The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling requires us all to reexamine alternatives to using abortion as a state’s primary response to unintended pregnancy. A comprehensive social compact solution is such an alternative.
There are two underlying premises to this approach: 1. all human life is precious and, 2. the state has a responsibility to pass laws that reasonably preserve and protect all human life.
In recognition of that responsibility, a state’s laws must address the circumstance when a woman becomes pregnant but is unwilling or unable to be a parent to her child. In this regard the following services should be made available:
- Upon learning that she is pregnant, a woman wishing to access social, mental and/or physical health counseling, should be provided access to same, at no cost to her, to help her decide if she is able or willing to be a parent for her
- Should a pregnant woman decide she does not want to assume parenting responsibilities, she should apply to the state to enter into the following social compact. In exchange for responsibly carrying and giving birth to her child, the state shall assume all responsibility for medical costs related to the pregnancy, for both her and the child. This responsibility includes providing any post- partum medically related needs. At an appropriate time following childbirth, the state shall assume full responsibility for caring for the child. Furthermore, as part of the compact, the state shall ensure a continuity of income for the mother during her pregnancy in the event her pregnancy makes her unable to work.
After the child is born, the state’s laws should establish free adoption services to transfer care for the child to a responsible parent or parents. In the event this approach is not successful, the state shall provide continuing child care through its existing, or improved, foster care and orphan care programs.
A responsible legislature, in addition to resolving the unintended pregnancy circumstance, will adopt laws designed to reduce the likelihood of that circumstance arising. In this regard, at an appropriate age, all citizens, at no cost, will be educated about human reproduction. This duty to educate includes all people seeking citizenship, as well.
Any state resident who intends to engage in sexual intercourse, but not for the purpose of reproduction, shall be provided with free access to medical counseling regarding contraception and shall be provided with the chosen method(s) of contraception, at no cost.
Finally, a complete and comprehensive legislative solution requires us to address two special circumstances of unintended pregnancy. When a mother’s life would be in jeopardy if her pregnant condition continued, appropriate medical intervention to preserve the mother’s life shall be provided, at no cost. Also, consistent with the obligation to protect and preserve, when a pregnancy is caused by rape, including incest, immediate medical intervention to terminate the pregnancy shall be provided to the victim, as well as the provision of all remedial medical and therapeutic services, at no cost.
Rationale: By way of further explanation, I suggest we avoid categorization of the dialogue concerning unintended pregnancy using political groupings of “pro-life” or “pro- choice.” Identifying and focusing upon the underlying premises involved may allow us to think more clearly about the issue.
As an alternative to the two social compact premises: that all human life is precious, and the state is obligated to adopt laws that reasonably preserve and protect it, let’s examine the premises involved that permit an individual to extinguish human life.
We all can agree that a mother cannot end her baby’s life -after delivery. Because life is precious and valued by society, a civilized society is obligated to enact reasonable laws that prohibit an individual from claiming an individual right to extinguish human life – after delivery.
Even among abortion rights advocates, there is no consensus when the perceived individual right to abort ceases prior to delivery. Arbitrary pregnancy time lines that define human life as viable and protected according to a calendar one day, but extinguishable at will prior to that calendar date are, at best, misguided attempts to deal with the premise that all human life is precious.
The substitute underlying premise in support of abortion, as a right, is that human life can be extinguished if it was unintended, up to a point. This confuses the solution with the problem. Because life was created unintentionally it, therefore, justifies ending it intentionally? In some societies, viewed as less advanced than our own, vengeance and revenge have conferred upon an individual the right to end another person’s life. In the United States today, such a right is not recognized or tolerated anywhere.
In its decision, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that the U.S. Constitution does not confer upon an individual the right to an abortion. Societies evolve. Laws that allow abortion in dire circumstances concerning the mother’s health, and in cases of rape and incest, are consistent with both underlying premises of the social compact solution.
The premise that an individual is entitled to end human life, up to a point, because it was unintended, combined with a state’s obligation to enact laws that attempt to define the point when that right ends, using a calendar, should not continue to be the basis of an enlightened governmental solution.
All human life is precious. The social compact approach based upon that premise, comprehensively addresses the entire problem of unintended pregnancy and, as part of its second premise, replaces an imperfect, arbitrary, man-made time line with an irrefutable law of nature – life begins at conception and ends at death. Societies evolve.
Bill Connon lives in Canton.