The following letter appeared in this morning’s Opelika-Auburn News. The passages in bold represent text present in my original letter but deleted from the published version. [Note added later: since the new format of this blog bolds everything indented, Ive changed the bold to underlining.]
To the Editor:
Anita Bledsoe (Aug. 8th) argues that if we’re glad we’re alive, then we logically ought to oppose abortion, since we wouldn’t be alive if our mothers had chosen abortion.
But this doesn’t follow. After all, if you go back far enough, most (maybe all) people alive today are also descendants of rape. That means that if no rapes had ever occurred, then most of the particular people who exist today would not have existed (since some of their ancestors would have formed mutually consensual, and so presumably different, genetic pairings from the ones that in the actual course of history resulted in us).
So does that commit us to approving rape? Of course not. Evaluating the present existence of something and evaluating the process by which it came about are two different things. Likewise, then, I can be glad of my own present existence and still think my mother would have been perfectly entitled to abort me – since the right to life does not include the right to exist in somebody else’s body.
Roderick T. Long
Incidentally, I said “most” and “maybe all” rather than simply “all” only to avoid having to explain “all,” but “all” is almost certainly correct. We don’t know what percentage of pregnancies among our earliest ancestors were the result of rape, but we don’t need to; even if it were a tiny figure, with each subsequent generation the “trait” of having been descended from rape would spread farther through the population.