March 12, 2012
So, I own a small amount of a Latin American stock fund. I track it periodically and generally have been pleased with its performance.
Imagine my surprise when, while looking for a news story today, there appeared on the side of my computer screen a small panel called "Recent Quotes" that contained only two stocks, one of which just happened to be the Latin American mutual fund in which I'm invested.
This is unnerving. How did a massive news aggregator get information about a minor mutual fund holding such that they could zap me with a stock quote notice?
Americans have always valued their privacy. That's one of the reasons there are locks on doors and shades on windows. Our lives are not common property; they belong to those who live them and those with whom they choose to share them. My money is mine, not yours (although this is not altogether obvious to our friends on the Left, sadly). If I want to know how much a stock I own is worth, I'll find out with no help from some invisible, Web-crawling fact-finder.
Proponents of abortion-on-demand claim that it's really about a "right to privacy." It's the woman's body, after all, and if she elects to have a surgical procedure of a certain kind, who is the government or anyone else to stop her?
This argument would make perfect sense if abortion were merely about the excision of a tumor or an infected organ, cosmetic surgery or a gastric bypass procedure. It is not. The salient, insistent question that haunts the national conscience is this: Does the unborn child have moral value independent of his or her mother?
Yes. From the moment of fertilization, the same quantity of DNA material possessed by each person reading this is present in the embryonic human. What changes at time of birth is not the personhood or humanness of the child but the place of his or her residence: For nine months, the child is within a womb, and for the balance of his or her life, the child is outside of it.
My colleague Cathy Ruse and I raise some of these issues in a booklet we wrote called, "The Best Pro-Life Arguments for Secular Audiences." Cathy deserves the lion's share of the credit for this publication, which demonstrates that apart from theological beliefs, intellectual honesty demands concession to the fact that the unborn child is a person endowed with the same rights as those who would treat it as nothing more than an inconvenient collection of tissue and fluid.
A "cookie" that determines who owns what stock is discomfiting. It's tantamount to an invasion of privacy.
But abortion is no more about privacy than skydiving is about sharecropping. It's about two people, a woman and a baby yet to be born, and the society in which they, and we, live. That's not just a private matter, but a public one as well.