Abortion

Choose Life

The growing aversion to abortion

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The abortion debate has raged since 1973, when the Supreme Court gave abortion constitutional protection, but the basic law of the land has proved immutable. Abortion is legal, and it's going to remain legal for a long time.

Laws often alter attitudes, inducing people to accept things—such as racial integration—they once rejected. But sometimes, attitudes move in the opposite direction, as people see the consequences of the change. That's the case with abortion.

The news that the abortion rate has fallen to its lowest level in 30 years elicits various explanations, from increased use of contraceptives to lack of access to abortion clinics. But maybe the chief reason is that the great majority of Americans, even many who see themselves as pro-choice, are deeply uncomfortable with it.

In 1992, a Gallup/Newsweek poll found 34 percent of Americans thought abortion "should be legal under any circumstances," with 13 percent saying it should always be illegal. Last year, only 26 percent said it should always be allowed, with 18 percent saying it should never be permitted.

Sentiments are even more negative among the group that might place the highest value on being able to escape an unwanted pregnancy: young people. In 2003, Gallup found, one of every three kids from age 13 to 17 said abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. More revealing yet is that 72 percent said abortion is "morally wrong."

By now, pro-life groups know that outlawing most abortions is not a plausible aspiration. So they have adopted a two-pronged strategy. The first is to regulate it more closely—with parental notification laws, informed consent requirements and a ban on partial-birth abortion. The second is to educate Americans with an eye toward changing "hearts and minds." In both, they have had considerable success.

Even those who insist Americans are solidly in favor of legal abortion implicitly acknowledge the widespread distaste. That's why the Democratic Party's 2004 platform omitted any mention of the issue, and why politicians who support abortion rights cloak them in euphemisms like "the right to choose."

But some abortion rights supporters admit reservations. It was a landmark moment in 1995 when the pro-choice author Naomi Wolf, writing in The New Republic magazine, declared that "the death of a fetus is a real death." She went on: "By refusing to look at abortion within a moral framework, we lose the millions of Americans who want to support abortion as a legal right but still need to condemn it as a moral iniquity."

The report on abortion rates from the Guttmacher Institute suggests that the evolution of attitudes has transformed behavior. Since 1990, the number of abortions has dropped from 1.61 million to 1.21 million. The abortion rate among women of childbearing age has declined by 29 percent.

Those changes could be the result of other factors, such as more use of contraception: If fewer women get pregnant, fewer will resort to abortion. But the shift is equally marked among women who do get pregnant. In 1990, 30.4 percent of pregnancies ended in abortion. Last year, the figure was 22.4 percent.

Pro-choice groups say women are having fewer abortions only because abortion clinics are growing scarcer. But abortion clinics may be growing scarcer because of a decline in demand for their services and a public opinion climate that has gotten more inhospitable.

This growing aversion to abortion may be traced to better information. When the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, most people had little understanding of fetal development. But the proliferation of ultrasound images from the womb, combined with the dissemination of facts by pro-life groups, has lifted the veil.

In the new comedy Juno, a pregnant 16-year-old heads for an abortion clinic, only to change her mind after a teenage protester tells her, "Your baby probably has a beating heart, you know. It can feel pain. And it has fingernails."

Juno
has been faulted as a "fairy tale" that sugarcoats the realities of teen pregnancy. But if it's a fairy tale, that tells something about how abortion violates our most heartfelt ideals—and those of our adolescent children. Try to imagine a fairy tale in which the heroine has an abortion and lives happily ever after.

The prevailing view used to be: Abortion may be evil, but it's necessary. Increasingly, the sentiment is: Abortion may be necessary, but it's evil.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

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  1. First Fred Thompson, now this !

  2. I don’t know of anyone who is actively for abortion. It is always an unpleasant choice.

    Maybe there are simpler reasons. Young middle-class women are not now ostracized for having a baby outside marriage, and their families can afford to support them and the child.

  3. I also give credit to improved imaging technology, giving the fetus a more human appearance. Ultrasounds are now incredibly impressive looking, and give you a better idea of what the fetus actually looks like.

  4. As long as people have the choice, but choose not to exercise it because they don’t like it, there’s no problem.

  5. “Fred Thompson is a libertarian.”

    “Abortion is wrong.”

    Wow. Nick Gillespe moves to Washington and all of a sudden Reason becomes an arm of the mainstream Republican party establishment.

    Hey Reason, is distancing yourself from the Mises Institute and making friends in Washington more important than your principles?

    If so, why work at Reason? Surely NR pays more.

  6. Abortions cause global warming.

  7. It isn’t surprising that attitudes on abortion have evolved. We’ve also elected George W. Bush, fallen behind the world in science and math education, and we can’t keep our checkbooks straight as individuals or collectively. I agree with Episiarch, yet I suspect that we’re moving towards are more cro-magnon society.

  8. Acknowledging that abortion is a difficult choice and that it involves the death of a fetus doesn’t necessitate that one waver in one’s support for keeping abortion legal (and accessible). Whatever we think of the morality of the action, abortions will continue to be procured by some number of women and better they should do so in an environment that reduces the risks of doing so.

    I find it interesting when libertarians argue that legalizing drugs would be beneficial because it would cut down on drug-related violence and impure and dangerous drugs, while also making it easier for addicts to get help as they wouldn’t have to worry about the legal issues even as they say “but I think using drugs are wrong” and then can’t see that the argument for keeping abortion legal (even if you oppose it personally and think the fetus has some rights) has significant parallels.

    My own view is that ultrasound technology and advances in our knowledge of fetal development have as much to do with young people feeling abortion is wrong than anything else.

    I also cannot discount the so-called “Roe Effect.” People who oppose abortion are more likely to have more kids than those who favor it, and if we assume that those kids are fairly likely to share their parents’ views, the percentage of young folks opposing abortion will rise as a result.

  9. People are complaining about the Fred Thompson is a libertarian article – which they very well should – but I don’t find this article offensive to libertarians.

    Abortion is a difficult issue, and libertarians are split on it (from the ones I know). You have Ron Paul and Andrew Napolitano on one side and Barry Goldwater and others on the other side.

    I enjoyed this article though, good read. I’m not sure whether I am pro-life or pro-choice. Pro-choice 1st trimester pro-life 2nd and 3rd? I dono.

  10. Good article. As a young person the article mirrors my feelings precisely, including that of many of my pro-choice friends.

  11. I agree that abortion is never a pleasant choice. It’s always the product of a set of bad things: a wanted pregnancy that goes wrong, a bad relationship, pregancy from a terrible or ill-advised sexual experience. That fact colors opinions of the practice in the abstract. The problem is that nothing ever happens in the abstract. If the woman-haters* ever succeed in banning abortion and everyone gets to see women going to jail or dying trying to get rid of an unwanted pregnancy, then expect opinions to change.

    As for improved ultrasounds reducing the number of abortions, that depends on the circumstances. Improved prenatal testing has meant that more than 90% of Down’s Syndrome fetuses being aborted, so if improved ultrasounds make it less likely that teenagers with normal pregnancies decline abortion, it makes it less likely that fetuses with problems get carried to term.

    *yeah, I know that’s inflammatory language. It’s also accurate. Antiabortion activists believe that woman are fragile helpless creatures in thrall to our uncontrollable emotions. The fact that this view can be summarized as “dimitted cowardly weaklings” should be enough proof that they really just don’t like women.

  12. At the very least I think that the fetus should be ejected from the metaphorical “boat” on which it is trespassing and be given a chance to fight for its life. With viability reaching as early as the first trimester, it’s a sad state of affairs that some would insist on the fetus being sliced up rather than allowing it a chance to live independently.

  13. Why is it that in the media only two choices are considered, have an abortion or keep the baby? Why isn’t adoption considered as an option? I suppose that anyone having a baby considers themselves to be the very best person to raise the child. Of course, they are often not the person to raise the child, the grandparents are saddled with the task. And if those people were such great parents, why are their children faced with this terrible decision?

  14. A woman should have an absolute right to abort her child (at her own expense) for any reason whatsoever, up until the moment of birth. Then both parents have that right.

  15. Abortion is not an easy issue, guys. There really is no libertarian stance. Most of the time, life and liberty and property can go together. Abortion is made into a life vs. liberty argument. This is a pretty moderate article.

    Now the Thompson one, that’s completely different…

  16. Warren: abort? eject? Or slice up. A tresspasser that wanders onto private property unintentionally should at least be offered the courtesy of a warning and an ejection, surely?

  17. Star Trek went out of its way to tell stories on how the future society depicted in the show stamped out social injustices like poverty, crime, prejudice, and so on. As far as I know, it never touched abortion. In that future society, do people have free sex and have routine abortions? Maybe not, because contraception tech is so good and everyone uses it. But as far as I know, they never met a primitive planet where free sex and routine abortions. Would that make their socially just sensibilities squirm?

  18. Worse yet, the fetus didn’t even “wander” into the womb. It’s not a trespasser. By and large, fetuses come to be through the voluntary, if perhaps unintentional, actions of the person owning the body.

    You wouldn’t think you could a starship owner could push anyone he doesn’t like out of the nearest airlock. You wouldn’t think you could shove someone into your crocodile-infested moat any time they overstay their welcome. Why would think you can butcher a child and eject it when it becomes inconvenient?

  19. Abortions cause global warming.

    If you could prove that, it would be an excellent way to get liberals to try to ban it.

  20. The abortion issue crosses up the usual libertarian template in so many ways.

    First, of course, the unresolvable issue of the personhood of the fetus.

    Second, the issue of personal responsibility. Outside of rape, an abortion is the product of the woman’s decision to have sex; many see an abortion as an attempt to avoid responsility for the foreseeable consequences of that decision.

    Third, the inaptness of many of the usual libertarian tropes, such as treating the fetus as a “trespasser.”

  21. Abortions cause global warming.

    If you could prove that, it would be an excellent way to get liberals to try to ban it.

    Nevermind, I forgot for a second we were talking about liberals. If you could assert that convincingly, it would be a good way to get liberals to ban it.

  22. Just one thing I had to comment on from the article –

    In 1990, 30.4 percent of pregnancies ended in abortion. Last year, the figure was 22.4 percent.

    If the use of contraceptives leads to fewer women getting pregnant, then a higher percentage of women who do get pregnant want to be pregnant. This statistic does not refute the idea that better contraception explains lower abortion rates.

    Also, doesn’t anyone else think that 22.4 percent of pregnancies ending in abortion seems absurdly high?

  23. With viability reaching as early as the first trimester…

    A 12 week fetus isn’t anywhere even close to viability.

  24. First, of course, the unresolvable issue of the personhood

    It’s pretty resolvable that a sperm or an egg is not a person, and a zygote is not a person, and an embryo is almost but not quite a person. The only point in discussing it is when the clump of cells finally becomes a viable fetus. That’s what anti-abortionists should concentrate on, and where they have the best chance of success.

  25. Let’s see. Abortions are:

    Safe
    Legal
    Getting Rarer

    Sounds like a pro choice victory to me.

  26. Rothbard as usual had the best
    argument in The Ethics of Liberty.
    What human being has the right to
    remain inside the body of another
    human being against that person’s
    will ? If males got pregnant abortion
    would be a sacrament. The responsible
    choice is to abort if you do not want
    to be a mother. The irresponsible thing
    is to bring these unwanted fetuses
    to term.
    Chapman has always been a conservative,
    recall many pieces he penned for the
    bloody Contras in the 80s, his “pro-life”
    credentials are nonexistent.

  27. Abortion should be legal up until the 54th trimester.

  28. Good article, but it would be nice to dig deeper into why people have a distaste for abortion. If an unborn is really just a lump of cells deserving of no legal protection whatsoever, why is removing it so distasteful?

    It’s like when someone says, “I personally oppose abortion, but I think it should be a woman’s right to choose,” I ask, “Why do you personally oppose it?” They’re pretty much never able to give me an answer to that question without admitting that the unborn have some right to life.

  29. Abortion should be legal up until the 54th trimester.

    17 years of age?

  30. The abortion rate among women of childbearing age has declined by 29 percent.

    Uh, who else has them?

    Also, doesn’t anyone else think that 22.4 percent of pregnancies ending in abortion seems absurdly high?

    Yeah. One out of every five conceptions ends in abortion? Source?

    What human being has the right to remain inside the body of another human being against that person’s will?

    What human being, placed in that position through no fault of his own, deserves the death penalty? If someone dumped a helpless, starving person in my home I doubt I’d be found justified in shooting him. I don’t think even denying him food would be the moral choice.

    Yet I don’t want the government to prohibit abortion, because I believe that cure is worse than the problem.

  31. I don’t know of anyone who is actively for abortion. It is always an unpleasant choice.

    Next week, Roe v. Wade is celebrating its 35th Anniversary. And Feministing wants to party.

  32. A 12 week fetus isn’t anywhere even close to viability.

    It’s only a matter of time before that changes — a 28-week fetus was barely viable at the time of RvW. Viability isn’t an inherent characteristic of a fetus, it’s dependent on the level of technology and skill of the surrounding society. Thus, it doesn’t make sense as a criterion of “personhood”.

  33. FWIW, I agree with Steve Horowitz

  34. For anyone seeking insight on how abortions are handled in the context of extreme prohibition, I suggest you watch a new Romanian film called Four Months, Three Weeks, and Two Days, directed and written by Cristian Mungiu.

    It’s an incredibly blunt and well-told story, and has the potential to make both sides of the debate very uncomfortable.

  35. It won the Palme d’Or in Cannes last year, if that’s any incentive…

  36. What it boils down to is not so much what constitutes a “person” but what constitutes “viability”. Then there is “viable” on its own vs. “viable” with the aid of 2 months in intensive care and a couple million dollars worth of medical bills. So the issue will never be resolved satisfactorily. Indeed, advances in science and medicine have made the debate all that much more difficult.

  37. When the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, most people had little understanding of fetal development.

    Exactly why it baffles me that pro-choicers can claim that theirs is the “scientific” position while the pro-life position is “emotional”, when the developments in embryology in the past 35 years have all pointed to earlier and earlier development of human characteristics in the unborn. Seriously, the SCOTUS based their ruling that life begins at birth on the biological insights of Thomas Aquinas and the ancient Greek Stoics.

  38. I don’t know of anyone who is actively for abortion.

    I am.

  39. It won the Palme d’Or in Cannes last year, if that’s any incentive…

    Film festival liberals approve of pro-choice propaganda? You’ve got to be kidding me.

  40. In that future society, do people have free sex and have routine abortions? Maybe not, because contraception tech is so good and everyone uses it.

    Force-field condoms never break.

    Shields up!

  41. It has always been a thorney issue for Libertarians; does the right to life extend to the fetus, or is it just the right of the mother to choose?

    Part of it is modern technology. My nephew and his girl just had a baby, and you can see the the fetus yawning, and doing other human things via sonagram.

    The difference between abortion and infanticide is not huge in my mind. You’re killing someone whose going to be a person fairly soon.

  42. Then there is “viable” on its own vs. “viable” with the aid of 2 months in intensive care and a couple million dollars worth of medical bills.

    Well, a person with diabetes doesn’t qualify for the first kind of viable. So if you try to exclude the unborn, you’re going to exclude a lot of already-born people as well.

  43. According to wiki we are down to a birth at 21 weeks and 5 days with survival and full health.

    I thought I remembered a viable birth in England at 16 weeks, but I must be mistaken.

    As crimethink states, the number is dropping, and will continue to drop, and has nothing to do with the personhood of the fetus, more to do with practical implications.

    Once surrogate (or artificial) wombs are viable, and they have been relatively successful with goats, there will be even greater pressure to view this issue from more angles than just woman’s choice.

  44. It’s pretty resolvable that a sperm or an egg is not a person, and a zygote is not a person, and an embryo is almost but not quite a person.

    What it boils down to is not so much what constitutes a “person” but what constitutes “viability”.

    When a fetus becomes a person is the cental issue around abortion. You can’t kill a person except in self-defense, after all, so the transition from “clump o’ cells” to “person” is the central issue in the debate. Unlike most, libertarians at least recognize this issue.

    The first two months (conception through the “embryo” stage) is relatively easy for non-religious folks to agree on, fine. At what point after that do you grant personhood (and presumably, outlaw abortion)?

    Viability is often used as a handy shorthand for personhood, although as viability becomes more artificial with advancing technology I’m not sure that it really works any more.

  45. James Gill, born in Ottawa in 1987 at 128 days survived and is healthy today.

  46. This is a bad article, it is bad science. The ‘pro-life’ people don’t care about life, they want to control womens bodies to keep them barefoot and pregnant. It is all part of the master plan by the hierarchical patriarchy to control women.

    Something needs to be done to increase the number of abortions performed. Ultrasound should be banned because it may reduce abortions.

    Everyone knows a fetus is just a clump of cells, like a blood clot. Life begins when it is wanted.

  47. crimethink:

    If you watched the movie, I think you’d have a hard time labeling it propaganda. As I hinted above, it offers no haven to either side.

  48. It’s pretty resolvable that a sperm or an egg is not a person, and a zygote is not a person, and an embryo is almost but not quite a person.

    Well, a sperm or egg has only half the human complement of chromosomes, and can’t grow into anything else, so clearly those are not persons. But I haven’t seen any convincing arguments that a zygote isn’t — usually that question is dismissed with an appeal to “obviousness”…and I’m not sure what “almost but not quite” really means in the context of personhood.

  49. This is a bad article, it is bad science. The ‘pro-life’ people don’t care about life, they want to control womens bodies to keep them barefoot and pregnant. It is all part of the master plan by the hierarchical patriarchy to control women.

    Something needs to be done to increase the number of abortions performed. Ultrasound should be banned because it may reduce abortions.

    Everyone knows a fetus is just a clump of cells, like a blood clot. Life begins when it is wanted.

    “Life begins when it it wanted.” I love it!

  50. Every sperm is sacred!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0kJHQpvgB8

    cut & paste or click on my name.

  51. “Out of the womb, into the orphanage!”

  52. 50+ comments and this thread isn’t about Ron Paul yet?

    Life begins when it’s wanted.

    So…next time I shoot a trespasser, my legal defense could be…

  53. On both abortion and drugs, I boil things down to the following principal: Anything a person wants to put into or take out of his or her own body is that person’s business alone.

    Laws shouldn’t be made simply because something is immoral or wrong. If something is going to be forbidden, there needs to be a demonstrable good in such a prohibition. Murder needs to be illegal not because the bible says so or because it is inherently immoral (though I certainly would say that it is), but because it is necessary for a functioning society. There is no such necessity served by banning or restricting abortion.

  54. and in many peoples’ book, a woman that would abort her child is an unwanted form of life.

  55. many believe that abortion is murder and making it illegal is a necessary part of society.

  56. Fuck, here’s an interesting libertarian angle on the pro-life perspective: state custody of unwanted children!

    It’s endemic in Europe, especially Eastern Bloc countries. Do pro-life libertarians accept that promoting adoption over abortion may mean a gross swelling of the public sector to accommodate the surplus of unwanted children?

    Will the market come to the rescue yet again? Will new industries flourish? Has this actually happened anywhere?

  57. “The abortion issue crosses up the usual libertarian template in so many ways.

    First, of course, the unresolvable issue of the personhood of the fetus.”

    So when we can’t resolve the issue, our default position is state control? Fascinating….

    In fact, the unresolvable issue is the main argument why libertarians are in favor of choice. Every single miscarriage could lead to a prosecution of some sort. This is why somebody can oppose abortion but be pro-choice.

  58. I’m a libertarian through and through, but a state that doesn’t punish aggression is no state at all.

    Victimless crimes are no one’s business. But we as human beings have unalienable rights, and the state exists to protect the innocent from aggression against those rights.

  59. Anything a person wants to put into or take out of his or her own body is that person’s business alone.

    This presumes that a fetus is a “thing” and not a person, which is begging the question.

    Laws shouldn’t be made simply because something is immoral or wrong. If something is going to be forbidden, there needs to be a demonstrable good in such a prohibition. Murder needs to be illegal not because the bible says so or because it is inherently immoral (though I certainly would say that it is), but because it is necessary for a functioning society.

    “Necessary to a functioning society” strikes me as both overbroad and underinclusive as a test for the legitimacy of law. Both the terms “necessary” and “functioning society” are almost infinitely malleable.

    As for abortion, it is difficult to imagine a society that does not maintain the minimum replacement reproduction rate as surviving any length of time, so I think there is pretty straightforward argument that prohibiting abortion, and perhaps birth control, is necessary for the continued existence of a functioning society. I wouldn’t agree with such an argument, but there it is.

  60. Every single miscarriage could lead to a prosecution of some sort.

    “Your shitty diet killed this thing! There are no accidents! Gavel bang!”

  61. Well, a person with diabetes doesn’t qualify for the first kind of viable

    But a person with diabetes is already an actual person, not a fetus. So that’s not a valid example.

  62. So when we can’t resolve the issue, our default position is state control? Fascinating. . .

    There’s a legitimate argument that the default position should be in favor of personhood. We tend to reject definitions of personhood that would exclude the disabled, for example.

  63. I am a reformed Republican, a Bush voter in the 2000 election whose distaste for his aggressive anti-liberty initiatives after the inauguration caused me to pause and wonder “Am I really in agreement with this guy and his followers opinions and actions”? After some gut-wrenching months of wrestling with what I truly believed, 9/11 occurred.
    It took a matter of weeks after that tragedy for me to leave Bush, and the party, for good. The Patriot Act was the final straw. By my good fortune, at the same time that this occurred(late 2001), my very first issue of Reason arrived in the mail. I have never been the same … as I discovered that I am libertarian, and always have been. But there is one issue that has loomed over my transition from Bush voter to radical libertarian.
    This is the abortion issue. As a person that employs reason as a guide, I cannot muster anything but disgust at the thought of abortion. For a community that relies so heavily upon reason, and an unstinting belief in the efficacy of science as a reliable guide, there seems to be a strange inclination towards anti-scientific thought on this issue.
    In fact, any reasonable person should be able to acknowledge the disconnect between the majority-libertarian views on evolution and abortion. One is informed by and reliant upon science and its proofs. Another readily dispenses with science as irrelevant or with an “oh well” shrug of the shoulders that is oddly similar to attitudes taken by the anti-evolutionists that many of you are so quick to lampoon and criticize.
    Why? I have my own theories as to why this exists, but I would like a thoughtful response from someone that is libertarian, pro-science, a believer in evolution, personal liberty and is yet pro-abortion. Please , do tell …

  64. Since I am opposed to killing innocent human beings, I am opposed to induced abortion. I also think the law should address the wrongness of killing the innocent. That is my rational argument. To understand my passion, look at an aborted fetus—another helpless boy or girl done to death, the victim of legalized, privatized, medicalized bloody tyranny.

  65. But a person with diabetes is already an actual person, not a fetus. So that’s not a valid example.

    This begs the question, since the original argument seemed to be that we shouldn’t consider someone worthy of personhood if they weren’t viable, and that we shouldn’t consider them viable if they required extensive medical support.

    Pointing out that we don’t deprive others of personhood based on their medical needs seems like a legitimate response to the claim that premies can’t be people because they’re expensive to keep alive.

  66. the way i see it, nothing bad has ever come about from having an abortion, except to maybe the mother/father to be.

    conversely (inversely?) i can see plenty of good that could have been done by aborting many of the people around today.

    so, abortion = net gain

  67. Since 1990, the number of abortions has dropped from 1.61 million to 1.21 million.

    Do you mean per year?

  68. Do pro-life libertarians accept that promoting adoption over abortion may mean a gross swelling of the public sector to accommodate the surplus of unwanted children?

    Given what people currently go through to adopt children, my guess is that there will be no surplus. Of course selling children has certain moral issues as well.

    so, abortion = net gain

    Freakonomics certainly agreed, and correlated abortions with future lowered crime rates (the aborted children were not around to commit crimes).

  69. “There’s a legitimate argument that the default position should be in favor of personhood.”

    And there’s an equally valid argument that taking away a person’s right to control what happens with their own body takes away the personhood of an adult. There’s no smoking gun argument that protecting lumps of cells is pro-personhood anymore than outlawing masturbation and menstruation. But there are grounds to say that stripping a person of their own medical choices denies them their humanity.

    You see it as killing a person, I see it as a person controlling their own body.

    More importantly, I respect your ability to properly use “begs the question.”

  70. “But there is one issue that has loomed over my transition from Bush voter to radical libertarian.

    This is the abortion issue. As a person that employs reason as a guide, I cannot muster anything but disgust at the thought of abortion. For a community that relies so heavily upon reason, and an unstinting belief in the efficacy of science as a reliable guide, there seems to be a strange inclination towards anti-scientific thought on this issue.”

    Yeah, I’m an atheist myself and my main field of study in college was biology. My knowledge of science only reinforces my belief that abortion is fundamentally wrong. And the usual debate opponents (not saying you guys, not saying other libertarians even), don’t know basic science and they stick to political opinions or personal philosophy.

    I know what it means to be biologically “alive.” I know the definition of a species is (i.e. that ain’t a chimpanzee fetus in there).

    So based on raw logic, facts, science, whatever, we’re dealing with a living member of our species.

    “Yeah, but is it a human? Is it a person?” That’s not really science anymore. I believe in natural human rights, and that’s my political opinion, but it’s one most libertarians share.

    I would say that any living member of our species is a person, and the initiation of violent or coercive force against them is wrong. Which is a strong moral basis for condemning societal injustice (aggressive war, genocide, slavery, etc), and it also so happens to cut this way on the abortion issue.

  71. Philosophy aside, abortion is for the most part a political question. We can debate its wrongness or rightness, but that still won’t change the fact that at least for now, it will happen. Neither side can dispute this. When something is illegal, it still happens. The drug war has evidenced this time and time again.

    So since this thing is still going to happen, no matter what level of rhetoric we reach, the question becomes not WHY but HOW. In a clinic? In a basement? With professionals? With opportunists? With supervision? With luck?

    It’s a political question, it’s public policy. Something that all libertarians struggle with by nature.

  72. Bush opposes abortion, but he supports the death penalty, that makes him a hyprocrite. If he was so anti-killing how can he support the death penalty.

    If Jesus were alive today he would support abortion because he would want women to have the best health care available.

  73. @SxCx:

    Right, but drug use is a victimless crime, hurting no one besides the user, the one that wants to be hurt or at least doesn’t care if they hurt themselves.

    The wrong-headedness of the early 20th Century left’s alcohol prohibition had little to do with whether or not prohibition actually worked. It was wrong because it’s none of government’s business what you drink or shoot up or smoke.

    Certainly, when you make something illegal, you create a black market for it.

    But that is no basis for abandoning all law. Murder is illegal, but there is a market for hitmen. Slavery is illegal, but there are human traffickers.

    When someone violently infringes upon the rights of another, that act deserves punishment, and for this reason we have governments and the rule of law.

  74. This is why libertarians don’t recognize each other in these debates. Because it turns one side into eager adherents of state control, in territory that just feels abusive and overreaching.

  75. SxCx … you just proved my point. Notice that you didn’t say ” Science aside, abortion is for the most part a political question”. No, you said “philosophy”. There is no philosophy here. Either we are dealing with science as a guide, or we’re not. Libertarians cannot have it both ways … they cannot, with anything resembling intellectual credibility, knock the anti-evolutionists for being so frighteningly ignorant, and then ignorantly flee from science at the first convenient opportunity. You know how many of you feel when you hear the kooks talk about a 6000 year old earth? Thats how many people feel when they hear libertarians refer to the abortion issue in “philosophical” terms.

  76. Again, one can admit that the fetus has some elements of personhood and understand all the science involved, yet still be pro-choice. The fact remains that women are going to choose to have abortions, even if it’s made illegal. (Again, how libertarians could deny this when the drugs and alcohol analogy is so strong baffles me.)

    Given that abortions will still happen, I would much rather that they happened in as safe and accessible way as possible, and that can only happen if they are legal.

    Yes, this means that the rights and interests of fully developed adult human beings take precedent over those of “persons to be.” As others have noted, the question here is not when the fetus is human, but when it is a person. Personhood is not a biological concept.

    Faced with a tradeoff between the deaths of many zygotes/fetuses versus the physical and mental dangers to just as many fully-developed female persons, I will choose to put the latter higher in my consequentialist tally.

    I’ll also add that I agree with the spirit of many of the comments here that for some elements of the pro-life movement, this is just as much about controlling women and their sexuality as it is about anything else.

  77. @ Steve, that’s probably rather unfair given where you’re arguing.

    I have no interest in controlling anyone. I have no gender preferences or desire to push a religious ideology.

    A anti-abortion libertarian is deeply concerned about the natural rights of the being that is slain.

  78. I’m not sure if I buy the market argument that he seems to put forth, that there are less abortions because the services are in less demand…I would say there is an enourmous amount of intimidation involved as well. I live near the planned parenthood and there are always people out there blocking the entrance or chanting something.


  79. A anti-abortion libertarian is deeply concerned about the natural rights of the being that is slain.

    No one is slain; everyone knows that life begins when it is wanted, it isn’t alive if it is not wanted, it is a ‘potential’ person not an actual person, those are the facts.

  80. JayDubya:

    I understand the need to punish murderers. The difficulty is moreso that abortion is a more elusive, private, and seemingly victimless situation that killing a born human in cold blood. Pro-life rhetoric can be unconvincing because despite thorough argumentation, the death of a fetus simply seems less significant to a large portion of the population.

    It then follows: do you want to foster a political climate where force is authorized against otherwise moral and life-affirming human beings? My concern, despite maintaining pro-life sympathies, is that prohibition would create a bigger nightmare.

  81. I live near the planned parenthood and there are always people out there blocking the entrance or chanting something.

    That should be illegal, you have the right to an opinion, but no one has the right to tell a woman what she can do with her body.

    I believe it should be illegal to show pictures of fetuses because that can result in less abortions.

  82. “No one is slain; everyone knows that life begins when it is wanted, it isn’t alive if it is not wanted, it is a ‘potential’ person not an actual person, those are the facts.”

    Actually, Amanda, there are no facts at all in what you are saying.

    I’m not sure if you’re appealing to authority, or appealing to the bandwagon, but I must say that in either case, you’re going for the wrong kind of argument when talking to this crowd.

  83. “That should be illegal, you have the right to an opinion, but no one has the right to tell a woman what she can do with her body.

    I believe it should be illegal to show pictures of fetuses because that can result in less abortions.”

    So you don’t respect the right to free speech, OR the freedom to peaceably assemble?

    And you’re posting on Reason.com because… uhhh…?

  84. Monkey Of Fear:

    I don’t get it. Did I lash out against creationism somewhere?

  85. “I understand the need to punish murderers. The difficulty is moreso that abortion is a more elusive, private, and seemingly victimless situation that killing a born human in cold blood. Pro-life rhetoric can be unconvincing because despite thorough argumentation, the death of a fetus simply seems less significant to a large portion of the population.”

    Perhaps, but the death of a slave was once regarded as a mere loss of property. And the mere clandestine nature of most abortions means little – most intentional, premeditated acts of murder are done in secret, and the body is disposed of.

  86. So you don’t respect the right to free speech, OR the freedom to peaceably assemble?

    I do respect those rights, but the right to abortion is the most fundamental right womyn have. Without it no other rights are of consequense.

    Free speech has limits, protesting abortion is a RICO violation.

  87. Amanda … “womyn”? LMFAO … so, what is the most fundamental right a man has?? You feminazis are truly funny people.


  88. Perhaps, but the death of a slave was once regarded as a mere loss of property. And the mere clandestine nature of most abortions means little – most intentional, premeditated acts of murder are done in secret, and the body is disposed of.

    It may mean little to you. I think many folks feel more innately repelled at the thought of post-birth murder than an abortion, which seems almost quaint in comparison. This is why careful persuasion will be the only thing that truly eradicates abortion. Prohibition will simply fund tragedy and outrage. The drug war parallels are awkward but unavoidable.

  89. “I do respect those rights, but the right to abortion is the most fundamental right womyn have. Without it no other rights are of consequense.”

    Well, Amanda, I would argue that every human’s most fundamental right is the freedom from fatal and violent aggression being inflicted upon them.

    If we don’t have that right then how do we have any civilization at all? If that right does not extend to the smallest and the weakest, how can that civilization be worthy of the name?

    “Free speech has limits, protesting abortion is a RICO violation.”

    Um. No. Not at all.

  90. Go Amanda!! Yeah!! Don’t forget to tell ’em about the “soul wheel”!!

  91. Perhaps caffeine should be outlawed for pregnant women, and since we can’t really tell which women are pregnant, we have to assume that they all are (if we are to err on the side of life). Caffeine may lead to 2x the miscarriages. Prohibit pregnant women from caffeine?

  92. Could all this be becuase pro abortion people are having fewer children. BTW if abortion is not evil then it is very good. It can reduce the disabeld population. It can provide sex selection it can help in many ways. etc. If abortion is not evil then it is indeed very good.

  93. I have struggled with the abortion issue for a long time. While I believe that life is sacred, I also believe women should not be slaves to their uteri. A wanted fetus is a person, an unwanted one a parasite may not be popular, but, frankly, it’s the truth. If one believes that you own your body, and I do believe this, then how can you say to a woman who has an unwanted pregnancy that because of an accident that she must carry an organism to term, must go through the profound physiological and mental changes that come with pregnancy, and only then, to suit your morality, must give up the baby (now an acknowledged, human being) for adoption? At least nine months of involuntary servitude because a sperm and ova combined and lodged in a uterine wall.

    If it’s God’s will, then surely God ought to know who is going to abort the fetus and who isn’t.

    I regret the necessity of abortion, but I do not regret that it is available to women who need it.

  94. @ NeonCat:

    “A wanted fetus is a person, an unwanted one a parasite may not be popular, but, frankly, it’s the truth.”

    This is what I meant when I said that a lot of people throw around philosophy without basis in science.

    A parasite? Come on now. A Homo sapiens cannot act as a parasite in another Homo sapiens. That’s part of the definition of the word, for crying out loud.

    One person’s will should not determine the worth of another.

    And certainly, you own your own body, but through engaging in certain consensual activities, one arguably gives their informed consent to “lease it.”

  95. A parasite? Perhaps you should look up the definition of that word … your assertion is patently absurd. Women who spread their legs for sex are already making the “choice”… 99.9% of women who engage in sexual activities are well aware that sex could lead to pregnancy. I have never understood the “unwanted” or “parasite” argument … once again, an appalling lack of scientific knowledge is on display here.
    Libertarians and liberals are wholly out of touch with reason on this question. No one libertarian has been able to satisfactorily answer my question on abortion in these last six years. In my mind, it is the libertarians Achilles heel. It betrays profound mendacity and hypocrisy, particularly when you consider the typical libertarian line on immigration, human rights, non-violence, and the science/evolution issue.

  96. Lamar | January 21, 2008, 2:33pm
    This is why somebody can oppose abortion but be pro-choice.

    Can somebody be anti-choice on every other issue (eg: drugs, guns, property, taxes, school) but still claim the mantle of “pro-choice” simply because they favor legalized abortion?

  97. @ Nobody Important

    “Can somebody be anti-choice on every other issue (eg: drugs, guns, property, taxes, school) but still claim the mantle of “pro-choice” simply because they favor legalized abortion?”

    Why not? Democrats do it all the time.

  98. NeonCat has it right. An unwanted fetus is a parasite. The state has no more right to dictate a woman play host to such a thing than it has forcing someone to be a kidney donor.

  99. It seems that your hypothetical person believes that people should be told what to do (perhaps because people are base, evil sinners?), and that the need to control people’s lives includes abortion. Only here, they believe that abortion is good, and that people should be told to have abortions.

  100. Of course, I’m not sure I understood the question.

  101. @ Shecky

    “NeonCat has it right. An unwanted fetus is a parasite. The state has no more right to dictate a woman play host to such a thing than it has forcing someone to be a kidney donor.”

    No, and this is the last time I will say it nicely, this is patently false based on the very definition of the word “parasite.”

    Ugh.

  102. It isn’t a parasite, tumor, neoplasia, or anything other than what it is: a groups of cells somewhere between a zygote and a President of the United States.

    Of course, copyright infringement isn’t “piracy” but that doesn’t stop the disingenuous freaks from using that word anyway. And abortion isn’t murder. So let’s all use the actual words, ‘kay?

  103. @ shecky

    Oh, so we’re going to use layman definitions rather than scientific ones?

    Okay.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/baby

    No, it’s a baby.

  104. Monkey of Fear and / or JayDubya,

    How do you scientifically determine personhood? Do you believe that a fertilized ovum is a person? A blastsphere, an embryo, etc?

    Do women gain or lose any rights in determining the outcome of her pregnancy if she were raped, the condom broke, she used the pill perfectly but still got unlucky (0.3% failure rate)?

  105. Also, “an organism that lives on or in an organism of another species, known as the host, from the body of which it obtains nutriment.”

    OF ANOTHER SPECIES.

  106. An unwanted fetus is a parasite.

    See my 1:11 post re the inaptness of many libertarian tropes.

    I mean, seriously folks, do you really want to stake a person’s claim to personhood or parasite status on whether or not somebody else wants them?

  107. The abortion rate among women of childbearing age has declined by 29 percent.

    Yeah, but it’s skyrocketed among women of non-childbearing age.

  108. I must say, this has been one of the more entertaining abortion threads.

  109. The unwanted fetus is a parasite. A wanted fetus is a baby. This is a crucial difference. It’s not scientific. Once again, the state has no right to force anyone to play physical host to another organism. Not donate an organ. Not donate blood. Not carry a fetus. Any of all of those things may be good and even noble. But it’s none of the state’s business.

  110. I guess I’m fundamentally pro-choice, but since contraceptives are widely available nowadays, as is the Plan B pill, women can get the chance of getting pregnant down to zero (like if you’re on the pill, man uses condom, plus you take morning after pill, then if you do get pregnant, it’s gotta be some kind of golden child sent to this world from some kind of diety). Thus, it seems to me that the moment of choice act should occur when you choose to have less than fully protected sex.

    That being said, if a woman was raped or forceably not allowed to use contraceptive, then abortion should be an option (I guess you’d have to take the woman’s word on it, hmmm..).

    Plus, if a woman’s life or long-term health is at danger, it should for real be legal.

  111. It would seem that a woman using the pill her whole life is stamping out more life than a woman who has an abortion after 3 kids.

  112. Shecky, if an unwanted fetus is a parasite and a wanted fetus is a baby, then what would you call an unwanted newborn? A baby or a parasite?

    Will someone speak to the strong caffeine argument made earlier? I have to go take care of my “parasite.”

  113. The way I see it, a person’s claim to personhood or parasite status isn’t the issue. A person’s claim to the most fundamental freedom, the control over one’s body, is the issue.

    If the state can compel you to use your body in a way it sees fit, in this case, be a physical host to another person, all arguments against being a metaphorical host to another person pretty much wither away.

  114. de stijl … If a baby can breathe, has heartbeats and brainwaves, it is alive. What is so hard to understand about this? I simply love how certain people attempt to ignore the hard science on this … this isn’t philosophy 101. It’s science people …

  115. “If a baby can breathe, has heartbeats and brainwaves, it is alive.”

    Tell that to Terry Schiavo.

  116. Shecky, if an unwanted fetus is a parasite and a wanted fetus is a baby, then what would you call an unwanted newborn? A baby or a parasite?

    Absent being physically hosted by another, a newborn is for all intents and purposes, a person. They don’t regain parasite status until the teen years.

  117. shecky … having control over one’s own body isn’t the issue, though deluded pro-choice people use that as a handy reason to justify their absurdities. The issue is control over another human being. If, in the year 2008, you cannot acknowledge that a fetus that has heartbeats and brainwaves, breathes, has hair, fingernails, can feel and respond to pain, smiles, hiccups, laughs and dreams is indeed a person, you are as ignorant as flat-earthers and those that believe that the Earth is 6000 years old.
    You are entitled to your ignorance, and as a libertarian, I welcome all points of view, no matter how inane. However, it does irk me that the inanity and ignorance is presently interwoven into official government policy. There’s nothing new there!!

  118. According to wiki we are down to a birth at 21 weeks and 5 days with survival and full health.

    My google search found 21 weeks and 6 days. Without checking wiki, maybe its the same. This was in Miami in late 2006.

  119. If, in the year 2008, you cannot acknowledge that a fetus that has heartbeats and brainwaves, breathes, has hair, fingernails, can feel and respond to pain, smiles, hiccups, laughs and dreams is indeed a person,

    Did I ever deny this?

    Contrary to what you say, having control over one’s own body is very much THE the issue here.

  120. jj,

    Just saw your James Gill post. The girl in Miami was only 10 ounces, vs his 1 lb, 6 ounces. He was earlier though.

  121. Lamar … good point and I am glad you brought that up. Here is the salient point: the baby is killed. The baby had no choice to express his/her will. Schiavo was allowed to die, i.e., nature was allowed to take it’s course. BIG difference my friend.

  122. shecky … if you acknowledge that the baby has that very person-like attributes, then your point of view is precisely as I stated it to be: absurd.

  123. read that as *those* in the last post

  124. Any attempt to conflate the Schiavo case, or any like it, with abortion is an exercise in warped logic.

  125. “The issue is control over another human being.”

    Well, now that we’re calling people names, let’s look at how stupid your idiotic argument is. The whole time you are arguing about controlling another person’s body for the sake of preventing them from controlling another person’s body. Two wrongs make a right?

    “heartbeats and brainwaves, breathes, has hair, fingernails, can feel and respond to pain, smiles, hiccups, laughs and dreams.”

    Pardon me for not being impressed. Partly because you are confusing different periods in a pregnancy for the disingenuous overall effect, and partly because I’m thinking, Terri Schiavo? Perhaps the fact that YOU THINK HAIR MAKES ONE HUMAN makes me wonder if you have a screw loose.

    The fact is that until assholes like you realize that the argument isn’t clear-cut, we will continue to be a cro-magnon country.

    I will respect the RC Deans of the world. I can’t respect the knuckle draggers whose world-view was taken with a pin-hole camera.

  126. “I agree that abortion is never a pleasant choice.”

    You are mistaken. I have worked with pregnant and parenting teen moms in a hard-core urban setting. There are woman that choose abortion as their only form of birth control. It’s not uncommon for this subset to have several abortions; for them it’s akin to getting one’s teeth cleaned.

  127. Monkey o’ Fear:

    That a person has heartbeats and brainwaves, breathes, has hair, fingernails, can feel and respond to pain, smiles, hiccups, laughs and dreams, is not the issue. The state must not have the ability to force me to physically host that person so he can live. Even if he’s a really, really cute little child.

    Suppose Schiavo (or anyone else) simply needed a kidney to live. Your kidney, and nobody else’s. The state should force you to give it up. Does that sound absurd?

  128. I couldn’t read all these tedious comments, so I’ll just assume that nobody’s said this already. It’s not a difficult phenomenon, the analysis does not have to be complicated. It has nothing to do morality or civil rights. This is the one true answer:

    When baby boomers used drugs they (the drugs) were a sacrament, when the boomers got older came the war on drugs.

    When baby boomers wanted to drink the drinking age fell, until their kids wanted to drink at 18.

    When baby boomers became the sandwich generation (i.e. the first generation to have both parents *and* children, yeah, I know) they needed help, and on and on until. . .

    SHAZAM: baby boomers’ grandkids are being aborted. This can’t be right.

    Wait ten years, we’ll find the wrinklies have discovered the right to own a tax payer funded Lexus, a winter home in the caribbean and pharmacare for viagra.

    As I said, this is not a complex issue.

  129. MonkeyofFear: Nice try on the Schiavo misdirection. You have to decide if modern medicine is a factor in whether a death is OK or not. You’re trying to disregard modern medicine when it hurts your case, but you are more than happy to use it to talk about babies dreaming and playing hopscotch in the womb, and you also rely on modern medicine to make premature babies viable earlier in the pregnancy.

    The Terri Schiavo reference was a trap to expose your blatant hypocrisy.

  130. First they came for the unviable fetuses,
    But I said nothing, as I was viable.

  131. “There are woman that choose abortion as their only form of birth control.”

    I don’t give a crap if it’s their only form of acne control. It’s their body, not yours.

  132. “I don’t give a crap if it’s their only form of acne control. It’s their body, not yours.”

    Still, it’s awefully stupid…

  133. Just to toss out an irrelevant, but interesting fact: Many years ago, I visited the International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago, and I remember an exhibit there saying that the legal status of abortions over the years has been highly correlated with the technological question of whether abortions were more or less likely to result in the mother’s death than carrying the baby to term. That is, during those times when childbirth was more deadly to the mother than abortions, abortions have been legal. During those times when abortions were more deadly to the mother, they have been illegal.

    Not relevant in a theoretical sense, perhaps, but I found it interesting in a historical sense.

  134. Considering the following, I would have to wonder what God’s position is:
    ====
    It is estimated that up to 50% of all fertilized eggs die and are lost (aborted) spontaneously, usually before the woman knows she is pregnant. Among known pregnancies, the rate of miscarriage is approximately 10% and usually occurs between the 7th and 12th weeks of pregnancy.

  135. Given that abortionsrapes will still happen, I would much rather that they happened in as safe and accessible way as possible, and that can only happen if they are legal.

    Fixed.

  136. If a baby can breathe, has heartbeats and brainwaves, it is alive. What is so hard to understand about this? I simply love how certain people attempt to ignore the hard science on this … this isn’t philosophy 101. It’s science people …

    So 20 – 24 weeks then?

  137. Every single miscarriage could lead to a prosecution of some sort. This is why somebody can oppose abortion but be pro-choice.

    What percentage of miscarriages resulted in prosecutions when abortions were illegal before Roe v. Wade? People try to paint this dystopian picture of how the world would fall apart if abortion were illegal, apparently forgetting that abortion used to be illegal and the world didn’t fall apart.

  138. Tell that to Terry Schiavo.

    See, again, my 2:37 post about rejecting definitions of personhood that would exclude the disabled.

    A person’s claim to the most fundamental freedom, the control over one’s body, is the issue.

    Again, this argument runs aground on the question of whether/when a fetus is a person. If it is, then another person, even the mother, is interfering with the fetus/person’s control over its body by terminating it.

    There are lots of rights that are limited by other people’s rights, after all. Your right to swing your fist, etc.

    I hate to say it again, but this formulation of the pro-choice argument also begs the question.

    Let me propose a test for the pro-choice advocates: If your argument for allowing abortion contains no limiting principles, and would allow a mother to terminate the fetus after delivery but before the umbilical cord is cut, then you may have a problem.

    A similar test for the pro-life advocates: If your argument for banning abortion contains no limiting principles and would prohibit a mother from taking a morning-after pill that would terminate an undifferentiated blastocyst, you may also have a problem.

  139. Lamar … please tell me when I tried to “disregard modern medicine when it hurts your case, but you are more than happy to use it to talk about babies dreaming and playing hopscotch in the womb, and you also rely on modern medicine to make premature babies viable earlier in the pregnancy”. I never said anything about premature babies being viable earlier in pregnancy outside of what is medically proven to be true.
    de stijl … twenty weeks sounds right, in terms of viability … however, it has been demonstrated that some of the aforementioned person-like characteristics exist as early as 10-12 weeks.

  140. de stijl,

    The heart begins beating in Week 5, and brain waves have been measured as early as Week 7.

  141. johnny clarke… thank you for supporting my point. Big difference between a natural death and an act of violence that results in death.

  142. Johnny Clarke,

    I don’t get your point. Because embryos are likely to die naturally, it’s OK to kill them?

  143. crimethink … thanks for the technical assist, that’s even earlier than I thought.

  144. Abortion to me is about mother’s liberty (or life in certain situations) versus fetus’s life. Both rights are real and the fact that they come into direct conflict is why it’s such a heated issue.

    The right to abortion is about the right to make an unreversable choice. Why would it be wrong then to make that choice at the point of sex? If you choose to not use sufficient protection or morning after pill, then I really would have to say that the fetuses right to life trumps your right to liberty. Unless the act wasn’t fully voluntary that is.

    Now if there’s a complication with the pregnancy, then the woman’s right to life comes into play, so she should have the full right to terminate.

  145. Has this already been mentioned? Apologies if it has.
    At the danger of turning this into another Ron Paul thread, National Review are saying that “Jane Roe”, Norma Leah McCorvey, may endorse Ron Paul tomorrow in a joint press conference.

  146. crimethink,

    Alveoli don’t develop until 20-24 weeks.

  147. To add to robc’s point above, contract murders are illegal, and this causes there to be a black market in murder. Also, the murders are often done in cruel ways and the murderer’s necessity of hiding the body makes it very difficult or impossible for the families of the murdered person to have a proper funeral.

    Does this mean we should legalize murder?

  148. de stijl,

    Uh, OK. I thought the question was about heartbeat and brain waves. You don’t really think fully-developed alveoli are the determinant of personhood, do you?

  149. I’ve read several articles lately about the increase in opposition to abortion among people between 15 and 30. I found that surprising until I realized that this is a generation that has probably never had a friend or family member die from an illegal abortion.

    That’s a very different experience from people old enough to remember high school classmates dying of “appendicitis.”

  150. crimethink,

    “If a baby can breathe, has heartbeats and brainwaves, it is alive.”

  151. See, again, my 2:37 post about rejecting definitions of personhood that would exclude the disabled.

    Again, this argument runs aground on the question of whether/when a fetus is a person. If it is, then another person, even the mother, is interfering with the fetus/person’s control over its body by terminating it.

    When a disabled person needs to be run a tap to my vein in order to survive, then it’s too much. That is my choice to make.Not the disabled person’s

    A fetus (or another full grown person) that needs a human body host in order to live loses to the person who is the host.

  152. Look, this is an abortion thread and if you think you are going to change anyone’s opinion about the issue with passionately written blog comments you’re gravely mistaken.

    We can know the timing of pre-natal development, but it will never answer “when does a person become a person.”

    To claim that your side owns all of the science on the issue, you are mistaken. To claim your side owns all of the logic on the issue, you are misguided. To claim that your side owns all of the morality on the issue….

  153. shecky,

    But if you tell the person he can tap your blood if he needs it, then yank it out, that would be wack.

    I’m saying that if you choose to have unprotected sex and not use morning after pill, you’re giving an child that may result from said act the right to tap into your blood as long as it needs it.

  154. And, of course, you’ve negotiated and signed some sort of contract with that mindless little clump of cells?

  155. Philosophically, Rand had it right. You cannot subrogate the rights of an actual person to those of a potential person.

    Politically/morally, Clinton had it right. Safe, legal, and rare.

  156. I’m saying that if you choose to have unprotected sex and not use morning after pill, you’re giving an child that may result from said act the right to tap into your blood as long as it needs it.

    I’d disagree. One, an unprotected sex act implies nothing other than the unprotected sex act. Two, one’s decision to physically host or not host another being can be made at any time, barring any prior contract.

  157. Actually, I would say this is one of many areas where Rand got it wrong and Objectivists still get it wrong. But she’s got good company, as anti-abortion libertarians are a minority.

    “Actual person” and “potential person” are about as moral a distinction as the ol’ “3/5th of a person.”

    We have unalienable rights, or we don’t. We’re not given rights from the government, and we don’t get rights as a magical gift after sliding out a vagina.

    The major reason why a state is better than anarchy is that a state can enforce contracts and protect people’s rights through the rule of law. These rights do not include those that directly contradict the rights of others.

    My liberties do not include the right to infringe on yours.

  158. On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Norma Leah McCorvey (Jane Roe) is meeting with Dr. Ron Paul for a press conference.

    Might another endorsement be gestating?

    http://www.pr-inside.com/ron-paul-to-hold-news-conference-r397373.htm

    cut& paste or click on my name.

  159. oops! I see Brett beat me to the punch.

  160. Let’s call the debate what it is, a surreptitious argument over the sanctity of the soul. It’s starting to resemble the creationism argument. Certain prominent anti-abortion groups now realize that they can’t simply coast along on the “It’s against God’s will” argument, and now must find various drawn out ways to assert a legal state of personhood for the fetus. Of course, it has failed.

    Beyond that, the issue is merely about how one person, or group places a particular importance on the fetus.

    The argument eventually veers back towards personal morality. So, as it stands, I still have not read a single convincing argument as to why a woman should be forced to carry her pregnancy to term under any rational set of laws.

    The fact that a site titled “Reasons” has so many readers who are unable to follow this simple line of logic, is truly disappointing.

    The violinist argument is still the most convincing. Until someone can assert convincingly why the fetus should be heralded with such importance in everyone’s mind, a woman’s right to have an abortion should be federally protected. I consider it an incredibly important, basic right.

  161. When a disabled person needs to be run a tap to my vein in order to survive, then it’s too much. That is my choice to make. Not the disabled person’s.

    So consensual sex carries no obligations or responsibilities with it? Millions of men paying child support will be relieved to learn of that.

    Somewhat less snarkily, the idea that a mother has absolutely no responsibility to a fetus is troubling on a couple of fronts.

    First, parents have all kinds of obligations to their kids. Lots of people have trouble believing that these obligations spring into being at the instant the umbilical cord is cut.

    Second, when the fetus is the product of consensual sex, it gets to be a lot harder to run the parasite/trespasser routine, because the fetus, as the foreseeable result of said sex, is in some sense an invitee.

    And, to repeat myself, your right to control your body is not absolute. You’re not allowed to do so in ways that harm others. If the cliche about your right to swing your fist doesn’t do it for you, howsabout the public health laws that don’t allow you to “control your body” in ways that present serious risks to your fellows?

    Sorry, but I’m still looking for limiting principles here.

  162. So, as it stands, I still have not read a single convincing argument as to why a woman should be forced to carry her pregnancy to term under any rational set of laws.

    Then you haven’t been reading very closely. Once a fetus is recognized as a person, allowing the mother to abort becomes an infringement on that person’s rights.

    The question, of course, is when do you recognize the fetus as a person. That’s a tough question, but I simply cannot accept that a fetus is not a person until the umbilical cord is cut. Give me a reason why I should draw the line at that point and no earlier, and we can talk, but so far no one has really cared to argue this point.

  163. The fact that a site titled “Reasons” has so many readers who are unable to follow this simple line of logic, is truly disappointing.

    I believe this calls for a drink, yes?

  164. I believe it is a matter of personal responsibility. If a pregnancy occurs for any reason other than forced copulation, than the persons responsible for said conception must face the responsibilties therein. I wonder if libertarianism is such a hard sell here in the U.S. because of the overhelming sense of entitlement and lack of responsibility for one’s actions. Abortion should be available as a medical procedure for rape cases. Not so a couple folks don’t have to be responsible for carelesness.
    It isn’t a matter of politics or religion or where life begins, it is making a choice to possibly procreate and dealing raising the child that results from what is biologically the sole reason for sex.

  165. “The right to abortion is about the right to make an unreversable choice. Why would it be wrong then to make that choice at the point of sex? If you choose to not use sufficient protection or morning after pill, then I really would have to say that the fetuses right to life trumps your right to liberty. Unless the act wasn’t fully voluntary that is.”

    You could say that, but you have not provided any sound reason as to why someone else should be forced to feel the same way about the fetus.

    This is the absurdity of the abortion debate. It is merely reduced to a particular view point about the sanctity of the fetus.

    Not everyone agrees that it has the same level of importance that you put on it, so you can not reasonably force someone to act in such a manner.

    Calling a fetus a “person” is an arbitrary distinction. You’ll never get everyone to agree that it constitutes person-hood. The woman helped to create the fetus, and must carry the fetus within her. She has the right to terminate that chemistry at any point, and no government, or group has any logical right to tell her that she can’t.

    You can assert morality all that you like, but your morality may differ from someone else’s morality.

  166. “Personhood” is based on very little. In fact the very idea of “legal personhood” I find to be contradictory to libertarianism itself and the classical liberal philosophy of natural rights.

    The state doesn’t say we have rights. Society doesn’t say we have rights. We have them, inherently, and they are unalienable.

  167. “Then you haven’t been reading very closely. Once a fetus is recognized as a person, allowing the mother to abort becomes an infringement on that person’s rights.”

    You have not established why everyone must consider the fetus a person. That is YOUR distinction. It still doesn’t resolve the symbiotic burden.

    “The question, of course, is when do you recognize the fetus as a person.”

    No, that is YOUR question. I don’t consider the fetus a person entitled to the right to remain inside of a woman.

    “That’s a tough question, but I simply cannot accept that a fetus is not a person until the umbilical cord is cut. Give me a reason why I should draw the line at that point and no earlier, and we can talk, but so far no one has really cared to argue this point.”

    The fact that YOU can’t accept it is not an argument. Fine, you can’t accept that. You still haven’t proven why I should accept that it is a person entitled to the unique right to not be aborted from its host.

  168. “So consensual sex carries no obligations or responsibilities with it? Millions of men paying child support will be relieved to learn of that.”

    Sure it does. Those responsibilities should include whether to keep the child, give it up for adoption, or to abort it. Having a gang of people force you to abandon one of those responsible choices is not giving way to liberty. If anything, it’s once again enforcing an arbitrary moral code onto them.

  169. No, abortion is never a responsible choice. It is a selfish choice.

    There is nothing wrong with following one’s own rational self-interest, but that is not what I said. I said selfish. Violently and destructively selfish, willing to harm others for your own personal benefit.

    That is unacceptable. Your liberty ends where another’s begins.

  170. JayDubya,

    “I know what it means to be biologically ‘alive.'”

    Then you know more than most practicing biologists, because there’s not a single broadly accepted definition of “biologically alive.”

    also,

    ‘an organism that lives on or in an organism of another species, known as the host, from the body of which it obtains nutriment.’ OF ANOTHER SPECIES.”

    I’m not sure where you came up with that definition of parasite, but it most definitely is not a generally accepted biological definition. Practicing biologists quite commonly use the word to include/allow for intraspecific parasitism.

  171. Monkey of Fear,

    “99.9% of women who engage in sexual activities are well aware that sex could lead to pregnancy.”

    It’s interesting that you would spend so much time explaining the need for scientific rigor, consistency, and honesty, then pull a statistic like this straight out of your ass because it suits your argument.

    “If a baby can breathe, has heartbeats and brainwaves, it is alive. What is so hard to understand about this? I simply love how certain people attempt to ignore the hard science on this”

    I’m absolutely baffled by how you’ve decreed this to be the accepted definition of alive and then decreed your definition to be “the hard science.” Neither one of these is actually the case, no matter how many times you repeat them.

    “No one libertarian has been able to satisfactorily answer my question on abortion in these last six years.”

    Maybe it’s time you quit assuming that the fault is with all libertarians.

  172. “Intraspecific parasitism?”

    You mean intraspecific competition within a population for resources? Hardly applies here.

    Also, yes, there is more or less a conventional definition for life and one can find it in the first chapter of any Biology textbook.

    It is a list of characteristics: homeostasis, organization, adaptation, and so on. Wiki’s entry seems to be spot-on.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life#Definitions

  173. “You mean intraspecific competition within a population for resources?”

    No, I’m not talking about competition, I’m talking about parasitism. A commonly accepted definition of parasitism is fairly similar to the one you cited above, but it allows for that sort of interaction among members of the same species. As I mentioned above, it’s a definition commonly used by practicing biologists. Look up intraspecific brood parasitism if you’d like an example.

    “Also, yes, there is more or less a conventional definition for life and one can find it in the first chapter of any Biology textbook.”

    I’m not sure what you mean by “conventional definition,” but there is certainly not a broadly accepted definition among practicing biologists. Also, wikipedia probably isn’t the ideal place to go if you’re interested in scientific rigor. Neither, for that matter, is your intro biology textbook.

  174. The comparison between a fetus and a parasite is ludicrous. Even if you define a fetus as a parasite, that does not mean it is not human. Doesn’t the whole foundation of this debate rest upon the assumption of whether or not the fetus is human life? Forget parasites and hosts–we’re not arguing about the relationship between the mother and fetus. If one can argue that the fetus is human life, then it has liberty and rights just like the rest of us. If it assumed that the fetus can live 9 months in vivo without threatening the life of the child-bearer, doesn’t it have the right to reach birth? Of course, I’ve posited more questions than I have answered them.

    I shouldn’t have dropped out of intro to logic freshman year!

  175. I agree that the government, state, national, ect. has no place in intruding into a woman’s decision to have an abortion. I also say that taxpayer money should not be used to pay for an abortion as that also would be government intrusion. The government would get to choose which woman or girl will get the money, which doctor they can use, when they can have the abortion, what criteria must be met and so on. The abortion issue, to me at least, is about individual and personal choice whether it is moral or not.

  176. @ Sparky:

    So basically, a Biology textbook is a poor place to learn scientific definitions?

    Riiiight.

    Also, I realize Wiki is not a great source. Hence me mentioning that it was fairly spot on. In this instance. Furthermore, it lists other definitions, and obviously each one has its followers, but the conventional definition is “conventional” for a reason.

    At any rate, we are dealing with a living member of the Homo sapiens species. Trying to make dubious and unscientific claims that it is not alive or not human will not fly.

  177. RC:

    And, to repeat myself, your right to control your body is not absolute. You’re not allowed to do so in ways that harm others. If the cliche about your right to swing your fist doesn’t do it for you, howsabout the public health laws that don’t allow you to “control your body” in ways that present serious risks to your fellows?

    Sorry, but I’m still looking for limiting principles here.

    I’ve given you limiting principles. The state should not compel anybody to be a physical host to another being. Even if that other being may die.

    This is not some way out idea. It’s a very bare bones line in the sand about personal freedoms and the limits of government intrusion onto the most intimate parts of our private lives. Granting the state power over one’s body in this way pretty much ends any idea of personal autonomy, as the state can subsequently justify any coercive act that isn’t nearly as invasive to one’s physical being. This is exactly the sort of thing small government types want to get away from.

    So consensual sex carries no obligations or responsibilities with it? Millions of men paying child support will be relieved to learn of that.

    Consensual sex, like any other act, only carries obligations and responsibilities if responsibilities and obligations arise from the act. Thanks to technology, these things can be greatly minimized or even eliminated.

    Somewhat less snarkily, the idea that a mother has absolutely no responsibility to a fetus is troubling on a couple of fronts.

    Yes, freedom is troubling sometimes.

    First, parents have all kinds of obligations to their kids. Lots of people have trouble believing that these obligations spring into being at the instant the umbilical cord is cut.

    Belief is a difficult thing to legislate. If that is your belief, then by all means, believe it. Just don’t ask the state to force your beliefs on me.

    Second, when the fetus is the product of consensual sex, it gets to be a lot harder to run the parasite/trespasser routine, because the fetus, as the foreseeable result of said sex, is in some sense an invitee.

    Why should it not be possible to un-invite somebody? Should you have to put up with the drunken boor you invited over your house, simply because you invited him, or is it permissible to show him the door?

  178. “People try to paint this dystopian picture of how the world would fall apart if abortion were illegal, apparently forgetting that abortion used to be illegal and the world didn’t fall apart.”

    I think a lot of women died in back alley abortions, except those rich enough to fly to Switzerland or somewhere. There’s a reason the pro-choice signs have a coat hanger on them. Did the world fall apart? Some say that’s exactly what happened in the 1960s.

    Aside from that, the debate is fundamentally different today. I refer you to Salvius’ 5:01 post.

    I agree with those above that say subordinating the rights of an actual person to those of a potential person is a poor legal position.

  179. I’m absolutely baffled by how you’ve decreed this to be the accepted definition of alive and then decreed your definition to be “the hard science.” Neither one of these is actually the case, no matter how many times you repeat them.

    Nowithstanding that I have no particular opinion on abortion that I want to make public, this statement conclusively proves that Sparky is an asshat. “I know what you’re saying is true, but it’s not true even if you repeat it”. What a stupid statement.

  180. Who’s paying the bills at Reason these days, anyway ?

  181. I’m pretty against abortion (w/ rape in health exceptions of course), but it may happen to be one of those things like drugs or guns where outlawing it could be worse than the thing itself. That’s the pro-choice argument that I personally find the most resonant.

  182. “So basically, a Biology textbook is a poor place to learn scientific definitions?

    Riiiight.”

    JayDubya,

    If you ask any practicing scientist who has looked at textbooks in his or her field, they will tell you that one of the biggest “scientific sins” committed by textbooks (especially, although not exclusively, intro textbooks) is that they treat as settled, accepted truth many things that are in fact still controversial and debated in the scientific community. So if you’ve found a definition of alive in your freshman bio textbook, good for you, and I’m happy for you that it fits your personal ideological needs. But it says nothing about what definition(s) actual practicing scientists use or how much disagreement there is. The fact that you don’t seem to understand this doesn’t say much for your credibility in determining what generally accepted scientific definitions are.

    “At any rate, we are dealing with a living member of the Homo sapiens species. Trying to make dubious and unscientific claims that it is not alive or not human will not fly.”

    Again, you can’t just decree this and magically make it true, no matter how much you’d like that to be the case. The fact that some people may have definitions of alive that don’t fit your personal choice/ideology does not make them dubious or unscientific.

  183. The state should not compel anybody to be a physical host to another being. Even if that other being may die.

    What if that person became a physical host as a result of her voluntary actions? Pregnancy is almost always a result of a consensual act with a foreseeable consequence. Under classic tort law, that means you are liable to restore, replace, or rescue the person who becomes dependent as a result of your actions.

    Consensual sex, like any other act, only carries obligations and responsibilities if responsibilities and obligations arise from the act.

    So, you believe in the stork?

    Why should it not be possible to un-invite somebody?

    Un-inviting someone is different than killing someone and dumping them on the street. That’s exactly what abortion is.

  184. Other Matt,

    If you honestly think that this – “I know what you’re saying is true, but it’s not true even if you repeat it” – is a reasonable summation of what you quoted from me, then you may want to take a break from the comment boards and work on your reading comprehension for a few months. You’re not even on the same planet as what I said.

    If you don’t honestly think that’s a reasonable summation but you typed it anyway, then you’re even less worthy of anyone’s attention. Have a swell night.

  185. @ for the sake of reason:

    Not everyone agrees that it has the same level of importance that you put on it, so you can not reasonably force someone to act in such a manner.

    Oh, well, since I don’t hold murder to the same level of importance that you do, and you are on the wrong side of this debate as far as I’m concerned, I’m going to have to go ahead and eliminate you.

    When women make the choice to have sex, with or without protection, they must know that they are taking some sort of risk of having a child. Even if they try to minimize that risk, they are still aware that the very act of having sex produces children. If they wish to still have some sort of sexual pleasure and destroy chances of becoming pregnant, they can try other forms of sex or they can sleep with women. It’s by the simple fact that they know that there is a risk and they do it anyway that shows that consent is given (to have a child). Every day I get in my car I assume that there is a chance that I could get in an accident and die. Of course there’s a risk, but I do it anyways.

    Ultimately, the solution I offer is to continue in education. It seems that nobody knows what is the best way to educate a child while inducing as little prolonged harm as possible (simple “sex ed.” versus “you’ll burn in HELL for playing with your nob!”), but I’m certain that educating children of all of the implications and possibilities is for the best. I think that it’s most people’s view here that abortions should be legal, but rare. Education seems to be the best altogether choice, as opposed to telling the other side what to believe.

  186. Why? I have my own theories as to why this exists, but I would like a thoughtful response from someone that is libertarian, pro-science, a believer in evolution, personal liberty and is yet pro-abortion.

    I’m no “libertarian”, especially now that “libertarian” means “making up excuses to submit to right wing authoritarian rule and still call yourself ‘libertarian’ for some reason”.

    Nor am I “pro-abortion”.

    But I am pro-legal-abortion, pro-science, and far from being ignorant enough to deny the reality of evolution (and yes, writers of the dozens of pitiful squeals that evolution hasn’t been “proven” or whatever that will follow, you are either ignorant, dishonest, or both for denying scientific reality, which incidentally, has nothing to do with religion).

    I am personally against abortion, and any pregnancy I cause, I will take responsibility for (I am male). But abortion is a woman’s choice.

    There is no “scientific” way of deciding when “human life” begins. Fertilization of an ovum by a sperm could be seen as necessary, but not sufficient, for human life. “The moment of conception” is a spiritual designation that I respect, and if that’s your spiritual view, you shouldn’t have an abortion (or, in most cases, lie by calling yourself a “libertarian”).

    However, at the end of the day, a pregnancy is part of a woman’s body, and the law does NOT define an early embryo or fetus as a human being.

    It’s very simple. When abortion is legal, anyone who adheres to a spiritual or moral code that forbids abortion can choose not to have one. So there is no problem.

    There are only two reasons, not mutually exclusive, why someone would pretend that it is “libertarian” to ban abortion –

    1) Primarily, an effort to suck up and submit to an authoritarian political party, the Republican Party, and make strained, hypocritical arguments that any policy of that party, however outrageously anti-freedom, is “libertarian”.
    2) Secondarily, an effort to violate the liberty of women and exert male dominance, while uproariously calling yourself a “libertarian”.

    “Reason” seems to be neither reasonable nor libertarian (although I do appreciate the pro-science editorials on the subject of evolution). It seems to be increasingly oriented toward supporting the authoritarian, imperialist, corrupt, spendthrift Republican party, even to the extent of asserting, in what is surely one of the most laughable events in the history of journalism, that Fred Thompson is a libertarian! Did you ask Fred? I’m not so sure he wants to be called “liber-” anything.

  187. Over at the Mises Institute, Prof. Block has carved out an extractionist position on abortion, defining the pro-choice position as “Remove? Acceptable. Kill? Acceptable.”, the pro-life position as “Remove? Unacceptable. Kill? Unacceptable.”, and finally the extractionist position as “Remove? Acceptable. Kill? Unacceptable.”

    — a position that advances in medical and legal technology will render as “Eh, I don’t want this, so take it out and save it for someone who cares.”

    Prof. Block discusses this in several places; this may not be the best (mp3) of them.

  188. I imagine because I am “pro-life” and a member of the Greek Orthodox church, most people are going to accuse me of three things: pushing my beliefs on others, being a closet authoritarian, or being a misogynist. But, I am none of those things. I advocate ending the war on drugs, I advocate making prostitution legal, and etc. I advocate freedom and believe people should be allowed to make choices no matter how much I disagree with that choice personally. In fact, I have a PhD in freedomology, so no one advocates freedom more than I do.

    However, I am steadfastly opposed to abortion except in two instances: rape, or when the health of mother is at risk. Human life should be valued and cherished, and the life of any human being should be protected. I believe in LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. You may try to devalue a human by calling it an embryo, but we all know what it is going to be within 9 months or so, and I believe it has the right to continue its development into infancy. And when there is a conflict between two people’s right to life, such as in the cases of rape and the health of the mother, I believe the woman has the right to make that choice. Why are people unable to use contraception? It may now work in every case, but if people used contraception more frequently, I imagine the need for abortions would drop precipitously.

  189. FWIW, and directed at no one in particular, I don’t think anyone who’s pro-life is necessarily a misogynist, authoritarian, or anything else in that vein. I just think that it’s crap to pretend that “hard science” inevitably leads to the pro-life view, or that pro-choicers are anti- or unscientific.

  190. So were abortion to be made a crime, what would be the appropriate punishment ? For the woman who gets the abortion ? Same as murder ? Something less ? For the person administering the procedure ? Likewise ?

  191. i we strongly belive that abortion should be crimely aboloshed unless it means the women and unborn childs life in jeporady.punishment should be extended to the Doctor,hosptal facility.and extensive counseling should be directive to the female obtaining it.

  192. “Fred Thompson is a libertarian.”

    To what statement from Nick Gillespie are you referring?

  193. Andrew Jackson,

    Man, I’m also Greek Orthodox and totally agree with everything you said. If we were gay eHarmony would totally hook us up.

  194. If abortion was illegal, than I would have to punish the woman and abortion doctor. It would be intellectually dishonest if I did not treat the wanton killing of an unborn human the same as a normie. Remember I would not criminalize abortion in the cases of rape, risk to the mother’s health, or if there was a serious impediment to the baby living a healthy life. We punish fathers who do not pay child support, should we also not punish someone who will not let a person have its unalienable right to life?

  195. “So were abortion to be made a crime, what would be the appropriate punishment ? For the woman who gets the abortion ? Same as murder ? Something less ? For the person administering the procedure ? Likewise ?”

    First off, Roe should be overturned. Any libertarian with a lick of sense should be able to recognize that. The Constitution is completely silent on this issue and that means the matter falls to the 10th Amendment, and thus, state and local control over our own penal codes.

    Second of all, as a state-by-state issue, I am not overly concerned about what the national LP or Libertarians outside of my state think, and we can agree to disagree. The Supreme Court had no legal basis to overturn my state’s anti-abortion legislation, and it should be reinstated as soon as possible.

    Third? It is a contract killing. It is premeditated and intentional. The act should be treated as a premeditated and intentional killing. Any accomplices should be given sentences as appropriate. Both the killer and the one hiring them frequently repeat their crimes; ergo, it would be wise to remove them from society in order to prevent their ability to do more harm to other innocents.

  196. “As long as people have the choice to murder other adults, but choose not to exercise it because they don’t like it, there’s no problem.”

    As long as people have the choice to molest children, but choose not to exercise it because they don’t like it, there’s no problem.

    Episiarch — in a nation of 300 million people, if it’s legal, some (perhaps many) people will avail themselves of the opportunity.

  197. FWIW, and directed at no one in particular, I don’t think anyone who’s pro-life is necessarily a misogynist, authoritarian, or anything else in that vein. I just think that it’s crap to pretend that “hard science” inevitably leads to the pro-life view, or that pro-choicers are anti- or unscientific.

    Agreed. It’s an ethical debate about when a human life starts. There’s no hard and fast point in the process that can be scientifically determined. All science can do is reveal what human characteristics are present at any given stage in the fetus’ development.

  198. FWIW, and directed at no one in particular, I don’t think anyone who’s pro-life is necessarily a misogynist, authoritarian, or anything else in that vein

    Bullshit.

    We know what happens in countries where abortion is banned. Nicaragua, Chile, El Salvador. We have examples.

    Examples of women being raped with medical instruments to prove that their miscarriage was natural and not induced.

    Examples of women being left to die, because doing a D&C to remove septic tissue after a failed miscarriage is indistinguishable from an abortion, and no doctor is willing to risk prosecution, even if they did have the skill-set to do one in the first place.

    There is no way to ban abortion that is compatible with treating women as humans with rights. Quit trying to pretend otherwise.

  199. “Bullshit?”

    Yeah, we just hate women. Even female anti-abortion libertarians (they’re just self-loathing).

  200. I would say that another big factor in the lower incidence of abortion is that unwed motherhood doesn’t carry anything like the stigma that it did even fifteen years ago.

    -jcr

  201. If one sees an unborn fetus as basically a child already, then there is not a huge difference between abortion and infanticide. If a woman has the right to terminate the child’s life while it is in the womb, why not extend that right to, let’s say, the first hour after the child is born? Those of you who feel that a woman has the “right” to abort a child, will you extend this “right” a bit further?

  202. “Amanda”:

    You are the most incompetent troll ever. How many people took the bait? Maybe four? Out of two hundred posts? Surrender now or risk being crushed by one of Urkobold’s minions. It will be no contest.

  203. Who says we have to? There’s nothing wrong with accepting a distinct arbitrary line for pregnancy, and actual child-birth, since it already conveniently exists in a rather obvious way. The person-hood argument certainly can be debated ad nauseum, but child birth is a fairly obvious line.

    Essentially what you are trying to do is establish a slippery slope argument for the eventual termination of born child. Some could (and have) argue for that, but it’s merely blurring a distinction that is already marked by child birth.

    So, there’s no reason to go any further with it, and clealry abortion has not established any widespread acceptance for the culling of born children. So, I don’t see how this argument holds much sway in the discussion.

  204. “First off, Roe should be overturned. Any libertarian with a lick of sense should be able to recognize that. The Constitution is completely silent on this issue and that means the matter falls to the 10th Amendment, and thus, state and local control over our own penal codes.”

    Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    It’s certainly covered in the Constitution, if you accept its construed legality, as is done in numerous other issues that are not explicitly addressed in the Constitution. At the very least, the Constitution certainly doesn’t deem it unconstitutional. Therefore, the issue is being debated as it should be, now, in the proper context.

    I believe that such a right should be Constitutionally protected due to the level of control it deals to an individual over their own body. I don’t believe that a local majority has the right to deny such a right, due to the metaphysical reasoning that is often used to combat it. Make an amendment if you have to. However, falling back on the tired “Leave it up to the states” rhetoric is becoming the favorite escape clause for a failed philosophical debate.

    You might be surprised to know that there are others who feel just as strongly about their inherent right to have an abortion, as you do about the sanctity of the fetus. Claiming that you, along with the majority have the right to enforce a relative moral illegality on them is about as offensive, and frightening as it gets. However, there’s been a lot of that kind of reasoning within the current Buchanan-esque, Libertarian ranks.

    Finally, I wouldn’t be slinging around the term “Libertarian” so smugly these days. It doesn’t carry as much weight as it used to, and due to the horrible logic displayed on this forum, I don’t even know how many people found their way here.

    This place is slowly turning into the Youtube comments section.

  205. The problem is not Roe vs. Wade, but the way perjury was used to create a law aimed at releasing women from any responsibility. Jane Roe, or rather Norma McGovern, was never raped but pregnant by her boyfriend, and her pregnancy was not such a burden to her – she carried it out and gave the baby up for adoption.
    In short: 30 million women based their “right” to kill their unborn on a criminal lie. That is not the way to make laws for a decent society.
    We may have to accept the necessity of an abortion in some cases – but that is a sad decision – NOT A RIGHT! A right is something to exercise, enjoy and celebrate. This, however, is not anything of that kind.
    Yes: Roe/Wade has to go – it is a lie. Let us have a real discussion, without the power hunger of some self-appointed “women’s rights” advocates who pretend to speak for all women.
    Women are not such self-centered consumerist bimbos. Real women have feelings, need love, need men, need family. They don’t throw away the best they have: their unique womanhood – just to make a career in an aircon office and a likewise cold home.
    This whole thing has stunk from the start. And even the smouldering (not burning) Bush could have been chased out, if the glorious “Right” of child-disposal had not strangled Kerry in the last elections.
    It was the vote of women who want family and children more than a luxury appartment and car that brought an otherwise sensible candidate and President down. Thank you, N.O.W.! Doing it again? Thanks, you pseudo-women – without me – and millions others.
    Dr. Joan Boost

  206. “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

    That’s the DOI. Nevertheless, I do believe in those things. I believe in them with every fiber of my being.

    Hence my opposition for the killing of innocent human children with a natural right to life.

    “It’s certainly covered in the Constitution, if you accept its construed legality, as is done in numerous other issues that are not explicitly addressed in the Constitution.”

    Not explicitly addressed? Exactly. The Constitution is a strict limit on federal power. Any matter not explicitly addressed in the Constitution falls under the Tenth Amendment.

    “I believe that such a right should be Constitutionally protected due to the level of control it deals to an individual over their own body.”

    Great, then support a constitutional amendment. Blackmun had no legal basis for his “it’s in there, lol” argument in Roe.

    I certainly do support a constitutional amendment banning abortion nationally, just as much as you want it enshrined nationally, apparently. However, neither amendment would receive the necessary ratification. Thanks to federalism, I could at least live in a state that didn’t sanction this barbarism.

    The north can be the “slave states.” We can defend the liberty of the innocent this time.

    “However, there’s been a lot of that kind of reasoning within the current Buchanan-esque, Libertarian ranks.”

    Oh get off it. We don’t agree with you on one issue so we’re not fit for your little club?

    My issue stance is inspired by libertarian and classical liberal philosophy, not contradicted by it.

    Meanwhile, you obviously don’t care about restraining the leviathan when it asserts power it doesn’t have, so are YOU really a libertarian?

    Two can play this rather unfair game, sir.

  207. These “children” are not innocent
    nor guilty nor do they have a “right”
    to be born, that choice is totally up
    to the woman. You are obviously a statist
    of the worst sort who would interfere in
    the most private of activities. There are
    no rights of the unborn or of future generations and certainly no right of
    the product of a person to supercede
    that person’s rights. Where do you goons
    get off ? If you enact anti-abortion people
    have the right to resist that by any means
    necessary. ANY means.

  208. The Constitution is not sacred, it
    countenanced slavery and federal
    regulation of commerce and tariffs
    (taxation), the death penalty and
    other evils. Of course, Roe should
    NOT be repealed, it expands freedom,
    that is the only rational criterion.
    As far the primitive who penned that
    reproduction is the only biological
    reason for sex, as humans we are not
    stuck at that primitive level, we can
    have it for pleasure too. Spare us
    all the halfassed arguments on viability,
    as Rothbard succinctly argued, it doesn’t
    matter.

  209. Frankly, no, you’re wrong. We all have unalienable rights to our lives, our liberty, and our property. More or less, a right defines what other people may not do. A right to life means you may not kill me; it does not mean I cannot die, or you are obligated to save me, but it does mean that you may not initiate force against me and end my life.

    The role of the state is not only to enforce contracts, but to protect these rights by punishing aggression.

    In anarchy, there is no state to protect these rights by punishing aggression. So if you want to say I am a statist, I say, yes, absolutely.

    I am no anarchocapitalist. I am a libertarian. I support a minimalist state, tightly restricted in governmental powers.

    I support our framework of a federalist constitutional republic, if not its current form, in practice, it has strayed far from that framework.

    A statist of the worst kind? A statist of the worst kind promotes a powerful state that does nothing to protect the natural rights of its people, and indeed, often infringes upon them.

    A statist of the worst kind believes the state gives you rights, not that they are natural and inherent and universal and unalienable. This philosophy means that the people of other states have no rights (see: Guantanamo detainees denied habeas corpus), or that rights can be taken away on the government’s whim.

  210. There’s nothing wrong with accepting a distinct arbitrary line for pregnancy, and actual child-birth, since it already conveniently exists in a rather obvious way. The person-hood argument certainly can be debated ad nauseum, but child birth is a fairly obvious line.

    That is certainly one very clear place to draw the line that happens to be at one extreme of the spectrum. The other clear place to draw the line is, of course, at conception.

    But allowing abortion right up until childbirth (defined how? commencement of labor? crowning? cutting the cord? first breath?) allows allows a mother who has made the decision to let her pregnancy go into late term terminate a fetus who is fully viable, and could be delivered and placed into adoption.

    Its get to be really hard at that point to say that there is no violation of rights, no human/moral cost, no person to protect, and it also gets to be harder to say that a woman who has voluntarily let things get to that point should still have a completely unfettered right to terminate.

    To make yet another legal analogy, in the commercial realm a continued course of action can create justified reliance and expectations amounting to an implied contract.

    So, sure, allowing abortion up until childbirth (once defined) creates a nice bright line, but it is not without its rather ugly implications.

  211. So now we have blogging on Reason about the immorality of abortion?
    Maybe I can save money by canceling my subscription and going to Mass at the Baptist Church and get the same enlightenment for free.
    I expected better from you guys.
    Now I’m going to drink a 40 so my unborn baby will stop kicking and I can finally get some sleep.

  212. i disagree with the previously posted assumption that JayDubya posited, i.e., that MonkeyOfFear is an “atheist” because MonkeyOfFear stated that he used “reason”. this implies that you cannot use reason if you believe in one or more supreme beings. as someone who is a student of quantum mechanics and the possibility of a supreme being existing there (a la “What The @#$! Do We Know?”), i can easily reconcile being a non-atheist and using logic.

    If you had stood at the side of the Embarcadero and watched as 10,000+ anti-choice Catholic marchers went by with pre-printed, church-supplied signs, shouting and chanting and singing mind-numbing “kum-by-yah”-type songs at people that simply want to be in control of their own bodies, perhaps you would view the anti’s differently.

    i stood at the side waving a condom, shouting “this prevents both abortion and STD’s”. my shouts were met with hostility and disgust. the anti’s even put tape over the mouths of their children in an effort to show that “no one speaks for the unborn”. yet speak they do.

    the womb is the mother’s property, yes? and preventing abortion of the fetus/”person” is forced management and nurturing by the woman, yes? thus, i think the Catholics et al should pay a rental and management fee to the woman carrying the fetus/”person”.

    in reality, the most logical course of action to resolve this debate would be for private enterprise to create “artificial wombs” that could carry a fetus, even a very young fetus, to term. then the anti’s could buy those and pay for the doctor to “relocate” the fetus to the artificial womb (as well as the resultant medical fees and management costs).

    i’m still waiting for a response from His Holiness.

    Live long and prosper,
    T’Surakmaat

  213. The one thing I’ve never gotten is the whole “no abortion unless it’s rape/incest” position. If the fetus is a person, then it retains those rights no matter how it happened to have come into existence. The government doesn’t round up already born children of incestuous parentage and shoot them – at least not yet.

  214. i’ll never “jump to the end” of a blog again.

    now i find this, from “Dr. Joan”:

    “Real women have feelings, need love, need men, need family.”

    some. some need women, not men. and some need neither.

    Live long and propser,
    T’Surakmaat

  215. Spent the weekend with two lovely children from India.

    They were not aborted.
    Instead, their mother’s hid the pregnancy until they could hide it no longer (28ish weeks) and went to the hospital to be induced.

    This is a common practice in India.
    The orphanage where these children came from took it upon themselves to save the children, who previously were just left in the hallway of the hospital to die.

    Now, the orphanage goes by, picks up the kids, and has a low-budget preemy ICU…

    Not sure how all of this relates to the abortion debate above (which I didn’t read), but it is an interesting twist on the issue I was previously unaware of.

  216. Dubya, like all bad writers you
    take up a lot of space to say little.
    You never dealt with the original argument
    of Rothbard’s that I brought forth at the
    beginning. Go reread it. Nor did you deal
    with my two subsequent postings.
    “Limited” statism is an oxymoron.
    If you were inside my body or on my property
    against my will, I have every right
    to eliminate you as an act of self-defense.
    There is no “right to life” because all
    rights are contextual and zygotes, fetuses,
    spermatozoa, et cetera, have no rights,
    they exist solely as an appendage of another
    person until that person chooses to give birth.
    Only then, the physical & metaphysical separation from the woman’s body creates
    a new entity with rights. The unborn have
    no rights, there is no right to be born.

  217. Abortion clinics might also be dropping in number because anti-abortionists kill doctors who perform them, picket the clinics, intimidate the people who might use them, and create an atmosphere of withering hate.

    If they’re right about God, the Devil, and Hell, then they’re wrong, and they’re going to pay for it.

  218. “So, sure, allowing abortion up until childbirth (once defined) creates a nice bright line, but it is not without its rather ugly implications.”

    Yes, the implications under your emotional devotion to the fetus. Another person may not seem so sentimental about it, or maybe it’s the best decision they feel that they can make as creator of that fetus.

    Once again, the argument over what constitutes personhood, and when the rights of the fetus outweigh the mother’s right to make a decision that she feels she can physically, and emotionally manage, are relative.

    I don’t see how, or why that should be legislated at any level.

    As always, it’s an emotional argument since no one can say definitively when personhood begins, and even if they did, how could they be justified in dismissing the pregnant mother’s rights over those of an oblivious fetus?

    Also, I love the statist argument. It’s slippery Republicanism at its best. Let’s fear, and deny power to a gang called the Federal government, but simply transfer that authority to the state gangs that can then function as tyrants on a smaller scale.

    They’re all about minority rights.

    The state’s rights argument is often used to support the demand for moralistic legislation.

  219. Or, you know, it’s used by people that actually respect the Constitution and the rule of law.

  220. Ah, yes, the Constitution, wherever it can be conveniently mentioned in support of controlling the decisions that a person can make about of their own body.

    If abortion is murder, then why would anyone against murder leave it up to the states to decide how to judge it? Wouldn’t the federal government have an obligation to make it illegal since murder is certainly unconstitutional?

    Again, this is how absurd the argument is. You’ll settle on a state’s rights argument for something that you believe is murder. Why is there such a discrepancy in logic? Well, because you realize that you can’t absolutely win the philosophical debate, and therefore must find a clever loophole that you can use to chip away at your opponents.

    Many abortion opponents eventually learned to stop invoking God, since few people of substance would entertain them. Now they have repackaged the argument, and picked apart the debate with semantics, and appeals to emotion.

    This is exactly what Creationists have tried to do, and were almost successful doing. It’s all a bunch of lawyerly double-speak, with a touch of incredulity, simmered in Godwin’s Law.

    It’s just enough to keep the debate going, and win some hearts.

  221. Because that’s how our system of government works, or is supposed to work. The federal government only has jurisdiction over the penal codes of federal territories.

    Abortion is a killing act; the states get to define whether it is a killing act that warrants prosecution.

    I am not afraid of any philosophical debate. You are fundamentally wrong.

    However, that does not change the fact that within this country, the matter is Constitutionally a state matter. The only way to change that is with an amendment. I support an amendment.

  222. “Try to imagine a fairy tale in which the heroine has an abortion and lives happily ever after.”

    It’s called REALITY.

  223. We do NOT need to have an Amendment
    every time the law is changed. The
    right to abortion as well as the right
    to birth control (Griswold, 1965)is
    inherent in the Declaration and the Ninth
    Amendment of the Constitution.
    The Bork view has been refuted many
    times, not the least in Harry Binswanger’s Objectivist Magazine in 1987.
    Obviously, female slavery in anti-abortion
    is illegal under the Fourteenth Amendment
    too. The whole bogus states rights argument
    is another fetus fetishist scam.
    Abortion is a self-defense act, you cannot
    “murder” something in your own body, you
    have every right to eliminate it.
    The idea that the biggest killing machine
    of all, the state, gets to decide this
    matter is worse than ludicrous.
    All of the bad statist arguments put forward
    by Doris Gordon have been refuted many
    times in philosophical debates. It’s always
    a circular nonargument, “abortion is murder”
    which very premise is at issue as well as
    the absurd idea that every fetus must come to term. There is no right to birth or any
    abstract right to life.

  224. For all the libertarians who rail for abortion; when does a fetus become an individual and therefore invalidate the argument that abortion is freedom of choice and not an act of violence against another individual?

    It’s not contradictory to be libertarian leaning and be against abortion. And if you do belive that abortion is an act of violence against the individual and you believe at least in a limited state then I see no problem with states that pass laws restricting abortion. And the Griswold case that another poster mentioned was a joke; ‘penumbra formed from emanations’.

  225. Libertarianism is starting to sound like a religion.

    Whether or not abortion constitutes a reprehensible act against another person is merely up to opinion. Again, you would have to feel that the oblivious fetus shares the same rights as the mother carrying it, and there hasn’t been any sound argument that says that this must be accepted by everyone, and enforced by the law.

  226. That’s like saying “Whether or not slavery constitutes a reprehensible act against another person is merely up to opinion.”

    In one case, society treats a living human like subhuman property; in the other case, society treats a living human like subhuman property.

  227. “That’s like saying “Whether or not slavery constitutes a reprehensible act against another person is merely up to opinion.”

    Slaves were not being carried in the womb of a woman. To compare the situation of a fetus to that of an oblivious fetus in the womb of a woman who helped to create it is mind boggling ridiculous.

    Logical fallacy: Bad analogy.

    Are you new to this debate?

  228. music began playing when i opend up this website, so annoying!

  229. The first is to regulate it more closely?with parental notification laws

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