Friday, May 14, 2010

Morality vs Individual Liberty

Gallup’s latest poll on abortion attitudes shows that while the number of respondents who identify themselves as “pro life” has increased, the number of respondents who state that abortion is “morally wrong” has remained steady. Ann Althouse:

…We can support individual liberty to do a lot of things that we think are morally wrong — lying to friends, cheating on your spouse, destroying useful possessions instead of giving them to charity, etc. etc. But that insight isn't helpful in explaining the discrepancy Gallup identifies. Although I can see why more people could come to believe that abortion is morally wrong without wanting to deprive women of control of their own bodies, the trend in the polls goes in the opposite direction. The moral opinion is stable, even as more people are saying they are pro-life.
Further in, Althouse identifies herself as a person that believes that abortion is morally wrong but she does not believe that it should be banned or severely restricted. I’ve never quite understood this position.

I’m not certain why anyone would put the taking of an innocent life in to the same category as lying to a friend or cheating on a spouse. Certainly Althouse didn’t mean to say that abortion is the equivalent to tossing a lamp instead of donating it to the Goodwill? And if we support individual liberty does that mean that we can never restrict individual liberty under any circumstances?
We restrict individual liberty. both for good and bad, in order to protect "innocents" in our society all the time.  We don't tell the pedophile, "I find your sexual attraction to young children to be morally repugnant but I will fight to the death to defend your right to schlep the little ones."  Instead, we infringe upon the pedophile's individual liberty in order to protect the child. 
Individual liberty is not an all or nothing deal.  As a society we have to make moral choices and sometimes we have to force those moral choices on others.  Despite my most fervent prayers, abortion is not going away.  Society has settled the issue.  However, I wish people would stop saying that they are morally opposed to abortion but that they support the "right" to abort anyway.  Killing an unborn child is either right or it is wrong.  Don't pretend it is both.


DeanO said...

Great closing comment and I agree with you 100%

Carol said...

DeanO, I get that people disagree with me on abortion. I don't like it but I know that there are people who don't believe that abortion is the taking of an innocent life for no other reason than they can. But it really pisses me off when someone wants to claim the "moral high ground" by saying that they personally believe that abortion is wrong but they will protect a woman's right to take her child's life because they believe in standing up for personal liberty. I believe in personal liberty but not to the point where I am willing to to place it above protecting an innocent human being. We all make choices. Stand behind them 100% or admit that you are not up to making the hard choices.