WaPo Rebuttal: Aborting Down Babies Should be Legal

Recently an article was written in the Washington Post concerning the immorality of aborting fetuses with Down Syndrome that, likewise, contained a paragraph concerning the legality of aborting a fetus with a genetic abnormality:

[aborting fetuses with deformaties] should stop, yet I categorically oppose any bills that force people to keep Down syndrome babies. I find it reprehensible and morally dangerous that our governments would pretend to know best what choice parents should make. I oppose abortion, but I believe the state must stay out of that choice.

This is a typical libertarian point of view that landed internet pundit Tomi Lahren in hot water with her conservative base in 2017. It is the belief that the government, when it comes to the topic of abortion, should side with freedom of choice for the mother over life for the child. Ron Paul, a famous libertarian, and detractor of the before-mentioned tenet, once rebutted, “If you can’t protect life then how can you protect liberty?” Paul’s argument could be solid if properly extrapolated and compared to the role of a government to begin with (should government take priority in protecting the life of those within its boarders prior to the liberty of those within its boarders?)

Editor’s Note: This is a Rebuttal to Tim J McGuire’s article written for washingtonpost.com titled, “Aborting Fetuses with Down Syndrome Should be Legal. But it’s still wrong. ”
Op-Ed Note: This Rebuttal is missing an Op-Ed. If you would like to write one to be published on worldslastnight.com, please let us know in the comments.

It is not the best philosophical route to take when rebutting the Libertarian position on abortion though. The real question to put before the State in this circumstance is whether or not it should grant a citizen the right to end the life of another person without just cause. Most frameworks for morality allot justified reasons for taking life. Most allow for the government to dole out capital punishment for a capital crime such as murder. Many allow for the taking of life in self defense or in war. Typically, though, guilt must be attributed to the one whom life is taken from.  In other words, they must commit an act which forfeits their life.

When we examine abortion we find no such guilt.  In fact, an argument could be made that the fetus possesses the greatest amount of innocence among us based on its lack of ability to err. Whether the child has Down Syndrome or not has no bearing on its guilt.  So when McGuire says the State must stay out of the abortion choice, we must ask him ‘why?’ Has he truly delved into the philosophy he is espousing – one in which citizens are granted the right to end the life of another person without just cause? What moral framework does such an act pass muster in?

There is one caveat here if the author will concede the previous point.  That caveat is the fact an argument could be made that a fetus which has threatened the life of its mother may in fact be put to death in self defense within this framework. Guilt of intent would be impossible to prove, for what baby would intend on killing the one who provides it with warmth, protection, and food.  Yet unintended guilt, such as a precursor to manslaughter, could be attributed to the fetus which inadvertently has grown improperly and has put its mother at sure risk of death. Since the baby would be in the act too, there would be reason to assume the position of self defense and perhaps an abortion would be justified for the state to allow. The mother faced with such a choice could hardly be faulted for electing the abortion, but would certainly be honored for an eternity by electing to try to save her child at the risk of her own life.

The original idea espoused, though, that the State should simply stay out of it, has no justification. It lacks any reasoning as to why the State should do so given the fact it acts as an arbiter between humans living within its borders, and lives are at stake.

Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

Written by James Thayer