Abortion Laws: Will We Ever Agree On the Moment of Conception?

The debate about when life begins continues to fuel the right-to-life rhetoric. In reality though, the answer to this question doesn’t matter unless you’re trying to shame someone who feels a need to seek an abortion. A typical comment from that crowd was made this past Sunday by Texas Governor Rick Perry. When asked by a Fox News Sunday commentator about the Texas legislature pursuing a law that would come close to a total ban on abortion, Perry said, “Every life matters.” Who can quarrel with that sentiment?

Apparently Rick Perry can, because just 12 days earlier he was celebrating Texas’ 500th execution. So life matters until it doesn’t matter to Rick Perry. The defense, of course, would be that an unborn child is an innocent. Since the advent of DNA testing, I doubt there are many who would disagree that Texas has likely executed some innocents in the past, so the saving of innocents doesn’t really seem to carry much weight for Perry.

It is my belief that abortion is a horrible way to practice birth control. I cringe at the thought of someone using it in that way. The abortion debate should not be about that segment of the population, though. It should be about, as Rick Perry says, the fact that every life matters. The life of a 13-year-old girl who has been molested by a relative matters, and the life of a 20-year-old woman who has been raped matters, and the life of a woman who is trapped in an abusive relationship matters. And what matters most of all is that a woman should be in charge of the decisions that affect her own body.

Men who think they should be able to make those choices for women ought simply to back the hell off. It doesn’t matter if you’re a husband or a legislator, you have no right to impose your will on the bodies of women. The people behind these horrible laws have no concept of the agony a woman goes through in making a choice to terminate a pregnancy, before and after the fact. I’m not suggesting that I do either, but I know with certainty that I have no right to interfere in a woman’s choice in this regard any more than I do in any other health decision she makes about her life.

The consistent basis for wanting to force women to deliver all pregnancies to term is the Bible, or God, or some other moral ground which stems from religion. This country was founded by people who chose to fight for freedom from a government that felt it could dictate religious dogma. Rick Perry and others of his ilk are doing precisely what the King of England was doing in the days prior to July 4, 1776. When are we going to grow up and recognize the danger of allowing religion to worm its way into our laws? The moment life begins is irrelevant if we are willing to sacrifice the life of another in order to honor it.