June 02, 2009

PERSONHOOD

(via CG)  Megan McArdle wrote A Really Long Post About Abortion and Reasoning By Historical Analogy That is Going to Make Virtually All of My Readers Very Angry At Me.  But she was wrong: not only did it not make me angry, I thought it was the most interesting thing I've read about abortion in a long time.

Posted by: Sarah at 10:51 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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1 I've never seen those analogies before, but they really do stand out. 

I generally shy away from discussing abortion, even though my own views on it have changed radically over the years and I would be interested in the discussion.  The thing is, as M.M. illustrates - at base one's beliefs on abortion are based on an un-provable intangible. 

I think it is a baby.  Period.  But someone else does not.  Period.  I can't prove that it is a baby, just that it will become a baby.  And they cannot prove that it is not a baby, just that it is not yet fully developed. 

Once you come down to that base belief - it is or it isn't - it's like trying to argue for the existence of God.  I believe in God, wholly.  Someone else may not, and quite frankly the times I have "felt the hand of God in my life" is just not evidence that will stand up in court.

I do have more to say, but I'm going to sort it out in my head.

Posted by: airforcewife at June 02, 2009 12:00 PM (NqbuI)

2 Dr. Tiller's murder has upset me for a whole host of not entirely obvious reasons.  This piece helped me gain some balance on the whole debate raging in my head.  Thank you for sharing. 

Posted by: Val at June 02, 2009 04:17 PM (5btL/)

3 This article didn't make me angry either. Thanks for linking to it, Sarah.

As a linguist - and like McArdle - I've been thinking of abortion in semantic terms for years. The conflict over abortion is a conflict over meanings. What does person mean? Where do we draw the line between person and non-person?

Semantics are not objective. There is no inherent reason that the word person has to mean what you or I think it means.

The trouble is that our society is based on subjective words which are the building blocks of our laws. And laws affect human lives.

People often use the word semantics to imply that an argument is trivial: "That's just semantics!" But in reality semantics can be a matter of life or death.

Posted by: Amritas at June 04, 2009 02:32 PM (+nV09)

4 Thanks for that link!  It's a great write-up, and I really don't comprehend her commenters' wrath ...

Posted by: kannie at June 04, 2009 07:58 PM (5XpA4)

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