Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Abortion and pain: Update

I blogged earlier about the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, and expressed regret that many of the Democrats who, by their voting, indicate a concern about the humane treatment of animals nevertheless voted against the Act.  I also suggested that the Act "would seem . . . the kind of non-prohibitory, educational, conscience-raising measure that, it is often suggested by pro-lifers on the political left, pro-life people can and should support."

Over at Crescat Sententia, "Quaker" writes, in response:

I was reminded, reading this post, of the argument that the information which would be required is substantially false and misleading. Now, I haven't read up on the research in question, and it could be that this argument is false (though Prof. Garnett does not attempt to so demonstrate). Yet if that argument is not false, why is it inconsistent with pro-life principles to object to a requirement that doctors provide false information to their patients, even in the area of abortion? To put it slightly differently, it seems to me one could very well argue that bills that are merely tendentious ax-grinding unmoored from the best scientific understanding make it harder, rather than easier, to find common ground on the evils of legal abortions, etc. Which vote, then, is more consistent with being pro-life?

I agree entirely that doctors should not provide, and that law should not require doctors to provide, information to patients that is not true.  And, it is entirely fair for Quaker to note that, in my post, I assumed that the required information was not false.  [UPDATE:  This assumption of mine is, I think, quite justified.  See this response to the claim, to which Quaker linked, that unborn children don't feel pain.]  I also embrace entirely the idea that the discussion (and regulation) of abortion should be informed, to a greater extent than it is now, by our "best scientific understanding[s]."


Garnett, Rick | Permalink

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