LATE-TERM” ABORTIONS: BEYOND RIGHT AND WRONG? Part Three

By Dave Andrusko

There seems to be an inverse relationship between a growing pro-life sentiment (as measured by many things including polling data) and the willingness of at least some pro-abortion advocates to agree there EVER is a point in fetal development when it is not okay to abort. Put another way, the more people self-identify as pro-life and sound more receptive to the case for life, the more radicalized some pro-abortionists, such as Ann Furedi of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, become.

 

We’ve twice discussed a “Battle of Ideas” festival in London held on October 29 and 30  in which pro-choicer-with-reservations Will Saletan, a writer for Slate, debated Furedi on the question of: ‘Abortion: how late is too late?’” That two-part discussion was made possible when spiked-on.com published Furedi’s opening remarks. Not until today did I know that spiked-on.com had also published an edited transcript of Saletan’s opening comments.

But it gets better (or worse, depending on you see it). Somebody videotaped the debate which you can watch at www.science20.com/cool-links/proabortion_and_antichoice_absolutists_why_they_are_wrong-85447

Somehow as crazed as Furedi’s observations came across in print, it’s nothing compared to the impact of watching her say the same thing—never mind the possibly even worse comments from the audience. Since we’ve discussed this previously at www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/news/2011/12/%E2%80%9Clate-term%E2%80%9D-abortions-beyond-right-and-wrong/ and www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/news/2011/12/any-limitation-on-abortion-ever-the-debate-continues/, let me talk briefly about some important components of the exchange that I did not address before.

Reading Saletan’s transcript, he begins obviously with a vague hope that logic may be allowed to make an appearance. He says,

“The question that was posed to us is: ‘How late is too late for abortion?’ I am going to violate the rules by not answering that question. What I would prefer to do is bring some facts to bear, put some things on the table, and hope that we can have a conversation and that each of you can think about how late might be too late from your point of view.”

Saletan argues (without being exact) that along the fetal developmental curve there comes a point where….I’m not sure what. I don’t think Saletan is saying abortion should be outlawed at any juncture. He just wants abortion absolutists to consider that “even if you have freedom of choice, you don’t have the right to wait and wait and wait to make a decision. You have a moral obligation to make it as expeditiously as you responsibly can.”

But for an audience that was obviously unsympathetic, “separating” two acts: “the choice to have an abortion from the choice as to when you have the abortion”–carried zero weight. Furedi’s response to Saletan’s handout that identified the baby’s development, week by week, says it all.

She said she was “very pleased” he’d done this? Why in the world would she say THAT?

”Because for Will, what this does is indicate that there are firm points at which things morally and practically change in the abortion debate. But for me, what this does is actually illustrate my argument that there isn’t any profound point at which you can say there is a difference between one kind of fetus and another.”

I don’t know Furedi’s position on infanticide. My guess is any opposition you might be able to wrest from her would be a very weak reed to lean on. And the reason is obvious: besides breathing on her own, what developmental breakthrough occurs when the baby leaves the womb? Nothing.

You can watch the entire debate at www.science20.com/cool-links/proabortion_and_antichoice_absolutists_why_they_are_wrong-85447. It will make the hair on your neck stand up and turn your stomach. But it necessary to understand how and why people like Furedi can say “any definition of late abortion is arbitrary and subjective.”

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