I was watching the third, and final, presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain a little earlier. Among the various topics was abortion, and I just thought I’d put my two cents out there, for people to either use to form their own opinion, or send me hate mail over (By the way, you’ll end up in the spam bin, so don’t bother either way! You’ll just be wasting precious Internet bandwidth, and less importantly, your time).
I have a very “Danish” view on abortion, with a few elements of my own. In Denmark we have what we call “free abortion”, free meaning unrestricted. Until 12 weeks into the pregnancy, it’s the full choice of the woman, if she wants an abortion, no questions asked, she doesn’t even have to cite a reason or rationale for behind decision. After the 12th week, and until the 20th week, she has to get the approval of her her region’s abortion council (In Denmark, a region is an administrative unit). The later in the pregnancy, the stronger the arguments are needed, and they really have to be something extraordinary, not just “I fucked this guy, and I forgot to have an abortion earlier”. Girls who have gotten pregnant before they turned 15 (Which is the age of concent in Denmark), are almost always allowed to have an abortion, until the fetus is concluded to be viable, because the pregnancy was the result of illegal intercourse. In 2005, a 13 year old girl was allowed to have an abortion in the 20th week of the pregnancy, while a 15 year old was denied abortion in the 24th week, because it was presumed that the baby, that late in the pregnancy was viable.
I largely agree with this policy, although some details, such as the point in time, the 12th week, when unrestricted abortion is no longer allowed, I would like to have explained (If you are capable of this, please leave a comment!).
I don’t think human life is somehow “higher” or more special than say a whale or a shark for instance (By the way, people have found beer cans and other crap we dump in the oceans in the stomachs of tiger sharks, they clean up our mess!). And we kill many of those every darn day, some in exceptionally cruel ways, which I think would classify as torture-for-profit, “finning” is a good example, where you catch a shark, cut it’s fins off and throw it back in the ocean to die, solely to get the fins to make a bowl of tasteless soup.
Now, make no mistake, I believe in human rights, and very strongly at that. But I also believe, that the allocation of those human rights are important in the overall picture. I look at it from a timeline perspective. I think relatively unrestricted abortion (Like we have in Denmark), is fine until the point in the timeline of a pregnancy, when the fetus is definitely viable, and able to live independently on it’s own (I am not currently aware of what this point is, scientifically, if you happen to know, please leave a comment, but if you’re a crazy religious nut-job drone, please cut the fucking shit about life beginning at conception!). You often hear about people who were born early, but are completely normal despite that. When a fetus can both in theory, and practice “be born now”, so to speak, I think that’s a fair time to say “OK, now this is a human, who is entitled to human rights, such as the right to life and the right not to be tortured” (This last one I think certain leading people from the Danish Conservative People’s Party disagree with, since the latter wants to extradite detainees to countries that exercise torture. Talk about going over for tea, at the house of George W. Bush!). Before that time, when the fetus wasn’t able to live on it’s own anyway, I think saying to the mother “OK, even though your baby can’t live on it’s own, you are still gonna HAVE to go through with the pregnancy” is a violation of her human rights. To be specific, I think it’s a direct violation of article 4 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which says:
“No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”.
I think you could argue, that saying to a woman that she HAS to go through with a pregnancy, which is a lot of effort on her part, and in many ways “work” as well, whether it being her family saying that or the state, classifies as a form of slavery. I also think that denying a woman abortion, when the fetus is not viable, and not able to live independently on it’s own, is a violation of article 25 of the UDHR which states:
“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”
(Emphasis by underlining is mine.)
Because it takes away the right of the individual, to have an adequate standard for well-being of him- or herself, and a pregnancy could dramatically impact that well-being.
After the point in a pregnancy, where a fetus is viable, and able to live on it’s own, then I think the allocation shifts, and says “OK, this is a human, which is deserving of full human rights”, which would be the right to life, which is specified in article 3 of the UDHR and the right not to be tortured specified by article 5 of the UDHR.