Thursday, February 09, 2006
Roe v Wade
I beg your indulgences now, before I begin, for I have not the expertise to discuss the finer legal points of this ruling but must instead resort to its medical implications and mammoth symbolic significance. I have stated that although I consider myself to be pro-life, I do not wish for Roe v Wade to be overturned. My reasons for this relate to the relative safety of legal vs illegal abortion and the fact that legal abortion lends itself to tight regulation. Medically, a legal induced abortion in the first trimester is a relatively safe procedure. Many studies have attempted to estimate the relative risk of abortion-related mortality vs pregnancy-related mortality. All of these studies are limited by a tendency to undereport abortion-related deaths and the universally poorer overall health statistics of abortion recipients. Still most of the data indicate the risk of death related to normal pregnancy is at least an order of magnitude higher than the risk of death from legal induced abortion. Other defenses for the safety of legal abortion point to the high mortality rates for abortion prior to Roe v Wade and the persistently high mortality rates for abortion in countries where the procedure is illegal. Of course there are many confounding variables in this type of data which I can list for you, but I merely wanted to present an argument. I will not belabor the gorry details of procedures involved in performing an abortion unless specifically queried. I will submit, however, that Roe v Wade has tremendous psychological importance for a number of women who probably will never have an abortion. There are issues related to women's power and control over their bodies and their lives that make this ruling an important landmark apart from the specific procedure it addresses. Overturning Roe v Wade may send a damaging signal symbolically about how we have come to view women. I will be the first to say that everything within the power of the law should be done to limit the number of abortions that take place and the ease with which they can be obtained. I also firmly believe in the rights of the fetus, but I think pro-lifers may have more effective tools for fighting the battle against abortion than seeking for the upheaval of a ruling that, in the minds of many, is part of the cultural and legal history of this nation.
Posted by Monkey Lung at 4:23 PM