I'm not a commenter at Neanderpundit, but I am a semi-regular reader. Some time back, Og wrote an entry that in passing well captures one of the issues I hope to discuss. He wrote:
Beginning with Roe vs Wade, we have institutionalized slaughter of innocents on a scale the likes of which could not be imagined. Something on the order of 57 million abortions have been performed since 1973. More than twenty times the US casualty rates in every war since 1776. More than twice the population of the top 15 cities in America ... If you have faith in a Creator and you meditate on this it becomes clearer and clearer. The lesson of Abraham and Jesus is clear; Only the Creator is empowered to give and thus take human life.Stipulated for the sake of discussion, it is a given that it is both wrong to kill another while also legal to do so sometimes.
I want to posit a circumstance for specific discussion (should anyone actually read this - I'm mostly just putting this down in exposition for later adaptation): since self-defense is an explicit legal concept in US law, to what degree can abortion be justified under that legal construct? If a man does not contribute to the conception of a child/human fetus, he can still find himself legally and financially responsible for the child for at least the first 18 years of his/her's life. Is that man ethically exercising his self-defense rights by facilitating (not a euphemism for "forcing") the newly pregnant woman (presumably his legal spouse) to seek out an abortion? Could this same justification be equally ethically extended to all US taxpayers in the case of an unwed woman becoming pregnant? Given that "self-defense" requires an imminent threat being present, can it be logically asserted that the certainty of legal and financial obligation being inflicted on the man immediately upon the child becoming a legal person is ethically (and ought arguably be legally) equivalent to imminent threat?
I'm well aware of the moral/religious doctrine on these questions, I'm deliberately confining this to the legal issue. When is a person ethically justified to assert his/her rights? What are some of the ethical justifications for denying someone the exercise of those same rights? Specifically, the right of self-defense.
I deliberately choose an extreme example, but I think it relevant to offer my own belief that abortion is justified in US law because US legislators have taken the position (if only by default) that a "person" is one who exists physiologically independent from any other and is at least theoretically able to exercise a human being's rights and responsibilities (vote, pay taxes, etc either directly or by proxy) independently from any other (which absolutely requires a specific exemption for conjoined twins). By that logic, an unborn child cannot meet the legal definition of "person", therefore cannot be subject to the protections the law provides to such.
Again, I'm clear on the moral questions (or clear enough for these purposes); my focus is on the ethical exercise of legal rights and behavior, and the process by which we make these type determinations generally and in particular as regards self-defense.
Update: I have edited my late-night (and quite garbled) prose to make more clear the lack of biological relationship between the man potentially responsible for the welfare of the non-aborted child in US law.