Previously, I discussed how it is inherently possible for people of two differing ideologies to draw their conclusions from the same principles. Looking at the principles of conservatism I discussed:
1.) Belief in a limited government which is contracted with its citizens to minimally interfere in their lives and to defend them from harm.
2.) Belief in a specific moral order that grants us both rights and responsibilities
3.) Belief in a system of values which enable individuals to best maintain their rights. This system includes hard work and family as a cornerstone.
One can understand how it is possible to have conservatives who end up with drastically different opinions, if they believe that one or two principles are far more important than others. This is how we end up seeing some social conservatives who push for big government populism, fiscal conservatives who are pro-choice, and every other combination of issues that could be imagined.
However, what we inevitably end up with in any attempt to discuss social issues are arguments from different camps. We can only ever view issues from our own positions on policy, with reason and pragmatism getting lost as a result. Where we find ourselves unable to agree, we must instead look to principles to find common ground. Therefore, I will attempt to approach the social issues from a position of principles, rather than my own view on the policy, in an attempt to find common ground.
Abortion is always the most hot-button issue, so I hope to not alienate anyone in this initial discussion. The most extreme pro-life view dictates that abortion is always morally wrong, and that the government is participating in murder by allowing it. The most extreme pro-choice view is that abortion should be allowable up until the moment the baby takes a breath, and that it is not alive until it is completely independent from the mother. As with any position at the margins, both of these views can be seen as flawed. I will not discuss the flaws, but will instead point out that both views attempt to analyze the topic narrowly, without looking at the bigger picture.
If we outlaw abortion, we will not stop it from happening. We will have only criminalized it. Rather than actually fixing the problem, we will have simply washed our hands of it. Our consciences will be free, knowing we have made it illegal, but we still see it occurring. Conversely, if we allow partial* or live birth abortions, we will be simply allowing the death of a child who, on its own, would have likely been capable of surviving. If the purpose of abortion is supposed to be to save someone the cost of carrying a child, or the stigma of being pregnant, what reason is there to legalize techniques that require women to carry a child almost to term?
There is no simple solution. What gets lost in the debate is the real question: why do abortions occur? Is there a specific demographic that sees higher abortion rates than others? Is it due to socioeconomic status? Age? In those groups, is it due to lack of education? I recall a news report of teens some time ago who were using Mountain Dew as a contraceptive. Surely this can only be viewed as a failure of parents and the educational system.
Since it is always easier to say that one is for something or against something, this is the where we end up in our political discourse. But being simply pro-life or pro-choice is a false dilemma, and ignores other options for combating the problem. It should be in this regard that we attempt to solve the issue, rather than finding ourselves in a perpetual stalemate.
I am confident that a practical application of our principles could solve the problem. But the question is: who has the political courage to propose such applications of principle?
Next post, I will discuss gay marriage, provided there is the desire to see it.
*I maintain that I am pro-choice, but not to the point where I agree with this terribly sickening practice.