Author’s Note: I will be speaking in Still Hall Auditorium at Clarion University in Clarion, PA this Thursday, March 29th. The speech will begin at 7 p.m. and will last about 75 minutes unless it is aborted before it comes to term. I’ll let you guess the topic.
My recent engagement lasted only a few days and has resulted in some unfortunate rumors spreading across the internet. It is therefore necessary for me to take a break from the usual subject matter of my columns in order to shed some light on a most unfortunate turn of events.
Anna and I met a few years ago and formed a quick friendship. We both enjoy running, reading, and listening to live music in some of the local establishments in Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach. Our time together was often limited by my hectic travel schedule.
Back in September, however, we began to spend a lot more time together. Just a couple of weeks ago, while we were hanging out on the south end of Wrightsville Beach, I proposed marriage. In a fit of temporary insanity, she accepted. We began to make plans for our wedding until things changed drastically just a few days ago.
After we became engaged, Anna revealed a secret to me. I always knew she was adopted. But I did not know that when she was 32 years old she embarked on a mission to locate her biological mother. She did this so she could learn the reasons why she was given up for adoption. She did it for peace of mind but the result of her research was unsettling: Anna found out she was a product of rape.
When I found out the news, I acted immediately. I killed Anna while she was sleeping and then dumped for body off of Johnny Mercer’s pier at Wrightsville Beach. And now I face a long legal battle in which my lawyers will attempt to argue that Anna, as a product of rape, does not have the same rights as other persons. In fact, whatever rights she may possess are outweighed by a compelled need to destroy evidence of rape, which might remind a rape victim of a past sexual assault.
My argument will be simple: I believe that Anna was no more or less of a person as an adult than she was as an unborn child. Therefore, it would have been permissible to kill her at either stage of development so long as that killing was motivated by compassion for the victim of rape.
I anticipate four rebuttals to my argument. Accordingly, I present my counterarguments to all of them below:
1. Size. Some say that the unborn are not persons simply because they are smaller than those who have been born. This is a dangerous argument. If we accept it, we destroy both racial and gender equality. Asians are smaller than blacks. Women are smaller than men. Are we really prepared to say that Asian women are not fully persons? What fraction of a person are they in relation to black men? Are they three-fifths of a person?
2. Level of development. Some will say that personhood is attained at a certain level of development or that it varies with development. This is also a dangerous argument that destroys human equality. A twenty-two year old woman has a fully functioning reproductive system and, in many cases, a college degree. A two year old girl has neither. Is she therefore a non-person? Or is she just a partial person? Could she be killed legally? Or would her killing be considered a lesser form of homicide?
3. Environment. A woman in Los Angeles had her baby two months before it was due. Her sister in New York had an abortion one month before it was due. Could the woman in Los Angeles have killed her baby one month after it was born? Why not? There is no difference in size or development between these two East and West Coast cousins. Are we prepared to say that moving eight inches down a birth canal makes one a person? Since when does where you are determine what you are? Be careful before you answer. And be careful before you take your next step.
4. Degree of dependency. The older I get, the worse this argument seems to become. If we are prepared to say that we become persons when we become independent then we must also be saying that we can lose our personhood. This can happen due to a car accident, a serious illness, or simply due to old age. Regardless, this just doesn’t work. Besides, I know some 16 year olds that could be killed according to this logic.
It should be evident from the foregoing that it is high time that we stop playing games with human equality. We all know the unborn are persons. And we’ve been killing them in the womb for years. In fact, we’ve been enshrining the practice in the constitution since 1973. If we say that the reason we have been doing so is that the unborn are only “potential” persons then we must be prepared for some pretty broad implications.
I propose instead that we carve out a narrow defense to homicide that allows us to kill products of rape because they remind us of a painful violent event. That is the best way to deal with things from my perspective. It will make the world appear to be a better place. Of course, there will be more murder. But it will seem like there is less rape. And that will make all the killing worth our while.