Saturday, December 23, 2006

May, Rebick and potential life

Canadian environmentalist Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada, attracted rebuke from left wing activist Judy Rebick when she said:
“[I]f one group of people say, "A woman has a right to choose", I get queasy, because I'm against abortion. I don't think a woman has a frivolous right to choose. What I don't want is a desperate woman to die in an illegal abortion.”

Unfortunately the criticism was misdirected. She should have been criticized for being unreasonable in her last point. What she said there is analogous to: “I am not for bank robberies, but I think they should be made legal. What I don't want is a desperate man to die in an illegal bank holdup.”
This reasoning is faulty: The decision to rob a bank (or to have an abortion) is risky, is personal and is wrong. No amount of compassion can make it right.

In a reply to Judy Rebick, Mrs. May also states:
“I favour access to safe and legal abortions as an aspect of my respect for life. “
This is like saying: “I favour the exclusion of the Green Party from the leaders’ debate as an aspect of my respect for democracy.”

She continues:
“As we know and your letter notes, otherwise, women will die …there is no doubt about the status of the human lives lost in the period when abortions were illegal. Not potential lives — actual lives were lost. Hundreds, if not thousands, of women died.”
Wrong. Across Canada we had about 4 deaths per year when abortion was illegal, while today we have 40 deaths per year with abortion being legal, due to the sheer number of abortions and consequent number of complications (See Straight thoughts 127, at Are you really concerned about women dying, Mrs. May?

Mrs. May also states:
“The status of a foetus before birth is debatable in terms of when the potential for life crystallizes as human life. “
Mrs. May, you can ask professor Jerome Lejeune, Nobel Prize winner for discovering the gene causing Down syndrome, or you can ask any biologist: The fetus has 46 chromosomes from the moment of conception, thus it is a human being since then. If not human, then what species is it? The adjective “potential” cannot be applied to “life”. The word “potential” implies that something can (Latin poteo) happen or may not happen. For example, a woman’s egg can potentially be fertilized. A human life can potentially be destroyed through abortion. However, human life exists from conception. It can be aborted at any time, but it already exists after conception. Either life is, or is not. It cannot be “potential”.

Mrs. May however, deserves respect when she states: “I think politics must be about democracy and democracy is better when we are capable of respectful dialogue. Now, my recent experience should be an object lesson for me in the political safety zone created by sloganeering and staying far away from nuance or suggestions of moral dilemmas. But I do not want to retreat behind the barricades of slogans.”

1 comment:

Feynman and Coulter's Love Child said...

I've often wondered this, why anybody would care that a woman might die in the act of trying to kill a baby. I mean, its sad and a shame, but really is there much of a "victim" in this circumstance?

As for when a fetus becomes a living creature, just after a sperm fertilizes an egg a small electrical impulse travels across the egg, turning a permeous barrier into an impermeous one. To wit, in the span of 1/100th of a second, these "two" zygotes form a single cell which defends itself against intruders.

Birth, meanwhile, is just a brief passage through a tube. The vagina doesn't have any magical powers: a baby on one side is no different than a baby on the other side. Unless you're a tribal witch doctor. Or Judy Rebick.