Friday, October 21, 2005

Chapter 7: Majority Rule and the Right to Kill

Dr. Lakoff believes Conservatives oppose abortion because “there are two stereo-typical cases where women need abortions: unmarried teenagers who have been having “illicit” sex, and older women who want to delay child rearing to pursue a career. Both of these fly in the face of the Strict Father Model….. Pregnant teenagers have violated the commandments of the strict father” and “Career women challenge the power and authority of the strict father. Both should be punished by bearing the child; neither should be able to avoid the consequences of their actions, which would violate the strict father model’s idea that morality depends on punishment”

Apparently, Dr. Lakoff feels that Childbirth and its attendant responsibilities are a Punishment. Conservatives, contrastingly, don’t believe childbirth is a punishment, as much as it might be a consequence of immoral or irresponsible acts. Conservatives are against abortion, NOT because it allows an immoral or irresponsible person to go unpunished, but because they find killing an unborn child to be immoral. Dr. Lakoff’s use of framing to obscure this point is obtuse in the extreme.  

Dr. Lakoff continues: “in the strict father model, it is the father who decides whether his wife or daughter should have an abortion. As it is the father who controls his daughters’ sexuality, when the daughter takes a lover, then the father loses control. If the father is to maintains control over his family, then the women in the family cannon freely control their own sexual behavior and their own ability to reproduce”

Conservatives believe that women who control their own sexual behavior and act responsibly (ensuring the use of Birth control etc) would not need an abortion, and would understand the risks involved with their actions. As a practical matter, Dr. Lakoff is arguing that women have the right to take another life as part of their sexual self-control.
Conservatives also believe that Parents have a right to be notified and be required to give consent before medical procedures are to be performed on their children, because their children (being children) are not always able to make good decisions on their own. This lack of good judgment in the young can be easily demonstrated by examining how the child became pregnant in the first place. One can only surmise that the Progressive opposition to this is based on some notion that children are no different than adults and should be given all of the rights thereof.

In Dr. Lakoff’s section on talking to conservatives he suggests that if a Conservative brings up abortion, the Progressive should “Raise the issue of military rape treatment. Women Soldiers who are raped (by our own soldiers, in Iraq, or on military bases) and who subsequently get pregnant presently cannot end their pregnancies in a military hospital, because abortions are not permitted there. A Military Rape Treatment Act would allow our raped women soldiers to be treated in military hospitals to end their rape-induced pregnancies. The wedge: if he agrees, he sanctions abortion, in government- supported facilities no-less, where doctors would have to be trained and facilities provided for terminating pregnancies. If he disagrees, he dishonors our women soliders who are putting their lives on the line for him. To the women it is like being raped twice—once by a criminal soldier and once by a self-righteous conservative”

This is a very good argument for why women shouldn’t be in the military or in combat, but it has little to do with the issue at hand. Dr. Lakoff assumes a moral absolutism that simply doesn’t exist. Undoubtedly there are some conservatives so dedicated to the principle of life that they would deny access to an abortion even if the pregnancy were the result of rape or a failure to abort would result in the woman’s death. However, many Conservatives want laws that evaluate the situation and make reasonable trade-offs. These laws would be passed by our elected representatives in accordance with the principles of majority rule. Progressives, however, claim the right to pre-empt such decisions by the people.  For instance, Progressives oppose Partial Birth Abortions (called by Progressives a “Late-Term Abortion”) which involves puncturing the skull of a (very likely viable) fetus in the birth canal and suctioning out its brain. Progressives believe the performance of this act is the in-alienable natural right of the mother.

Dr. Lakoff states that “There are almost no such cases [of partial birth abortion] . Why to Conservatives care so much? Because it’s a Slippery Slope to ending all abortion. It puts out there a frame of abortion as a horrendous Procedure, when most operations ending pregnancy are nothing like this” Ironically, he also has this to say on abortion: “To understand this is not to ignore the real pain and difficulty involved in decisions made by individual women to terminate a pregnancy. For those truly concerned with the lives and health of Children, the decision to end a pregnancy for whatever reason is always painful and anything but simple.”

If abortion isn’t a Horrendous Procedure, and that is a false frame, why is it always painful and difficult to decide to have one? In a letter Dr. Lakoff republished it was suggest liberals respond to anti-abortion conservatives by telling them "if they are anti-abortion, then by all means they should not have one."
The partial birth abortion procedure makes up only 2000-5000 cases of the over 1,000,000 abortions performed in the United States every year. Should society accept 2000-5000 infants dead every year from parental abuse because infanticide makes up only a very small percentage of child abuse cases? Should infanticide be declared a natural inalienable right and a choice because it seldom happens? If someone is against infanticide, should they simply not kill their child? Again, Dr. Lakoff is using framing to obscure the real issue: Should our Society be enabled to restrict access to abortion via a democratic process, or should the society be forced to treat such access as a natural right, because 5 unelected and unaccountable people issued a (unconstitutional) fiat. It is absurd to assert that the Bill of Rights was ratified by the people with the understanding that it granted access to abortion, or that it would have taken 200 years for the court to arrive at that opinion. Dr. Lakoff says abortion is a part of the Progressive value of “Freedom”: “That includes freedom of motherhood—the freedom of a woman to decide whether, when and with whom. It excludes state control of pregnancy”  If this is an example  of the progressive value of freedom, then it again demonstrates that the freedom being valued is that of making decisions for others by depriving them of the democratic decision on how abortion should be handled in their society. One should also note that access or restrictions on abortion have ZERO affect on woman’s capability to decide “whether, when and with whom”, nor would a government ban on abortion affect these decisions, it would merely remove the woman’s ability to escape the consequences of those decisions. Again Dr. Lakoff is using framing to obscure the simple fact that Progressives believe that women have a natural an inalienable right to act irresponsibly and escape the consequences of their actions by taking an innocent life that the majority cannot regulate in any form.



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