But in his latest column, in which he tackles the case of an Australian couple who aborted their twin foetuses because they happened to be male instead of the female that they were aiming for, he sorely disappoints.
He argues that their decision is "frivolous" - that their reasons don't carry the requisite "weight" (my words, not his) to be a reason to abort.
"To abort a child simply because they happened to be a wrong gender is beyond frivolous. If this is permitted, then where do we draw the line? If it were found, for example, that the baby would have green eyes as opposed to the blue that the parents wanted it to have, does that also mean this would be permitted?"Perhaps their decision is frivolous? I'll have more to say about this below. However the first question we have to ask is why Mr Dlanga doesn't take the time to examine the question in the other direction? He's claims that edge cases like these lead us down a slippery slope to designer families. But what about the other slope? If we deny a woman the right to abort her pregnancy on the grounds that her reasons are frivolous "where do we draw the line" then? Who decides what counts as frivolous?
Well ... uh ... apparently ...
"This is the very reason I believe that States have the right to intervene."Well, okay - but how can we guarantee that the state will make the kinds of choices that are in the best interest of the mother? How can we guarantee that the state wont use this kind of power to undermine the mother's right to determine what happens with and to her body? We can't, it's impossible. That is one of the the central problems. Furthermore, once we start careening down this other slippery slope, we open the floodgates to a boatload of problems that make so-called frivolous decisions to abort look tame by comparison.
Mr Dlanga goes on to say that
"What the parents have done raises a moral question; even amongst people who support abortion (even though I don't think anyone truly supports abortion because no one goes around bragging about their abortions)."Supporting abortion - if by this he means being pro-choice - is not the same as heartily endorsing the act of abortion for fun and profit. Supporting abortion, as a pro-choicer, in no way commits one to the the notion that the act of aborting a foetus is a good thing, rather it commits one to the notion that a woman has the right to choose whether or not to see her pregnancy to term regardless of her reasons, frivolous or not.
We pro-choicers are pro-choice because we respect the rights of a woman to decide what happens with her own body as well as her right to determine her future prospects. We don't need to respect the woman who aborts her pregnancy because she (I'm hunting for a truly frivolous reason here) - say - would prefer to spend the time and money that she would have on raising a child to shop for shoes. We have to respect her right to make that choice, frivolous or not.
There is a very important parallel here between abortion and free speech - we don't need to respect what our critics say, what religious fundamentalists say, what "militant" atheists say - but we sure as hell have to respect their right to say it because we recognize that the alternative is far more dangerous.
Make sure you check out Tauriq Moosa's stellar reply to Dlanga.