Reconciling Pro-Life and Pro-Choice
Recently, an article on the front page of the NY Times examined a society’s identity. “Who do we think we are?” Every society has its own culture. Its members share enough of the same values to establish a workable pattern of everyday living.
Jared Diamond studied isolated tribes in New Guinea “who lived out social experiments others would find utterly unacceptable.” Some tribes went naked while others concealed their genitals and practiced extreme sexual prudery. Others advertised the penis and testes with varying props. Child-rearing practices ranged from extreme permissiveness to extreme repression.
But America is not an isolated tribe! We were cobbled together by immigrants from the four corners of the world. We are the supreme Melting Pot. We have to make room for dissent. We disagree among ourselves on countless matters, from the death penalty to the budget. However, some values are so emotionally charged, so divisive, that they threaten to tear us apart. Such an issue was slavery. Is that true for abortion? Possibly.
Abortion is here to stay. As is sex. It is an issue that every society confronted and will continue to do so throughout time future. We herewith submit a compromise on abortion which, in our judgment, both Pro-Life and Pro-Choice can find acceptible.
We are both physicians. We have practiced medicine some forty years. Politically, we are polar opposites, one on The Right, the other on The Left, one Pro-Life, the other Pro-Choice.
Our compromise consists of one piece of legislation, needing to be passed by Congress and signed into law by The President. We examine the compromise in detail.
LEGISLATIVE COMPROMISE ON ABORTION
The Law of the Land allows abortion during the first four months of a pregnancy. After four months, all abortions are illegal, unless necessary for medical reasons.
Examining the compromise
A pregnant woman contemplating abortion is a full partner with the government. She must make her decision within the four-month window. The proportion of abortions obtained in the first THREE months rose from 20% in the 1970s to 56% in 1998. The four-month window provides adequate time for a decision.
Aesthetic judgments are the foundation of every culture. After four months, Americans are deeply offended by pictures of an older aborted fetus.
Quickening occurs between four and five months. It is the first time a woman registers the presence of her fetus and marks the beginning of an emotional investment in her baby. Her decision regarding abortion will have preceded quickening, allowing for greater objectivity.
America is a pluralistic society. One consents to laws one opposes. Pro-Life has submitted to Rode-Wade for 42 years.
If the Deep Structures of two political positions are incompatible, (We clarify Deep Structures on the basis of metaphysics, biology and aesthetics below.) but do not violate the boundaries of others, Americans live and let live. We saw this recently with same-sex marriage.
A medical abortion is perhaps the safest surgical procedure known. By contrast, when abortion was criminalized between the late 1800s and 1973, tens of millions of women sought and obtained so-called “back-alley” abortions. Tens upon tens of thousands died from complications. In utter agony. A recent study of 10,000 first trimester abortions, nine – we repeat, only nine! – had complications, all minor.
Pro-Life and Pro-Choice
We analyze Pro-Life and Pro-Choice from three points of view: metaphysics, biology, and aesthetics.
We begin with metaphysics. We accept its name; “meta” means beyond, beyond “physics.” Metaphysical “objects” are not accessible to the five senses. Pro-Life believes fertilization results in a qualitative emergent, a human being. Human emerges from biology. A zygote is not a visible human being. It is a metaphysical object. We have no authority to challenge or support this belief, either as the concluding statement of metaphysical reasoning or as an Article of Faith.
Biology. Pro-Choice believes which sperm from a pool of 100 million and which egg from a pool of 400 conjoin is determined stochastically, a random event. Biology operates by blind chance. We have no authority to challenge or support this assertion.
The Deep Structure of Pro-Life is based on metaphysics.
The Deep Structure of Pro-Choice is based on biology.
These two Deep Structures, respectively, are the foundation of the Pro-Life faction and the Pro-Choice faction. They are fundamental to each group’s identity. Challenging them is unrealistic and leads to impasse.
Aesthetics. If we are “to insure domestic tranquillity,” as stated in the Preamble to the Constitution, we must look to aesthetics. Pro-Life and Pro-Choice are not scholars debating epistemology. They are locked in fierce battle. How fierce? Pro-Life claims that since Roe-Wade, Pro-Choice has murdered 55 million babies. Pro-Choice claims Pro-Life disregards the nation’s laws on abortion and rides roughshod over every woman’s right to be in charge of her own body.
“Who do we think we are?” We are the world’s largest Melting Pot. We have held together as a nation for some 230 years – through our capacity to compromise! Compromise is not a Deep Structure. It is not metaphysical. It is not biologic. It is a judgment. It is a personal decision. It’s up to us.
The fundamental compromise, we submit, is to limit abortion to the first four months of pregnancy.
We, the two authors named below, believe that if Pro-Life and Pro-Choice think through the “beauty” of this proposal, they will each find it, as we did, aesthetically doable.
Roland Ahlbrand, M.D. Frederick Kurth, M.D.