I don’t know why my mind is turning to this particularly, but since it is, I thought I’d post some thoughts:
The debate over abortion tends to revolve around the issue of when and if the preborn become separate alive individual humans. This seems obvious because the morality of killing something revolves around whether it’s human. If it ain’t human, it can’t be murder. However, the argument that a fetus isn’t really human is a rationalization, not a reason. If there were no other precursive reason for getting an abortion, the argument that the fetus was nothing more than a ball of cells (or whatever argument) would have no weight at all: Even a formless glob of cells that will, if left uninterrupted, turn into a fully formed human being is a pretty impressive thing. Humans are by and large pretty wonderful, and there’s no reason not to let that process continue. If I had a wart on my left elbow which, if left to itself, would grow into a fully developed human being, I would have every reason to let it continue. On the other hand, if the fact that a fetus wasn’t human were a *reason* for getting an abortion, then it would be a reason to abord **all** preborn children. So there must be some other motivation before an abortion can occur.
As far as I know there are three actual *reasons* for an abortion:
1. Convenience/preference: I don’t want to have a baby; I don’t want to be pregnant; I don’t want people to **know** I’m pregnant.
2. Special considerations for rape or incest.
3. Special considerations for the life of the mother.
Obviously, number 1 is the weakest reason. It’s also the biggest reason people get abortions, or for that matter do any selfish thing. It’s the reason that gets slammed the most, since it’s clearly reprehensible, which is why it falls back so frequently on the “it’s not human yet” rationalization. It’s also the specific reason that is enshrined in the goofy legal reasonings of the Roe v. Wade decision. I’ll leave that one alone for now. What gets me is reasons 2 and 3, which even people who are opposed to Roe v. Wade seem to make allowances for.
Rape and incest are particularly odd motivations for an abortion. This argument seems to be saying that people who have had bad things happen to them should be given special leeway in terms of convenience and preference about what bad things they want to happen to other people. This is very odd. I’m fairly certain that a rape victim’s convenience and preference are not consulted in dealing out punishments to the rapist. Perhaps they are. But then, I’m also not aware of the death sentence being meted out only on grounds of rape. Usually only murder, or heinous murder is met with the death sentence. Scripturally, a rapist is due a death sentence (see [Deuteronomy 22]( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=5&chapter=22&version=77)), but nowhere is there ever raised a standard whereby the death penalty is inflicted upon a 3rd party, only tangentially related to the crime. So arguments for abortion on grounds of rape and incest inevitably fall back on the convenience/preference argument, with some added weight for pain and suffering. This just doesn’t get anywhere without appeals to the “it isn’t human yet” rationalization. If there was no chance that it would *ever* become human, nobody would care.
Probably the strongest argument for abortion is the “life of the mother” argument. That is, in the event that there is a complication in the pregnancy that threatens the life of the mother, the life of the preborn child should be terminated. For instance, Ann Coulter, in an [article on Townhall.com]( http://www.townhall.com/columnists/anncoulter/ac20050127.shtml) in January said “I’ve never heard of anyone who thinks abortion should not be ‘available’ to save the life of the mother,” and [just yesterday](http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/may/05052409.html) the Supreme Court agreed to review a New Hampshire law requiring parental notifications for abortions performed on minors which was challenged on the grounds that it doesn’t make an exception for the health of the mother. The inherent assumption in this kind of argument is that, by default, the mother’s life is more valuable than the child’s, which of course begs the question, valuable to whom? Economics, if nothing else, should tell us that nothing has value in itself. The value of something – or someone – doesn’t hang as an absolute in space. Value can only be determined in terms of what someone is willing to exchange for it.
I can have some sympathy for a father in crisis who, faced with the choice of losing his wife or losing his child, might chose to save his wife over his child. I would think he was wrong. Very wrong. But I can see that somebody would instinctively make that decision if they weren’t prepared for that kind of choice. But who could have anything but reprehension for someone who, when faced with a choice between their *own* life and the life of their child, chose to preserve *their* life and to order their own *child’s* death? That kind of valuation, of one’s own life above that of one’s children, is not even human in my opinion. Who could trust such a person? Would you let your children visit a household which openly valued the parents over their children? Of course not.
Outside the valuations of parents, we have religion and our common culture as a guide. “Value” doesn’t float abstractly in space, and must be related to someone, but if we wanted to find a standard by which *everyone* should count the value of human life, what better standard could we find than how God evaluates a life? Perhaps in moral and ethical questions, there are no facts, and only opinions, but to those who believe in a creator, may I suggest that there is One whose opinion should be given greater preference than our own? The Declaration of Independence says that we should hold certain truths to be self-evident, that is, that they are properly basic to our belief system and require no arguments to support them. One of those truths is that all people are created equal, in other words, that it is inappropriate to value the life of one person over that of another. Jesus said, in [John 15:13]( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john%2015:13;&version=77;), that “No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends,” which is what He did for all of us, without exception. So it seems to me that in any situation where human lives are concerned, the proper response is to do everything possible to preserve all lives involved without making the mistake of valuing one over another
But in a case of an at-risk pregnancy, I don’t actually think this would actually be much of a problem. Maybe this is my lack of medical knowledge coming in again, but how often is an abortion really the only (let alone best) way to save the mother’s life? Won’t the body naturally go into labor, or even naturally abort? If this is the case, then most of the times when the baby threatens the life of the mother, it’s during or just prior to labor. Wouldn’t induced premature labor or a c-section be a suitable alternative to an abortion? That **is** what those practices are: an attempt to save the lives of *both* the mother *and* the child. It seems to me that making room for abortion “to save the life of the mother” is actually a cheap attempt to avoid more difficult procedures to save both.