Thursday, May 10, 2012

What works - fetal pain

I recently heard an argument that Governor Romney is pro life because he would support a "fetal pain" bill. I also have recently had several people tell me the good news about sonogram laws and "personhood" amendments. Let it be understood that I applaud all these efforts. I think protecting innocent life means protecting innocent life, by whatever means necessary. While some say we shouldn't use graphic images and others say we should not challenge laws in court until we know we have a majority I think we should not stop anyone from pursuing a path that leads towards respect for human life.

But I do think some things are better than others. So I decided to write a blog post about it. It soon became a series. This is the first in that series, in which I will discuss fetal pain bills.

For those unfamiliar, these laws seek to ban abortions after 20 weeks on the basis that the fetus will experience pain as it is being killed. Now I consider this law to be dangerous, for the following reason. When there is a rights conflict, the higher right wins. That is a fundamental of law. So with Roe v. Wade the courts established that a woman's right to "privacy" is more important than another person's right to life. Fetal pain laws establish that the "right" to be free from pain is more important than a woman's right to "privacy". It then follows that the "right" to be free from pain should trump the right to life for a person who is sick or injured. Instant euthanasia argument, and made by well meaning pro lifers.

For that matter, how effective are fetal pain laws at reducing abortions? According to the Guttmacher Institute, the number of abortions after 20 weeks of gestation is 1.5% of the total number of abortions. Now, it's great to reduce abortions, even by one, but is it worth it at the cost of establishing dangerous legal precedents?
So, although I appreciate the sentiment, I don't personally want to spend my efforts promoting fetal pain laws. Furthermore, I think Governor Romney's support for a fetal pain bill is more an attempt to appease pro life voters without hurting his chances with pro choice voters. I don't think by itself it demonstrates a pro life position.


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