Archive Nota Bene Steven Wedgeworth

Abortion and the Triumph of the Will

This rather unimpressive opinion piece from the student newspaper of Calvin College was passed around my social circles last week. I have to admit that I once wrote some pretty awful letters to the editor in my undergraduate days (though I was always pro-life), and so I wouldn’t want anyone to ascribe too much significance to these sorts of things. Still, one part of the argument stood out as significant, since it so nicely expresses a dominant political philosophy held even by experts. This is the priority of the will of the stronger over the life of the younger. The student writer puts it this way:

One common pro-life assertion, that abortion is murder, can be countered by noting that a fetus has no life of its own, but exists only with the permission of the parent, who, while pregnant, might lose their job, suffer complications leading to death or maiming, or face tremendous social pressure. Ultimately, if the pregnant person withdraws consent, the fetus has lost its right to exist. Another important point to make is that, according to Planned Parenthood, a first-trimester abortion procedure can cost up to $900. For someone struggling just to feed themselves and pay rent (which would be even more difficult if they had to support a child), that might be an unbearable cost.

The question that immediately comes to mind is why this logic only applies to prenatal life. Aren’t there many people who can really only maintain a stable quality of life “with the permission of” the people or the society? In those cases, of course, we are typically told that a principle of social justice requires all moral wills to grant such permission. In fact, a will that does not wish to give permission to life is said to be an immoral and cruel one, one whose freedom ought not to be respected.

But in the case of abortion, it seems that persons existing in a relative position of weakness and vulnerability ought not be constrained by the needs of those who are even weaker. They must have the freedom to terminate another’s life in order to enhance their own.

I think our young Leftist writer is really an ultra-Rightist in disguise.

By Steven Wedgeworth

Steven Wedgeworth is the Rector of Christ Church Anglican in South Bend, Indiana. He writes about theology, history, and political theory, and he has taught Jr. High and High School. He is the founder and general editor of The Calvinist International, an online journal of Christian Humanism and political theology, and a founding member of the Davenant Institute.

One reply on “Abortion and the Triumph of the Will”

Never thought of this logic being “ultra-rightist” as you put it. It makes sense though, I’ve often heard this sort of logic employed by the likes of Neal Bortz and other extreme libertarians who neglect the unalterable social construct of society.


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