Personal Responsibility: the Cure-all?

Each Family Law course here at Regent Law considers abortion law and regulation for one week of the semester. Consider these comments from a student who is authentically considering the issue for the first time.

"I was thinking about everything in class today. If two people in a relationship were both more personally responsible, wouldn't the need for abortion be greatly reduced? A woman cannot be pregnant without the contribution of the male and vice versa. It's easier for a man not married to walk away and say it's not my problem, leaving the woman in a precarious situation. Abortion does bring up a lot of emotion. I prefer having both parties be personally responsible so abortion becomes a non-issue. And I wonder why no one in either of the political parties has asked for a 4 month time limit on campaigning with a spending cap of 3 million period. ALl the money spent by both parties could provide job training, health benefits for woman and children, funding for health centers, art programs for the schools which continually get cut, programs to help at risk children and families, animal rescue programs, the list could go on & on. I had the wonderful opportunity to sit in on the Domestic Relations court this summer. I was surprised at the number of men who had premarital sex which resulted in the birth of a child for which they were not providing financial support. And not only were they not providing financial support for that child, they also were not providing financial support for their other children from premarital sexual relationships. The women usually had anywhere between 3 to 6 children, all different fathers living in a 2 bedroom apartment. Your heart went out to everyone involved. It really taught me to treasure all the blessings in my life. This is where my comment in class was coming from regarding the role of men to be more responsible in their relationships. It would be nice to see every child born of love and truly wanted. And it would be nice if the wife or in today's world, the mother of the child, was financially supported. And even nicer if the father of the child would want to know and spend time with his child, not just financially support the child. Comments always welcome. I really had no clear understanding of abortion, just a general idea, until this assignment."

For additional articles on abortion and its implications for individuals and culture, see more at these resources:

Lynne Marie Kohm and Colleen Holmes, The Rise and Fall of Women's Rights: Have Sexuality and Reproductive Freedom Forfeited Victory? 6 WILLIAM & MARY JOURNAL OF WOMEN AND LAW 381, (Winter 2000)(cited in The Truth About Women's Rights, Janet Benshoof, 6 WILLIAM & MARY JOURNAL OF WOMEN AND LAW 423 (Winter 2000); Dana Neacsu, Tempest in a Teacup or the Mystique of Sexual Legal Discourse, 38 GONZ. L. REV. 601 (2002-03); RECENT CASE: Constitutional Law - Substantive Due Process - Eleventh Circuit Upholds Florida Statute Barring Gays from Adopting. -- Lofton v. Secretary of the Department of Children & Family Services, 538 F. 3d 804 (11th Cir. 2004), 117 HARV. L. REV. 2791 (June 2004); Cheryl B. Preston, Women in Traditional Religions: Refusing to Let Patriarchy (or Feminism) Separate us from the Source of Our Liberation, 22 MISS. C. L. REV. 185 (2003); Michael Scaperlanda, Rehabilitating the "Mystery Passage": An Examination of the Supreme Court's Anthropology Using the Personalistic Norm Explicit in the Philosophy of Karol Wojtyla, 45 J. CATH. LEG. STUD. 631 (2006)).

1 comment:

  1. This is very good summation of the only real solution to the issues of abortion and child welfare. The whole solution centers of personal responsibility, but I think that this can only be derived from an individual’s belief in the existence of moral absolutes. When a person assess situations and synthesizes answers from a perspective that there is not absolute right, they are, at worst, precluded from considering that they there is a morally wrong choice, and at best, intellectually free to consider any option that best suits their personal sense of being/pleasure/fulfillment. However, this intellectual rejection of personal responsibility cannot be divorced from an emotional feeling of guilt experienced when one acts against a moral absolute. However, disregarding the emotional guilt associated with violating moral absolutes results in a slow decay in an individual’s emotional attachment to their own actions. An individual becomes unable to see the necessity of personal responsibility once can separate their actions from an assessment of moral absolutes and from their own emotional connection to the wrongness of immoral act. The individual can then spiral into a decision/assessment mode devoid of seeking what is “right” action in any given situation. This lack of internal moral direction allows a person to eschew personal responsibility either under the Nuremburg defense of following orders or the defense offered in R. v. Dudley and Stephens, arguing that special circumstance allow for a relative interpretation of morals. Personal responsibility centered on the concept of moral absolutism is central to the abortion debate. Men need to better understand the impact and moral implications of their actions.