[Today’s guest post by Clinton Wilcox is part of our paid blogging program.]
One of the problems with the pro-choice position, aside from the fact that abortion unjustly kills an innocent child, is the fact that it places the will of the parents over the needs of the child, when in fact it should be the other way around. The vast, vast majority of children are conceived through a consensual act by the mother and father, and the child is conceived through no fault or desire of their own. After all, you cannot consent to being brought into existence because you would have to precede your own conception in order to do that, which is logically absurd. So a child is brought into existence, then killed once deemed inconvenient by the mother, father (in which case coercion usually follows), or both.
However, in many cases our courts actually recognize that the child’s needs come before the parent’s desires, even if the child is preborn. In many states, including my own very liberal state of California, if someone kills a wanted unborn child, it is considered an independent homicide. The best-known example of this is Scott Peterson, who killed his wife, Lacy, and their unborn child. He was charged with two counts of homicide.
Another example of the child’s needs being put before the will of the parents is in the case of child support. Whereas a woman can opt to have an abortion or make an adoption plan if she chooses to be a mother no longer, a father does not have that option. Whether or not he wants to be a father to that child (or whether or not the mother will let him have a relationship with the child), the state will require that he pay child support. That may mean that he will be forced to continue using his own body to work for 18 years and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money toward that child. It seems inconsistent in a country with legalized abortion to require fathers to pay child support. But they are required, as they should be, because the needs of the child come first.
In their essay “Constitutional Balance,” in The Morality of Abortion: Legal and Historical Perspectives (ed. by John T. Noonan, Jr., Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1970, pp. 244-245), authors David W. Louisell and John T. Noonan, Jr. recount a court case* involving a pregnant Jehovah’s Witness. Adherents of that religion interpret the Bible as saying that blood transfusions are sinful. But she was forced to undergo a blood transfusion because her unborn child was anemic. Freedom of religion is a cherished constitutional right, but that right can be superceded if it will cause harm to another person. Louisell and Noonan comment:
The right not to have the state enforce its beliefs upon one’s conscience, a ‘fixed star in our constitutional constellation,’ might have led the court to subordinate the fetus’ interest in survival to the constitutional right of the parents to practice their religion. Instead, the life of the fetus was treated as a value outweighing even a prized constitutional liberty. In a previous case, a New Jersey court had ordered a transfusion, despite his parents’ religious objections, to a ‘blue baby’ suffering from a lack of oxygen after birth. The court composed of Chief Justice Weintraub and Justices Jacobs, Francis, Hall, Schettino, and Haneman found no difference between that case and the case now presented of a fetus likely to be aborted if denied blood.
These are just a few examples in which a child’s needs are placed over the desires of the parent. Yet our country allows legalized abortion, placing a woman’s desires (often disguised in terms of “health,” such as “financial or familial health”) over the needs of the unborn child. The bottom line is that an unborn child is denied life because a woman feels that there is some reason she should not be a mother, despite the fact that she already is one. (Or, frequently, because a man feels that there is some reason he should not be a father, despite the fact that he already is one.)
Making abortion illegal again is the step in the right direction we need. The unborn child, as a vulnerable member of our species, needs protection of those more powerful than themselves.
*Raleigh Fitkin-Paul Memorial Hospital v. Anderson, 42 N.J. 421, 201 A. 2d 537, cert. denied 377 U.S. 985 (1964).