In a comment, a guest of this blog said that he did not think that abortion-choicers (the new fangled term that Scott has been using) are generally relativists. Well, I have heard many people elsewhere doubt the existence or the prevalence of relativism, so I wanted to briefly discuss it in light of the question of the value of life.
We assert that objective moral values exist and are true for all people at all times regardless of circumstances. Furthermore we assert that one of those values is that it is prima facie wrong to kill any member of the human community. In this argument then, if the unborn are members of the human community then it is prima facie wrong to kill them through abortion. Every scenario that must be evaluated where a mother wishes to get an abortion begins under the assumption that outside of extraordinary circumstances it is immoral for her to do so.
Now let’s look at what we have described as the relativist position. If anyone wishes to argue that the abortion-choicer simply adheres to a different moral position than the absolutist then they are correct. As long as by different they are conceding that the abortion-choicer denies that a moral value is inherently present in human life and that they assert circumstances dictate the value of that life. Now lets also concede here that the average choicer on the street in not a Peter Singer utilitarian that is actually arguing that human life becomes a person of value at the moment it is a self-conscious being. How does the assigning of value functionally work in the issue of abortion for most people? It is entirely the preference of the mother that determines the value of the child.
You may cry foul here and argue that some women can not afford to have children. It is not the financial circumstances that determine whether the life has value in this question though, because plenty of people that can not afford to have children do in fact have them all of the time. I have seen only one very radical choicer argue that poor babies are by nature unfit to live. If poor mothers want to have children should they be forced to abort? Of course not, but then we are conceding that it is not the financial situation but the preference of the mother that determines value.
What about health of the mother? Some women suffer depression, gestational diabetes, extreme nausea, hyper tension, and a whole host of other physical and emotional stresses. Are those reasons for abortions? Absolutely not! Many women who are suffering from health issues choose to push through and deliver their child. The woman who runs our ministry was told that attempting to give birth to her first child may kill her, and she chose to risk her life for the sake of her child. Would any choicers condone a law that forced a woman to have an abortion if her health was at risk? None that I have read. So the mother’s preference is what matters, not the issues of health.
You see, in the functional abortion decision making process the supreme moral standard of value to life is not based on outward circumstances at all. It is based on the preference of each individual woman in question. The current law of the land in the United States protects a woman’s right to have an abortion for any reason she can concoct and she needs only to be able to find a doctor that is willing to destroy her child for her. Not because of poverty, health, physically challenged children, or fear of loss of wages, but simply based on her preference. The value of the life of the unborn is entirely determined by the whims of the women who carry them. If you think it is insensitive to refer to the tortuous decision to abort a child as a whim then tough. When life ceases to matter because today someone has decided that a life is inconvenient but tomorrow they may feel entirely different about a different life in the same circumstances that is whim. That is also relativism plain and simple.