15 January 2006

Unaddressed ground in the confirmation hearings

I was talking with one of the other tutors at breakfast the other morning about the Alito confirmation hearings. Since the hearings were largely be about abortion (in overt or covert forms), we ended up discussing that aspect.

Here’s one of the things that does not get mentioned in our periodic national debates. If the state can compel a person to bear a child, what can it not do? Couldn’t it compel state-arranged marriages? If preventing an abortion is preserving life, why couldn’t the state then compel us to create death?

The problem is that the anti-abortion/pro-life proponents often talk about a “slippery slope” if we allow abortion, a slope to infanticide and euthanasia. But it seems there is just as problematic and just as likely a slippery slope if we forbid abortion as if we permit it.

I tend toward liberality (although not dogmatically) in my thinking, but I’m still a bit wary of the power of the state. The more you give it, the more that it often wants. Witness the national security state we’ve started to acquiesce to since Sept. 11, 2001. This doesn’t meant that we should avoid giving power to the state under every circumstance. But I think that we should be cautious in doing it and open to substitutionary or parallel uses of power.

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