"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Still More on Akin and "Rareness"

Jonah Goldberg, writing on NRO yesterday:

What’s Akin’s point then? We already knew that abortions stemming from rape are statistically rare. People have been talking about pro-life exceptions for the “rare instances of rape and incest” since Roe v. Wade was decided. But the rareness of such instances doesn’t change the moral questions one iota.

To bring up frequency makes it sound like it’s all a numbers game, which is wholly contrary to the principled pro-life argument. If the argument is that a fetus is an independent being deserving of life, rareness is a red herring. Conversely, if it’s cruel to force a woman to carry a rapist’s child to term, rareness is a red herring.

Agreed.   But let me put this point on "rareness" even more plainly, and perhaps from a different angle.   The reason why abortion is always wrong is precisely because of the quality of rareness.   But I'm not talking about statistical rareness.... that is a red herring, as Goldberg says.   I'm talking about the rareness of the individual person.   The child conceived is absolutely "rare" -- a unique individual human being.   It doesn't matter how that unique individual human being is conceived, whether in a marriage, or out of a marriage, or even in rape.   The innocent child himself or herself is absolutely, perfectly "rare."   And this is not a matter of religion, although this is certainly what my religion teaches.   If you like, it is a matter of science.   We know from the Human Genome Project and genetic science more generally that each person has an utterly specific code of genes that has never happened before and will never happen again.   That specific personhood is encoded in those genes and that personhood, to me anyway, has inherent dignity that must be respected.  If you have more than one child, ask yourself... which of those children could I live without, could I wish had never been born, could I wish read out of the universe?   None.   Frankly, I wish I had more of the little devils, precisely because they are each so rare and unique.

Not sure about this post.   It's either a minor point, or it's the only point that's worth making on this issue.

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