Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Creating Life and then Crushing It

Consider these positions:
  • Abortion of any fetus with a brain is murder and should be illegal. Life of mother/rape are irrelevant. One doesn't kill one's child because he has a wicked father or because one's life is in danger. Once there is a brain, a person exists; beforehand, no. Although we value human life deeply, abortion of a fetus without a brain is almost as morally unproblematic as the destruction of skin cells by scratching and should be legal. The creation and destruction of fetal stem cells are also morally permissible.
  • Child abandonment should be criminalized. Any biological parent of a child under 15 who knows he or she has such offspring and has done what any reasonable person would consider to be having abandoned the child, has committed child neglect by abandonment. This includes sperm-bank dads and egg-donor moms who fail to parent the child, as well as garden-variety fathers who leave a child behind. (This abandonment holds even if the child doesn't know it because there is a step-parent stand-in who hasn't been divulged as merely a step-parent. Because the probability that the child will discover it is high; it's reckless endangerment by abandonment.) I'm for big-government here because leaving your child is as harmful in many cases as beating him with a baseball bat, which is also criminal behavior.
I hold these positions, to the astonishment of some. Of course, it's easy to be indignant that someone would think the police should have the right to kick in the door of a building where a woman might be having an abortion or a father who has left his son may be dwelling and make an arrest. But if the parent has beaten a three-year-old child with a baseball bat you wouldn't complain about the arrest. In the case of abortion the harm is much more severe (death), and in the case of abandonment, the harm is often more severe (psychological harm, often resulting in a meaningless life of pain or even death.)

UPDATE: Of course psychological harm to adults should not be criminalized. Adults are responsible for being able to withstand humiliation, teasing, excoriation, and other treatments intended to cause psychological harm. Sometimes they fail to meet this responsibility, but that is irrelevant. Children do not have any such responsibility. They are to be protected by the law when their parents fail to protect them.