Saturday, October 25, 2008
I think it follows from Eduardo"s excellent posts that the citizenry believes that human organisms in the first trimester should be entitled to less protection than babies (if abortion were thought to be murder, women would be prosecuted and abortions for mental health reasons (just as an example) would be uniformly condemned). To be sure, most citizens believe that first trimester abortions raise serious moral issues. Few would maintain that having an abortion is no more morally serious than having a haircut. But most citizens believe that the moral gravity of having an abortion increases with fetal development. They believe that killing the born is murder. And they do not believe that first trimester abortions are acts of murder.
Why would this be the case? I think part of the intuition is that organisms in the first trimester have not developed a central nervous system or a brain. I think most citizens believe that the moral seriousness of killing increases significantly when a human organism has a central nervous system and a brain. Accordingly, most citizens will think that the abortion murder rhetoric is out of place and they will think that the abortion issue (significant as it is) should not be politically privileged over issues such as the killings of civilians in war or allowing children to starve or other issues of significant moral consequence.