Platforms

I find it interesting that the platforms of the parties have been allowed to be written in such a purely principled way.

The Republican platform on abortion calls for a total ban in all circumstances, even when the mother would otherwise die (and the child with her). The only way it could be purer would be to call for punishing abortionists as murderers.

The Democratic platform, by contrast, goes so far as to call for free abortions ("regardless of ability to pay") in all circumstances whatsoever, presumably right up to the moment of birth. Not only shall we permit any woman who wishes to kill a perfectly healthy child that is two minutes from birth, we shall require Catholics and Mormons and Muslims to help pay for it. Everyone will contribute to this national sacrament: we will all be accomplices, we will all provide material support for it. It's not clear that any greater purity is possible; I suppose we could endorse infanticide after birth. This weekend I read of a young woman who had killed her child shortly after it was born, and who is now on trial. If she had made up her mind about it just a few days earlier, she would have been entitled to kill the child, and you and I would be required to pay for the procedure.

There is no wide public support for either set of propositions. The actual politicians who are running rarely adhere to these pure positions themselves, and might well not vote for a bill brought before them that attempted to enact these rules. The voters would probably punish anyone who actually attempted to enact either set of rules.

8 comments:

battleblue1 said...

The Republican platform on abortion calls for a total ban in all circumstances, even when the mother would otherwise die (and the child with her). The only way it could be purer would be to call for punishing abortionists as murderers.

You know, I used to might be encouraged by such things, but platforms have no teeth, so they are meaningless. I believe there should be a "life of the mother" exception. A few years ago I might have had trouble with that exception, but then someone my wife knew had a tubal pregnancy. That is about as clear as can be morally for where an abortion might be ok.
As for convicting abortionists as murderers, I'm all for it.




The voters would probably punish anyone who actually attempted to enact either set of rules.

True. Hence, I nominate myself as benevolent dictator.

Cass said...

A few years ago I might have had trouble with that exception, but then someone my wife knew had a tubal pregnancy.

You know, that may be about as succinct an example of why rules with absolutely no exceptions are almost always (gotta get that exception in there! :) a very bad idea and when they are created, are short-lived - at least in their original form.

Real life is full of things we don't think about ahead of time. I'm guessing you probably knew about tubal pregnancies before you knew someone who experienced one.

I am not trying to be antagonistic here: I am genuinely trying to understand why this changed your mind? Was it that knowing someone in that situation brought the impact home to you?

Thanks.

Grim said...

Speaking for myself, and not to interrupt, but I hadn't known about tubal pregnancies until college -- when I learned about them in a class on religious ethics, treating the subject of abortion law, precisely because it's the clearest case for an exception to the most rigid standard. It may be that a lot of men don't know about them if they haven't had some similar reason to know.

Cass said...

No, that's useful information.

Conservatives often ridicule the notion that excluding women (explicitly/intentionally or not) from the decision making process can result in decisions made with less information b/c just as there are things most men know stone cold but most women don't, the reverse is often true.

I've known about ectopic pregnancies since I was 10 or so, because since I was 10 or so I have been acutely aware that pregnancy was very likely to be a big part of my life. I read up on it because it was relevant to me. I wouldn't deride a man for not knowing that was even a possibility because I can think of plenty of examples of things my husband knows and has read up on that are more relevant to his life and experience than they are to mine.

This is kind of an important point.

We totally "get" it when it comes to the extreme example - radical Islam. When you see lopsided legal "logic" like stoning women who were raped or forcing them to marry their rapists (talk about blaming the victim!), it's obvious there's something unhealthy and unbalanced about a system that can only hear one side of any issue and almost never allows a woman to prevail, or even obtain simple justice, in any conflict with a man (no matter who is in the right of the dispute).

The intent of my question wasn't to criticize someone for not knowing a fairly obscure medical condition, but rather to suggest that given the many unknowns out there, it's probably better to leave an "out" in any rule, lest you compound the offense you seek to prevent by inflicting even more harm.

People - all people - male, female, whatever, are lousy at envisioning future problems unless they have personally experienced them. I think that was mostly the point I was trying to make.

Grim said...

We totally "get" it when it comes to the extreme example - radical Islam. When you see lopsided legal "logic" like stoning women who were raped or forcing them to marry their rapists...

The latter was actually the law in Christian and Islamic states in Medieval Spain. The reason is the same in both cases: scripture (both the Bible and the Koran) says that is the right way to handle it. That Christian countries don't do it anymore (though the Bible hasn't changed) is actually kind of interesting.

This was actually an important lesson of the aforementioned class on religious ethics. Some religious ethics are an appeal to scripture or tradition only (or in the case of Islam, to the Koran and the hadiths, that is, stories about the life of the Prophet and his companions that are regarded by the particular tradition to be accurate). But others are not: particularly Catholic ethics since the 12th century has more and more often required a rational account, and has tended in ethical matters to reinterpret scripture rather than reason. Their re-introduction to Aristotle and Aristotelian ethics sparked a substantial re-examination; Aquinas' writings on sexual ethics were quite revolutionary at the time.

That's why we were considering the question of tubal pregnancies in that class, actually: a Catholic priest had raised the issue in a journal article in one of the Catholic academic journals, as a way of asking whether the Church should reconsider its stance. This hasn't been very long ago, in Catholic terms, but I won't be surprised if the argument wins out eventually even in terms of the question of whether such an abortion is a sin (apart from whether it ought to be a crime).

douglas said...

Hmm, I've been away for a few days and missed this, so this is late, but-
Grim, where does the Republican party state in their platform that they oppose all abortion even in defense of the mother's life? I know of no one (the Pope included) who opposes such a thing, and reading the platfor section on abortion, do not see such exclusionary language as you imply. Can you clarify, please?

Grim said...

The language seems to be:

“The unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human-right-to-life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.”

I'm taking "cannot be infringed" to be the relevant clause. Of course, if the 2nd Amendment case law is any indication, the government would proceed to infringe it for 200 years before beginning to consider the amendment binding.

douglas said...

Fair enough, but I don't think it's right to read "not to be infringed" as an absolute with no exceptions, any more than it is for we post-birth humans right to life. My right to life cannot be infringed, unless I attack someone with lethal intent or hazard (intended or not), and I must be mad e to yield that right if convicted of a capital crime. We have exceptions, and I would understand that passage to also have exceptions in like manner. Life of the mother is recognized as a classic self-defense action, and therefore would be excepted without even needing to formalize a new exception in legal practice.

I suppose, even if anyone agrees I'm correct here, the point being that the Republicans should have written this more clearly than they did.