Friday, November 04, 2005

Casey: Uterine Control or Just Common Sense?

I posted the following as a comment on another blog. I liked it enough to put it here. Whether that makes me vain or lazy, I don't know.

In one sense, it’s admirable to attempt to argue either way upon spousal notification as if it’s its own issue, but it’s nigh unto impossible to continue that argument for any duration. It inevitably hinges upon two major questions:

“What is Abortion?” and “What is Marriage?”

Abortion is, of course the removal of fetal tissue from a woman’s uterus. That’s the “sterilized” definition. That tissue must be viewed as one of two things, either a life or a piece of property. One demands preservation, the other is an object to be either kept or disposed of at its owner’s discretion.

Marriage is an agreement in which two people join together under a bond of partnership that includes (among several other facets) shared benefits, responsibilities, and control over assets. It is an agreement entered into voluntarily (at least in this nation), and it’s a legally binding agreement (as evidenced by the complexity of divorce proceedings).

When the question of spousal notification arises, it strikes at the framework of those two points, in that it presupposes the fetus to be “property” (as established in Roe, otherwise abortion could be deemed illegal by any of the several states), and it limits its scope of influence to couples who have entered into an agreement that involves joint possession of property (especially that which is acquired through joint effort).

One may argue that because the woman is in possession (quite intimate possession, at that) of the fetus, it is considered “more” her property than her husband’s. That would be akin to arguing that interest in the couple’s domicile or vehicles shouldn’t be divided in the event of divorce because only her husband’s name is on the titles or deeds to the property. Legally, it’s shaky ground.

I would also caution that to argue that the fetus is more than property leaves a void which must be filled with an alternative definition of the fetus. The logical progression must be that it’s to be seen as a part of the woman’s body. As such, she would be free to remove that part without notification or consent from any other party. You wouldn’t, for example, be bound to any form of “notification” for an appendectomy. There’s one glaring problem with that analogy, however, Though nonremoval of body parts may have dire consequences, nonremoval of the fetus leads to the birth of a human being, for which the father, by law, must assume some responsibility, if only financial (a situation which extends beyond the presence or absence of a marriage agreement).

Of course, if the fetus is viewed as a life, the argument regarding spousal notification is moot.

I offer, therefore, that the case for spousal notification (and perhaps even consent) is far from “indefensible” to anyone who isn’t content to relegate the complexities of this debate to a thinly veiled attack on abortion rights.

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