I'm having serious mixed feelings here about the so-called "Women's Right to Know" bill.
On the surface, the bill seems fairly tame. It would require that women seeking abortions be given information on alternatives and made to wait 24 hours to contemplate their choice.
Critics are not unjustified to point out that the law presumes the woman or girl seeking the abortion hasn't already considered all of her options, but I don't think that is necessarily an unfair assumption. I think most women, once they get to the point where they actually go to the clinic to arrange the abortion, have done a good deal of thinking about what they are about to do, and it may seem a little cruel to force them to wait.
But on the other hand, maybe they haven't really thought of everything. Maybe the information package they will be given actually will contain something that didn't occur to them, or more importantly maybe that extra 24 hours will make them see their own circumstances a little differently.
There's nothing wrong with that. I absolutely support a woman's right to decide whether or not to continue a pregnancy since she is the one most directly affected by the situation. It's not a call that can be made by society, and on that point I stand firm.
I'll also add that I do not believe unborn babies have souls. Of course, I'm a skeptic of the concept of the soul as eternal, but I believe the word "soul" is best to describe the entirety of individual human consciousness.
But I digress. The point is, I have a distaste for abortion that has nothing to do with religious declarations against it.
I don't like abortion because it devalues human life as a concept. I believe a human life begins at conception, when the genes come together that begin the process of growth that defines our lives for their entirety. However, I think there is absolutely no consciousness for the first month or more in the womb.
I do think consciousness of some kind is beginning prior to birth. Feeling the baby growing inside my wife at this moment, the way she kicks and tosses, I cannot imagine considering her anything less than a living child.
Thus, as I've said before, I will always encourage any woman to make any choice possible that allows a new life to begin, preferably under circumstances that will encourage that life to form in a positive fashion. But most women who have abortions do so because they simply cannot provide those circumstances, and I can only assume that they also cannot put the child up for adoption.
So what concerns me about this bill, which may well become law this year, is that it is just the beginning of restrictions that will eventually go too far. The standards of the religious, that abortion can only be allowed in cases of rape, incest or a threat to the life of the mother are simply too idealistic. They seek to take away the option of abortion, but I don't see them providing reasonable alternatives to women who simply cannot sustain a child.
For those reasons I cannot fully endorse the creation of a law that places these restrictions on women, but I would encourage any effort to encourage Georgia's abortion clinics to voluntarily make sure the women they service have given their decision due consideration. I also support Georgia Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, D-Decatur, in her call for a focus on prevention of unwanted pregnancies rather than further restrictions on abortions. That is the wiser way to eliminate abortion in this nation, by working to create a society in which it is no longer necessary.
Ed Brock covers public safety and municipalities at the News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 ext. 254 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .