Wednesday, December 14, 2016

"Viability" Is Irrelevant to Personhood (and Abortion)

Monroe County (Ford pickup emerging from the womb)

On Tuesday, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed into law a bill that would ban the procedure of abortion at 20 weeks after fertilization. The New York Times says: “The new law makes no exception for rape or incest and, like the heartbeat bill, is part of a dangerous nationwide effort to roll back abortion rights that has gained momentum with Donald Trump’s election.” ("Rolling Back Abortion Rights After Donald Trump's Election")

“Abortion rights” is a euphemism for “kill an inborn person.” The new Ohio law is part of an effort to roll back the right to kill someone.

I and many others are against abortion precisely because we believe the inborn entity is a person, and that all persons have the right to life. To conclude that the inborn entity is a person obviates exceptions for rape or incest. Rape and incest are horrors. But we don’t murder persons who are innocent on account of these conditions.

Unfortunately, the Ohio bill does not go far enough. The conceptus-embryo-fetus will have to make it past 20 weeks to guarantee survival.

“The Supreme Court has ruled that states cannot ban abortion before viability, which most experts put around 24 weeks.” (Ib.) But “viability” is irrelevant if the inborn entity is a person (using, e.g., a substance view of personhood). Viability does not change the nature of the fetus so that a non-person turns into a person. Viability measures medical technology, not one’s personhood or humanity.

The viability criterion seems to be arbitrary, therefore irrelevant to the question of whether the unborn is fully human. The “viability criterion” only tells us when some persons in our culture want to accept the personhood of the unborn. I have no moral obligation to accept someone else's category mistake of defining "person" technologically, rather than philosophically and/or religiously.

“In Ohio there’s “a new sense of outrage” and a growing sense of urgency in fighting for reproductive rights.” There’s another euphemism – “reproductive rights.” Again, this means “the right to kill inborn persons.”
I, and many others in our country, have long had a sense of outrage at the mass slaughter of inborn children. Now, perhaps, the time is coming when this horror will be abolished, and inborn children will have an opportunity to live beginning at conception.

My recent book is Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.