I was just thinking back to a conversation I had with a good buddy concerning abortion. I put forward an argument based solely on fact, and he said that I should not be thinking so logically about this. He said that emotion is an integral part of the argument. I disagreed then (though I took it in more of a rhetorical way, stupid me) and I still disagree now.
Essentially my argument was this (I thought I had an original idea until I heard almost the exact same ideas with some extra stuff coming from Peter Kreeft*, a Catholic philosopher -- very smart dude). My basic point was that the argument does not hinge on women's rights (however much some feminists may think so), but around the basic question of when does life begin. For it is universally believed and understood (I think) that the taking of an innocent life is wrong. If life begins the moment a sperm hits the egg, then abortion is wrong. If life begins when the child's head pops out, then it is right. This is the problem point. But we never really hear about this, do we (I need to write something about that later)? The Pro-Choice crowd is right (though they're a bit confused I think). It is about the right to choice; the question is whether the child has that right or not (ie when is a child alive...to think in slightly less ambiguous terms, when is it conscious). During the time of this argument, I felt that, morally speaking, logically one must ask one's self if that child was alive. But what are the options? If it is, and I don't abort it, so be it. If it is and I do abort it, it's wrong. If it's not and I don't abort it, so be it. If it's not and I do abort it, I am justified.
But the problem is that we don't know. So, if we don't know, are we willing to take the chance that we just murdered an innocent being. Now, there are some cases when this chance must be taken (eg when the mother's immediate mortal health is at stake) I am not arguing against this (I'm not arguing against women's right to live, I'm arguing that fetus might have that right also). Morally, I'd have to say that I'm on the "be safe" side. Legally, however, it's a different story. I do think that there needs to be leeway since it is not totally based on logic. So for that reason alone, I am still Pro-Choice (but barely).
side note: Since we define legal death (I think) as the moment of brain death(cessation of brain function), should we not also define life as the beginning of brain function?
The reasoning for why we should not put religious law into place seems to be that it is not solely based on logic. For example, we have no problem putting in place laws regarding murder even though it is enumerated in most every religion on the planet, because we (and most philosophers) can logically justify it. However, the 10 Commandments are not federal law, because they require something else. Christians and Jewish people would probably call this extra thing faith, but a secular society would describe this as merely emotion.
Now, there is another possibility. It's also possible that we do not allow religious law (speaking theoretically now, not in terms of practicability or constitutionality) because everyone does not necessarily agree with us, ie when it's popular, it's ok. However, how will we know if everyone agrees? The most likely option here is to eliminate all but the most barebones of understanding: thus logic. It is a necessary and viable basis for law as it is universal (I know Godel, but I'm assuming that everyone understands that when I say universal, I mean within the ability know such).
Thusly, I will agree with my friend's logic (or lack thereof) that emotion should be a basis of law when we start to suspend the ban lain upon religious law.
I have to admit, though, I still haven't heard a cogent argument against this view or even for abortion (the non-life-saving kind again). A Ball State Professor of statistics was talking at our campus about why our votes don't matter (yeah, yeah, I know) and mentioned, after doing an informal poll in our class, that, as seen in the room, conservatives seem to be more open-minded to this idea (and he was a liberal). I wonder to what extent modern liberalism (atleast in its opposition to the religious right) has become sort of a cultish following, rejecting views according to tradition. I'm not sure, but all I can say is that I've heard more intellectual argument and discussion coming out of conservativism than just about anywhere else on the spectrum (which is definitely a good thing). Sorry if that causes offense, but it's just what I've seen so far.
*For a much more comprehensive, interesting, well-written, or accurate description on arguments concerning abortion, definitely read him instead of listening to or reading my drivel.