Wednesday, March 08, 2006

About that South Dakota abortion law

"When I was growing up here in the wild west, if a young man got a girl pregnant out of wedlock, they got married, and the whole darned neighborhood was involved in that wedding. I mean, you just didn't allow that sort of thing to happen, you know? I mean, they wanted that child to be brought up in a home with two parents, you know, that whole story. And so I happen to believe that can happen again. ... I don't think we're so far beyond that, that we can't go back to that."

That's the way State Sen. Bill Napoli from Rapid City sees things, according to Molly Ivins' piece. She has a few choice words for the new statute signed into law in South Dakota criminalizing abortion.

I have a few questions myself.

What are the criminal penalties provided for violating the new law? What is a "Class Five Felony"?

How many perpetrators are to be indicted? The doctor, of course, but what about the nurse? The receptionist? The appointments secretary? Sounds a lot like a conspiracy to me.

Yes, and what about the pregnant woman? Is she victim or perpetrator? And if she is a perpetrator, what are her penalties? After all, if she never became pregnant the whole matter would never come to pass. Seems to me that her "decision" is prima facie intent to kill. Absent that, there is no crime.

Actually, pregnancy is not the crime. The crime arises from the decision to end the pregnancy. So does the person making such a decision not have some consequences? Or perhaps being forced to rear and care for the outcome of an unwanted pregnancy becomes penalty enough?

And Dad? Sperm-donor, if you prefer...
How about him? Any penalties for him?

If the new-citizen-to-be is gonna be born instead of aborted, won't the father at least be liable for some kind of child support for a few years?

Come to think of it, if the embryo is a person, and somebody conspires to kill him or her, doesn't that qualify for a charge of manslaughter at least?
Obviously I'm not a lawyer, but as a layman I want to know at what point under this most recent law is there a distinction between abortion and infanticide?

So at what point does a fertilized egg qualify as an infant?

I can see how this is really gonna advance family values and a more refined moral high ground, can't you? Lots of repentance is just around the corner, right?
Onward, Christian soldiers! The Faith is on the move!

C'mon, folks. Where is this headed?
Nathaniel Hawthorn would be having a ball today.

I will be waiting with interest to see where this goes in the courts.


ilona said...

I thinkyou are greatly mistakenin painting this as a "Christian" issue rather than a general ethical one.

It isn't a matter of 'family values'. but one of in what way do we value human life?

I am surprised that you are blinded by your own rhetoric.

As to where it will go in the courts, I predict that it is a premature effort in regulating abortion practice and will likely be aborted.

Perhaps future efforts may be both more considered and successful...because the basic ethical question won't disappear.

Which makes me ask you, what is your own "distinction between abortion and infanticide"? I'd be interested in your articulation of that.

Hoots said...

Maybe my sarcasm was too subtle. My position on abortion os unambiguous: I find the whole idea to be savage, unethical, unjustified, morally reprehensible and profoundly un-Christian. Having said that, however, I also hold fast to the notion that forced behavior is importantly different from chosen behavior.

In my post last weekend in response to an article in (of all places) Foreign Affairs I tried to make clear my reasons. When I first started blogging I tried in a number of posts to point out that the original language of Roe included clear invitations for the states to begin making realistic but enforcable constraints on abortions, leaving alone for the time being the issue of "viability" or the first trimester.

Unfortunately, dogmatic moralism has prevailed in a manner that has completely polarized the debate into an all-or-nothing question which is where the South Dakota law has been (excuse the word) conceived. There may be realistic ways that the tide of abortions might be turned, but I am not hopeful that they will ever be examined as long as the public debate continues in its current extreme form.

Debbie White (one of my little blogroll sites) articulated the issue well when she wrote a post titled "Abortion is the New Prohibition." If the South Dakota statute has any value it will be a public discussion addressing some of the questions that I have sarcastically raised.