A couple standard-issue policy statements – things 95% of people who opposed, say, Ronald Reagan would support – could be summarized as follows.
1. Abortion is a choice.
2. We should save our natural resources and preserve the bounty and beauty of our planet for the benefit of future generations by reducing or eliminating our ‘carbon footprint’ by making use of alternative forms of energy.
Rephrasing #1: A woman should have the right to ‘terminate her pregnancy’ at any time, including and up until the point the ‘fetus’ is far enough out of the birth canal that its head is within reach of a surgeon’s scalpel or drill bit. (They don’t like that last part – a.k.a., a partial-birth abortion* – being said out loud, but they want the law to allow for that procedure.)
Regarding #2, it follows that 100s of millions of living people in southeast Asia, China and sub-Saharan Africa must starve and do without, say, indoor plumbing for the indefinite future. You see, they have to wait for Al Gore and the scientists of the world to invent a [fill-in-the-blank-renewable-fuel]-burning machine that is as powerful as carbon-emitting, internal combustion, fossil-fuel burning engines of modern-day earth-movers, cranes and trucks. Those bad machines are the only ones we know of today that can build those starving Indonesians or Afghans any schools, roads, abortion clinics, voting booths, internet cafes or water-filtration systems.
If I’m to search for a philosophical basis, a rationale that underpins and supports both of those policy statements, I have to address this riddle along the way:
Why is it that:
(a) after conception and until birth, a human life is dispensable, like the waste product of a pregnant woman’s body;
(b) after birth, one’s life and comforts are subordinate to some future being’s life and comfort;
(c) pre-conception beings comprising future generations are important enough to be the beneficiaries of the sacrifices of a starving Afghan and will enjoy all things that liberals think are noble and worthy, but only after we invent that new, all-powerful alternative fuel engine in Al Gore’s basement?
That philosophy, that idea that life is dispensable and/or a means to others’ comfort, is destructive of the human spirit and demeans our essence and our purpose. It places no value on the here and now, no value on the life of every man as an end unto itself. To endorse this inhumane philosophy of the liberals and progressives, one must posit that men’s lives are but a means to some ill-defined end, a route to some nether land, the ‘way forward’ to some unknowable but better, more ‘fair’ version of society.
I immediately and emphatically reject that philosophy, as it is, as a moral and practical matter, due no consideration beyond hearing it. If a philosophical line of thinking requires me to conclude that my life is of no value except as another person’s means to achieve still another person’s future comfort, I vow to never pursue that line of thinking again. I pledge to do all that I can to steer all men away from such a dismal, dark dead-end.
* From Wikipedia, a description of the partial birth abortion procedure:
“Under the Intact Dilation and Extraction (ID&X) method, the largest part of the fetus (the head) is reduced in diameter to allow vaginal passage. According to the American Medical Association, this procedure has four main elements. First, the cervix is dilated. Second, the fetus is positioned for a footling breech. Third, the fetus is partially pulled out, starting with the feet, as far as the neck. Fourth, the brain and material inside the skull is evacuated, so that a dead but otherwise intact fetus can be delivered via the vagina.
Usually, preliminary procedures are performed over a period of two to three days, to gradually dilate the cervix using laminaria tents (sticks of seaweed which absorb fluid and swell). Sometimes drugs such as pitocin, a synthetic form of oxycotin, are used to induce labor. Once the cervix is sufficiently dilated, the doctor uses an ultrasound and forceps to grasp the fetus’s leg. The fetus is turned to a breech position, if necessary, and the doctor pulls one or both legs out of the cervix, which some refer to as ‘partial birth’ of the fetus. [perhaps it’s referred to that way because that’s a perfectly accurate description.] The doctor subsequently extracts the rest of the fetus, leaving only the head still inside the uterus. An incision is made at the base of the [fetus’s, not the doctor’s or the nurse’s] skull, a blunt dissector (such as a Kelly clamp) is inserted into the incision and opened to widen the opening, and then a suction catheter is inserted into the opening. The brain is suctioned out, which causes the skull to collapse and allows the fetus to pass more easily through the cervix. [thus, easing the pain for the “mom,” we surmise] The placenta is removed and the uterine wall is vacuum aspirated using a cannula.”