Peter Hamby of CNN reports:
The Republican Party is once again set to enshrine into its official platform support for “a human life amendment” to the Constitution that would outlaw abortion without making explicit exemptions for rape or incest, according to draft language of the platform obtained exclusively by CNN late Monday.
“Faithful to the ‘self-evident’ truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed,” the draft platform declares. “We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.”
AsÂ I understand it, GovernorÂ Romney believes in exceptions for rape and incest. Paul Ryan does not.Â
Here’s a question that doesn’t arise all the time, but does arise in a heart-rending number of cases. Intellectually disabled young women sometimes become pregnant.Â A pregnancy may be the resultÂ ofÂ a physically coercive act. It may be the result of statutory rape. It may be a purely unintended pregnancy within a consensual relationship with a casual or long-term partner.
Obviously such pregnancies pose difficult issues forÂ both these young women and their caregivers.Â Not surprisingly, manyÂ woman and their familiesÂ decide that abortion is the best option. As I understand it, Representative Ryan supports the Republican platform, which would outlaw abortionÂ in eachÂ of the above situations. He would thereforeÂ require the young woman to proceed with her pregnancy. Governor Romney would make an exception for rape, but would otherwise do the same.
I don’t believe inÂ screaming about abortion. There are good people on many sides here.Â I will simply say that IÂ find Ryan and Romney’s positions to beÂ bothÂ extreme and inhumane.Â I trustÂ that theÂ American people will have the decency to reject this platform,Â and the two men who endorsed and helped to craftÂ it.
16 thoughts on “A simple question regarding the Republican platform”
Sorry to interrupt, but has anyone noticed the Bain documents that found their way to Gawker today?
I do believe in “screaming about abortion”. By and large, there really aren’t “good people on many sides here”. There are functionally two sides in the American debate, not “many”, and one of them is the very opposite of “good”.
I do think there is plenty of room for good people on both sides here – but when people insist that because of their theology we have to do what they say regarding undifferentiated cells, they don’t qualify. If people who oppose abortion want to insist that the law should protect quite an early fetus, something that has the beginnings of a brain, I don’t happen to agree but I can see their viewpoint and can credit their characters – but the people who declare that a zygote or a blastocyst is a human being are scientific illiterates and are seeking to impose their religion on the rest of us. They are ipso facto not “good people”, and are deserving of no respect.
Oh, and the “rape and incest exception” is incoherent. If you believe your God tells you a clump of cells is a person, surely the terrible even that brought that “person” into existence is no fault of its own. Anyone who declares that to protect human life they will ban essentially all abortion, but still leaves an exception in cases of rape and incest, is lying either about their beliefs or about their intentions, in order to appeal cravenly to the electorate.
Oh, and the â€œrape and incest exceptionâ€ is incoherent. If you believe your God tells you a clump of cells is a person, surely the terrible even that brought that â€œpersonâ€ into existence is no fault of its own. Anyone who declares that to protect human life they will ban essentially all abortion, but still leaves an exception in cases of rape and incest, is lying either about their beliefs or about their intentions, in order to appeal cravenly to the electorate.
Or the person recognizes that there are multiple competing moral imperatives at work and picks one over the other. Just saying that a fetus is a person and aborting it is wrong does not necessarily imply that it is better to force a woman to carry to term when she became pregnant without either the intention to do so or engaging in behavior that risks pregnancy without considering the consequences. It is perfectly possible to believe that both are wrong and that the lesser evil is to allow her to get an abortion.
We all tend to believe that we engage in sophisticated thinking when it comes to moral questions, but there is a strong tendency to dismiss the possibility than those who reach different conclusions have done so. It’s a trap that people on both sides of the abortion debate are extremely prone to. Maybe, just maybe, your opponents have put more thought into this than you suppose. Who knows, they may even have put in almost as much thought on it as you have.
That’s nonsense. The rights of a person have nothing to do with how admirable another person is, nor is the embryo’s alleged humanity supposed to be a matter of punishing the woman for her behavior. If – like the entire politicized anti-abortion movement – you declare a totipotent clump of cells in the uterus is a human being, it doesn’t matter what the mother did to get them there. You’ve just moved from blaming the alleged human being for the sins of its genetic father to instead saying it’s OK to kill said alleged human because its mother wasn’t promiscuous. As a variation on women being vessels of sinfulness, it’s an interesting approch, but frankly despicable.
But we do have some (anecdotal) evidence that they are not doing too much thinking – videos of anti-abortion protesters who say abortion should be illegal but have no suggestions for what the punishment should be.
“We all tend to believe that we engage in sophisticated thinking when it comes to moral questions, but there is a strong tendency to dismiss the possibility than those who reach different conclusions have done so. Itâ€™s a trap that people on both sides of the abortion debate are extremely prone to. Maybe, just maybe, your opponents have put more thought into this than you suppose. Who knows, they may even have put in almost as much thought on it as you have.”
In general, wise words indeed.
I would be inclined to credit abortion opponents as “good people” if they were willing to live up to the responsibilities I think their position imposes on them.
Let’s hear about providing appropriate medical care, maternity leave, child care, and so on. The imposition of the anti-abortionists’ moral views on say, rape victims, places a huge burden – physical, emotional, financial – on those women. “Good people” would, I think, accept the obligation to help.
Or an empty piety, in general.
I’ll take a modified Warren Terra position here. The opposition to abortion does not contain many good people; it contains a good argument. Let me explain.
The argument against abortion is debatable at most steps. However, unlike almost all other wingnut positions it is actually a good argument, in the sense that it is rational in structure and does not deny reality. It goes something as follows:
1. Modern biological knowledge implies that a fertilized egg is a separate organism. (A strong position, although biology prescribes no Platonic ideal of an organism.)
2. Modern developmental biology draws no sharp dividing line other than fertilization. (An unarguable position.)
3. Therefore, we must/should treat this life is human, from the first moment. (Not irrational, although certainly not compelled by biology or anything else.)
4. A bunch of standard legal and moral arguments concerning the appropriate treatment human life. (The arguments are standard, often accepted by most folk in other contexts.)
But this argument does not motivate most of the anti-abortion movement. Most of them simply want to punish women for having unapproved sex. The evidence for this is pretty strong: the popularity of the rape and incest exceptions, the concomitant opposition of most anti-abortionists to contraception and concomitant support of the death penalty, the popularity of IVF, unwillingness to view miscarriage as a serious untreated epidemic, l’affaire Terry Schiavo, etc.
It’s odd. For once, the wingnuts have a rational argument at their disposal, and they’re really not sure what to do with it. They’re not used to having rational positions: they’re generally happier making shit up. They are completely unaware that even rational arguments are contestible, which ups their self-righteousness to eleven on the dial. And they don’t know what to do with the problem that rational arguments, pushed too far, become unreasonable.
Isn’t implantation a sharp dividing line?
Fair ’nuff. It is relevant to some anti-contraception arguments (e.g., IUD), but doesn’t do much to the rest of the anti-abortion position.
I think that a lot of conservatives probably don’t see forcing intellectually disabled women to give birth as a problem. It’s one more (usually drug and alcohol-free) baby for a good christian family to adopt. From a woman they expect to be completely complaisant.
(And on Ebenezer’s post, I have to say it makes plenty of sense if you don’t think of women as people. But the forced-transplant arguments, much less the castle doctrine, have pretty much made a hash of 4 once you do.)
I think that a lot of conservatives probably donâ€™t see forcing intellectually disabled women to give birth as a problem. Itâ€™s one more (usually drug and alcohol-free) baby for a good christian family to adopt. From a woman they expect to be completely complaisant.
They see it that way if the pregnancy goes smoothly and the baby is fine. Otherwise?
Just be throw this bit of mischief out there: under this definition of personhood, are corporations no longer people?
To me that is the apparent effect of Section 2 which is exclusive rather than inclusive [compare Mississippi’s version which expands “person” rather than restricts]
Section II: With respect to the right to life guaranteed to persons by the fifth and 14th articles of amendment to the Constitution, the word “person” applies to all human beings; irrespective of age, health, function, physical or mental dependency, or method of reproduction; from the beginning of their biological development.
The Fifth amendment covers due process, compensation for eminent domain, as well as double jeopardy and self incrimination.
“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. “
I’m pretty sure that would be narrowly construed only to the “right to life” — in other words, corporations would no longer be guaranteed (or required to observe) due process in their formation and dissolution. But the supreme court has found enough of a penumbra of personhood with respect to all the other rights to keep corporations covered.
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