Wednesday, August 09, 2006

More thoughts on Amanda

A previous post has been getting some pretty intense debate going between some posters, and I felt, given the assumptions being traded, that I should clarify here.

Steve - it is indeed unfortunate that our language has become so imprecise. I would probably be called a "classical liberal"; an ungainly phrase which is only necessary because, though I would have voted for Gladstone, I probably wouldn't have voted for Dukakis, both of whom would have called themselves liberals, though over one hundred years apart.

Now in America at least, you are right, it is intensely ironic that the "side" in politics that calls itself liberal is often actually in favor of less freedom, more government regulation, and most galling, as MrStandfast has pointed out, has decided that it would rather infringe on the rights of the utterly helpless than force inconvenience on another.

Given the above, I feel I should clarify my feelings, especially in light of the vigorous debate that has gone on here. When I say my feelings on bioethics have been liberalized, I mean that, insofar as abortion is concerned, I no longer think I am 100% against it in all circumstances. I think, in instances like Amanda's, where the child is not going to survive, no matter what, I would probably not be averse to it.

At least, I would have said that before knowing Amanda. Now I'm not so sure.

I am positive I am against the application of abortion in any instance in which the child is viable. This is where my classical liberalism is aghast the characterization of an embryo as "aggregation of cells that cannot survive on its own". We are all collections of cells that cannot survive on our own: if placed underwater, or in outer space, or even in the desert without water, we would die. Every living thing requires a given environment in which to survive, and that of an embryo is the womb of its mother. I do think using "it can't survive on its own" is a slippery slope, one which is logically and pragmatically valid to avoid. Patients in a hospital generally can't survive on their own, which is why they are there, and I think my role as a future physician is to defend and care for these helpless who cannot survive on their own.

Utilitarianism is a cold ethic, one which a Christian moralist would do well to avoid.

All of which is a long winded way of saying, I'm probably not nearly as liberal as I think sometimes, and I regret that "liberal" no longer means what it did. Thank you to everyone who commented.


medstudentitis said...

I think you're correct. My use of the "aggregation of cells that cannot live on its own" does introduce a lot of grey area with regard to survival and independence. I was merely trying to provide a possible explanation to mrstandfast for why the right to make decisions goes to the mother. My personal belief is that the fetus is an extension of the body of the mother because it depends on her to stay alive. Thus, she should have control and not be forced into being a glorified incubator with no right to make decisions about her own body. Until a babe is born, the fetus and the mother are linked and part of her body and she can do with her body what she wants (although of course I would encourage her to do things with her body that are in the best interest of her health).

There are a lot of women doing long-term harm to the fetuses by treating their bodies badly and I think perhaps society should focus on ensuring that those babies that are born are healthy and taken care of before attacking women for having terminations because they knew they were unable to care for a child or a pregnancy.

I know that my views are radical by many people's standards, but I can appreciate where all of you are coming from as well.

thebeloved said...

Nathan, Thank you for the clarification. You succintly explained some issues that I get all muddled trying to explain.

Steve Hayes said...

I'm an Orthodox Christian, and as I understand it, the attitude of Orthodox Christians to abortion is similar to their attitude to soldi8ers killing in war. In Orthodox theology there is no such thing as a just war. A soldier who kills in battle, no matter what the circumstances, needs to confess that as a sin. It cannot ever be justified. It is always a sin.

But we live in a sinful world, and sometimes such sins as killing in battle or abortion cannot be avoided. But there is also no sin so bad that it cannot be forgiven. It is not our business to be perpetually condemning others who commit these or any other sins, but rather to being sure that we repent of our own.

But I also believe we should not too easily accept political policies that are either based on, or propagate the assumptions that these sins are not sins, but that they can be justified. I cannot believe that the wholesale killing of children, either in abortion clinics or in the cities and towns of Lebanon is OK.