It’s such an intriguing notion that we, psychologically, are willing to protect an idea, a fetus, a baby that has no understanding of nor immediate importance to the world. And sometimes it’s not even an urge to protect, but a perceived duty to advocate for such a sign of life. It’s also interesting how gender plays into these beliefs; Jack Skinner was originally ordered to have a vasectomy as a consequence for being a habitual criminal, while Norma McCorvey wasn’t permitted by the state of Texas to have an abortion when she was allegedly gang raped. A man could be sentenced to sterilization, while a woman wasn’t allowed to terminate one pregnancy? As Mr. Doggett led us to realize, the first set of laws that regulated abortions were perhaps established because men felt threatened by women making decisions for themselves. A woman’s historical role in society has been the stay-at-home caretaker of the family, however if there aren’t any children to manage, then what’s to stop her from wanting to pursue a career, wanting to become more independent? This concern about what women do with their lives and, perhaps more contentiously, their bodies is an ongoing theme that is at the center of politics today. No one was worried about Skinner’s lost sperm, but McCorvey losing an equally undistinguished fetus sparked a major debate. The fight for a woman’s right to actively make her own existence continues not only against male lawmakers and judges, but also her own baby.
Both Mr. Doggett’s presentation and the assigned reading led me to firmly believe that there are two “teams” to any abortion discussion: the mother’s life vs. the child’s life. Justice Blackmun clearly emphasized the greater significance of the woman’s life; in the conclusion of Roe v. Wade he stressed that “states must allow abortions when necessary to save a woman’s life or to protect her health” no matter how pregnant she is. This view greatly differs from the Federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act as there is no “explicit exception” in the statute to allow partial-birth abortions even “in cases in which a woman’s health is in danger.” These examples illustrate the fundamental disagreement about abortion—should the mother’s health be the priority, or should the fetus’s? In the last segment of the reading the theory of “fetal pain” is mentioned, and on the same page “scientific evidence” both supports and negates the theory. This kind of contradicting information is prolific when researching the specifics of abortion, but in a broader sense the conversation can always return to whose life should be favored.