The abortion of a fetus in utero ends a life in being. That life has no voice and we will never know what might have been: was this Moses or Geoffery Daumer or a shopkeeper who provided cheer and joy for her customers, suppliers and family? A complete ban on the ability of people to terminate pregnancy also has some unwanted effects which we know in recent history as coat hanger procedures or poison strong enough to kill the fetus but not the mother.

     Roe v. Wade, a 7-2 opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States of America, c. 1973, held that states had limited rights to deny abortions to those desiring them during the first trimester (three months) of the pregnancy because the fetus has limited viability even with modern medical care until the first trimester is over. Justice Harry Blackmun, a moderate, and one of the last graduates of a law school which is not Yale or Harvard to sit upon the highest bench in the land, reasoned for the majority of the court that when the risks for the pregnant woman of nonmedical abortions were weighed against the state’s interest in the preservation of innocent life, permitting medically assisted abortions in the first trimester of pregnancies seemed the most balanced approach for reasonable regulation of human conduct.

     While I might be troubled by the fact that the loudest voices on either side of the issue seem not to have read or considered the logic of the opinion, let me walk through my understanding of the why this is a fairly reasonable outcome when the absolutes at either end are equally repugnant. A law which fiercely prohibits and punishes that which people have always done (evidence exists of abortions in the ancient civilizations) is likely to be more honored in the breach than in the performance. While I personally would not choose or advocate abortion, I cannot vouchsafe that this heinous choice will never be chosen by another. I might hope that people would not choose this, but I cannot reasonably expect my wishes to reach fruition. A system which permits the mother to survive after a heart-wrenching decision and supports the life of the infant during 2/3 of its perilous travel to life in the open air is vastly preferable to a system that punishes or gives women no choice from the moment of conception. My moral compass dictates that all God’s children see the light of day, but the law looks to all human behavior and seeks reasonable balance.