Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A few recent issues (Obama at Notre Dame, Supreme court nominee, prop 8 upheld, etc.) have converged and got me thinking about some issues, so i thought I'd let a few of them out.

What's in a name? In this case, there is a lot in a name. Both advocacy groups obviously carefully chose their titles for PR purposes, and as it turns out, there is something revealing in what they came up with. The first thing that needs to be noted is that neither title is an absolute. Not all pro-lifers are always truly pro-life, and not all pro-choicers are always truly pro-choice.

Many people who are pro-life are in favor of the death penalty, in favor of killing terrorists, or minimally in favor of killing in self defense. So in that sense many pro-lifers are not absolutely 'pro-life'. If you are pro-life I'm sure you've heard this comment from someone in the pro-choice camps in various forms, and though it's a legitimate point, it's not really significant. Pro-lifers are largely, and generally 'pro-life' in almost all situations, so the title is still appropriate. Titles are not meant to encapsulate every subtlety and nuance of a particular belief or movement.

I imagine the pro-choice camp had to work a lot harder to come up with a palatable title for the pro-baby-killing movement, and considering the difficult task that they had, they did a reasonably good job. I mean, who is against the freedom of choice, right? Well, as it turns out, pro-choicers are. First and foremost they are not pro-choice when it comes to the right of unborn children to choose life over death. They would argue that a fetus is incapable of making that decision, to which i would respond, that that is all the more reason we need to error on the side of life until they are capable of making that decision for themselves. Secondly pro-choicers are not pro-choice when it comes to the rights of fathers. A father has an implicit right to defend the life of that which he is 50% responsible for creating, despite the fact that the mother is the carrier. Pro-choicers deny this fact and believe that the mother's rights absolves those of all other parties involved in the situation. Lastly, and in a legal sense, most importantly, pro-choicers (or at least pro Roe-v-Waders) are not pro-choice when it comes to states deciding how to govern themselves on the issue of abortion, an issue that is within the states jurisdiction. The 10th amendment to the Constitution reserves all powers not explicitly granted to the federal governement for the states, and the supposed 'right to privacy' that Roe is based upon is not actually in the Constitution. And therefore the issue of abortion is to be reserved for the states to choose or decide upon. And yet pro-choicers (at least those who defend Roe) would deny people in all 50 states the right to choose how to govern themselves on such an important issue. So the the fundamental basis upon which the pro-choice camp builds, is a decidedly anti choice judicial decision that affects the entire nation. As it turns out pro-choicers are ONLY pro-choice when it comes specifically to the rights of a small, specific group (pregnant mothers) and decidedly anti-choice when it comes to every other party involved in the equation.

So while the pro-life title is at least generally true, the pro-choice title is decidedly untrue, even in a general sense.

One final important thing we can learn from the titles of the two groups. Take out 'pro-' in both and you're left with 'life' and 'choice'. Whenever the right to life bumps head with the right to choose in ANY other arena in civil society, life trumps choice. So even if we accept the titles as generally good for both camps, life still takes precedence over choice. And that is the core issue at the heart of the debate. The right to life of unborn children versus the right for mothers to choose what to do with their bodies (even if that includes destroying a human life). Which is why i find it odd to even debate this issue... murder is never framed as the right to life of an individual versus another individual's right to choose to plunge a knife into their chest. And even if it were, we all answer that question unanimously that right to life trumps the right to choose.

And so it should be.