Wed, Nov 14, 2012 - Page 8

Taxes not for abortion

Chiang Sheng (江盛) laments the fact that Taiwan’s National Health Insurance offers only partial, or even no, reimbursement for the 70,000 abortions carried out each year (“Taiwan failing on gender equality,” Nov. 9, page 8). He argues this is a case of discrimination.

In his acclaimed book, Justice, the Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel argues that abortion touches on issues of values and not just on simple matters of legal rights. Moreover, there are differing views in society as to which values should be upheld and in which circumstances. While the evidence in favor of abortion may be substantial in the case of rape, it will be much weaker in the case of a wealthy married couple who feel they cannot manage with another child.

Is abortion a gender issue? Yes, in India and China (and perhaps Taiwan) where selective abortion leads to a massive imbalance in the sex ratio. Furthermore, abortion is never only about mothers; it is not like having a tooth removed. There must be a man who is responsible and should be held accountable — prosecuted in the case of rape or obliged to face his obligations to his girlfriend/wife in the face of social disapproval (perhaps). Abortion lets him off the hook and moves the moral and psychological pain wholly to the mother.

Chiang notes that France, the land of liberty, equality and fraternity, offers (limited) reimbursement for abortions. His reasoning runs: France is the land of human rights; what France does accords with rights; therefore we must do the same. However, the France of human rights also invented the guillotine; it is wrong to suppose that all French policy is in accord with rights.

I believe human rights cannot be established without a basic sense of morality. I also believe that the primary right is the right to life, which includes the right to life of unborn babies. I would be concerned if the government were to use my taxes to finance their death.

Edmund Ryden

New Taipei City