights of the unborn child, and therefore should not be permitted by law.

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