January 17, 1990 · Cavalier Daily

A Modest Proposal for Birth Control

An opinion column that argues for Dr. James Watson's ideas on abortion - that a fetus "not be declared alive until three days after birth in order to give parents the right to decide whether or not they want the child."


Robert Wainwright
Cavalier Daily
Cavalier Daily
A Modest Proposal for Birth Control
Some may think the following recommendation heartless or cruel, but I regard it as nothing more than a modest proposal.
Nobel Laureate Dr. James Watson has put forward an idea which we should give some serious thought in the face of the never-ending abortion debate. As most people who follow this issue know, one of the most disputed points involves the role of the federal government in paying for abortions for low-income women.
Recent legislative attempts to enact such a provision have failed, and rightly so. One need not be pro-life to oppose more government spending – another expansion of the welfare state.
And yet the problem remains: Abortions cost money, and poor women will have a hard time paying for them. How can we alleviate this unequal situation without spending more tax dollars?
Watson’s idea goes quite a way toward a solution. He has proposed that a fetus not be declared alive until three days after birth in order to give parents the right to decide whether or not they want the child.
Should they decide not to keep it, the retroactive abortion could proceed at virtually no expense, since no surgical procedure would be required.
In this manner, a greater level of equality would be achieved between the rich and poor.
Of course the poor woman would have to carry the pregnancy to term, while others would not. But this proposal gains the most ground possible short of increasing government spending.
The only question I would ask Watson is this; What is so special about three days? Instead, I propose a post-birth trimester system: in the first week after birth, the right to a retroactive abortion would be totally unimpeded. There would be no government influence or interference in this very personal decision.
In the second week, the parents would be required to undergo counseling to determine if the abortion is really what they want and need. In the third week, the abortion would only be allowed if it has been determined that the infant is genetically abnormal – handicapped, retarded, etc – since only the most tyrannical government would restrict a parent’s autonomy by burdening him or her with achild unable to carry its own weight in later years.
Of course, there will always be religious extremists who want to impose their own personal morality on others. Those who would force indigent parents to bear the cross of unwanted children while never offering to adopt those children.
In fact, many who call themselves pro-choice will reject this proposal, but only because they are caught in the rut of outdated superstitious creeds – although perhaps unknowingly.
They may call themselves progressive and they may even claim no religious faith, but in fact they have allowed religion to subtly subvert their thinking, so that even they have come to regard the moment of birth as some sort of magical transition. They are nothing more than liberal-minded pro-lifers.
For what magic wand descends at birth? Who but the most irrational shaman would invest the moment of birth with any significance other than a biological one?
Birth, when viewed objectively, is nothing but another stage in fetal development. The fetus does not change in any way. What sense does it make to have abortion legal up to the moment of birth – as it now is in all but one or two states – but to disallow it thereafter?
We must not allow the religious beliefs of extremists to interfere with social equality.
Yes, you say, but couldn’t the parents just put the child up for adoption? This course may be an alternative for white infants, but children of minority parents often have a hard time getting adopted. Therefore, reliance on adoption is just another obstacle to equality between the races.
There would also be emotional hardship for a mother who is forced to give her child away, never again to know who or where he is. A woman should therefore be afforded the opportunity to solve her problem with the least amount of emotional strain.
Imagine a society where every child really is a wanted child! There would be no need at all to force women who cannot afford abortions to raise a child they do not want. Therefore, we must tear down all the walls and barriers that keep our social conditions form improving.
The present abortion laws are a step in the right direction, since they stem from a scientific, objective vision instead of a religious or emotional one. But just as we must resist all attempts by religious extremists to throw women back into the hands of back-alley abortionists, we must also carry our pro-choice convictions to their logical conclusions and allow everyone – regardless of race or income – to experience liberty and equality. After all, this is America.
(Robert Wainwright is a third-year College student.)
Date Added June 7, 2016
Date Modifed December 24, 2017
Collection Cavalier Daily: articles about gender discrimination

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