November 03, 2006

Should elective abortion be illegal? Part 4

With part four of this summary, I come to the closing statements in last Monday's debate between Jojo Ruba and two pro-choice advocates on the above question. Without further ado, therefore, here they are. This time, Tracy and Jeannette went first.

Closing statements (9 minutes)

Tracy: Elective abortion is assured by the Charter, and it should not be made illegal. Making abortion illegal does not reduce abortions, it just compromises their safety and devalues women. Elective abortions are about choice.

Jeannette: The Charter protects the right of women to choose. In other parts of the world, there is no such right: for example, in China, where a one-child policy is mandated and abortions are enforced.

Abortions to select the sex of one's child does not respect life. However, the lack of reproductive choice is just as abhorrent. We are all vulnerable; that is why elective abortion must remain legal.

Jojo: The issue of legality hinges on the question of human personhood.

My opponents have said that if abortion is illegal, it is unsafe. Not so, according to Alan Guttmacher, who writes that the risk of abortion is severely mitigated by advances in modern medicine, such as antibiotics.

My opponents have argued that abortion should be safe and legalm, but whom is it safe for? They have argued that it should be legal on grounds of human rights, but for which humans? All humans deserve rights. That is why the question of humanity is so important. I have presented good reasons to respect the right to life for the unborn, bu the other side has presented nothing but legalities. We must understand what the unborn are, before we can resolve the question of whether we may electively abort them.

This debate is not about opinions, it's about truth. Which side is making the most sense? It is important to know what is true, because from there we can know what is right.


I have little to add to this: closing statements are summaries of everything that have gone before (and technically are not supposed to introduce new material anyway), and these two statements certainly are the remainder of the debate in condensed form.

This was not the first time that Jojo cited Guttmacher. He had a copy of Guttmacher's book Birth Control and Love which he read from earlier as well, to show that a former president of Planned Parenthood affirmed that human life began when sperm met ovum. (While I had my head down at the time, I've been told that Tracy and Jeannette did a double-take at his turning their own guns on them.) Here, however, Jojo cites Guttmacher in refutation of the oft-repeated pro-choice myth of thousands of women dying of botched illegal coat-hanger abortions performed by back-alley butchers.

In fact, the vast majority of illegal abortions were performed on the QT by licenced physicians in their offices. In the years immediately prior to Roe v. Wade, deaths due to botched abortion could be counted in the dozens. While any meaningless death is a tragedy, it was not because abortion was illegal that these women died. After Roe, the same "back-alley butchers" just transferred their services to the front door.

In addition, National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) co-founder Bernard Nathanson, who performed thousands of abortions (illegal and legal) before becoming pro-life, writes in his books Aborting America and The Hand of God that when he was a NARAL activist, he knew full well that thousands of botched-abortion deaths were a complete fiction. But for lobbying purposes, they were a convenient one.

Jeannette's comments about sex-selection abortions in China sound like they came out of the blue, but that is only because Jojo raised the question during his cross-examination period. Since I don't remember the discussion that ensued and made no notes on it, it has been omitted here.

One final comment about the format: I was under the impression that it was proper for the side that spoke first, not to speak last. The first and last speaker are probably the ones that the audience will remember best, and to occupy both positions would therefore be a major rhetorical advantage. This was an issue that came up during after the Caner/White/Ascol debacle, as well. In my opinion, since Jojo opened the debate, the two women should have closed it.