Voting on abortion

When friends and acquaintances express shock and dismay over someone else's actions, I am quick to retort, "Never underestimate a person's capacity for ignorance." I now find myself shocked and dismayed to discover the level of ignorance and callous disregard for life exhibited by a couple from Minnesota.

I doubt there is any topic more provocative and contentious than the issue of abortion. Proponents of both sides of the issue cling to their position insisting that it is a moral absolute. I think everyone agrees that it is a deeply personal decision, and few are inclined to leave the decision in the hands of the government. Everyone... except a couple from Minnesota, apparently.

Their new website, Birth or Not announces, "You can vote and choose whether we abort or keep our unborn child. For the first time, your vote on the topic of abortion can make a difference." There has already been speculation that this website is a hoax, or possibly a pro-life publicity stunt to draw attention (and public ire) to the issue. I caution that we should not rule out the possibility that this couple is seriously seeking advice from the superficial and amoral Facebook generation.

In my Constitution class I teach my students that rights and responsibilites are opposite sides of the same coin. You can't have heads without tails, and you can't have rights without responsibilites. I have a right to carry a gun, but I have a responsibility to make sure nobody is injured by my gun. A man and woman have a right to have children, but they subsequently have a responsibility to feed, shelter, and educate the child. This couple has gone so far as to abdicate the responsibility of deciding whether or not they want to assume the responsibility for a child. My mind boggles. I agree with them on one point, however. They are not qualified to be making this decision for themselves.

Oscar Wilde is quoted as saying, "America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between." Since the definition of "barbarous" is "uncivilized; wild; savage; crude", I suggest that some members of our society have skipped decadence, and have returned to (or remained in) barbarism. Fortunately, we need not count ourselves among the savages. Real men will jump to the rescue when they discover a woman being raped or assaulted. A woman's maternal instict quickly takes control when she discovers a lost child, crying and searching for its mother. Do we, as a society, have a collective responsibility to address this situation, or is this simply a case where personal decisions (no matter how unusual) need to be protected under the umbrella of "individual rights"?

Put yourself in the position of Clarence Darrow or Learned Hand, and give me your best judicial ruling on what (if anything) should be done. I am more interested in your reasoning than your conclusion. Use of the Socratic method is highly encouraged, and extra credit will be given if you cogently reference the Constitution. As an example, this ficticious explanation of whether Hell is endothermic or exothermic would get a perfect score.

[News item: Vote on Whether This Couple Gets an Abortion]

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