Friday, September 9, 2011

'When having a choice diminishes family solidarity'

Here is the abstract of a forthcoming journal article by Prof. Richard Stith of Valparaiso University School of Law:
This Article explores a little-noticed dimension of abortion and assisted suicide (or voluntary euthanasia): how choosing to reject those options can have a negative impact on the legally authorized choosers. Women who refuse abortion may be blamed for their choice by boyfriends, neighbors, employers, and others. Similarly, infirm or dying persons may find family and other caregivers upset by their refusal to agree to assisted suicide when voluntary death seems the sensible option. Finally, the author questions whether a life chosen as an option can ever have the dignity of a life simply accepted, i.e., whether the child a mother once chose not to abort suffers from her having been able to choose otherwise, and whether the severely disabled but suicide-rejecting person suffers from having to justify her continued existence.
Here's a bit more explanation of three main points, from the article's introduction:

  • "[A] woman's free choice for life may diminish what is called here the 'causal' basis of solidarity, relieving a father of his erstwhile responsibility for bringing about a birth."
  • "[Regarding the] 'sympathetic' basis of solidarity between parents (and with others) with regard to the burdens of childcare, ... compassion is significantly lessened by a belief that the mother voluntarily chose to be in her plight; similarly, the debilitated grandmother may receive less sympathy if she appears for no good reason to reject assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia."
  • "[C]hoosing to let someone exist (or continue to exist) tends to reduce that someone (who may even be oneself) to a thing, thus sharply undercutting the 'personal' basis of solidarity with a newborn child or with an aged parent."

These problems arise because the unjust killing of abortion and assisted suicide are offered as legitimate options. They shouldn't be.

Notes Stith (page 27), "Making life optional harms even those who choose and affirm it, for its very optionality means that someone's life is no longer a necessity that all must accept as a given, but rather a contingency that might have been avoided by the legally empowered chooser. The chooser is thus to blame for that life's burdens. The only logically possible way to undo this blame is to reconvert contingency into some form of necessity."

The 45-page article can be read here.

Awkward family moment