How Far Would You Go to Save a Life?

(Version 1.5)

The first sign of corruption in a society that is still alive is that the end justifies the means.
–Georges Bernanos

Abortion is a hot button issue mainly because both sides care a great deal about the things they see themselves protecting: a woman’s control over her own body, her self, her personhood; an unborn child’s right to simply live, its self, its personhood. I don’t mean to answer that question here in this small space. (What hubris that would be!) I do intend to stake out where I am in this debate and that is in a state of moral dilemma. I see both sides of the issue as protecting things that are worthwhile, even essential. (I have something between disdain and contempt for the political “debate” as it stands. I don’t like people demonizing others nor do I like propaganda, i.e. comfortable lies.)

To put it as succinctly as I can, I am a pro-lifer unwilling to save the lives of the unborn by any means. I have always had moral problems with abortion and pro-choice arguments  have only solidified that position. I am not, however, a contraception-is-abortion pro-lifer. I don’t think RU-486 is an “abortion pill.” Preventing conception is simply not abortifacient. I tend to follow those in the medical profession who won’t perform abortions on unborn who clearly can feel and react to what is happening to them. In that, I find it cruel and inhuman.

But supporting its legal ban has always given me pause. The awful truth is that via the state I am usurping power and control over the most intimate parts of a woman’s body. An act very similar to rape. This escalates to full murder when pregnancy kills. And Hallmark cards aside, it does kill. But to put it in more palatable terms, it is violating the physical person of one individual for the sake of another in our society. And that is something that the majority of the Pro-Life movement do not have the moral integrity to acknowledge. We would recoil in horror if the state required people to donate bodily tissue, a kidney for example, in order to save the lives of others. It goes against many of our core democratic principles surrounding human rights.

How would we react if a man on dialysis, i.e. dying a slow death, was so far down the donor list that he virtually had no prospects for a transplant and the government saved him by finding and mandating a compatible person donate their kidney? How would any of us feel about being the donor? Remember, a person’s life is at stake here. Would you approve on that basis? I seriously doubt any of us would approve of such an act even to save a man’s life. So how is the mother of an unborn child worth any less than a kidney donor?

So until the pro-life movement is less pro-baby and fully pro-life and the pro-choice movement is less pro-woman and ceases to treat the unwanted unborn as something akin to the appendix, I remain in my moral Catch-22: support movements with little regard for life itself only that of certain parties.