Abortion

Free Speech for Pro-Lifers

The ideals of freedom and autonomy must be put back at the heart of the pro-choice agenda. Let's start by defending the right of the pro-life side to say whatever it wants.

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American Life League/Flickr

Who's to blame for the shooting at Planned Parenthood in Colorado? Those of us who believe in individual responsibility, that people have free will and the choice of whether to do good or bad, will say: "Robert L. Dear Jr. is to blame. No one else but Dear." He plotted this vile assault. And he carried it out. No one hypnotised him and planted this plot in his head. He's no Manchurian Candidate. He chose to kill, and he should be punished for it.

But some on the pro-choice side, which is my side, have a different take. They're pointing the finger of blame at those who use fiery pro-life rhetoric, or, as I prefer to call it, anti-choice rhetoric. They claim that a swirling anti-abortion outlook, promoted by Republicans and various religious hotheads, create the conditions under which the likes of Dear become murderous. And now they're demanding that pro-life people tone it down, police their politics, and watch their words.

This is a really bad idea. Even those of us who find pro-life arguments deeply unconvincing, and occasionally offensive, should take a stand against attempts to guilt-trip pro-lifers into timidity or silence in the wake of the Planned Parenthood shooting—something both pro-choice politicians and pundits were quick to do. 

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) called on both pro-life and pro-choice activists to "tone down the rhetoric." Violent crimes like Dear's could be a consequence of such "inflammatory rhetoric," he said. Ben Carson wrung his hands over the "hateful rhetoric" of too many in the abortion fray, arguing that moral heat can be "detrimental to our society."

Writing in The Guardian, feminist Jessica Valenti said Dear's crime was "the predictable result of a culture that demonizes abortion, uses fantastical and false rhetoric about Planned Parenthood, and allows politicians and activists to make false representations about women's reproductive health."

The word "allows" is especially ominous there. What's the suggestion: to disallow heated or plain wrong talk about reproductive health?

Valenti, like others, unwittingly erases Dear's culpability for his crime. Her description of Dear's actions as the "predictable" result of strong rhetoric suggests he lacks agency, that he's nothing more than a vessel through which other people's ideas flow and then explode. Ironically, she's doing Dear a favour, diluting his wickedness through finger-pointing at the "lies, language and culture of misogyny" that apparently facilitate "this kind of violence."

Over at The Washington PostRuth Marcus says that those politicians and lawmakers who over the past few months have whipped up myths and moral panic about Planned Parenthood's "sale of fetal parts" must take some blame for the "ensuing violence." She concedes that her argument that anti-Planned Parenthood politicians are partly culpable for Dear's killings could be seen as a "slippery, subjective slope," since "holding advocates responsible for such unintended consequences risks dampening speech." But she forges ahead nonetheless, insisting that "extreme rhetoric combined with falsehoods tips the balance towards greater culpability."

Just as conservatives call for clampdowns on death metal after school shootings, or moral panickers about gangsta rap try to hold edgy hip-hoppers responsible for gang violence, so supposedly liberal pro-choicers want to indict the passionately pro-life politician or priest for the violence of a mercifully small number of individuals. It's a pseudo-liberal version of media-effects theory, deploying the same hackneyed, unproven argument that has been used by censors for decades: that controversial or heated or misleading words and images could propel individuals towards crime.

It's a form of moral blackmail: Shush your passion, dial down your ideals, or people will die.

The post-Colorado instinct to "dampen speech" also points to a larger problem in pro-choice politics today: an inconsistency on freedom and autonomy, and a shift away from emphasizing women's capacity to determine their destinies towards presenting them (and everyone else) as fragile individuals in need of protection from nasty words and wicked trends.

The reason I am pro-choice is pretty simple: like John Stuart Mill, I believe that "over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign"—or, in this case, over her body and mind the individual is sovereign. Individuals must be free to believe and say whatever they like, and to behave and govern themselves and their lives as they see fit, just so long as they do not harm anyone else or anyone else's property.

To my mind, abortion rights are absolutely essential to the ideal of moral autonomy. If women stop being sovereign over themselves the minute they become pregnant, then they aren't free. Their bodies become subject to stringent laws, and their individual sovereignty is usurped by a higher authority tyrannically presuming to speak on behalf of something inside the woman's body.

But too much pro-choice activism is becoming depressingly illiberal. Pro-choice campaigners on American and British campuses have banned pro-life speakers on the basis that their words will harm women's "mental safety." And there are calls to prevent pro-life protesters from gathering outside clinics lest they confuse or upset women who are "in a vulnerable state."  The irony is a dark one: many of those who claim to be defending women's moral autonomy simultaneously call into question that autonomy, by presenting women as weak individuals whose "mental safety" can be threatened by mere words or arguments.

Do we trust women or not? Not simply to decide the future of their pregnancies but also to engage in robust public discussion about all manner of issues, including abortion? I do. The ideals of freedom and autonomy must be put back at the heart of the pro-choice agenda. Let's start by defending to the hilt the right of the pro-life side to say whatever it wants, for three reasons: 1) because pro-lifers must enjoy the same freedom of speech as everyone else; 2) because the adult, free-thinking public is more than capable of making up its mind about the virtues or otherwise of pro-life speech and does not need state governors or feminists to think on its behalf; and 3) because it is massively in the interests of pro-choice people to allow pro-lifers to speak freely and angrily. It gives us something to challenge; to take down; to pit our own better, more liberal, more humanist arguments against.

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  1. It’s not exactly uncommon for liberals to push aside free speech. In regards to your pro-choice arguments:

    “Individuals must be free to believe and say whatever they like, and to behave and govern themselves and their lives as they see fit, just so long as they do not harm anyone else or anyone else’s property.”

    So long as they do not harm anyone else… So aborting a human fetus isn’t harming someone?

    If abortion were illegal, women’s bodies wouldn’t “become subject to stringent laws” when they became pregnant. They would simply have to follow the same law that they already follow (hopefully): don’t murder another human being. It just so happens that the person who’s life they can’t end is growing inside them. Human life is human life, whether inside or outside the womb.

    Your pro-choice arguments rely on the assumption that a fetus is not a person. Where is your argument explaining why you believe this way?

    1. Question begging is fine when your intended audience already understands and agrees with your premise. The libertarian movement writ large long ago resolved that the NAP is not applicable to abortion because human rights don’t begin until the umbilical cord is severed. The horse is so long dead that you’re beating a fossilized skeleton at this point.

      1. I totally missed that anyone describing themselves as libertarian needed to be in philosophical/ethical lock-step with their predecessors in the libertarian movement.

        You all should totally put that in larger print on the application.

        1. I think PM was being sarcastic. There are a number of us who think of ourselves as libertarian who are pro-life to some degree (or I guess could also be called very moderately pro-choice).

          1. Well I just saw an argument on Twitter the other day where in abortionist made pretty much exactly the same statement regarding umbilical cords and the beginning of personhood.

            Maybe avoiding parody looks too much like the real thing would be advisable.

            Then again the left is to the point where you can’t tell parody from the real deal….

            1. “…parody that looks…”

              Some day I will be able to type on a phone.

          2. I could see that if not for the ‘dead horse’ section at the end. That section doesn’t further sarcasm or satire.

            But I could be wrong!

            1. I wasn’t being sarcastic. I don’t happen to share the author’s views on abortion, but the question was resolved within the libertarian movement a long time ago, the half dozen or so activists at Libertarians For Life notwithstanding. Pro-life (or anti-abortion, or anti-choice or whatever term you like) voices simply are not welcome in libertarianism. The Libertarian Party platform best reflects and encapsulates this:

              1.5 Abortion

              Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.

              Obviously if you are of the persuasion that abortion constitutes some form of murder or assault because the fetus has full or partial human rights, this is as much a nonsequitur as saying “Recognizing that [homicide] [assault] is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter”. The only function of government in libertarian philosophy is to secure individual rights. Taking “no position” on whether a fetus has such rights is, in fact, taking a position.

              1. the half dozen or so activists at Libertarians For Life notwithstanding

                Including Ron Paul.

              2. The LP doesn’t write the rules for libertarianism. The idea that the debate is over because other people said so is against the spirit of libertarianism. As soon as one person takes up a dissenting opinion, guess what, the debate is back on. Libertarianism isn’t a club.

                1. Correct. It is important to note that the “big L” Libertarian Party is not the same as the “small l” libertarian philosophy.

                  The LP does need to write down its official party platform, but a platform can change over time too, with discussion and dissent within the party, so even that is not “decided for all time.”

              3. Holy cow, to say that any voices are “simply are not welcome in libertarianism” is a pretty bold claim. Please let me know which subjects libertarians can still argue about and which ones are settled since apparently you know.

      2. Let’s say a woman has just given birth, the midwife has caught the baby and is holding it with the umbilicus still attached. Somebody comes up and shoot said baby in the head.

        What just happened?

        1. You mean, from a libertarian point of view, what should happen? The same thing that happens in any other kind of shooting or killing: entities with a legal interest in the victim recover damages from the shooter. The details of that depend on what kind of legal arrangements the mother made, what value she placed on her infant, the conditions under which the shooter was present, the contractual arrangements between the mother and the hospital, etc.

          In a non-libertarian world? Whatever the people with the strongest lobbying power want to happen.

          1. Well put!

            Vapourwear, why choose “shooting said baby in the head” when you could have said “attached a pipe bomb and exploded said baby’s head” or “crushed said baby’s head with forceps”?

            Your analogy unintentionally perpetuates the general public’s belief that guns are evil–better for us to choose the pipe bomb (already universally illegal–nobody is out there arguing for pipe-bomb rights) or the forceps (a tool directly related to performing abortions) for the analogy.

      3. Isn’t that supporting infanticide, too, since the umbilical cord is usually severed AFTER birth?

    2. I absolutely agree with all your arguments, but it’s off the topic of this article, in which Mr. O’Neill has done a fine job of presenting his free speech argument…if only he wasn’t so wrong about human life.

    3. Assume for the moment that a fetus is human with human rights. (by this I do not mean: assume it has homo sapien DNA. I mean: Assume it is a reasoning being capable of honoring reciprocal needs for noninterference with the domain of other reasoning beings.

      If you make this assumption, the fetus is trespassing unless it is welcome.

      The owner of the body is still entitled to take expedient means to defend their property against a trespasser.

      Or to give birth by the normal mechanisms, and then permit the infant to take all of its human rights and exercise them elsewhere, without interference ( a popular solution in ancient Greece, though presently illegal).

      1. The owner of the body is still entitled to take expedient means to defend their property against a trespasser.

        Nope. Not if it causes the trespasser to die.

        Children are not reasoning beings. Your arguments would also support infanticide.

        permit the infant to take all of its human rights

        Ultimately, this is why the pro-abortion “libertarian” is wrong. If you believe that rights are “natural” then they come with life. We know, without a shadow of a doubt, that new human life begins at conception. Claiming that the public, or mother, decides when to confer natural rights is not libertarian.

  2. “But some on the pro-choice side, which is my side, have a different take. They’re pointing the finger of blame at those who use fiery pro-life rhetoric, or, as I prefer to call it, anti-choice rhetoric.”

    Ugh. Nothing makes me yawn like self-described “libertarians” that adopt progressive labels.

    Fucking millennials…

    1. Well, a social liberal has to do his signaling to show he is on the correct side.

    2. I’m going to start inserting my opinions this way.

      “But some on the pro-Pretzel Logic side, which is my side, have a different take. They’re pointing the finger of blame at those who appreciate pro-Larry Carlton riffing, or, as I prefer to call it, anti-Skunk Baxter riffing.”

      As an aside, I hear pro-choicers refer to “anti-choice” far more than pro-lifers, WHICH IS MY SIDE!1! WHERE’S MY KEGGER INVITE!, refer to anti-life or pro-death.

    3. AH TRIGGER WARNING!!

      Seriously Spinach, quit being a fricken baby.

      Fascists like you who want to control women always try to shut down speech you don’t like.

  3. “Those of us who believe in individual responsibility, that people have free will and the choice of whether to do good or bad”

    … except for women who get pregnant. It’s perfectly acceptable for them to eschew responsibility, ‘cuz a fetus is a parasite, or whatever.

  4. O’Neill’s argument for abortion rights is the libertine’s lament that being held responsible for what one has done, especially to another person is somehow destructive of freedom. It is telling that he uses the term “something” when describing what the tyrannical forces are speaking for, because conceding that it may be “someone” brings the NAP into play and those forces might be advocates for rights.

    The pro-abortion rights logic is entirely unconvincing as they have to dance around or explain away why the unborn have no rights or they simply do not count. It is an entirely utilitarian position with a conclusion desperately flailing for a rationalization.

    And exactly where did this narrative come from that the expose videos on Planned Parenthood’s relationship with human tissue research are “myths”?

    1. “And exactly where did this narrative come from that the expose videos on Planned Parenthood’s relationship with human tissue research are “myths”?”

      The same place as the rest of their narrative – out of their asses.

    2. The pro-abortion rights logic is entirely unconvincing as they have to dance around or explain away why the unborn have no rights or they simply do not count.

      Today I can only do a quick hit and run, won’t be able to reply. I used to be pro-life (abortion only for the well-being of the mother) but changed my views. I’m not saying this will change yours (it almost certainly won’t), but maybe you can understand my way of looking at the issue.

      My first step was seeing the legitimacy of allowing abortions in cases of rape due to a thought experiment by Judith Thomson, “The Violinist.” You should read it. Quickly, the person who was forcibly hooked up to the dying violinist doesn’t have the obligation to remain hooked up to him.

      The second step was recognizing the importance of the cerebral cortex. Heartbeats, faces, spinal reflexes are all superficial. A brain-dead adult has all these things, but if there is no chance or a very small chance of recovery, then the caretakers can pull the plug. Unquestionably, zygotes (we could go further) do not have a functioning cerebral cortex. That they could develop one later doesn’t change the fact they don’t have one at the moment.

      Another way to think about it is the following: a water molecule isn’t a whirlpool. They are both made of H2O, but there are fundamental differences. Likewise, a zygote and an infant both have human DNA. But a zygote is not a late-term fetus, a baby, a child, or an adult because of the cerebral cortex.

      1. Relatedly, this operates without an idea of zygotes and embryos having souls. Importantly, I think if a person believes that zygotes and embryos have souls, then they likely won’t ever be able to support the idea of abortion.

      2. My first step was seeing the legitimacy of allowing abortions in cases of rape due to a thought experiment by Judith Thomson, “The Violinist.” You should read it. Quickly, the person who was forcibly hooked up to the dying violinist doesn’t have the obligation to remain hooked up to him.

        If Judith Thompson’s thought experiment proves what she thinks it means, then it it also proves that whichever one of a pair of conjoined twins is able to prevent the other one from fighting back has the right to cut away that second twin, who is parasitically enjoying use of the first twin’s vital organs, not just for nine months, but for life.

        1. It is a stupid thoughtless “experiment”. I don’t believe that it changed anyone’s mind. I suspect that you rationalized the murder of the unborn before you ever heard of it, but think that it is clever or something.

          It is stupid mostly because the person that the violinist is attached to did not create the violinist through a positive action. The person who creates someone that must be hooked to them in order for them to survive should not be in the position to unhook them just because they regret their decision to create the person in the first place.

          Rape is not a positive action on the part of the woman, obviously, so it is somewhat different. In the case of rape, killing your own child remains punishing the child for the sins of the father, but does lack the positive action on the part of the mother. Fortunately, children are in high demand for adoption and a woman is NEVER forced to raise a child she does not desire.

          1. “Fortunately, children are in high demand for adoption and a woman is NEVER forced to raise a child she does not desire.”

            This right here. It can be hard to take someone on the “pro-choice” side seriously whenever they act like a total 100% ban on abortion is FORCING the mother to raise a child they do not want. If she truely does not want to or cannot raise the child, there are plenty of other people out there, some of whom cannot have children, that would be more than happy to adopt that child.

          2. “Fortunately, children are in high demand for adoption and a woman is NEVER forced to raise a child she does not desire.”

            Which is, of course, why so many children age out of the foster system each year.

      3. The second step was recognizing the importance of the cerebral cortex. Heartbeats, faces, spinal reflexes are all superficial. A brain-dead adult has all these things, but if there is no chance or a very small chance of recovery, then the caretakers can pull the plug. Unquestionably, zygotes (we could go further) do not have a functioning cerebral cortex. That they could develop one later doesn’t change the fact they don’t have one at the moment.

        So why can’t we ban the abortion of fetuses that *do* have cerebral cortexes (cortices?)?

      4. So then there should be no objection to restrictions on abortion past the 20 week stage where there is a functioning cortex. One of the involving things about abortion rights logic is that it makes claims about the find it I’ll n of the developing child that only apply in theearly stages of pregnancy that they then presume justify abortion tjrou g to birth.

        And “forcibly hooked up” is situation that does not apply in the overwhelming cases and is stealing an intellectual base.

        1. Speaking for myself, it’s because of the pro-life activisits. Over the last few decades they’ve made it quite clear that they would never be satisfied with stopping at banning 2nd trimester abortions. They want to ban *all* abortions, with few exceptions.

          Quite simply, pro-life activists have made it clear that if you want to protect first trimester abortions you can’t give ground on second trimester abortions. And that’s morally okay with me given that second trimester abortions are pretty damn rare anyway and in most cases would be morally acceptable in any case.

  5. “…a larger problem in pro-choice politics today: an inconsistency on freedom and autonomy, and a shift away from emphasizing women’s capacity to determine their destinies towards presenting them (and everyone else) as fragile individuals in need of protection from nasty words and wicked trends….

    “…too much pro-choice activism is becoming depressingly illiberal.”

    What do you mean “today” and “has become”?

    pro-choice politics has never been about freedom and autonomy, or the prochoice movement (as opposed to libertarian choicers like O’Neill) has been supporting tax funding for abortion since at least the 1970s. Where’s the “freedom and autonomy” of citizens who are forced to pay for abortion?

    For that matter, where’s the “freedom and autonomy” of the unborn child?

    And when has the choicer movement *ever* supported free speech? They’ve always wanted to arrest and prosecute peaceful protesters outside abortion clinics, and they defend this censorship by conflating peaceful protesters with a handful of nuts and terrorists.

  6. You want to find a parallel on the conservative side to the guilt-by-association preaching of the choicers?

    Well, then, what about conservative criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement, and how it allegedly encourages cop-killers?

    1. But to my knowledge, despite blaming BLM for cop killings, I haven’t heard of them calling for arresting *peaceful* BLM protesters.

      Can you find examples? They may exist, I simply haven’t been shown any as of yet.

    2. many of the black lives matters racists expressly advocated the killing of police. very few, if any, pro lifers are calling for the murder of abortionists.

  7. “like John Stuart Mill, I believe”

    Here is a prolife argument based on Mill’s principles.

    1. That argument hinges on the idea that a fetus is a person. A fetus may be a living human organism, but that alone isn’t sufficient for personhood. For example, a brain dead body is pretty much like a fetus, but is considered legally dead and lacks personhood. More generally, a fetus doesn’t meet any of the commonly accepted criteria criteria of personhood: it lacks agency, independence, consciousness, social interactions, and sapience. So, even if you accept the idea that it is the job of the state to protect all persons from violence and physical harm (that’s a big “if” to begin with for a libertarian), a fetus still doesn’t fall under those protections.

      1. That argument hinges on the idea that a fetus is a person

        Or it hinges on the idea that “person” used in the US Court system is a made up concept that holds no water. Just as the Dred Scott decision decided that all “non-citizens” have no rights, Roe v. Wade decided that all “non-persons” have no rights, and then excluded those they didn’t care about from being “persons”.

        It doesn’t matter if it’s a “person”, but if it’s a live human. Other methods of determining who “deserves” rights are subjective.

        1. Just as the Dred Scott decision decided that all “non-citizens” have no rights,.

          That case decided that Dred Scott wasn’t a citizen, and hence didn’t have standing to sue in federal court. Limits on standing of non-citizens still exist today, both in the US and elsewhere. The court didn’t decide that he had “no rights” and it didn’t deny his personhood. This is a red herring.

          Roe v. Wade decided that all “non-persons” have no rights, and then excluded those they didn’t care about from being “persons”.

          Roe v. Wade carefully looked at the wording of the Constitution and historical legal precedent, and concluded that there is little support to consider a fetus a “person” within the meaning of the Constitution or common law. Those arguments are correct. Philosophical considerations or beliefs about “personhood” weren’t required to reach that conclusions. Furthermore, the court didn’t decide that “‘non-persons’ have no rights”. To the contrary, the court articulated a range of protections for the fetus, based on criteria such as quickening and viability. In different words, your entire statement is fabrication.

        2. It doesn’t matter if it’s a “person”, but if it’s a live human. Other methods of determining who “deserves” rights are subjective

          Well, it may not matter to you. It certainly matters to me and a lot of other people. I think your utter disregard of personhood in life-and-death decisions is fundamentally immoral and evil.

          But, then, what kind of morality can one expect from people who worship a mass murdering deity and a bloody corpse on a wooden stick.

          1. The court didn’t decide that he had “no rights” and it didn’t deny his personhood.

            You misread. I said it’s the same type of game. As Scott wasn’t a “citizen” and therefore had no rights in the US, the little humans aren’t “persons” and have no rights in the US.

            concluded that there is little support to consider a fetus a “person” within the meaning of the Constitution or common law

            Excepting that demarcating that rights only come from being a declared “person” are just as arbitrary as skin color/genetic history. I’m not denying that the Court defined “person” incorrectly, I’m denying that “person” has any relevance to the discussion of who has rights.

            Is Stephen Hawking “viable”?

            I think your utter disregard of personhood in life-and-death decisions is fundamentally immoral and evil.

            I think your faith that government won’t do evil with a term like that is ridiculous. I think that it’s either a case of ignorance or evil (you actually want bad things to happen).

            But, then, what kind of morality can one expect from people who worship a mass murdering deity and a bloody corpse on a wooden stick.

            Ignoring that for now. Ad hominem attacks have no bearing on my point.

            1. Excepting that demarcating that rights only come from being a declared “person” are just as arbitrary as skin color/genetic history. […] I think your faith that government won’t do evil with a term like that is ridiculous

              I’m not advocating that ” rights only come from being a declared ‘person'”; that would be advocacy about legal terminology and legislative process. We’re talking here about what the state actually should protect.

              I’m saying that necessary criteria for having legal rights ought to be agency, self awareness, sapience, and the ability to make moral judgments. That bundle of criteria is usually referred to as “personhood” in philosophy and psychology.

              You are saying that the necessary criteria for having legal rights ought to be “human life”, which, given that you seem to include pre-viable fetuses, means what? Any collection of cells with 46 chromosomes?

              Whatever your definition, “human life” is neither a necessary nor a sufficient criterion for having legal rights. Within a few decades, there will be non-human persons, and they ought to be legally protected. On the other hand, brain dead bodies ought not to have legal rights.

              Note that nothing I have said says anything about whether abortion should or should not be legal. All I’m saying is that you can’t make arguments about abortion by pretending that a fetus is somehow in the same moral or legal category as a child.

              1. I’m saying that necessary criteria for having legal rights ought to be agency, self awareness, sapience, and the ability to make moral judgments.

                Great apes qualify for all of these (I think). Even if they don’t to your definitions, they do to others’ definitions.

                You are saying that the necessary criteria for having legal rights ought to be “human life”, which, given that you seem to include pre-viable fetuses, means what? Any collection of cells with 46 chromosomes?

                Live (not brain dead) full human (not a part).

                “human life” is neither a necessary nor a sufficient criterion for having legal rights.

                Not to you, no. If you define the words, you make it a definitional truth.

                All I’m saying is that you can’t make arguments about abortion by pretending that a fetus is somehow in the same moral or legal category as a child.

                The difference between a newborn and a not-yet-viable tiny human is… what again (according to your chosen differences)?

            2. Ignoring that for now. Ad hominem attacks have no bearing on my point.

              The “pro-life” movement is largely a Christian movement, and its arguments are largely moral in nature; that is, its primary point is that protecting the fetus like an adult human is the morally right thing to do.

              Given that background, it is entirely valid to ask what the Christian record on morality and life-and-death issues is, and it is extremely poor. More importantly, Christianity and the pro-life movement seem to attract people who are unable to deal maturely with life-and-death issues.

              That doesn’t show that you are wrong (I made that argument in my other posting), but it provides an explanation for why otherwise fairly functional and reasonable human beings can be so confused and dogmatic about pro-life issues. It also means that when you say “it’s the morally right thing to do”, people will just rightfully laugh in your face because you have no credibility in moral questions.

              1. its primary point is that protecting the fetus like an adult human is the morally right thing to do

                True enough, not just that “it’s wrong”, but that it also violates NAP. Again, my point that any murder should be punished by humans is the same, that it violates NAP.

                I agree that most Christians have no flippin’ clue where the dividing line between “it’s wrong” and “it should be illegal” is. Also, no matter how many times I try to explain it to them (NAP), the vast majority don’t listen. Again, that doesn’t mean they’re wrong, but that they’re right and they haven’t figured out why yet.

        3. Attaching notions of “deserving rights” to genetic code is not objective, it’s entirely subjective. It doesn’t persuade anyone who isn’t precommitted. It offers no reason to believe it. A rational being can say “so it has human DNA. So what? Why do I care?” You cannot have an answer. You can’t make them care about the DNA strands.

          Why do I respect the rights of rational beings? Because I need other rational beings to respect my rights. It is a reciprocal need. I need you to not kill me, and you need the same from me. I need you to not cage me, and you need the same from me. I need you to not take my stuff, and you need the same from me. We are both capable of understanding this, and thus it is not in either of our interest to be the first to violate these rights– the first to kill, cage, steal, rape, and so forth. And it is in our interest to kill the other if the other first chooses to do these things. This is objective– reality itself enforces consequences upon me. In the absence of a state enforcing it, I would still have incentive to respect these rights.

          In the absence of a state enforcing it, what meaning holds the “rights” of this non-rational human-gened fetus with whom I have no relationship of mutual need?

          1. Attaching notions of “deserving rights” to genetic code is not objective, it’s entirely subjective.

            Why? Is there some subjective way of determining if it’s got its own DNA?

            It doesn’t persuade anyone who isn’t precommitted. It offers no reason to believe it.

            Those may be true, if indeed all those who want abortion aren’t empathetic at all.

            You can’t make them care about the DNA strands.

            I’m not really arguing against the “true believers”, just the reader and those willing to think.

            Why do I respect the rights of rational beings? Because I need other rational beings to respect my rights.

            And Christians are called selfish for “only obeying due to fear”… So, you would do whatever you wanted if you thought you could get away with it?

            In the absence of a state enforcing it, what meaning holds the “rights” of this non-rational human-gened fetus with whom I have no relationship of mutual need?

            If you don’t believe in a higher power, then likely very little. Though remember, without a state, justice is often done by your neighbor… and they may think that “an eye for an eye” even applies to the tiniest of humans.

            1. Why? Is there some subjective way of determining if it’s got its own DNA?

              There are many forms of “human life” that we clearly do not protect and that the pro-life movement doesn’t advocate protecting. On the other hand, you have not presented an argument why protection should be limited to human life. You haven’t defined “human life” in any other way than “the collection of entities I think people shouldn’t kill”, which makes your entire argument circular.

              Though remember, without a state, justice is often done by your neighbor… and they may think that “an eye for an eye” even applies to the tiniest of humans.

              So, in different words, you’re just a statist who would like society to operate in a more Christian way, and you simply can’t conceive of alternatives.

              The libertarian view of justice is that of voluntary association and mutual defense. That is, people get together with neighbors that share similar values and voluntarily agree to live under certain laws and accept certain punishments. So, if you’re a conservative Christian, feel free to join a community that executes women who have abortions and stones adulterers. What you can’t do is force others to live by those rules.

              1. There are many forms of “human life” that we clearly do not protect and that the pro-life movement doesn’t advocate protecting.

                Again, do they have their own DNA and are they a total human or only a part? If “the pro-life movement” doesn’t defend that, then they are also wrong, though less wrong than those who want abortion.

                You haven’t defined “human life” in any other way than “the collection of entities I think people shouldn’t kill”, which makes your entire argument circular.

                True, but then the same could be said of your “personhood” argument. Life is either really easy to define or completely impossible depending on how you look at it. For our purposes, I’m defining it as “alive” (cell division) and “not brain dead” (a being whose brain has ceased to function and is only kept alive by machines, has a statistically zero chance of being conscious again). This doesn’t seem to be too controversial, right?

                So, in different words, you’re just a statist who would like society to operate in a more Christian way, and you simply can’t conceive of alternatives.

                Ha, no. I’m an anarcho-capitalist. I was explaining what happens when there is no state but still a need to enforce NAP, it’s done by a business or a voluntary organization, your neighbors.

                What you can’t do is force others to live by those rules.

                I can’t force others to not murder? So there is no justice at all…

      2. My running jest of this was started at a friend’s Friday meal at his (seriously) hard leftist Jewish family’s. Their arguments were so scattered that almost no one (almost 30 people) came close at a single definition (more women, and all expectant mothers, went with birth). Primarily referring to a comment similar to the above “it lacks agency, independence, consciousness, social interactions, and sapience”, I casually commented that according to Jewish mothers, LIFE does not start until you graduate MedSchool. It brought down the house.

        The come back by the patriarch was questioning if an absent (and unwelcome it would seem) uncle counted as a person, failing on 7 of 8 points they established, ‘surviving’ only due to his graciously not bothering the rest of the family foe the most part!

        1. Well, such glibness makes for hilarity, but it doesn’t amount to a serious argument. Unless he is in a coma, the absent unwelcome uncle does, in fact, satisfy all points.

  8. The ideals of freedom and autonomy must be put back at the heart of the pro-choice agenda.

    Why? I highly doubt that most people who want abortion to be legal do so because they sincerely believe that the small human inside the woman doesn’t yet have the right to life (though a few likely do).

    Most who hold that view haven’t actually thought that far into it. I would be willing to bet a lot of money that the majority of the remaining balance don’t actually think that there even is a right to life.

    (This isn’t an argument against libertarians who actually believe that the small human doesn’t have rights yet, just against almost all the other people who hold to this political thought.)

  9. ironic that people condemning murder believe that murder is a “choice”

    1. To be fair, murder is a “choice”…

  10. Ironic that so many of these comments are focusing on whether abortion is right or wrong when the article’s main point is that regardless of what you believe you should respect people’s right to disagree and disagree publicly. Whether you believe life begins with the man’s first erection or at the 21st birthday of the resulting child or somewhere in between isn’t as important as the right for other people to disagree with you.

    1. It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye their life. I’d say the right to life is at least as important as your right to disagree, right?

      Otherwise evil people would just kill those who disagree with them, then they wouldn’t have to worry about violating their right to disagree.

      1. Suspending the right to disagree when “lives are at stake” is the raw basis of pretty much every tyranny.

        1. I’m not arguing with that. I’m saying that the right to disagree without the right to life is pretty much useless. Ergo, the right to life should be held to be at least as important as the right to disagree.

    2. Ironic that so many of these comments are focusing on whether abortion is right or wrong when the article’s main point is that regardless of what you believe you should respect people’s right to disagree and disagree publicly.

      I believe that government shall make no law interfering with free speech. But if people simply don’t want to hear your opinions, if publishers refuse to publish them, or if large crowds of people shout you down, that’s just too bad. That is, you do not have a positive “right to disagree publicly”, only a right to be free from government interference.

      1. “or if large crowds of people shout you down”

        Not in a private event where guest speakers invited, right?

        1. Why not? Audiences at private events certainly have a right to shout down invited guest speakers. Of course, their host may then ask them to leave… and find himself with a lot of leftovers.

    3. The real irony is that not 2,3 weeks after the narrative generating PP incident, 2 Islamist couple executing 14 coworkers. Not random people, but friends who threw them a baby shower. You want to talk about “rhetoric” –
      Farook was living the American dream, then he met one crooked woman from Pakistan, and boom, he was a jihadist fighter.

      There’s literally no other forms of rhetoric that inspires more violence than radical Islam. Talk Radio and Fox could talk about nothing BUT abortion related topic and fail to produce a single organization dedicated to mayhem as ruthlessly as ISIS and their offshoots.

      If I were to use their flimsy criteria for how rhetoric leads to violence, I could easily conclude BLM led to the deaths of half a dozen police officers and one Serbian immigrant.

  11. Oh, please, I don’t see any serious moves to criminalize “pro-life” speech. However, don’t complain if people disinvite you from dinner parties or Christmas family gatherings if you keep talking about “pro-life” issues (or Catholicism or feminism or progressivism or whatever).

    1. I don’t see any serious moves to criminalize “pro-life” speech.

      Uhhhh…

      1. I don’t see how that “criminalizes pro-life speech”. It prohibited any speech at a particular location and it got struck down.

  12. Whether it’s signs of ”life” or speech, I think we’ve established Win Bear – like most pro- baby murderers, only sees what he/she/cis wants to see.

    1. Whether it’s signs of ”life” or speech, I think we’ve established Win Bear – like most pro- baby murderers, only sees what he/she/cis wants to see.

      I think abortion is morally wrong, so I don’t see why you call me “pro-baby murderer”. From a practical point of view, I think anti-abortion laws are going to be as ineffective as anti-drug and anti-gun laws, and that these moral decisions are best left to the women themselves rather than courts.

      What I point out is that people who confuse a “baby” and a “fetus” are either ignorant or liars. And I like to remind people of the hypocrisy of Christians claiming to be “pro-life”.

  13. The comment section is already breaking out in rashes of abortion debate so I won’t contribute to that. I’ll just say, I am 95% libertarian, but I disagree with the libertarian majority on abortion, and I appreciate the acknowledgment that this doesn’t make me someone deserving of forcible silencing.

  14. I like this “personal responsibility” argument. It’s funny.

    I mean, it flies 100% in the face of everything we know about advertising, political speech, persuasion techniques, propaganda, and so-on. It takes the idea of “free will” and puts it up on an unassailable pedestal.

    Fact is that being people being susceptible to persuasion and people having free will aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s why incitement, as a crime, is so hard to prove. But we have industries based on manipulating people, whether it’s getting people to buy a soft drink, to vote for a candidate, or to enlist and go kill people, getting people to do what you want them to do, while making them think it was their idea, is pretty well established.

    That doesn’t take away from anyone’s free will. Whether we’re talking about me when I buy my shampoo and body wash, my father picking up a pack of cigarettes when he was 12, or men like Dear and Farook picking up a gun and killing people, those people have free will. But they were also influenced.

    So sure, “personal responsibility”. Take some. And that includes taking responsibility when people act on your words.

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