I wish a robot would get elected president. That way, when he came to town, we could all take a shot at him and not feel too bad. –Jack Handey
Question #2068 posted on 12/19/2003 12:38 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

This is mostly directed at Thor for his December 10th post about the apparent legal contradiction between a woman having an abortion and her losing the fetus when a psychotic killer beats her to death. Although I can see what Thor is trying to get at, his argument was poorly framed because it failed to address a little issue called CONSENT. A woman who has an abortion consents to the doctor's physical intrusion on her body, whereas a woman who is beat to death and loses her baby has hardly consented to the action. In American society, where we so highly value autonomy, consent probably counts for something. The real, and much more interesting, issue is whether a woman's consent justifies ending the life of her unborn child.

While I am in no way advocating a woman's right to abort her child, I could not let Thor's argument go uncontested.


A: Dear D-funk,

Okay, so I'm not Thor. Point taken, though. Consent is such a big thing in the good old U.S. of A. And that is the question--does a woman's consent justify ending an unborn child's life.

Good thing we can get around ticky little moral issues like that by arguing that maybe the baby wasn't technically alive yet.

With a little bit of relativism, we can all rationalize our way to a very hot place in the eternities.

--Cucumber squared, who *loves* rationalizers and relativists, and just might be frustrated about something completely unrelated to abortion
A: Dear D,
Point taken. Allow me to amend my hypothetical situation so as to make my argument a little more airtight. Let's say a woman wants to abort her baby, so she "CONSENTS" to having her boyfriend repeatedly punch her in the stomach until the baby is killed, and she has a miscarriage. Do they wind up in a courtroom explaining it to a judge? You better believe it. Now what if the "boyfriend" had a certificate hanging on his wall with the letters "M.D." printed thereon. Let's say instead of his fists, he used a scalpel and a drill. This makes the identical act perfectly justified. Now let's address the aforementioned issue of "CONSENT." The "consent" to which you made reference, was the mother's. My argument is that the mother's consent to her child's murder is completely irrelevant in a court of law (in every case but abortion (hence the contradiction)). Unless the child signs on the dotted line saying he/she wants to be killed, no one else (including the mother) has the legal right to consent to said homicide. Imagine a mother telling someone she's sick of her bratty 3 year old daughter, so she "consents" to having her killed. Now allow me to bring my argument back full circle. Scott Peterson (like anyone else who kills a woman and her unborn child) faces two charges of murder. He killed one woman, and one unborn baby. The unborn child in this case is considered enough of a person to cause the individual who ended it's life, to face up to 100 years in prison. There is indeed a contradiction here. The law fully protects the rights of a child to live, whether it be a 3 year old whose mother wants her gone, or an unborn child whose mother died with it. In both these cases, the snuffing out of a child's life is punishable by law. Pro-Abortion laws are a blatant contradiction to other laws concerning the rights of a child. I appreciate your bringing to my attention the weaknesses in my argument. I think the worst thing we can do if we want to fight something we consider immoral, is to merely whine and loudly voice our opinion, without justifying it with strong, cohesive reasoning.