Over at my new reader-written blog The Jury Talks Back, poster Not Rhetorical posits a fascinating hypothetical:
Though I know a lot of people have zero patience for them, I can never really get enough of trippy philosophical hypotheticals.
Here’s one I’ve been toying with for years: Suppose the technology existed to safely remove a fetus from a womb at any gestational stage for incubation elsewhere until birth. If such “no-death abortion” was available to any woman who wanted it, would most abortion rights supporters stand down?
I’m especially interested in what abortion rights supporters have to say, because I’ve always thought that their position is based on opposition to forced pregnancy (”Keep your laws off my body”).
I especially love this hypothetical because I too have been thinking about the same issue for years. Indeed, I asked a modified version of it in this post. But Not Rhetorical’s articulation is less inflammatory and more conducive to good discussion.
I’m especially fond of the hypothetical because I explicitly discussed it recently with two women: the first night with one who was pro-choice, and the next night, with one who was pro-life. (To my surprise, the pro-choice woman would most assuredly not accept the sort of “no death abortion” that Not Rhetorical posits.)
I have told people since (and said to the pro-life woman) that I wish I could have had a camera over my shoulder taking footage when I was talking to these women. I respect both of the women very much, even though I violently disagreed with the pro-choice woman on this issue. But I found the contrast between their points of view — and the reasons for them — to be transcendent and profound in a way I’m not sure I could ever adequately express.
I don’t feel comfortable saying more, even without naming the women, because the conversations were private. But the conversation solidified my view that this particular hypothetical cuts right to the heart of the debate in a way that few others do.
I also very much liked Not Rhetorical’s suggestion for commenters: “I’d appreciate it if you could keep the usual stuff about murder and evil and so forth to a minimum. Like zero. I’m more interested in a dispassionate discussion.” Indeed. Every discussion about abortion devolves into one side screaming Abortion Evil! and the other side screaming Abortion Is a Right! That can get tiresome, and I’m looking for something that addresses the concerns raised by the specific hypothetical.
Thanks to Not Rhetorical for her excellent post.
P.S. If you’re not reading The Jury Talks Back, you’re missing out. Good stuff over there. There’s a button on the sidebar on the right, just under “Recent Comments,” that you can use to jump over there. Once you’re there, you can click a corresponding button to come back here.
Easy as pie. And man, that’s easy!
P.S. I will add this factor to the hypothetical: assume that the law absolutely assures mothers that they will never bear any legal responsibility for the child, whether financial or otherwise. Comments that refuse to make this assumption may be deleted. It’s a hypothetical, and making arguments that ignore the governing assumptions is counterproductive.