In 2006 many, myself excluded, thought that the voters in South Dakota had put the idea of banning abortions to bed. At the time, many thought that the voters had spoken and we could now move on to working on other issues facing our residents like teacher pay etc. Fast forward to 2008 and we are again facing another attempt at banning abortions (funny that teacher pay thing still hasn’t been addressed) and this time even some pro-life groups aren’t happy with the rape/incest exceptions placed on the latest attempt.
Colorado on the other hand is shifting the focus of the debate. Instead of attacking abortion directly, they are looking to legislate when life begins with their Human Life Amendment. If you think about it, determining when human life begins would end the debate instantly. It moves the abortion question away from a woman’s choice argument, once the fetus reaches the legal definition, and gives it the same rights as a child that has been born. It would also re-affirm the woman’s choice argument for pregnancies that haven’t reached the legal determination giving them the opportunity to have the procedure if they choose to do so.
Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? On the surface it does until you look a bit deeper into the Colorado amendment. As with many issues of this type, unquestioned beliefs, not science is used when they define personhood as a fertilized egg. This not only effectively outlaws all abortions, it also makes almost all after the fact contraception illegal. Quite the end around isn’t it? (Why didn’t Leslie or Roger come up with this?)
Personally, I think we as a country could end the abortion debate with one determination. The Colorado amendment has the right idea but not the proper research. Why can’t the same science that can cure diseases that only a generation ago used to kill us, be used to scientifically determine when life begins using similar milestones that are used for removing life support?
Once science does that we can finally put the abortion debate to bed. Then we can instead shift the debate to the science used which will surely follow. And as we all know, debating the results of scientific research is something that many of these same groups have plenty of practice doing.
UPDATE: First off thanks to Jon Schaff over at South Dakota Politics for linking to and adding his thoughts and his solution to this question. In this case though, I think Mr Schaff missed the purpose of my post.
While I believe that scientifically determining when life begins could end the abortion debate, the science that would go into making that determination would never be accepted by many (unless of course it fits their beliefs). To these folks science never trumps their belief system no matter what the evidence to the contrary might be. In other words, the debate isn’t really a debate to those most passionate on both sides, compromise no matter what might be determined, isn’t possible.
Colorado’s Human Life Amendment is an example of that as is Rebecca Kissling’s Facebook group’s opposition to the latest South Dakota ballot issue that PP mentions in his post that I linked to above.