Center for Ethics and Leadership

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Abortion Again. This Time with Euthanasia and Same-Sex Marriage

Let's see . . . California banned same-sex marriage . . . In Colorado a proposal to define a human being as a person under law from the time of conception failed . . . Washington approved a referendum to allow physician-assisted suicide . . . and a law to outlaw abortion in North Dakota failed. I'm missing something here. America agrees to kill a living, genetically human organism (you can decide when to call it a person) at any stage during its life, including when it decides it no longer wants to live (and never mind the extraordinary ethical questions surrounding the genuine freedom and voluntariness of that choice), but committed partners' relationship cannot be formally recognized. The discussion of abortion and euthanasia centers on autonomy one way or another, but isn't that what marriage is, a choice? So the dissonance I perceive cannot be about choice. . . . I give up. Laws are passed to protect society; gay men and lesbian women apparently threaten society more than abortion and euthanasia. Can someone explain this conundrum to me?


  • I think I can actually help you here. One answer is fear, and the other is that people can ignore what they do not see. Most people won't know if someone has had an abortion. They may read about assisted suicide in a newspaper article, but it is not part of their every day experience. What they can't handle is seeing a gay couple in public or reading a gay marriage license application in the newspaper. What we can hide from we tolerate. What we cannot hide from we try to force underground and from our consciousness. We want to keep ourselves safe from what we cannot understand.

    By Anonymous hlk, At November 11, 2008 6:00 PM  

  • I have reflected on the issues brought up in the original posting over the course of the last week. One would have thought that the electorate would have leaned in the same direction on all measures. The fact that anti-abortion measures fail while assisted suicides passes and anti-gay/lesbian issues pass speak is curious. Certainly it cannot be contributed to a shift towards the right, but neither can they be attributed as a shift towards the left either. It seems that the values issues might be more complicated, and it seems to be no more religiously based that grounded in a spirit of strict individualism; the 'in one's face' position is interesting, but anti-abortion factions are both loud and pretty graphic. Quite the quandary...

    By Blogger kobe2, At November 15, 2008 8:00 AM  

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