Sago Boulevard

Monday, May 30, 2005

Suozzi's Abortion Speech

Newsday columnist Raymond Keating wrote today about Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi’s ambiguous stance on abortion. Although I disagree with Keating’s overriding pro-life (anti-abortion) stance, the article makes a number of good points. Suozzi is quoted as saying the following:
As a Democrat, I do not often find it easy to talk with other Democrats about our need to affirm our commitment to the respect for life and how we need to emphasize our party's firm belief in the worth of every human being. As a Catholic, I do not often find it easy to talk with other Catholics about my feeling that abortion should and will remain safe and legal.

Keating criticizes the Executive for not taking a clear stance on abortion. “The bottom line on abortion is either this is a life or it is somehow something else. If it is a human life, then how can the extermination of that innocent life be advocated? It cannot.” In one sense, Keating is right. Obviously, a fetus is either a life or not a life. And whether it is or is not a life has obvious implications for the moral status of abortion. As I mention in an earlier post, it is important for our political leaders and judges to take steps in defining a fetus. But it is still more complicated. Even if a fetus is not life per se, its status as a potential life may be deserving of moral attention. On the other hand, if a fetus is a life, it does not immediately follow that abortion is unjustified in all circumstances. It seems to me that the health of the mother, both physical and psychological, should carry weight. Cases of rape, in particular, present a difficult dilemma for pro-life advocates. There’s another issue, though. It is not entirely clear what the connection is (or should be) between the moral and legal implications of abortion. If we conclude that, at least in limited circumstances, abortion may be justified, we now need to ask whether or not the State can be an adequate judge. My pro-choice feelings generally stem from my doubting of the State’s ability in this regard.