17 July 2012

Abortion


Laurence,

Clearly, I don’t expect, especially after two articles on the matter, to change your opinion. I hope you would address my points, however. And you gave me fodder for a blogpost (http://reasonaction.blogspot.com/), so I thought to use you as my addressee, so to speak.

Where you and I differ is on 1. the application of the non-aggression principle to this matter, and 2. The problem of enforcement.


I’ll address the easy one first: how do you propose to enforce a law against abortion without violating the 4th Amendment, especially if we consider the “Morning After” pill and other such “solutions”? I don’t see a way without rationalizing police state tactics, including the on-going AMA/FDA prescription juggernaut and the drug war. So, if a woman drinks too much during pregnancy, are we going to accuse her of attempted murder? Or would that only apply to educated women, who might understand and have such a plan? Where’s the threshold of education vs amount of what I call imbiption? If they tell no one, and claim ignorance of their pregnancy (or were, in fact, ignorant), will we accuse them also of obstruction of justice? Get real: to make a criminal law against abortion is unworkable in the practical libertarian world.

As to the non-aggression principle. This one is difficult. I take what I regard as a nuanced position, but accept that some may just regard it as rationalization. Nonetheless, justifying a law against something should require the same kind of proofs as a criminal prosecution.

We as libertarians discuss rights. Who has rights? Well, humans. We don’t purport to declare the rights of dogs or dolphins, or even apes. We talk of human rights.

There is no question that the DNA of a fetus is human (perhaps a variant thereof, such as mongoloid), has a unique DNA code and unique brain wave pattern. There are claims that a fetus even shows some personality and a psychic connection with the mother. I suppose that there are fathers and fathers-in-law who claim this psychic connection as well, although… this (the whole “psychic connection” thing and even the “personality” thing) gets into what amounts to religion and all the difficulties of proof that religion comes with.

So we’re stuck with the materialistic definitions of human life. Or are we?

Can we really rest on this issue without considering that an unborn may not have a claim on rights, other than rights that, like their bodies, are connected with the mother? I’m talking here about the idea that a fetus can be a murder victim if the mother is assaulted or murdered, which I agree with. Beyond that, what is the basis of rights of the unborn?

Most will argue that its humanity is its ticket. But that case is flimsy and religious. Rights are based in the idea of societal sustainability, as in the removal of causes for social upheaval. A quiet abortion, performed by a willing doctor, offers little danger of putting society asunder, creating feuds, or sponsoring any other destructive act on society and social cohesiveness. Rather, laws that inhibit people in areas that are arguably personal decisions do in fact create such schisms. As with the drug war.

I said earlier that we talk of human rights. But this isn’t quite true: we speak of individual rights and individualism. Though the fetus can be regarded as individual in that materialistic way mentioned before, its individualism, being physically dependent on the systems of only the mother (or a machine that mimics a mother) draws into question its individualism. This creates the doubt that disturbs the ability to make a law.

So, between the difficulties of enforcement and the difficulties of arguing individual rights pertaining to a fetus, I would argue that that case for a law against abortion is unworkable.

This does not mean I favor abortion. I most certainly do not. For a rape victim, absolutely; I don’t agree with your “stowaway” argument. That argument conflates an unborn, unindividuated fetus with a newborn, fully individualized human who can be cared for by most anyone with the will.

I am overall horrified by abortion, for the purposes to which it is put to most use. I do believe that abortion should be a basis for a fault-based divorce, and possibly a lawsuit from the father based on loss of familial ties, benefits, … however it would be phrased.

But a criminal law? Forget it. That’s a loser, on many levels, social, legal, moral.

Thanks in advance for your consideration and any response.

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