Thursday, October 24, 2013

A New Front in the Abortion War

1. A New Front in the Abortion War. (2013 October 19) The Atlantic.

2. Category of problem: Abortion, Healthcare

3. Level of problem: State level, and increasingly national level

4. The article concerns: A law recently passed in Arkansas banning abortion after 20 weeks of conception (a law which was also passed in Texas over the summer, and which is being increasingly instated among increasingly more jurisdictions across the US).

5. Why this is important: The law means that mothers carrying pregnancies longer than exactly 20 weeks will no longer have the option of abortion, a doctors who perform abortions beyond the 20 week deadline are subject to a felony conviction. The law also creates precedence for further reducing the option/availability of abortion procedures in Arkansas (as well as other states) and underlines the increasing trend of anti-abortion state legislation which the article refers to as, "the Abortion War."

6. My views on this issue/policy: I do not agree with Arkansas' new law, which happens to be the earliest instated deadline at which abortion becomes illegal in the US. I feel that (1) the primary reason for the law is unfounded, and (2) the law can impose undue hardship on mothers, as described in the article.

After further reading, it appears that this law leverages on the premise that the fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks. However this is based on one highly disputed University of Tennessee study which argued that because a fetus can feel stress and respond to stimuli at 20 weeks, it holds to be that the fetus must also have the ability to feel pain. However, the majority of professionals in the field say that the neurological connection necessary to feel pain does not exist in the fetus until roughly 24 weeks at the earliest.

Further, the idea that the infliction of pain is the leveraging point of morality (i.e., that abortion is only immoral if the fetus can feel pain) is a twisted logical fallacy. Whether a victim (as it were) actually feels physical pain from an act (violent or otherwise) has never been a very important factor in determining the ethical standing of an act - by this I mean, if you stab and kill someone and they don't feel pain, this does not mean you were acting ethically in stabbing them. Though I am a proponent of abortion rights, it stands to reason why abortion opponents think abortion is suddenly moral because the fetus can't feel pain.

Additionally, the law creates undue hardship for mothers in situations similar to Abby's described in the article, AKA finding out that a child won't live to term after a pregnancy has exceeded twenty weeks. Had the law been in place earlier, Abby would have had to carry her child until its inevitable stillbirth. This kind of situation, and similar situations, are hardly rare and will be deeply strained by Arkansas' new law. It's also important to note that if a fetus can in fact feel pain after 20 weeks of conception, then wouldn't Abby's fetus have been suffering until it's death? And if pain is the deciding factor in morality, as illustrated by the law, how then can continuing the pregnancy be ethical?

No comments:

Post a Comment