Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Mixing Religion and Politics

On the blog Bad Astronomy, there's an article called When is Human Human? In this wonderful essay about the problems with Colorado's Proposition 48, Dr. Phil boils it down to a single simple truth.

Proposition 48 is religion trying to create legislation, pure and simple.

The numerous comments that follow his post cover every angle of the debate. There's the timeless question, when does life begin, which some people say cannot be determined by science. Does that mean religious beliefs, by constraint, must be involved in politics? What about the famous separation of Church and State?

What's the point of Proposition 48 anyway? Here's the text:

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution defining the term “person” to include any human being from the moment of fertilization as “person” is used in those provisions of the Colorado constitution relating to inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law?

Isn't it a thinly disguised attempt to outlaw abortion? What's wrong with giving women a choice of what to do with their own bodies? Where in the world do legislators, many of whom are men, get the idea that they should control this issue? From their religion, that's where. And that's the problem.

What's your opinion? Is the abortion issue an instance where church and state are intertwined? Is that a bad thing?


  1. Again I'm politically pro-choice.

    But what's wrong with giving the Mother (or the Father) the right to terminate their dependant children given that termination is done by a paid professonal, and done before their age of Majority (say, 14)?

  2. LOL Weer'd better make that before 11. If you let it go into teenage years, not many will survive.

  3. it's obviously an attempt to ban abortion, nothing else it could be.

    it's also biologically and ethically insane; a fertilized egg is nothing like any reasonable person's notion of a "person".

    the thing wrong with weerd's modest proposal is that a born child is a very great deal like a human person, for every reasonable definition of "person" i've ever seen. zygotes, blastocysts, and early-stage embryos are not.

  4. Just curious, nomen. When is a develpoing human "human enugh" to be considered a person to you?

  5. speaking for me, personally --- at viability, when the fetus is developed enough to survive outside the womb.

    that said, there's no clear, black-and-white way to draw the line. at fertilization, what you have is clearly not a person; at birth, what you have just as clearly is; but there's no one point in between where that suddenly flips, it's a seamless gray scale and we'll never get complete agreement on where to draw our line in the sand.

    i draw it at viability, because living as a separate, independent individual (as opposed to an obligate internal parasite) matters to me. it's not a perfect way to draw the line, but it's good enough for me.

  6. Fair enugh. I Disagree slightly with you nomen (I simply put life begins at implantation) But I think we'll both agree that banning abortion would be totally cool once we get a synthetic uterus, so outside-of-mother survival begins AT fertilization.

  7. I am curious as to why the root of a viewpoint matters when it comes to religion.

    It doesn't matter how a person develops their viewpoint, secular or not, does it?

    The famous separation of church and state is, in my opinion, vastly misunderstood. Given that the King was also the head of the Church of England, it was understandable that people wanted to avoid that issue in America.
    Never in any of the found fathers' writings have I seen a requirement that people have to give up their beliefs.

    What the requirement means is there can be no legal requirement concerning religion to hold office, to be able to vote etc.

  8. +1, I have no spiritual belief on this issue. I just look at Abortion in its similarity to Infanticide.

    Sure the bible says "Tho Shall not Commit an Act of Murder"

    But so does the US Code of law.

    I'm just pointing out what I see as a strong inconstancy in the law, and a speculative observation that makes little sense to me.

    Nearly 30 years ago I almost died in a Hospital Nursery because I was born too soon and too small. Decades Earlier John Kennedy lost a child to the same afflictions I suffered from, today babies much smaller than I have a survival rate very close to full-term pregnancy thanks to Modern Medicine. There is a trend, and I'm not so sure that law should be both Arbitrarily set (its not like major changes on Abortion vs. Infanticide laws have changed over the decades to reflect "when life begins")

    Of course my stance on Abortion is a stance for human life, and I know that a declaration that it is in fact Murder, as I see it, would result in MORE death from black market procedures, and quite possibly MORE Abortions performed. Because of this my political stance on Abortion is directly opposed to my personal stance on it.

    Religion has no relevance in this discussion from me...