Abortion and Morality

LeoCasey at aol.com LeoCasey at aol.com
Sat Aug 12 15:18:23 MDT 1995

Lisa --
If we ignore what is becoming a tired and uninteresting back and forth with
Jim posing as a persecuted white male, I think there is a possibility to
think together here, and for all of us to come out of it with a better
understanding of these issues.

I tried in my last posting to show how deciding that an action is not immoral
involves a form of moral judgment, and why, based on medical ethics, issues
involving the definition and boundaries of human life are inherently moral
issues. I do not think at all -- and if I read John and Matt correctly, they
do not think -- that you are somehow immoral. To the contrary, I think you
are employing tacit moral judgments. To paraphrase Gramsci, "every person
does not have the function of a moral philosopher, but every person engages
in moral philosophy." The point of the exchange was to make what is tacit
explicit. (I would really be interested to hear why you think that my analogy
between rejecting moralism in sexual relationships and moralism in
reproductive freedom does not hold, and why both do not involve forms of
moral judgment.)

I think that there is an error in pro-choice argument of sometimes trying to
prove too much. For example, I think it is overreaching, and gets one into
hot water, to say that an abortion can never be immoral. When a couple uses
abortion as a form of sex selection to abort a fetus with a particular sex --
which we know will be female 99 times out of 100 -- that is immoral, in my
view. God help us if they ever discover a gay/lesbian gene! (As a social
constructionist, I don't worry about that too much.) The point to be made is
not that the exercise of a right can not be immoral, but that the misuse of a
right by some people is hardly grounds for criminalizing the activity for all
people. People marry for money, something many of us would also consider
immoral, but no one suggests that the solution is to criminalize marriage.
Moreover, there is no way to determine with certainty the motive or intention
of a person who wants to use abortion for sex selection, and thus, no way in
law to separate that immoral activity from the exercise of the right more
generally. (However, if an individual doctor or nurse becomes aware that a
patient was using abortion for sex selection, she/he has a moral obligation
to remove themselves from the process.) Thus, if one confronts the argument
that abortions can be immoral head on, rather than denying that possibility,
a stronger pro-choice argument can be made.


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