A Critique of Steve McIntosh’s “Proposed National Agreement on Abortion,” Part 3


#1

3. Protections of fetal rights

“The ethically evident right of a viable 3rd trimester fetus “to be born” is not protected by federal law. In the 6 states (plus Washington D.C.) which have no gestational limit on abortion, the life of such a sentient fetus can be legally terminated at any time before it is physically separated from its mother at birth….The rights of a viable 3rd trimester fetus are, however, well established in secular ethics."

The reference to an “ethically evident right….” is problematic. One reason “the right of a viable 3rd trimester fetus to be born is not protected by federal law” might be that it is not “ethically evident.” Indeed, there is no philosophical consensus on the question, because whether the fetal baby is a person and therefore entitled to rights is hotly debated in the literature. McIntosh would rather not deal with the ‘personhood’ issue, but it seems impossible to avoid it. Until the issue is settled, there will be a considerable number of modernists and progressives who will reasonably disagree with SM’s “compromise” solution. The Wikipedia page he cites in support of his claim that “The rights of a viable 3rd trimester fetus are, however, well established in secular ethics” contains no mention of a philosophical consensus on the issue. Quite the opposite, in fact. There is even debate among secular ethicists about whether even newborn infants have a right to life.


#2

Who are these Nazis?


#3

Don’t be alarmed. Those philosophers are not advocating killing newborns, and they are fine with legal protections for them. The question is what ethical theory can be invoked to confer a right to life on a newborn and deny it to a fetal baby 8 months in the womb? The classic source on the issue is Peter Singer, Practical Ethics. Check it out.