Of Rights and Rabbits

James Bohan, a Pennsylvania attorney, believes he has elevated the abortion debate above the pedestrian levels of both medicine and religion. However, Mr. Bohan rises above faith and science only to fall back on the well-worn cliches of human rights doctrines found in the sacred texts of the Declaration of Independence, the writings of Albert Schweitzer, and the various declarations on human rights issued by international agencies. To finish off the argument with a literary veneer, he invokes "Aeschylus's House of Atreus" as an historical-mythical model of a society addicted to irrational killing.

Along the way, the author manages to lose himself in the usual maze of illogic and bad history that has characterized both sides of the abortion debate. He cannot apparently conceive of an unborn child as a human being without according it full legal personhood. He must think that, in societies where women and children are not legal persons, it is open season on wives and minor sons. Because he cannot understand citizenship, apart from the theory of rights, he falls into the usual trap of equating Roe v. Wade with Dred Scott. Worst of all, he thinks that he can provide a non-religious ethical basis for respecting innocent life, when it is perfectly obvious that even the greatest pre-Christian civilizations allowed infanticide.

It is a familiar trap, which even explicitly Christian defenders...

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