Earlier this week, I answered a set of "tough questions" posed to advocates of reproductive choice. Well, turnabout is fair play.
Although millions of religious people want abortion to be outlawed, they're surprisingly vague on the details. What exactly would their ideal society look like? How would they write the law and how would violators be punished? These are plainly important and relevant questions that I've never seen anti-choicers address in a clear and comprehensive way.
To help them clarify their vision, here's a set of questions that would allow us all to better evaluate whether the anti-abortion movement would have good or bad consequences for women, for men, and for society as a whole. As I've done in the past, I'll add links from this post to any opponent of abortion who answers these questions.
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- Biological evidence suggests that a large number, if not a majority, of fertilized eggs are spontaneously aborted at a very early stage of pregnancy (by some estimates, as many as 50%). Do you consider this an ongoing humanitarian crisis that urgently needs medical research?
- If you could write the law however you saw fit, how would you enforce a ban on abortion? For example, in El Salvador, when women come to hospitals seeking treatment for a miscarriage, they can be detained until a forensic vagina investigator can arrive and perform an exam to see if they had an illegal abortion. Would you have something like this? If not, what enforcement mechanism would you have?
- Why do you think it is that so many proposed abortion bans have no exception for the woman's life or health? (For example, anti-abortion laws with no health exceptions exist in Chile, Honduras, Suriname and El Salvador. Even in the U.S., similar bans have been passed by Republican legislatures in Indiana and South Dakota.) Do you think there should be such an exception?
- Would you permit exceptions to an abortion ban in the case of rape? If so, how would this work? For a pregnant woman to get an abortion, would she have to accuse a specific person of the crime, and would he have to be tracked down, arrested, charged, put on trial and convicted, all before the point of fetal viability?
- What do you think the penalty should be for doctors who perform abortion?
- What do you think the penalty should be for women who seek out an abortion?
- If your answers to the last two questions are different, why are they different?
- Since IVF clinics also create and discard fertilized embryos, would you also be in favor of outlawing IVF?
- Since abortion has been legal in the United States for decades and doesn't seem to be on the verge of being outlawed, do you think it would be a good idea, as a fallback, to make effective contraception more widely available so that there are fewer unwanted pregnancies and less need for abortion? If not, why not?
- If you would, address this purely hypothetical situation: There's a five-alarm fire at a fertility clinic, and you're the first firefighter to enter the building. On one side of the building, there's a petri dish with half a dozen frozen embryos. On the other side, there's a cowering five-year-old girl. You only have time to save one. Which would you choose and why?
- Bonus question for evangelical Christians: Until the late 1970s, many prominent evangelicals were pro-choice. Clearly, opinions on this matter have changed very dramatically in a relatively short amount of time. What do you think accounts for this?
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