No “War On Women,” Just Integrity: Gov. Walker Will Sign Abortion Limits Law Without Rape And Incest Exceptions

A fetus at 20 weeks: "Sorry, kid, your dad was a rapist, so you're not human any more..."

A fetus at 20 weeks: “Sorry, kid, your dad was a rapist, so you’re not human any more…”

For such an important, life and death issue as abortion—the slavery debate of our time—the lack of prominent politicians on either side showing integrity is stunning.  Abortion on demand advocates like John Kerry and Joe Biden simultaneously claim to believe that human life begins at conception—they are good Catholic boys—while contradicting the ethical demands of those beliefs by advocating the elimination of legal protection for those human lives. Anti-abortion Republicans typically blink at the question of what they would do if a daughter or granddaughter became pregnant with an unwanted child, retreating, like Dan Quayle did decades ago, to ‘I would leave the choice to her and support her whatever she decides.’ Translation: “I believe in restricting any woman’s right to choose unless I personally know and care about them.”

Yechhh.

The other question that exposes a paucity of thought, courage and integrity in abortion opponents involves the rape or incest dilemma. Journalists, who learned in their campus cultures that abortion only involved one human life and the “thing” being removed was just an inhuman annoyance with no rights at all, consider any policy maker or politician a monster  if he doesn’t melt into a puddle when asked the “but what about…?” question and blubber, “Of course, I support abortion in the case of rape and incest…” In truth, the opposite is true. That answer exposes a callousness toward women and the lack of serious and coherent thought about human life.

The right of an unborn human being to be born and have a chance at life must be independent of the manner in which that life came into being. By what logic does a child suddenly become something else because his father was a criminal? Life is life, and the unborn should not be made to suffer because their lives were created in a manner that society condemns.

To endorse a rape and incest exception also shows an underlying lack of comprehension of what unwanted pregnancies do to the women who aren’t raped. Ethical and reasonable abortion policy must involve a balancing of the respected interests and rights of two individuals, not one, but the activists in the “pro-life” and “pro-choice”culture war armies intentionally ignore one of them, because it makes their cases easier to make. It also makes intelligent debate impossible.

What an anti-abortion advocate is admitting by supporting rape and incest exceptions is that they only care about the hardship to the women if the pregnancy isn’t her “fault.” Having to gestate a baby is so awful if it was forced upon a mother that it magically reduces the unborn child’s “right to life.” The fact that a pregnancy may cause a mother’s life prospects to collapse, force her into unwanted marriage, send her into poverty, interfere with her education, derail a career—eh, no biggie. It was her fault, after all, and her child shouldn’t suffer for it. Now rape or incest, that’s worth killing a baby for, or rather, turning the unborn into a “thing.”

Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin and likely GOP Presidential candidate, has said that he will sign a bill prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks, even though it does not have an exception for incest or rape. He said:

“I think for most people who are concerned about that, it’s in the initial months when they are most concerned about it. In this case, it’s an unborn life, it’s an unborn child, that’s why we feel strongly about it. I’m prepared to sign it either way they send it to us.”

Watch: Walker will be portrayed as a wild-eyed, anti-woman fanatic. No, he’s not. This is a consistent, honest, and courageous position for an abortion foe, and the only one with integrity.

 

74 thoughts on “No “War On Women,” Just Integrity: Gov. Walker Will Sign Abortion Limits Law Without Rape And Incest Exceptions

  1. Jack, you are the only non-Catholic I know who cogently presents this argument for life. When I, as a Catholic, try to present the same ideas, I am dismissed because I am suspected of merely bowing to the Vatican line. Can’t accuse you of that! Good job and thank you!

    • Don’t feel bad – anyone who tries to defend the group they belong too is almost always dismissed. Hence “white privilege,” “mansplaining, ” etc.

    • That’s why I never use religion as a basis for my anti-abortion arguments. They stand on their own, from a scientific, logical and ethical point of view.

      • Exactly. I avoid religious rhetoric as well, sticking to scientific and logical reasoning, but I’m still suspected of being biased by my religion.

      • Yep.

        1) It’s either human life and therefore protected

        2) Or it is disposable, and therefore must be some classification of property.

        Now, either we protect the unborn as living humans or we go through some pretty odd machinations deciding when this special classification of property magically becomes human. Which I haven’t heard a good one yet. Interestingly the ancients saw their offspring as such disposable property, they were free to kill them at will until long after birth.

        • If you were to walk up to a pro-choice woman carrying an 8-weeks gestation “clump of tissue” and kick her in the belly as hard as you could, would she think you were a murderer or an abortionist if she had wanted to keep the “baby”? “I want it” = precious bundle of joy, “I don’t want it”= clump of tissue. Selfish monsters.

          • Yep. Though the arguments may boil down to other horrifying possibilities it really reduces to-

            1) the baby has no rights because it isn’t wanted. Somehow, our rights are derived by our social status… Yeeesh

            2) the baby has no rights because it isn’t “fully” human. Somehow at some point we used to be disposable property…

            Yeeeeesh.

  2. You seem to be headed toward discussion of what might be called a consistent ethic of life. Your thoughts on folks who float the so-called “seamless garment” ethic, meaning no abortion, war, or death penalty is allowed?

      • Sounds about right, although one such person I know is doing a lot of good in Hartford. If he gave up pointless protests and travels to dangerous areas of the world to prove that Iraq and Afghanistan really aren’t so bad he’d be a saint.

  3. I can never seem to reconcile in my mind the logical hoops that people make themselves jump through to get to their final position on abortion. Is it a life or isn’t it? There was a case a few years back where a man punches a pregnant woman in the stomach and he was convicted of attempted murder (which makes sense) but then the woman had an abortion. So really guys… Was it a person that she killed, or a clump of cells that he assaulted?

    • I regret making this comment, I remembered it from a discussion a few years back, and I went looking for the actual case law and I couldn’t find it. I’m now doubting the authenticity of the situation described. 35 states have infanticide laws, and most if not all of those have some level of access to abortion, so I don’t doubt it COULD happen, which might make this a useful rhetorical… but I can’t stand behind it as fact.

    • That’s just it; it seems we can’t arrive on a general consensus. For that reason, and others, conception is the only one that makes sense.

    • It seems that it all depends on whether or not the baby is wanted. If that holds, why can’t a 2 month old be killed if the mother decides she no longer wants him or her? What if we had a doctor do it, behind a curtain, while mommy sits in the waiting room reading Cosmopolitan and listening to muzak? In my opinion, the clinical nature of it is what makes the butchers able to tolerate and justify it. It’s no less violent.

      • There’ve been prominent liberal minds that have put that forward. They call them post-birth abortions. An ethicist from Harvard and UV, Joseph Fletcher, suggested that because a child’s mind wasn’t developed enough to be self aware, that post birth abortions should be allowed until two years of age.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_euthanasia

        • More famously, Peter Singer, though he wasn’t really advocating it, just saying that the difference between aborting an unborn child and a recently born child was more illusory than real. I think it was a stealth anti-abortion argument myself.

        • My opinion is that such “post-birth” abortion rhetoric is merely inflammatory. Especially in the United States, with two levels of sovereignty, both rooted somewhat in British Common law, it would be legally impossible to make such an “abortion” legal. In fact, the legal term for such an “abortion” is “homicide”.

          Hundreds of years of legal traditions have affirmed that legal life begins at birth. It was once possible for a nearly stillborn child to “inherit” an entire kingdom, if the newborn child managed to gasp for air before passing away. At the very least, long term leases written based on a number of generations would count such brief life as a “generation” (statute law has largely made such leases obsolete).

          In the United States, murder is usually prosecuted at the state-level. A State could theoretically rewrite its murder laws to simply not protect the life of a human person before the age of two. However, anyone who performed an act to end that child’s life could possibly be prosecuted Federally for conspiracy to violate the child’s civil rights.

          There is also the possibility that such a law would violate civil rights or other provisions protected by a State’s constitution. State courts might find that the legislation repealing the previous murder law unconstitutional. Every law and constitution ever written axiomatically treats life as starting at birth.

          With such a legal landscape, “ethicists” who advocate “post-birth abortion” do so only hypothetically. (I would argue they do it to get Pro-lifers to work themselves into a frothy-mouthed freezy, meant to distract them from working against the current abortion-law status quo).

          However, the United States is not the only country, and non-federal nations do not have as many layers of bureaucracy, nor necessarily the same legal conventions. Post-birth “abortion” remains a possibility elsewhere, and must be condemned as obviously unethical wherever such proposal gain credible traction.

          If I recall correctly, the Netherlands for instance made “euthanasia” of minors legally possible/legally tolerated. This included “euthanasia” of some infants without legal repercussions.

          Thus in the United States, post-birth “abortion” is all but impossible. In other parts of the Western World, however, this barbaric practice exists in the shadowy world of prosecutorial discretion.

      • So question for you: a woman decides she no longer wants her child, and she kills the child or arranges for its death. No husband or boyfriend is in the picture, she was not coerced in any way. What should happen to that woman?

        • Well, justice would be served by prosecuting her, but if we were trying to be consistent, we would laud her bravery and defend her right to choose.

          • Sorry, what? If she walks into the nursery and strangles the child in its crib, we “would laud her bravery and defend her right to choose?”

            (Please note my question didn’t specify the age of the child. There’s no reason it should, since according to this board the child’s age and whether it’s still in the womb are irrelevant.)

              • So why is a woman who strangles her baby in her crib a murderer–subject to life in prison or even the death penalty–while a woman who has an abortion is a “victim” who needs our prayers and support?

                  • I must have misunderstood you. My apologies.

                    My larger point is that this whole teary-eyed pro-life “consistency” idea is a load of steaming crap. They tell us that a fetus is a human life and therefore it doesn’t matter if the mother was a gang-raped fifteen year-old; she can do nothing but carry it to term. But if the fetus is a full-on human life then abortion is first-degree murder, period, end of story… and the person most responsible for that murder is the mother who ordered it. If Scott Walker was *truly* consistent, that same fifteen year-old who had an abortion could and probably should be jailed for life. So why does he (or any pro-life politician) refuse to punish or even acknowledge these murderers? No, it’s not because he’s “ethical”, “compassionate”, or “consistent”… it’s because the the moment this “brave” pro-life governor breathes a word about punishing the mother is the moment he will never, ever be President of the United States. And he knows it, and every other pro-lifer knows it.

                    I remember a quote years ago from a GOP operative… “Putting women in prison for having abortions is no problem at all, as long as you don’t mind five or six women left in the Republican Party.”

                    Consistency? Bravery? B.S.

                    • Pop quiz:

                      Why can’t Gov Walker prosecute a woman who gets an abortion as a murderer?

                      Hint: The answer isn’t because he’s an inconsistent coward.

                    • Pop answer… because he’s a politically-driven and hypocritical inconsistent coward. Sorry for missing those first two,

                    • What? The law does not make a woman a murderer for aborting a child, no prosecutor would bring the case, a governor is not part of the justice system until after a conviction (one can give out pardons and commutations), and it would be impeachable for a governor to involve himself in the charging process. Not acting illegally, in an abuse of power, in violation of the state and and national constitutions, pointlessly and without effect, is neither hypocritical nor cowardly. It’s called SANITY.

                      What the hell do you think you are talking about? Was there another tear in the dimensions again? I hate it when that happens.

                    • Tear in the dimension? You mean like goatee Kirk and goatee Spock come through as evil versions* of their Our-Universe selves?

                      No, no tear in the dimension, Flashman represents Left-wing thought quite accurately. That is to say, No Thought.

                      Your correction of his Pop Quiz Failure was thorough. Although, I don’t think “Sane” is fair. That could quietly imply he only did the right thing because it is “Sane” to follow the law. Perhaps he did the right thing because Rule of Law and Separation of Powers are right in and of themselves, not right because that’s how our system is set up.

                      *To be clear, the Our-Universe version of Kirk isn’t exactly the best leader or decision maker around…evil Kirk may have been better. No doubt though Spock existed to give a reason to ridicule reason and rationale (the very characteristics we’d like in our leaders).

                    • That’s definitely a higher-order good, the Nuremburg laws being a good example of that. Also, consistency, from people who can’t even agree on the point at which we attain personhood?

                    • I had to bail on this one. I’m irreverent, but I honestly try to avoid hurting peoples’ feelings, or at least that’s rarely my intent.

  4. I think there is an ethically consistent argument for prohibiting abortion except in cases of rape (including incestuous rape). I don’t agree with this argument, but I think I can state it fairly:

    Fetuses are considered persons, but the mother’s right to control her own body is absolute, and it trumps the fetus’s right to life. After all, the fetus is an intruder (and a potentially life-threatening one at that) who has no right to occupy her body and consume its resources. However, if the fetus is the result of voluntary activity on the mother’s part (sex, IVF) then she implicitly grants it the right to be in her body, and she can’t arbitrarily take that right away and kill it. A fetus that is there without her implicit permission, as in the case of rape, has no such right, so the mother may abort it.

    That’s not a common argument, but I’ve run across it once or twice. I think I can pretty much guarantee that no politician actually takes this position.

    • Uncommon, yes, but I’ve heard it as well. Usually it’s coming from someone who’s pro abortion-for-any-reason (but emphatically not pro-abortion for any reason) trying to convince a pro-life advocate to concede a rape and incest exception. In that sense, it’s not a genuinely held belief being reasoned, and those that do concede have proverbially taken the bait.

      • Interesting point. Let’s follow that trail…

        Suppose a sadistic psychopath kidnaps a woman who has just given birth and is therefore lactating. Then he also kidnaps an unrelated newborn child from a local hospital maternity ward. He locks them both in a cage together, but a few times a day he lets the mother out into a different room to eat. She’s not allowed to bring the baby out or bring food back, so the only way the baby could receive nutrition is through breastfeeding. Is she obligated to breastfeed the baby?

        More generally, does she have an obligation to care for the baby in any way if she did not voluntarily take on (perhaps implicitly) the duty to do so?

        Legally, I think probably not. In the U.S., in the absence of a prior relationship or agreement, there’s almost never a legal punishment for failure to rescue someone. If you see someone having a heart attack on the street, you are generally under no legal obligation to help them or even (in most states) to call 911 for paramedics and an ambulance. If you just stand there and watch them die, you have committed no crime.

        But you are an awful person.

        • For a minute there, I thought we were doing a Schrodenger’s cat type of experiment. I would say that this is different, as her refusing to feed the baby is, in effect, killing the baby. How it would actually play out in court, I have no idea.

        • “But you are an awful person.”

          And that’s the thing, isn’t it? Remember that we’ve separated law and ethics here, because while there might be overlap, they’re different things. Ethically, yes, that hypothetical woman should breastfeed and yes, ethically someone should assist or call 911 in an emergency situation…. When you consider Kant and the Golden Rule, there really isn’t any other choice.

    • “A fetus that is there without her implicit permission, as in the case of rape, has no such right, so the mother may abort it.”

      And yet, in that case, the fetus is a victim as well, and now the argument is between caring for 2 victims. The mother is still not a victim of an “invasion” by the fetus, but by the rapist.

  5. I think that this issue can be informed by well-established criminal law. I will assume that the fetus at issue is a life.

    I’ll start with the idea that a woman can get an abortion when the pregnancy threatens her life (an idea I think is fairly universally accepted). This is similar to a notion in criminal law, in that deadly force may be used to defend oneself from a reasonable threat of death or serious bodily injury.

    That being said, the law normally does not impose a duty upon us to act. If I am standing on a sidewalk and I see someone unconscious and lying on some train tracks, I can sit there and watch, laughing at the poor fool’s misfortune, as a train comes and kills him, without incurring criminal liability.
    In the case of abortion, the woman has to take affirmative steps to bring the child to term. Without her aid, the baby will never be born (at least to the point of viability). Therefore, since the law would normally not impose a duty on the woman to preserve the life of the fetus, the “default” would be that the woman has no duty to act for the fetus, and can terminate the pregnancy (I will disregard, at least for this post, the fact that the woman actually also has to take affirmative steps to terminate the pregnancy, which I recognize is problematic).

    However, if I create the danger, the law will impose on me a duty to act to save that person. In other words, if I pushed the man onto the train tracks, even if I didn’t intend him to eventually be killed by an oncoming train, and he hits his head and is knocked unconscious, I will be subject to criminal liability for his death if I don’t save him from the danger of the oncoming train. Although I referred in the previous paragraph to a “default,” under the peculiar circumstances we are talking about here, the normal situation is that the mother did create the danger. No matter what precautions were taken or how small the risk was, if the mother consented to the sex she created the danger that a pregnancy would occur (as did the father, and although I am unfamiliar with family law, I wouldn’t be surprised if the law has at least tried to impose some sort of duty on the father of an unwanted child). This is not the case when the baby is the product of a rape. Under those circumstances, the mother would be in the “default” position that there is no duty to act in order to save the baby.

    I won’t take a position on whether the baby has greater moral value than the woman’s desire to be free from the burden of the baby which was a product of her rape, I am merely arguing why it makes sense for the law to take this position. I also do not take a position on whether incest should be an exception. When they say incest in this context, are they talking about any sex between related people or just unconsensual sex between related people? If it is merely to protect the gene pool, I would think it would be clear that it would be unethical and immoral, and should probably be illegal, because if it is fine to do it to protect the gene pool when there is increased likelihood that genetic defects are present, it would follow that there would be no problem with anyone terminating a pregnancy whenever tests reveal that it has a genetic defect. I can’t think of any way to justify such an exception.

    • Fascinating analysis. Of course, whether there is a legal duty of not, the person who watches, laughing at the poor fool’s misfortune, as a train comes and kills him, is clearly unethical scum. As is the mother who allows her child to whither and die due to negligent pre-natal care. Some jurisdictions have tried to enforce a duty of due care, but it’s problematical. But the fact that allowing one’s unborn baby to die isn’t illegal doesn’t change the fact that it is unethical. (Ethics Alarms, not “Legal Alarms”)

      I understand why you chose to disregard the fact that the woman actually also has to take affirmative steps to terminate the pregnancy. It’s more than “problematic,” it’s fatal to your argument. Then the abortion is the equivalent of the bystander, allowing the man to remains on the tracks, taking out a gun and shooting him as he tries to save himself. Even the law wouldn’t like that.

      • Regarding the problem with the affirmative act of abortion: Assume that in order to have a successful pregnancy, the mother had to exercise some degree of control in order to get the nutrients necessary to the baby, let’s say the umbilical cord doesn’t properly operate unless the mother actively “feeds” the baby. Since the baby will die if the mother doesn’t do this, does it change the ethical analysis?

        • Interesting.

          This gets into “The Fly” territory… We had a discussion a while back on the ethics of the mother having The Fly’s maggot babies from the 80’s horror movie as a hypothetical on acceptable abortion. I have mixed feelings about these hypotheticals, because while on one hand they’re interesting thought exercises, on the other they’re completely irrelevant to the ethics we’re actually dealing with.

          I think that if you’re going to de-automate the gestation process, there is still a duty to care for the unborn. This is the reverse situation from a post birth abortion… a pre birth feeding. We have a duty to care for our children until they’re self sufficient, and so if for some reason biology didn’t cover prenatal feeding, and the answer was to spoonfeed a fetus… Then yes, I think that duty carries through. Allowing your child to starve as a form of abortion is a pretty shitty thing to do.

  6. I agree, it isn’t a perfect analogy. The problem is that the baby, unlike the man on the train tracks, is so attached as to invert the normal “failure to act” scenario. A failure to act imposes the burden on the woman, whereas an act is necessary to relieve it. And I wasn’t taking a position on the ethical/moral issues involved, merely whether it makes sense to have the exceptions in law.

    • And I thought that was part of what this post was addressing; whether someone who is anti-abortion can be ethically consistent while advocating for a rape exception.

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