A Qualified Defense of Letting States Decide on Abortion

Fewer Americans would be forced to live under a legal regime, imposed from on high, that is contrary to their convictions on a matter of life and death.


"In reality," wrote former Reason Editor Virginia Postrel way back in 1989, "overturning Roe would put the abortion question back where it belongs—in the legislative arena."

The Court didn't overturn Roe that year, but a leaked draft of Justice Samuel Alito's opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization has raised the possibility that, more than three decades later, it is now poised to do so. 

By finding that "the Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion," and by "return[ing] that authority to the people and their elected representatives," the draft would allow New York to have extremely permissive laws on abortion while Mississippi has much more restrictive ones.

Many people on both sides of this issue understandably recoil from the idea of what they see as a fundamental human right being subjected to a vote. (There's more to life than mere democracy!) Yet on a practical level, if not on a moral one, there is a case in favor of devolving decision making on an issue that has split the country for decades.

Given the current state of public opinion on abortion, any top-down, one-size-fits-all policy is liable to exacerbate divisions and foment animosity. As Reason's Damon Root noted in a 2019 profile, even the late Supreme Court Justice (and feminist icon) Ruth Bader Ginsburg recognized as much:

Ginsburg argued that while the Texas statute at issue in Roe (which banned all abortions except where the life of the mother was at stake) certainly deserved to be struck down, the Court had "ventured too far" when it "called into question the criminal abortion statutes of every state." This "heavy-handed judicial intervention was difficult to justify," she argued, "and appears to have provoked, not resolved, conflict."

That conflict continues apace, and overturning Roe is not likely to end it. Activists on both sides of the issue will surely respond by pushing for federal legislation to protect either a woman's right to procure an abortion or a fetus's right not to be subjected to one. By insisting on a single answer for the whole nation, they'll be ensuring that, regardless of which side is successful, many millions of people are dissatisfied with the outcome. True believers are not likely to be swayed by that consideration—and as a pro-life libertarian, I can see why.

If you, like me, are someone "who looks at an ultrasound and sees a baby, a person, a fully human life," I wrote in 2015, "it's extraordinarily hard to avoid the conclusion that abortion is an act of violence." To the extent that the state has any legitimate functions at all, preventing the intentional destruction of innocent human beings must be at the top of the list. The existence of any jurisdiction, whether or not I live there, that fails in this fundamental task is a tragedy to those who come down where I do.

Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority of Americans are not where I am (and if you're an abortion-rights maximalist, they're not where you are, either). Most people in this country when polled say abortion should be legal under certain circumstances. What those circumstances are remains to be determined, but as Will Saletan explained at Slate a few years back, large numbers of even strongly pro-choice people "aren't sold on abortion rights beyond the first trimester."

The kinds of laws that would make the most sense to most people, in other words, would be somewhere between the two extremes. Negotiating the details of such a system is what the legislative branch exists to do.

But there's also a great deal of geographic variation when it comes to public opinion on where the relevant legal lines should be drawn. "In 2014, according to polling by the Pew Research Center, the share of adults who thought abortion should be legal in all or most cases ranged from 35 percent in West Virginia to 74 percent in Massachusetts," explained Reason's Jacob Sullum in a 2021 magazine piece that remains invaluable as a broad overview of what might happen if Roe is overturned (though some of the statewide legal particulars are now out of date).

Those different states already approach abortion differently. If Roe goes away, none will be required to restrict abortion against the people's will, but (unless or until federal legislation preempts them) all will gain the freedom to draft laws that hew more closely to their electorates' values. And individuals who care to do so will still be able to offer direct assistance to pregnant women—either to help them travel out of a jurisdiction where abortion access is restricted, or to support them in a choice to keep their babies in spite of a legal option to abort.

Activist types won't be satisfied, but fewer Americans will be forced to live under a legal regime, imposed from on high, that is contrary to their convictions on a matter of life and death. At an already precariously toxic political moment, there is something to be said for that.

NEXT: Alito's Draft Opinion That Would Overturn Roe Is a Disaster of Legal Reasoning

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  1. OT: Nothing says Open Society like telling advertisers to boycott Twitter if it stops censoring opinions they like. What a stand up group of people.


    1. Twitter has been in bed with the dark money people on the left and various Western Intelligence agencies from day 1. These people are desperate to keep Musk from exposing that fact.

    2. What a shock.

    3. Shrike assures us Soros is one of the biggest free speech advocates out there, so believe we have to trust him instead of the statements Soros makes.

    4. Soros was a literal Nazi (collaborator)
      The Nazis weren't defeated in WWII, the Germans were. Since then, they've simply replaced nationalism with globalism and changed their marketing.
      Once the Soviet Union fell, the Soviets were also absorbed.

      1. The EU is germanys fourth reich

  2. If abortion is really as popular as it's proponents claim, there shouldn't be any problem legalizing it in every state.

    So what are they afraid or?

    1. It’s popular on average. But the averages are skewed by progressive states like New York and California. Those who tout the popular numbers know that. That’s why they’re afraid.

      1. There is a pretty easy and popular compromise position that bans abortion after 12 to 15 weeks and allows it and the morning after pill before that. They know that will end up being the result for most states outside of the few most conservative and most liberal ones. They are very afraid of that because their lunatic base will never tolerate that or allow any Democratic candidate to support it. Abortion is going to become another loser extreme but required position like gun control is now.

        1. 39 of 42 EU countries agree at 15 weeks.

          1. So it must be A Handmaiden’s Tale there by now, right?

      2. But so what? One must assume that if it is heavily popular in a place, it will be made legal and disproportionally affect the people who want to kill babies.

      3. It is not popular on average. Most pro abortion people still believe in some limits. Vast majority opposed 3rd trimester abortions as an example.

        What the polls showing on average support, they are generalized statements of support on Roe. The average person doesn't realize Roe and Casey allowed certain regulations to be passed by the government.

        1. "It is not popular on average. Most pro abortion people still believe in some limits. Vast majority opposed 3rd trimester abortions as an example."

          I agree, Jesse. And from what I can tell, these "polls" also miss the fact that well over half the folks I know, including a majority of my friends, my wife, my ex-wife, my mother and step-father (now both gone RIP), -- would never have an abortion unless it threatened their life, still support peoples' right to have one.

          Most polls, from what I can tell, seem to fail to pick up on these more subtle positions, which could tend to skew their conclusions on the "popularity" of abortion.

      4. It is only popular when you combine every option other than full ban. Once you start pulling out those who want restrictions on abortion it gets much less popular than the abortion enthusiasts pretend.

  3. This is where I find Reason's coverage particularly unsatisfying. There is never a willingness to justify a moral reasoning. Every single article about this subject has been "So and so said blah", and "Even though blah, foo is going to happen."

    It is obvious that ENB and Slade are on different sides of this argument, and they should be justifying their argument, not mining twitter for hot takes that meet their opinion.

    At the least, Slade is taking the semi-serious route of trying to make the moral case of why it is good to render these decisions to the states. But more and more, I worry that the libertarian party is losing the ability to REASON about the logical and moral foundations underpinning their philosophy.

    1. The obsession with "rights" poisons their moral reasoning. Call something a "right" and they immediately declare any contrary position to be morally illegitimate without any consideration to if it really is a right or any respect for the difficulty of the question.

      The pro abortion position on reason is almost entirely question begging. It just assumes that abortion is a right and that an unborn child has no claim to any rights and goes from there. Any meaningful discussion of abortion has to begin with a discussion of what makes a human being and when does life begin. Reason does everything it can to avoid that discussion and assume the answer is sometimes after birth.

      1. It is noteworthy that there is a lot of similar writing on this subject in libertarian circles going back into the 70s. I don't think we need to rehash every one of these arguments over and over, but I haven't seen either side link ONCE to these analyses. It is always just ripped from the headlines nonsense. We spent 1000x more time in the comments debating the principles supporting or against abortion and those discussions were 1000x more interesting than saying "Hur dur, this twitteratti says Alito is dumb".

        I noticed the same with Sullum and Soave during the pandemic. It was clear they were skeptical if not actively against government imposed shutdowns, mask mandates, etc. But rather than providing the moral, libertarian reasoning for their beliefs, all they did was summarize the most recent research.

        Libertarianism doesn't need another Buzzfeed. It needs people to articulate the reasoned foundation for non agression, liberty and markets.

        1. I wasn't reading reason much during the pandemic but I don't recall seeing anyone make the argument that individual autonomy is more important than the risk created to others by spreading an infection. Not once did I see that argument made. Worse, never once was the idea of due process ever brought up. Traditionally government public health powers were restricted to quarantining those known or thought to be sick and only doing that after making some kind of showing to a court. During the pandemic that power became the power to effectively quarantine the entire population with no regard to or showing of whether any individual was actually sick or a threat. Reason totally missed the boat on that point and stood by and watched the worse abuse of government power in a generation or more with little or no objection.

          1. It was just the evidence for locking down the entire country and calling 3/4 of the American public "non-essential" was flimsy.

            1. The other thing they missed is how the entire concept of "essential" is nothing but an invitation to tyranny. What is "essential"? It is an entirely subjective question. To someone who lives alone and goes to mass every morning as their one form of regular social interaction, daily mass is pretty damned essential. To an atheist, daily mass is about as inessential as it gets. If your local tyrant played golf, golf courses were essential. If they liked to cycle, bike paths and parks were essential and so forth.

              It is impossible to prevent an entire society from working and feeding itself and keeping the lights on. So, there is no such thing as a "lockdown". There is only varying levels of tyrannical and arbitrary oppression.

              1. "The other thing they missed is how the entire concept of "essential" is nothing but an invitation to tyranny. "

                No this was called out several times. Forgive me but finding the specific articles is difficult because google for some reason is really bad at indexing and ranking articles that aren't repeating CDC talking points.

                I remember clearly an article where one of the authors was very stridently hoping that Zoomers and other young citizens would one day realize how the Covid lock down was essentially a bunch of older people with increased risk, but means to live at home, forcing poorer, younger people to subsist on ramen to protect them. They specifically called out the mish mash and arbitrary nonsense of deeming Grocers essential- but only if selling food, but not if selling alcohol.

                Was it well formed thinking? No...but they were at least hitting the right notes. Unfortunately, throughout the pandemic they bent over backwards to make clear that they were not allying with icky conservatives and the like, so they always spent as much time fighting the people who would be their allies as criticizing the actual people taking away liberties.

          2. "I don't recall seeing anyone make the argument that individual autonomy is more important than the risk created to others by spreading an infection."

            Correct. Well...every now and then they would drop in some assertion that "its better for people to make their own decisions". But never did they reason out why. Never did they try to draw fundamental principles that would allow us to chart the right course here. You had a lot of Soave and Sullum saying, "CDC has been incompetent here, we probably shouldn't allow them to be dictating our lives" or "Well the science doesn't indicate that forced masking of kids is going to help".

            The implied problem here is they are just asking for people disagreeing with them to show them The Science! (tm) that will make it pragmatically ok to abrogate our freedoms in the name of autonomy. And as with the Abortion debates, the far more interesting conversations were happening in the comments, where people were trying to reason out WHY any government logically should have the powers to infringe on our freedoms. Even when Chemjeff was coming up with analogies of bears in your car trunk, it was far more satisfying than reading Sullum's latest summary of research papers.

            In a way, I actually prefer the debate because you cannot Science your way out of this. It is wholly (holy?) a moral question that can only be decided with logic. Bailey tried in the past (2009?) to science his way into this space with claptrap about stem cells, and found himself utterly out of his depth vs the moral philosophers in the comments. Good on him for joining us in the comments, but he quickly learned to stick to the science.

            1. Nailed it. Without starting from a principled position, they're putting themselves in a position to agree with infringing upon liberty as long as it's actually backed up by science. Instead, they get into debating the science, not the principles of freedom and liberty. That's also contributing to the politicization of science-"if we can just find a study that proves our position, the other side has to agree."

              But that's not how it works. Science is simply the exercise of free speech and free association. Anyone can engage in it, and your job in a discussion is to convince people using your evidence, not to dictate to people by convincing the technocrats.

              The writing of this publication just doesn't exercise true libertarian thought. There's no real philosophy or principled underpinnings, it's way too focused on how an issue feels, or what the greater conversation about it is. You don't make libertarianism popular by just accepting the base premises of the statists but then pointing a couple of factual errors. It leaves them open to saying, "Yes, but if we only censor the RIGHT information, censorship is then good!"

            2. “Even when Chemjeff was coming up with analogies of bears in your car trunk,”

              That comment should go down in the annals of commentariat history.

        2. Reason's mission isn't to further true/traditional libertarianism, it's to gaslight readers into accepting "libertarianism" as an "edgy" version of leftism which serves to ultimately acquiesce, and advance, leftist totalitarianism.

        3. Great observation.

      2. A distinct human life begins at conception. I don't see how that can be argued.
        When enough of a human mind - and with it - legal personhood begins (I assume this is the relevant connection for the legal debate) is an open question.
        Abortion is the ending of human life in this construction. It may not end a 'person' but it certainly ends any chance for personhood. [an aside... before women became legal persons, would it have been ok to legally preclude that possibility? perhaps constitutionally?]
        The biological father has to be considered a stakeholder in this debate but I'm unsure how much that is currently respected. Half of his dna is in that fetus so he has at least a half stake in the considerations of the life of the fetus ... but how to cash this out?
        How about the following?
        -at some point pre birth the laws concerning person-life should kick in much like they currently do.
        -before that time... say before x weeks, in any disagreement the party that wants the life to be allowed to continue must take on that responsibility financially.
        Scenario 1: both want baby - both share expenses and other responsibilities
        Scenario 2: Mother wants but father doesn't - both share
        Scenario 3: Father wants but mother doesn't - father pays expenses pre birth, gets full custody after birth [mother has no rights after and no custody and no financial obligation. The moment the mother wants to assert access right she must assume some of the financial burden]
        Scenario 4: Neither want the baby -
        a) State doesn't allow abortion: State pays the freight thru child birth and perhaps thru to adulthood - has obligation to find optimal adoptive parents prioritized by 1st:married couple with financial means 2nd:either parent if they change their minds ..[both parents visitation rights determined by party that shoulders the cost (what that looks like tbd) - but not nec custody ..see 1st priority above] 3rd: foster home... group home ... orphanage .. however that shakes out
        b) State allows abortion - follow state abortion and family law precedents
        Both parents would in all scenarios of live birth retain some form of access to children (tbd by financial stakeholders) at their own expense.

        Totally extemporaneous composition here.. just offering it up for shredding. 😉

    2. It makes me just wonder what Reason's editorial position is at all. It might be limited for website posts since this is very nearly a direct rebuttal of the Reason Roundup take.

  4. "In reality," wrote former Reason Editor Virginia Postrel way back in 1989, "overturning Roe would put the abortion question back where it belongs—in the legislative arena."

    No libertarian would hand over their rights to a legislature. The question is an individual one. If you think abortion is murder, don't get one, don't get pregnant unless you want to, and figure out what to do about a rape pregnancy if it comes to that. If you don't think abortion is murder, then get one; but any fool who thinks women enjoy getting abortions is just a damned fool.

    There can be no compromise. There is no middle ground between murdering a baby and a fetus enslaving the mother. The old standard that it was ok/ignored before the quickening, was about as close to a compromise as possible, but neither side wants to admit it.

    Then there are the extremists on both sides, like the ones who think it's ok to abandon born babies who are inconvenient, as used to be common in many societies of olde, which simply didn't have the wealth to support too many children until they could take care of themselves; and the other side, who refuse to admit that spontaneous miscarriages are indistinguishable from selective abortions, and refuse to adopt unwanted babies.

    There is no compromise. It is an individual decision.

    1. There is absolutely a compromise. The compromise is on the issue of what is a "baby". There is absolutely no question in my mind that whatever the answer to that question is, it happens before birth and doesn't result from a trip down a birth canal. Is it at conception? Is a fertilized egg a "baby"? Maybe, but I certainly can see how it isn't. So, when between fertilization and birth does a human come into existence? The answer to that question is that we don't know for sure. So, the compromise is abortion being legal before viability and illegal after. It isn't a perfect answer but it is a compromise answer that gives reasonable satisfaction to both sides of the question.

      1. A compromise must be acceptable to both sides. There is no such thing in the current abortion debate. There used to be, of a sort: the quickening. But that got blown out of the water by both sides, so is no longer a compromise.

        1. "There used to be, of a sort: the quickening."

          This is tiresome. "The Quickening" was never some well regarded, long living term. They found some references to it and invented this idea of a broad standard from whole cloth.

          1. No, read histories of the early 1800s, and you will find the quickening was an actual thing. Abortions before the quickening coincided with when pregnancy was visible, which is probably the real reason for accepting the quickening as a marker. But no one bragged about it; anyone who had done so would probably be shunned at the least. Keep it quiet, get it done before anyone could tell, and no one inquired too closely.

            1. It was doctors who, after the advancement in prenatal science understood that life began before birth, lead the movement to ban abortion in the late 19th Century.

            2. First of all, reading histories about the 1800's doesn't tell us a lot about the common law rights that existed in the 1700s when the constitution was created.

              But if you really read these histories you will find that every time people are defining these boundaries it is because they are discovering when LIFE BEGINS. Prior to doctors spending time up in ladies' vaginas, the only indication that a life began was when they could feel major parts moving outside the mom's skin. As medical technology advanced they were shocked to find that there was a living being in there at the time of the Quickening. Since then medical technology has confirmed that there is a life there much earlier.

              So if you are going to hang your hat on the quickening because of its adoption in the 1800s- then you are hanging your hat on when we can confirm that life begins- which is, you know, the reason people settled on conception or implantation because we have known for over a hundred years that life has ACTUALLY begun at that point.

        2. I disagree. I think that the large majority of the population understands that life begins sometime before birth and but probably also sometime after conception. The large majority of the country objects to abortion but also has no apatite for banning the morning after pill or investigating every miscarriage as a possible illegal abortion. The fanatics on both sides are very few in number.

    2. I don't think this is right. If you believe that abortion is murder, then absolutely there is compromise if you are conceding that abortions can still happen. The call for no compromise sure seems convenient when your position de facto legalizes the killing of unborn babies.

      1. There are already compromises on murder based on self defense. Not sure why it can exist there and not on abortion.

        1. Would aborting an ectopic pregnancy be murder or self defense if you believe life starts at fertilization?

          1. That requires a balancing of rights. In that case the fetus does not override the right to life of the mother. Elective abortion doesn't have this balance.

            Why do pro abortion people always point to only the most extreme but low usage cases?

            Has any state barred ectopic pregnancies from ending?

        2. "There are already compromises on murder based on self defense."

          Killing someone in self defense is not murder. Murder is the killing of someone with malice and forethought.

          We are not compromising when we say that not all killings are murder, because our moral code does not require compromise. Morally speaking, initiating force against someone with the intent to kill them, is wrong. It is murder. Accidentally killing someone in the process of initiating force is also wrong- generally something like manslaughter. And killing someone to protect yourself after they have initiated force against you is not wrong.

          Again, we might compromise on what we DO about it. The hash above from Alpha is basically saying, "we should compromise our moral standing here, and just leave it up to the individual", which is silly. Don't tell me murder isn't really bad if someone was a jerk, and so we should just compromise and only sort of enforce it. No, we aren't going to compromise there. But you can say, "Overt, it is impossible to stop all murders without a more-evil state being created, so let's limit how the state punishes people." That is a conversation we are going to have.

          1. Quibbles.


            The intentional act of removing someone's life is already compromised in multiple areas of life. Capital punishment and self defense. Otherwise it is not allowed.

    3. Enforcing laws against murder is a legitimate function of a libertarian government. So no, the libertarian answer to setting someone commit murder is not to shrug your shoulders.

      1. Nor is the inability to enforce laws against murder perfectly an argument for not having them at all.

    4. The only way your construction works is if you believe it is an individual decision for a mother to kill her 3 day old child.

      If you believe there is a role for neighbors, or a legislature to opine on that "individual decision" of the mother, then your construction falls apart.

    5. There is no compromise. It is an individual decision.

      Without any limits whatsoever?

    6. I see no one has actually understood what I wrote, so I will apologize for that. But all the idiots responding that there can be no compromise on murder have proven my point and don't seem to realize it.

      1. No, you don't understand the responses. It is true that there can be no compromise about murder. You are right about that. There can, however, be compromise about what is and is not murder. If you don't believe me, I have two words for you, self defense. The law is full of cases where society does not consider a killing to be murder. Every one of those is a "compromise about murder". It is just a compromise about what constitutes a murder not about if murder is acceptable.

        1. There already is compromise on murder.

          Self defense or capital sentencing.

          1. You're quite literally wrong. Reread his post, and realize he addressed you already.

            1. No he is not. He is not quite correct in that the compromise is that we don't consider some killings to be murder. It is not that we compromise and say murder is okay in some cases. It is that we compromise and say some killings are not murder.

              The same sort of compromise can be had on abortion. The compromise lies in how we define what is a child and what isn't.

              1. It's a semantic distinction between murder and homicide.
                We classify some homicides as murder, a term designating illegality, while other homicides are not "murder" though may still be illegal.
                It wasn't a terribly useful comment, as it's unclear whether the OP was making the murder vs homicide distinction or simply using the term murder as a vague assertion of other people's opinions.

                1. Further, compromise on murder is well established: while always illegal, there are degrees of murder prescribing varying severity of penalty upon conviction.

            2. Ummm. Lol. I can't do anything but laugh at your response.

              In both cases there has been a compromise on when someone can end another's life. And individuals action in the first, the states action in the second.

              Are you ignorant to basic discussion points?

      2. "But all the idiots responding that there can be no compromise on murder "

        I certainly wasn't arguing that. Your argument seems to be that the legislature has no place discussing this, because we need to compromise. You said:

        "No libertarian would hand over their rights to a legislature. The question is an individual one."

        But that isn't a compromise of any kind- it is conceding the entire position to pro-abortionists. Don't you understand that?

        The reason this gets so frustrating is that people continue to conflate two points: 1) What is morally right, and 2) what is morally enforceable.

        It is morally wrong to terminate a life. I have no compromise there. If my kid comes to me and tells me they want an abortion, I will tell them it is murder. It is wrong for the a mother to kill their 3 month old child. It is wrong for her to kill a 1 month fetus.

        Where I am willing to compromise is in how big of a state we are willing to construct to prevent immoral acts. The fact that mothers sometimes kill their children doesn't mean the state should be equipped to surveil parents at every step of a baby's life. Likewise we need not hound every potential mother under the presumption that they are a murderer in waiting.

        Pretending that someone being murdered isn't murder just because it is inconvenient isn't compromise, it is delusion.

        As near as I can tell, that isn't a compromise at all

    7. At what point in biology does someone become an individual. That is what you are missing. Because the fetus is also an individual. So it becomes a right balancing question.

      1. I don't know if I'm intellectually equipped, but I have a moderate position on this. Biologically, life begins at conception, but I don't know if "humanity" starts at conception. I believe there is some grey area where a developing embryo is not yet an agent, not yet a person with rights, but I do believe people obtain personhood prior to birth. I can't point to a distinct line, but I recognize there's a distinction between a small clump of cells and something that is living and operating as a human.

        I believe every "person" has a right to life, and at the time a fetus obtains personhood, abortion is murder. But I can't tell you if the line should be 8 weeks, 12 weeks, 15 weeks. It's tough for me to actually sort through the science when every fact regarding the issue is disputed based on differing ideologies.

        1. "I believe there is some grey area where a developing embryo is not yet an agent, not yet a person with rights, but I do believe people obtain personhood prior to birth."

          Let's just say we COULDN'T actually resolve where your grey line for human rights is. Then we are morally bound to consider Conception to be the point where we begin being concerned with those rights. As soon as the child is conceived, you have a unique organism that- even if it hasn't reached your grey line- has all the self-actualized capacity to reach that grey line. Left to its own devices, it will migrate, implant, and consume the resources it was evolved to consume, and assemble them into the building blocks necessary to make it past your grey line. (And if it doesn't have those devices, it will fail to implant/grow through no fault of the mother.)

          Since you cannot identify the grey line, the only thing you can be sure of is that prior to conception, there was no organism with no capacity to self-assemble. And after conception at some point you will be violating a human being's right to life. Therefor the appropriate moral choice is to consider any termination post conception to be potentially violating someone's rights, and therefore immoral.

          This isn't morally complicated- if you are in a fog bank and know there is a person somewhere in front of you, you don't say "Well, I'm not sure how far ahead they are, I'll just speed ahead 1500 - 2000 feet and then stop." No, you stop right away.

          Again, we can compromise on what the state ought to do about this immorality. I am open to persuasive discussions around when we have created a system that over-punishes young women. Not because I have compromised on the meaning of life, but because I have compromised on what we are doing to protect it.

          1. Left to its own devices, it will migrate, implant, and consume the resources it was evolved to consume, and assemble them into the building blocks necessary to make it past your grey line.

            This doesn't persuade me, though. What something potentially is, and what it will become in time, is different than what it is. An acorn isn't an oak tree despite the absolute capacity for it to become one.

            You're telling me the grey line doesn't matter because I can't place where it is. I'm telling you that the grey line is exactly what matters, despite my inability to place it. I'm convinced the line is real because I don't recognize an embryo to be a human at conception, nor two weeks after conception. I feel confident that it lacks the traits I abscribe to humanity that grant personhood and declare it has inalienable rights. There's a lot of things I recognize as being "alive" that I believe don't have al the rights we grant to humans. I don't believe my dog has the right to free speech or to keep and bear arms, even if I love the damned rascal. I believe pigs are amazingly well developed and emotional creatures that don't necessarily deserve to be killed but they taste so damned good.

            1. "This doesn't persuade me, though. What something potentially is, and what it will become in time, is different than what it is. An acorn isn't an oak tree despite the absolute capacity for it to become one."

              First of all, we don't recognize inalienable human rights to only Adults- we give them to all human beings. Saying an acorn is not a tree is like saying a child is not an adult. Of course, the question is- is it human, or is it an oak. An oak acorn is an oak. An oak sapling is an oak. A human embryo is a human. You are insisting that there is some unknowable line where a human embryo becomes a human being.

              But. But. That doesn't matter.

              By declaring that 1) you cannot define the line and 2) cannot define the criteria for discerning said line, you have basically ceded all moral authority.

              You say "I don't recognize an embryo to be a human at conception, nor two weeks after conception" but you cannot say why. By what criteria is that embryo not a human being? As far as I can tell, you have no criteria. So your feeling that the 2 week old embryo isn't a human is nothing more than that- a feeling. You may be wrong. You may be right. But it is an untestable assertion, because you have not given us any testable criteria.

              This is the fog bank. We know that before conception, there is no question- that sperm will die and that egg will die without even the potential of a human. But as soon as conception happens, we have entered the grey area. You are looking into the fog at two weeks- you see a form, but you don't feel like it is a Human Being...But since you haven't given a testable theory, it still very well may be a human.

              The proper moral course at this point is to stop speeding through the fog bank. You don't THINK that shadow ahead is a human, but you know that somewhere down the line there IS a human. Until you can articulate a mechanism for definitively determining if that shadow in the fog is a human, you MUST consider that it is possibly, actually a human. Because your feelings very well may be wrong.

              Again, we are only using your criteria here. I am accepting your proposition that there is some un-knowable line between conception and birth where an embryo becomes a human being. But if that line is un-knowable, then you are admitting that at 2 weeks or 4 weeks or 4 months- whether you recognize a human or not, YOU JUST DON'T KNOW. And that means, whether you recognize or not, that 2 week old embryo may be a human. Killing it MAY be a violation of someone's human rights.

              While definitively killing someone and potentially killing someone are different crimes, they are still wrong. We can quibble about whether one is worse than another, but they are both still wrong.

    8. who refuse to admit that spontaneous miscarriages are indistinguishable from selective abortions,

      Except they are distinguishable. One is a conscious decision, the other a natural cause you have no control over. I mean, why have laws against murder? You were going to die eventually, what is the difference?

      1. That's silly. We can't tell if Jim Henson dropped dead of poisoning or stomach flu. Clearly murder cannot be banned.

    9. Deciding to kill the child is also slavery, assumes she owns the child

  5. This article increased Reason's credibility. Abortion is one of those issues that there isn't a libertarian stance on, because it is completely dependent on when someone gains human rights. If every libertarian writer agreed with one another in this issue, then it's a good sign they aren't actually libertarian.

  6. A good article from Reason on the article. I fully agree.

    2 points I've seen argued on the point of states decided.

    1) it makes abortion an activity of the rich and bars the poor.

    Answer) many charities already exist that could help arrange funds or provide transport for people seeking an abortion in a more lenient state. This is not an issue. Many of these organizations already exist.

    2) states will make it illegal to travel out of state for services.

    Answer) this would be illegal and unconstitutional based on the inferred right of travel that exists in the constitution. Not an issue.

    1. Point 2 is also impossible to prove, unless someone wants to brag about it just to get arrested so they can challenge the law. Keep yer mouth shut, drive away Friday night or Saturday morning, come back Sunday, and no one will know, if you just keep your mouth shut.

      1. No its not impossible to prove. It is already an established right. It is why airports have to allow other processes for domestic travel if you lose an ID.

    2. No state could make it illegal to travel across state lines to get an abortion nor could they enforce such a ban should the courts allow it to stand, which they would not.

      1. Agreed.

      2. Welll......


        The clever way that Missouri wants to attempt to do it, is to let private citizens sue another Missouri citizen who assisted a person to travel out of state to get an abortion.

        1. 2nd time you've brought this up despite me saying it would be unconstitutional.

          What gotcha do you think you have here dummy?

          1. This is the first time I've brought it up.

            Why do you think it would be unconstitutional?

            1. States cannot regulate interstate commerce. This isn't some unenumerated thing, the Federal Government alone regulates interstate commerce. A state that gives someone the power to sue a person who was part of an out-of-state transaction is regulating interstate commerce.

              1. Baby-killing is NOT commerce

      3. Unless the fetus has covid...

    3. It is an absolute absurdity to say that it is ok to use the power of government to intentionally make peoples lives harder because private charity can step in and help.

      1. The government doesn't owe you anything sweetie.

        1. Government owes people to let them be as free as possible.

          1. The government does not owe you the labor of other people. They do not owe you shelter, good, tvs, money, energy, etc.

            Freedom does not mean government usingg the production of others to provide for your lazy ass.

            1. The government does not owe you the labor of other people.

              What about a trial by jury? Is an accused criminal owed the labor of the jury, the judge, and potentially a 'free' court-appointed lawyer?

              1. The judge and public defender are paid by the state for that particular job. Jury is an obligation of citizenship and our next done for a specific person but for any trial in the region where it is needed. Not exactly the same thing.

          2. What an interesting stance, given all that you've written in your fear of covid.

          3. You are not free to oppress (own or KILL) other people. Damn, Democrat

      2. So when do we buy everybody a gun?

    4. The ban on travel itself would be unconstitutional, absolutely, but banning those from providing aid for the purpose of OOS abortions probably would be fair game.

  7. You should write more, Slade.

    1. She is at least trying to approach these deeper issues. Sometimes that makes some not great conclusions:


      But I find those articles far more important to the movement than whatever ENB's liberal blue-checks are twittering on about.

  8. It is interesting that abortion is the only right that Republicans say should be left up to the states. They are just peachy using the power of the federal government to override states on rights that they like. Such as religious funding for schools, ability of religious people to discriminate, and gun rights.

    1. No, they don't think it is a right. So, no it isn't the only right they think should be left up to the states. You completely miss the point. The only thing interesting here is how you could think what you said was interesting.

    2. States have varying restrictions onto carry of weapons.

      What the fuck are you talking about?

      1. And Republicans run to federal court to challenge every one of those. They never say that gun rights should be left up to the states based on their local values.

        1. Only people dumber than rocks would argue States have immunity from being sued and are infallible when it comes to any laws, much less gun laws. WTF are you talking about?

        2. Oddly, Roe v Wade is possibly being overturned over the Left going to a federal court to dispute a state law. I guess it's OK for the Left only to do that.

    3. Gun rights are specifically listed in the Constitution. Abortion really is not.

    4. It is not the only right, you are either deliberately obtuse or ignorant in your mindless repetition of your in-group's favored talking points.

    5. Abortion is not a right sweetie, neither is owning your neighbor

  9. It must really suck for someone claiming to be a libertarian that can't live in a world where other people live contrary to their convictions.

  10. What we really need to do to lower abortion is to legalize infanticide. If you can have your dog, which is as smart as a two or three year old killed for your convenience why can't you have your one or two year old child killed for your convenience? If you know you'll be able to have your child killed after it's birth you don't need to be in as much of a hurry to get it done before its birth.

    Support abortion until the end of the eleventh trimester!

  11. If you don't want a local income tax move to Florida; otherwise move to NY. Ditto re the logic of abortions. People move to places based on schools, medical care, lots of fellow Muslims to hang out with, and who knows what else. So now abortion gets added to the list and the left goes nuts. Do they really think the S. Ct. could have ended Slavery or given a woman the right to vote, by a written decision and just making things up (penumbra!)?

  12. Many people on both sides of this issue understandably recoil from the idea of what they see as a fundamental human right being subjected to a vote.

    LIFE is a fundamental human right. Without it you have NO other rights.

    The implied privacy right that implies that you can murder people that you force to inconvenience you does not actually exist.

  13. Show me on a map where slavery should be left to "choice."

    I'll wait...

  14. Abortion is complicated. One thing the federal government should do is shut down restrictions on telemedicine and abortion. Most people are for abortion in the first trimester. Abortion pills work in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Most women can get an abortion safely at home with telemedicine and Fed-Ex.

    Most people say abortion is fine if the life of the mother is at risk. Most people aren't comfortable with late term abortions. News flash - women often aren't endanged by their pregnancy until the second or third trimester. Doctors should be able to prescribe abortions in emergencies without interference from lawmakers.

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