Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

How the Pro-Life Movement Endangers the Unborn

It is hubris to think that the government can improve on the moral choices of mothers.

Anti-Abortion Manianturton / Foter / CC BY-NC-SAThe Republican-controlled House voted 242-184 last week to impose a federal ban on late-term abortions. Given that President Obama has already condemned this bill as "disgraceful" and pledged to veto it, the House GOP's main objective seems to be putting in an advance request of a future Republican president.

But there's a more troubling question at play here for Republicans: Given that conservatives routinely argue that government can't regulate anything without making it worse, how could government regulate one of the most tragic choices mothers face without compounding the tragedy?

The fact is, it can't.

The GOP's bill would ban all abortions after 20 weeks, when a fetus allegedly attains viability and can begin feeling pain, both claims that are very much disputed. The bill would make exceptions for rape or when a woman's life is endangered. It would also exempt minors under 18 who are victims of incest, but would require doctors — at the threat of arrest and fines — to report the crime. In such instances, however, the bill dramatically mandates that a second doctor must be present to try and "save" the fetus.

This is hardly the pro-life lobby's first attempt to kneecap Roe v. Wade, the 42-year-old abortion ruling that barred state and federal government from prohibiting abortions before the point of viability. The pro-life camp's first big victory came in 2003 when President George W. Bush banned "partial-birth abortions." (This ban has backfired because mothers are being forced to rely on methods that are even worse for them and their fetus — such as dismembering it in the womb before “extracting” it). And since, Republicans have kept at it, with the House moving two years ago to ban abortions after 22 weeks. That bill didn't get enacted, but now they want to reduce the allowed time another two months weeks. No doubt the pro-life lobby is being emboldened by public opinion that has moved 13 points in its direction between 1995 and 2014, according to Gallup.

It's not hard to see what drives public opinion in the pro-life direction. There is something deeply discomforting about "abortion on demand" — a society in which women can use the procedure as birth control. But that's not really what conservative legislation tries to combat. Nearly all of America's 1.3 million abortions every year — 98.5 percent — take place in the first trimester, when women saddled with an unwanted pregnancy are most likely to use the procedure as birth control. Yet over 60 percent of Americans, even those who call themselves pro-life, have no problem keeping that legal.

Their main problem is with abortions that happen later in a pregnancy when, paradoxically, women are least likely to use abortion as a form of birth control. Indeed, notwithstanding the famous 1997 recanting by abortion-rights advocate Ron Fitzsimmons, it takes a rather dark view of mothers as moral monsters to believe that women in advanced stages of pregnancy casually stroll into a doctor's office and demand an abortion for birth control-type reasons. This is completely divorced from the emotional reality of ordinary women. The fact is that after five months of pregnancy, mothers form very, very deep attachments with their prospective babies, grieving horribly even when they lose them for natural causes.

So why does any woman opt for a second-term abortion? Besides her own health, the main reason is birth defects that can be accurately diagnosed only through comprehensive fetal testing after the 20-week mark. Some of these defects are not life threatening for babies. But many, such as spinal bifida (exposed spine) and anencephaly (malformed brain), are. Given that 2 percent of pregnancies in the United States are complicated by major birth defects and only about 1 percent of women opt for second-trimester abortions, it's clear that some mothers keep the baby even after learning about the defects because they are up for anything and want to give their babies a shot at life, no matter how brief.

Are those who don't acting immorally? Is it not understandable that they can't bear the thought of giving birth to a baby who would have a short life and painful death? Both views are understandable. Both are heartbreaking.

Should the ill-advised House ban ever become law, the most likely result would be to push women to get early abortions on the basis of far less reliable tests, notes Darshak Sanghavi, a pediatric cardiologist. In other words, the ban might save some Downs Syndrome babies, but almost certainly at the cost of sacrificing more healthy fetuses.

This is no way to advance the "sanctity of life." Indeed, the GOP's utopian quest to "save every unborn" by demonizing mothers and using the government to second-guess them will have the opposite effect. It is hubris to think that the government can improve on the moral choices of mothers who have the most direct interest in safeguarding their future children. The human condition does not always allow for perfectly moral outcomes at all times — and the failure to face up to that might make the human fate more — not less — tragic.

A version of this column originally appeared in The Week.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Where's ENB? Shouldn't she be starting this shitstorm?

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    I take ENB seriously. Let the trolls write the troll bait.

    *Looks up at author's name*

    Yep.

  • MSimon||

    Jewish law on the question is different than what Congress proposes.

  • ThomasD||

    "...the 42-year-old abortion ruling that barred state and federal government from prohibiting abortions before the point of viability. "

    (emphasis added)

    Hmmm.

    Nothing gets a 'libertarian' riled up like Republicans taking a page from the Democrats.

  • WTF||

    How DARE they turn the left's tactics against them!

  • ThomasD||

    I especially like how the sanctity of life gets scare quotes.

    Talk about laying your cards on the table.

  • ||

    Not using quotation marks would also lay the writer's cards on the table.

    Y'all do know that, right?

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Don't "Y'all" me, young lady.

  • ThomasD||

    Wait, so you are saying that the sanctity of human life is now a partisan issue?

    What happened to " lives matter," isn't that still operative?

  • ThomasD||

    That should read "[insert token group] lives matter"...

  • Mx Trshmnster of the Dumpster||

    See, but fetuses and infants are icky and don't understand what's happening when you dismember them, so their lives don't really matter.

    /troll level dalmia

  • Cloudbuster||

    Nope. Only certain approved lives matter. A college president said "all lives matter" in the midst of the "black lives matter" moment and was forced to recant. Seriously. We live in insane times.

  • ||

    "lives matter" is racist say the people who claim #blacklivesmatter.

  • jjjjj||

    This ban has backfired because mothers are being forced to rely on methods that are even worse for them and their fetus — such as dismembering it in the womb before “extracting” it

    All right, little guy, we're just gonna cut you up into pieces and extract you out piece by piece.

    WHAT???

    Nah, jay-kay. We're gonna suck your brain out through a vacuum and then pull the rest of you out intact.

    Oh, cool. You had me going there for a minute.

  • ThomasD||

    Shoddy arguments from convenience, it's the Reason way!

  • anon||

    Yeah, I like how what some consider murder is somehow "better" because it's less gruesome.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "And since, Republicans have kept at it, with the House moving two years ago to ban abortions after 22 weeks. That bill didn't get enacted, but now they want to reduce the allowed time another two months."

    Months?

    "The human condition does not always allow for perfectly moral outcomes at all times — and the failure to face up to that might make the human fate more — not less — tragic."

    Well, she sure rebutted all those utopians who think they can legislate good results all the time! In the real world, these utopians tend to be progs, frequently choicers.

  • ||

    frequently choicers yes

    but never deniers

    nor truthers

    nor birthers..unless it's Hillary in the primary

    sometimes meaters

    often SJ warriors

    and jihadist gayers

    but always dividers

    and name callers

  • Free Society||

    Given that conservatives routinely argue that government can't regulate anything without making it worse, how could government regulate one of the most tragic choices mothers face without compounding the tragedy?

    Yet still having laws against murder is preferable to not having laws against murder, even though it's a bunch of monoplistic assholes we a forced to trust with the enforcement.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's all about line-drawing. Where is the line between not-murder and murder?

  • rocks||

    That is what is being lost when everyone here starts to scream that the red team is being hypocritical in saying the federal government has authority here.

    It is not a debate over the role of government.

    It is a debate over what is or is not murder.

    The reason why many here and on the left refuse to engage the debate on those terms is simply because it makes a weaker argument for them.

  • Vincent Milburn||

    So true. The pro-choice side won't even admit what their opponents real arguments are. I once saw a person post that the Catholic Church intentionally wants to keep black people down by forcing black mothers to have too many babies.

  • rocks||

    Planned Parenthood was founded by members of the democratic party explicitly to reduce the black population, they were quite open about it.

    But conservative Christians trying to stop this are the "racist" ones. Oswald would be proud.

  • PACW||

    Oswald would be quite proud. Whereas Orwell would sigh in a resigned and bleak manner.

  • rocks||

    Until this site gets and "edit" button, people need to stop beating everyone up for grammar/spelling mistakes that they can't fix after hitting that damn submit button. Come on reason please add an edit button.

  • Ed Ucation||

    The line between murder and not-murder is personhood. When does a fetus become a person? After the brain starts functioning. Sometime in the third trimester. Long after 20 weeks.

  • thinkmore||

    killing is just killing and not murder whenever it is either an accident or self(others)defense. rape, incest, convenience, disabled baby that may even die early are all sham excuses for slaughter

  • ThomasD||

    Is it still murder if we don't have a law against it?

    Or if we have a law court ruling that prevents states from restricting it by calling it something else?

    Bonus points: Is it then libertarian to criticize Federal legislation restricting something that the Federal government has prohibited states from prohibiting?

  • sarcasmic||

    legislation != law

  • Free Society||

    Similar to the way martial law is law. Truly decent law, the kind that we should want to live under, is discovered not invented. And certainly not to be invented by democratic majorities and career politicians in a far away city.

  • Free Society||

    Is it still murder if we don't have a law against it?

    Yes.

    Or if we have a law court ruling that prevents states from restricting it by calling it something else?

    Yes.

    Is it then libertarian to criticize Federal legislation

    Yes.

  • ThomasD||

    You were doing so well, right up until you decided to answer a question I didn't ask.

    Substituting your own question may be convenient, but it sure isn't intellectually honest.

  • Free Society||

    For starters maybe make a coherent question. But the answer remains the same regardless. It is libertarian to criticize any and all federal legislation.

  • ThomasD||

    The question is entirely coherent. You just don't like the implications.

    Maybe you need to ask yourself how you can come to criticize the Federal government for prohibiting states from addressing something that would otherwise be entirely within their purview.

  • Free Society||

    It is libertarian to criticize any and all federal legislation. As for coherence... I'm not sure whether restricting prohibitors for prohibition of restrictions on the prohibition of something the prohibitor would prohibit is an entirely clear question. But yeah, I just couldn't handle the implications of your clearly genius question...

  • ||

    Yet still having laws against murder is preferable to not having laws against murder, even though it's a bunch of monoplistic assholes we a forced to trust with the enforcement.

    Yes, that is what statists believe.

  • Free Society||

    Yes, that is what statists believe.

    It's what real anarchists believe. "Law" is a thing that predates statutes and states, it existed independent of such institutions until the state monopolized it.

    As for what statists believe Nikki, a statist typically has no ability to imagine what law would look like outside of the statist paradigm and indeed considers the terms nearly synonymous.

  • Duke||

    What about laws protecting your propert rights? Are those who depend on laws so that their houses and farms aren't confiscated statists too?

  • Duke||

    What about laws protecting your propert rights? Are those who depend on laws so that their houses and farms aren't confiscated statists too?

  • Free Society||

    What about laws protecting your propert rights? Are those who depend on laws so that their houses and farms aren't confiscated statists too?

    If they think the state should have a monopoly of delivering property protection services, yes. More generally if you support the existence of a state funded by taxation as we know it, you'd be be a statist by definition.

  • Isaac12||

    But who has decided it's murder? Nobody besides an ancient text last time I checked. A person's reproductive rights are absolute. The point of gestation of when a fetus has full rights is anything but absolute. Keep the government out of it. Full stop.

  • ThomasD||

    "Nobody besides an ancient text last time I checked"

    Nobody?

    Check again.

  • Isaac12||

    Where did those somebody's get their ideas? An 8 week old fetus has the same rights as a fully autonomous person? Why not just ban condoms? No thanks.

  • Mx Trshmnster of the Dumpster||

    A person's reproductive rights are absolute.

    Bullshit. You're asserting a positive right. You have a right to fuck, you don't have a right to avoid the natural consequences of fucking by trampling all over the rights of a third party.

  • Isaac12||

    But when does that third party's right to life start?

  • Cloudbuster||

    Um, that seems to be the conversation we're having right now. Shall I put you down as "at birth?" Can you give a persuasive argument why others should agree with you?

  • Isaac12||

    I'm saying I have no clue but the last entity I want making the decision is the State. We all have agreed that killing a human living outside the mother's womb is murder. As uneasy I am about late term abortions I'm willing to leave the line there to keep the state out of it.

  • Cloudbuster||

    No. We all haven't agreed that killing a human living outside the mother's womb is murder. Many Muslims believe husbands have a right to kill their wives and children for dishonoring them. We believed, until recently, that people had the right to own others as slaves.

    If government wasn't enforcing laws that say otherwise, you might have a neighbor living next door to you who killed his wife with impunity.

    Your arbitrary lines aren't any more humane and reasonable than others.

  • Isaac12||

    I shouldn't have said all. Point taken. Legal definition(s) of murder are arbitrary. My point is that keeping things as simple as possible from a legal standpoint is better than not. From the point vaginal sex begins, I'm not sure if there's a clearer line than birth.

  • ||

    But teh gayers choose to fuck without that particular consequence.

    But I don't think anyone actually has a right to fuck. Someone is supposed to have to agree with you that they want to fuck with you. If no one wants to fuck with you, you have no right to fuck. Ask Tony. I suspect Tony might be very well versed in that subject matter.

    I don't have to have anyone's consent to voice my opinions.

    Now that's a right.

  • Ed Ucation||

    A fetus has no rights until it becomes a person. To be a person, you need a brain.

  • Win Bear||

    The third party is trespassing. It is free to leave, but if it doesn't, it can be removed by force.

  • Cloudbuster||

    A person's reproductive rights are absolute.

    Who decided that? Nobody with more moral authority than "an ancient text."

  • Isaac12||

    Really? You're cool with the state spelling out how you're to go about your reproductive life? What the hell site is this?

  • Cloudbuster||

    I'm not an anarchist, I'm a libertarian. There is a place for the state in public life. Defining the boundaries of personhood (and thus murder), is something that I see as a legitimate function of the state.

    If you think personhood begins at birth, or conception, or viability or at 18 years of age, go make your argument. But saying that there's no argument to be had isn't productive or realistic.

  • Isaac12||

    I don't mean to sound like an anarchist by any means. What I am interested in is keeping it as clean as possible and keeping the state out of murky philosophical debates like this. I think believing abortion is murder is a totally valid position. I think believing it's not is as well. Personhood at birth works for me from a legal standpoint. Morally I think its viability but that's a moving needle. I say keep it simple legally.

  • Ed Ucation||

    My view is that personhood begins when there is brain function. But even after a fetus becomes a person, a mother still has the right to evict the fetus. She can't kill it after that point, though, and someone can come in and take over as the guardian.

  • Vincent Milburn||

    What does abortion have to do with reproductive rights? Once a child has been conceived inside you, you've already reproduced. The cat's out of the bag. You should have used birth control or abstained from sex.

  • Free Society||

    But who has decided it's murder? Nobody besides an ancient text last time I checked.

    The common law disagrees.

    The point of gestation of when a fetus has full rights is anything but absolute.

    But not non-existent.

  • Isaac12||

    But where does the common law get it's basis? There's this massive gray area between putting on a condom and birth. It will always be gray. There's no two ways around it, you want the Feds to make a moral judgement based on beliefs and views derived from religion.

  • Free Society||

    But where does the common law get it's basis?

    From natural law, which itself stems from the common humanity of the victim, the accused and the jury. Regardless of the workings of common law theory, it's a thing that exists and has existed for a thousand years or more. Not all law is statutory, contrary to your 6th grade civics teacher's proclamations.

    There's no two ways around it, you want the Feds to make a moral judgement based on beliefs and views derived from religion.

    Religion has nothing to with the moral question. Religions don't have a monopoly on moral philosophy and it's actually possible to oppose infanticide without believing in sky fairies, or in one particular sky fairy over another. People who are unaware of that possibility have obviously not given ethics all that much thought.

  • Free Society||

    and no I'm not wanting the Feds to make any moral judgements whatsoever. Speak for yourself, or at least try to understand your opponents arguments before trying to speak for them.

  • Isaac12||

    I appreciate your candor. My apologies for lumping you with most of the pro life movement who do indeed believe in sky fairies and want the Feds to legislate on those beliefs. I'm still very wary of the government making this decision for a pregnant mother before she gives birth nor am I naive enough to believe the pro lifers would stop before the "98.5%" of first trimester abortions were outlawed as well.

  • Win Bear||

    What do you base your analysis of the moral question on? Without religion, how is a fetus different from any other tissue? Does your little pinky have personhood?

  • Free Society||

    It's a human being. If you need the fear of magical punishment or hope of magical reward to make you understand the ethical considerations you owe other people, then you are not a moral person or at least not as moral as someone who respects the rights of others because of common humanity and thus empathy. With religion how is anything different than anything? Because a dead goat herder with a pen says so?

    Certainly my pinky doesn't possess personhood. I rightfully posses my pinky by virtue of my personhood.

  • Win Bear||

    It's a human being.

    A brain dead body kept alive by artificial means is also a "human being"; that doesn't mean people have a moral obligation to keep it alive.

    Certainly my pinky doesn't possess personhood. I rightfully posses my pinky by virtue of my personhood.

    Yes, and a fetus isn't a person, any more than a brain dead body or your pinky is a person.

    If you need the fear of magical punishment or hope of magical reward to make you understand the ethical considerations you owe other people, then you are not a moral person or at least not as moral as someone who respects the rights of others because of common humanity and thus empathy.

    Oh, I completely agree that you shouldn't need religion to feel moral obligations towards other persons. But that doesn't mean either that any gut feeling you have becomes a consistent moral position. The idea that a fetus is a person is logically untenable, whether or not you believe in sky fairies. And while empathy is a good trait that any decent human being should cultivate, it is an unreliable guide to moral behavior; reason also needs to enter into it.

  • ||

    " Keep the government out of it. Full stop."

    Absolutely. As a matter of fact all mothers are so moral they should be allowed to abort their children up 18 years of age.

    21 in some states.

  • Vincent Milburn||

    Personhood is a philosophical question. It can be informed by religion or increasingly science, but it is ultimately a philosophical question.

  • Win Bear||

    It's a philosophical question, but as far as a fetus is concerned, not a very difficult one: if you attribute personhood to a fetus, you have to attribute it to many animals and even your own body parts.

  • Vincent Milburn||

    Well I guess we can all go home now. You solved the simple question.

    If you base the fetus's personhood around its unique, living and comprehensive humanity, neither of those two problems stands.

  • Restoras, BHS||

    Shikha at Tanagra, When the Derp Fell

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    +1 Rai and Jiri. At Lungha.

  • Ed Ucation||

    Sokath, his eyes uncovered!

  • RBS||

    OT: HuffPo goes full Botard with the Texas Biker Gang Shootout.

  • Free Society||

    Actually I think it was Bo who went full HuffTard. He gets his talking points from sources outside of his own limited ability to think.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    #WhiteLivesMatter

  • Free Society||

    racist!

  • waffles||

    Careful, someday hashtags like that will be illegal.

  • Grand Moff Serious Man||

    Are biker gang shootouts of this nature a major problem in white communities? I think the unusualness of such violence is why this is getting so much media coverage.

    By contrast, remember when 9 dead people used to be a slow weekend in certain Chicago neighborhoods? I think that, thankfully, has gone down in recent years.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Quasi-martial Law in Waco:

    http://news.yahoo.com/police-w.....25363.html

    So, the Harley dealership is closed, bikers are being asked to stay off the street and snipers positioned on the rooftops of downtown Waco, after the bikers tried to re-enact the last five minutes of Enemy of the State a few days ago.

  • Xeones||

    Whoa, spoiler alert!

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    There are snipers on the roof, but they're calling it a "request". Hmmm.

  • Free Society||

    Waco has always fared well with copious amounts of federal agents swarming through that town.

  • ||

    One thing we Texans can be proud of in the wake of the shootout though.

    Not one civilian was shot during the gunfight. Not one.

    Our shooters down here in Texas are better shots than those gangbangers up north who like to spray and pray.

    Either that or they just didn't want to waste any ammo.

  • Dweebston||

    Does HuffPo really want to have a discussion about the racial composition of gangs and the violence they inflict on their communities? I think not, since whenever stodgy old conservatives bring up the question of urban murder statistics the left is quick to condemn their alleged racial insensitivity. But it's a much better analogy to the Waco brawl than Baltimore.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Note for HuffPo: Last I checked, the citizens of Waco didn't burn down their senior center and a pharmacy because some white and Hispanic biker trash were shot in town.

  • ||

    So allowing others to move freely across borders = great!

    Allowing babies to live = not great.

    /not very serious

  • Mike Laursen||

    In fairness to the Republicans, as much as it pains me to be fair to them, banning abortion isn't properly categorized as "regulation".

  • simplybe||

    I am against abortion. Simple as that. Rape victims have the choice for the morning after pill. All women have the right to contraception even minors. I seriously doubt most late term abortion have anything to do with the mothers health but more likely that little Betty Sue finally figures out little Johnny isn't going to marry her. Right now you want to be able to kill the baby as its head is popping out of you. Next you will want to abort the baby when it is 3 and not so cute and cuddally. Why stop there. Lets retro actively abort anyone that owns a gun, doesn't buy into gobal warming or says something you may not agree with. Or we could make it real simple and just abort YOU.

  • mfckr||

    I assume many people opt for later-term abortion when they come to a rational decision that they won't have the resources to raise a child at the present-time/near-future. I see nothing wrong with that.

  • Michael Bolton||

    One can also come to that "rational decision" after having lived with a child for a year or two (you know, once they've actually proven to be expensive). That doesn't make discarding said child OK. "Sorry dear, I lost my job today. We need to kill the kids." Financial inconvenience doesn't justify murder. Almost every argument that can be made regarding a 30 week old fetus can be made about a 6 month old (in terms of viability and inability to survive without care from others.) That tends to be my biggest challenge with the "pro-choice" position...is that it's fundamentally inconsistent.

  • Pulseguy||

    It doesn't take much resources to raise a child. They don't cost that much, and there is plenty of help around. Yes, it might interfere with your rise up the corporate ladder, you might not get that wonderful intern position at Elle Magazine, and it will definitely rule out your ski trip to Switzerland you've ALREADY put a deposit on (a real life reason why a woman I know had an abortion), but saying I can't afford one is not 'rational'.

    Killing them when they're teenagers - that can be a rational decision.

  • Jibby2||

    “Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life,”

    What. The. Actual. Fuck.

  • Live Free or Die||

    If someone doesn't have the resources, they can put the child up for adoption. There are literally millions of parents that want to adopt. With the decline in international adoptions, there's an even greater "demand" for domestic babies (the economist in me is coming out). If it's too hard to give a child up (why killing it is easier than giving it up is beyond me), children don't have to cost as much as Americans think they do and parents pretty much universally think the benefits far outweigh the costs. In America, "not having the resources" means not being able to afford a large house or buy a new car. It doesn't mean having to choose between having a child and being able to feed your other children.

  • mfckr||

    Adoption is perfectly fine and endorsable.

    The more interesting question to me is if/how abortion could be effectively prohibited in a free society (i.e., in lieu of state fiat).

  • Vincent Milburn||

    Adoption is always on the table. I've read that in the U.S. there are huge waiting lists for adopting newborns. The foster care system only exists because of older children being orphaned.

  • Win Bear||

    Almost nobody "opts" for late-term abortion; women who have them usually do so because tests show serious birth defects.

    Almost everybody who "opts" for abortions does so during the first trimester, if not for any other reason, because it's safer and cheaper.

  • Dweebston||

    I am not a hardliner on abortion, but if you're making an argument on the premise of human inviolability there's no need to invoke a slippery slope. Killing the fetus in the womb should be enough of a moral quandary.

  • mfckr||

    It's just a fetus, so why does killing it present a 'moral quandary'?

  • sarcasmic||

    I take it you've never seen an ultrasound of a kid that was yours.

  • mfckr||

    I take it you've never seen an ultrasound of a kid that was yours.

    Sincerely doubt that'd make me feel much different about it. If I saw a kid of mine in some girl's womb right now, I'd just look upon it with dread & apprehension.

  • Free Society||

    Sincerely doubt that'd make me feel much different about it. If I saw a kid of mine in some girl's womb right now, I'd just look upon it with dread & apprehension.

    Because you're either a weakling, a coward or a sociopath. Or all of the above.

  • mfckr||

    Because you're either a weakling, a coward or a sociopath. Or all of the above.

    Shrug. My life isn't sufficiently stable atm to adequately undertake the task of raising a child. If I had to do it, then so be it—I'm sure I'd find a way.

    But I see nothing reprehensible about acknowledging what a tremendous existential burden it'd be for the child, myself, and the mother at the present time.

  • Free Society||

    And if there were no burden at birth, but then the burden you described suddenly arises at age 3, I suppose you'd have no qualms about stabbing open your kids head and vacuuming out the brain?

    Put the kid up for adoption if it's such a burden. No child deserves a parent like you.

  • mfckr||

    And if there were no burden at birth, but then the burden you described suddenly arises at age 3, I suppose you'd have no qualms about stabbing open your kids head and vacuuming out the brain?

    That situation is different to me since I'd already have a meaningful personal investment in my 3-y/o. I can't experience that kind of attachment to a fetus, which seems little more to me than the idea of a potential child. There's nothing actualized to it yet.

  • Free Society||

    That situation is different to me since I'd already have a meaningful personal investment in my 3-y/o. I can't experience that kind of attachment to a fetus, which seems little more to me than the idea of a potential child. There's nothing actualized to it yet.

    Ahhhh so your personal feelz are what determines whether your offspring has a right to live or whether you have any moral obligation to it whatsoever. Moral relativism is just so easy, the only moral absolutes are however you happen to feel at the time.

  • Win Bear||

    And if there were no burden at birth, but then the burden you described suddenly arises at age 3, I suppose you'd have no qualms about stabbing open your kids head and vacuuming out the brain?

    At age 3, there is a person.

    At 3 months, there isn't a person there, just a fetus.

  • Sam Haysom||

    Ha this is hilarious. The only person facing an existential dilemna in that situation is the baby butchered so your mellow doesn't get harshed. Just say you are callow and move along.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

  • Dweebston||

    Ask a lifer. I'm one of the squishes who hides behind the concept of viability, whatever that means, as the ultimate determinant of the child's rights inhering.

  • ||

    I seriously doubt most late term abortion have anything to do with the mothers health but more likely that little Betty Sue finally figures out little Johnny isn't going to marry her.

    According to a 1987 study, only 8% of women who terminated at 16 weeks or later said they had been waiting for a relationship to change.

  • ||

    the mean number of reasons was nearly four. Three-quarters said that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities, about two-thirds said they could not afford to have a child and half said they did not want to be a single parent or had relationship problems.

    I think the implication was that the minority of late-term abortions weren't about health concerns and choosing one person's life or biological health vs. another but sacrificing one persons comfort of living vs. another's entire life. There might also be an implication about committing a 'horribly tragic' act as a 'corrective measure' for what all acknowledge to be poor decision making skills.

  • simplybe||

    In 1987 people were not as self absorbed as they are today. I am willing to bet that 8% is higher today

  • Nick H||

    regulating infanticide would only make it worse?

  • Nick H||

    per the title, the real ultimate hubris is believing that the pro-life movement is endangering the unborn by letting them live.

  • Mx Trshmnster of the Dumpster||

    Yep. It's like saying that we endanger murder victims by making murderers resort to particularly violent means of murdering.

  • Drake||

    Roe v. Wade was Unconstitutional and this bill is Unconstitutional.

    Let the States decide.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    I used to think that - but then I wondered how legal abortion can be reconciled with equal protection as guaranteed in the 14th Amendment, and due process as guaranteed by the 5th and 14th amendments.

    I decided it *can't* be reconciled.

  • Dweebston||

    Simple, the Fourteenth Amendment is unconstitutional, too.

    /14Atruthers

  • Vincent Milburn||

    Ron Paul has said that while abortion should be universally illegal, the states choose the punishments.

  • Win Bear||

    Easy: the 14th Amendment protections "all persons born or naturalized in the United States". Even if you insist that a fetus is a person, it clearly hasn't been born in the United States because it hasn't been born at all.

  • sarcasmic||

    As awful as abortion is, I fail to see how prohibition would make things better. All it will do is drive the practice underground. Not only that, but if a mother is willing to kill her child before it is born, what kind of mother will she be if she's forced to carry the kid to term? Not a very good one I would think. And what kind of adult will that child become? Probably not a model citizen. So if women want to kill their unborn children, as disgusting as it is, I say let them. Better than having those kids grow up to be criminals on generational welfare.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    As awful as lynching is, I fail to see how prohibition would make things better. All it will do is drive the practice underground. Not only that, but if a community is willing to lynch one of its own residents, what kind of neighbors will she be if they're prevented from killing the guy? Not very good neighbors I would think. And what kind of citizen will that would-be victim become? Probably not a model citizen, not after the way his neighbors wanted to treat him. So if communities want to kill their undesirable members, as disgusting as it is, I say let them. Better than having those potential victims grow up to be antisocial predators in retaliation for those who tried to lynch them.

  • sarcasmic||

    When the justice system fails, I have no problem with lynching.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    I didn't think the conversation was going to go there.

  • anon||

    That's the problem. You failed to think.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Man, it's a shame that Lyndon Johnson wasn't successful in opposing those anti-lynching laws back in the day.

  • Sam Haysom||

    This is a tour de force. Bravo.

  • Ron||

    they can always let the child be adopted problem solved.

  • sarcasmic||

    For many women that's even harder than aborting the kid. Their maternal instinct kicks in and they want to keep the kid, but they don't want to actually care for it. It's a fucked up situation with no good answer.

  • anon||

    It's a fucked up situation with no good answer.

    I dunno sarc, I think the answer is to let the mother do what she wants. If she wants to kill her own child, she has to live with that. I'll be damned if I'm going to let her choice weigh on my conscience.

  • ThomasD||

    What if it is someone's choice to own slaves?

    Your conscience ok with that too?

  • Sam Haysom||

    I think the con word you were looking for is convenience.

  • Cloudbuster||

    "Adoption makes the mom have a sad," is not a good reason for murder.

  • Kevin47||

    But there is a better answer. A person should not have to give up their life to benefit the emotional well being of another. That's setting aside the rather obvious point that legal abortion present a morally false third way between putting a child up for adoption and killing it.

  • ||

    And grow up to be lynched!

  • Vincent Milburn||

    I know someone who said it would be awkward for a woman to bump into her living child one day so we have to keep abortion legal.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Well, there's the issue of who sanctions it and who pays for it. Cease all tax money funding of abortion, or groups that use any money to do so ( money being fungible) and a lot of the Anti-abortion people will let it go. Of course the pro- abortion people would have a cow, because these days it is never enough for society to allow one to do something, society is expected to pick up the tab as well.

  • sarcasmic||

    I can agree with you there.

  • Vincent Milburn||

    Better to have one underground murder than two safe, legal and legitimate murders.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Abortion threads fascinate me.

    From a libertarian perspective, people may as well be arguing the best religion, Coke or Pepsi or whether Star Trek is better than Star Wars.

    If one side just yells a little bit louder, they should win the debate.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    The arguments do at least one thing - dispel any idea that there's a consensus on the matter.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

  • Ken Shultz||

    I think the debate is instructive in that it really clarifies the legitimate function of the state and important distinctions between legal and moral.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Perhaps the right question to ask is at what point after conception would you be willing to kill someone who killed your child on purpose?

  • Cloudbuster||

    As soon as I knew there was a child to kill. You kick my 4-week pregnant wife in the gut and cause her to miscarry, I'm willing to kill you, if I'm not going to go to jail for doing so.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    The entire argument is based, on both sides, by nothing more than FEEELZ. If there was even a definition that everyone could agree upon, that'd be a starting place. There isn't.

    It fascinates me how people can be so passionate about a topic that's completely subjective. To the point where libertarians want to force their will upon others.

  • SugarFree||

    To the point where libertarians want to force their will upon others.

    My calling a no scotsman on the play.

  • SugarFree||

    *I'm* Damn you, fingers!

  • Swiss Servator, Switzier!||

    We force whisky and haggis on ye?

  • anon||

    Such a vicious attack. Whisky... mmmm.. Haggis ... ugh.

  • UnCivilServant||

    I'll take the Haggis before I'll take the whiskey. Haggis has less wood leachate.

  • sarcasmic||

    To the point where libertarians want to force their will upon others.

    Like redefining marriage through force of government?

  • SugarFree||

    Like redefining murder through force of government?

  • Xeones||

    Like Hitler?

  • SugarFree||

    Like double Hitler.

  • WTF||

    Double secret Hitler.

  • Swiss Servator, Switzier!||

    Redefining government murder through force of Hitler?!

  • SugarFree||

    Redefining Hitler through marriage murder.

  • anon||

    hitler murder hitler hitler?

  • RBS||

    Hitler Murdered My Fetus, You Won't Believe What Happened Next!

  • anon||

    15 things Hitler did you just won't *believe*!

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    To Lose Weight Try This One Simple Hitler Trick!

  • Issue Ninja||

    To Lose Weight Try This One Simple Abortion Trick

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    So the question of what constitutes a unique human individual is based solely on FEELZ? Even the choicers are backing off from that one. At conception, the entity created is a separate entity with its own DNA, and it's alive, and if it doesn't belong to the human species, which species *does* it belong to?

    Even the choicers are backing off from that one. Instead, they are undertaking to say when a human being in the womb magically becomes a person. Talk about feelz!

    The prolifers declare that any living human being is a person, and that no person may be denied equal protection of the law or deprived of life without due process of law.

    Wow, the warm fuzzies! The subjectiveness!

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Bla, bla, bla.

    Eddie's got his own definition of when he thinks rights begin. His feelings are the correct ones because they are his.

    Even the choicers are backing off from that one. Instead, they are undertaking to say when a human being in the womb magically becomes a person. Talk about feelz!

    You seem to think if someone isn't PL they must be PC.

    Thank you for supporting my position, that both side's position is nothing but feelz.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

  • ThomasD||

    "Bla, bla, bla."

    Strong.

    Mind if I borrow that?

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Serve it up hot-cock.

    Argue an abortion position from first principles based upon facts. I'm listening.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    No, you're not.

  • See.More||

    The prolifers declare that any living human being is a person, and that no person may be denied equal protection of the law or deprived of life without due process of law.

    The Right to Life does not confer any obligation upon others to provide the means to sustain that life.

  • Vincent Milburn||

    Abortion is generally an active killing, not mere passive allowing the baby to die. The default activity of a woman's body is to bring her baby to term.

  • Win Bear||

    Our laws protect persons, not pieces of tissue or DNA sequences. That's sensible because laws relate to entities with agency. Your attempt to define persons as "living separate entities with their own DNA and belong to the human species" makes no sense; that definition applies to HeLa cells.

    The fact that most concepts often have gray areas doesn't mean that there are clearcut cases. A chimp might have personhood. A sufficiently advanced computer might have it. Terry Schiavo might still have had it when she died. But a rock doesn't have personhood. A tree doesn't have personhood. A sea slug doesn't have personhood. And a fetus in the first trimester also doesn't have personhood.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "The entire argument is based, on both sides, by nothing more than FEEELZ."

    The moral debate centers on whether the mother willingly consents to preserve the life of a fetus--when she willingly engages in activity that may result in the creation of a fetus.

    It's essentially the same as paternity. If you're a guy, and you willingly engage in activity that might result in the creation of a child, you are responsible for taking care of that child.

    Morally, there is no difference for women. Morally, you are responsible for what you willingly do.

    The legal debate centers on whether the state has a responsibility to compel women to carry a fetus to term against her will.

    In the legal debate, there is some ambiguity from the rights perspective--if a woman wasn't raped and isn't a victim of incest and she willingly had sex, then some may well argue that the state is effectively compelling the woman to live by the terms of a contract she willingly signed.

    On the other hand, there are open legal questions about what happens to babies that no one wants, whether the state should hold women in custody until they give birth, etc.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Regardless of where you stand on that, the point is that libertarians see an important distinction between moral arguments and legal arguments. One is mostly about volition, and the other is about the legitimate function of the state. Being able to see those distinctions clearly may be a necessary precondition for being a libertarian. I'm not sure that anyone makes those distinctions consistently that isn't a libertarian. It might be what makes us libertarian.

    So, yeah, the abortion debate crystallizes that distinction--between morality and the law--and it isn't just about emotion.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Agreed here. One thing that Frank mentions above is the subjectivity of it as well--when exactly does life begin, and when is a fetus considered "viable"? And if it's considered viable, then is that fetus entitled to the protection of rights under the law?

    Ultimately, the debate over abortion boils down to these particulars. Leaving aside the moral questions and hypotheticals--such as, should someone be charged for murder for terminating a pregnancy that the mother clearly wanted to carry to term, like that woman in Colorado did recently--someone mentioned a couple weeks ago that the 14th Amendment provides protections for the unborn, IF society deems them viable enough to fall under the rights described in that amendment. The real nut is when that's defined, and of course it's completely subjective.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "One thing that Frank mentions above is the subjectivity of it as well--when exactly does life begin, and when is a fetus considered "viable"? And if it's considered viable, then is that fetus entitled to the protection of rights under the law?"

    The question of when the fetus is considered a viable person is a red herring.

    The questions are 1) whether the woman willingly consented to the act that created the child and 2) whether the state should compel women to carry a fetus against her will.

    It is entirely possible (and maybe appropriate) for libertarians to conclude that it is immoral for a woman to abort a baby she willingly accepted the responsibility to carry (per question 1) and also conclude that the state has no business compelling a woman to carry a fetus against her will (per question 2).

    The idea that abortion is immoral from a libertarian perspective but should also be perfectly legal from a libertarian perspective isn't even unusual. Libertarians think this about a lot of things. I suspect plenty of us think that cheating on your spouse and lying about it is immoral--but that the government has no business criminally prosecuting people for adultery. Those positions don't rest on the question of whether your spouse is a viable person either. They rest on the question of whether you're morally responsible for the choices you make and the question of whether the government should compel you to be true to your spouse.

  • See.More||

    And if it's considered viable, then is that fetus entitled to the protection of rights under the law?
    Another argument of the anti-abortionists is that the fetus is a living human being, and is therefore entitled to all of the rights of human beings. Very good; let us concede, for purposes of the discussion, that fetuses are human beings-or, more broadly, potential human beings-and are therefore entitled to full human rights. But what humans, we may ask, have the right to be coercive parasites within the body of an unwilling human host? Clearly no born humans have such a right, and therefore, a fortiori, the fetus can have no such right either.
  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Very good; let us concede, for purposes of the discussion, that fetuses are human beings-or, more broadly, potential human beings-and are therefore entitled to full human rights.

    At what point is it considered "just" a fetus and at what point is it considered a human being? After all, once a fetus hits the 36-week mark, it's typically home-free as far as being able to survive outside the womb. But some babies are born later than the standard 40-week gestation period.

    In short, your quote is a strawman and a rather pathetic one at that, considering it doesn't take these scientific questions into consideration.

  • ||

    Why does the fetus being viable make abortion right or wrong ?

    Who was it, and why did they have the right/power to declare viability a concern ?

  • Cloudbuster||

    If you're a guy, and you willingly engage in activity that might result in the creation of a child, you are responsible for taking care of that child.

    I kind of like how the men's rights advocates make this argument. The father has no right to abort, no right to abdicate financial responsibility for the child, nothing. Once he deposits his seed, his fate is up to God and the woman from that point on.

    If we men can live with responsibility for a birth and 18 years of parenthood from the point of conception, why can't women?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Like I said above, I think that is correct from a moral perspective.

    The legal question is still hanging out there--does the state have a legitimate function in forcing women to carry a fetus against her will?

    Abortion can be wrong on the moral question and right on the law. Also, the legal question is not just whether it should be illegal but how. If you're going to make it illegal, are you going to criminally prosecute doctors and the women who get them?

    Are you going to criminally prosecute doctors and women for abortions when the woman's health is in danger? Are you going to criminally prosecute women for aborting children with horrible defects or disabilities? Should the government legally compel a woman to carry a severely retarded and disabled baby to term?

    At some point, the government certainly can overstep its legal bounds in protecting fetuses from harm--just like it can with crime and terrorism. Point is, even if you're on board with abortion being immoral in cases where the mother and fetus is healthy, there are still important legal questions to consider. And plenty of libertarians can and should answer the moral and legal questions differently.

  • MJGreen||

    1. Women have even more duties (carrying the child to term is quite a biggie)

    2. So repeal the duties forced upon men. This is like saying gay people can't get married until all equal protection laws are banned, or immigration can't be allowed so long as welfare exists. Focus on changing the bad, rather than accepting it and using it to compound the bad.

  • Cloudbuster||

    You assume that I think the father's responsibilities are bad. I believe the child has a right to life. And, that the child has a right to my support. I'm responsible for any child fathered by me. I'm good with that. Stop giving women outs that I don't have or want. The fact that they have "more duties" isn't a magical justification for murder.

  • See.More||

    I believe the child has a right to life. And, that the child has a right to my support...

    Your belief, however, is wrong. Right to Life does not confer a "right to [your] support".

    In short, it is impermissible to interpret the term "right to life," to give one an enforceable claim to the action of someone else to sustain that life. In our terminology such a claim would be an impermissible violation of the other person's right of self-ownership. Or, as Professor Thomson cogently puts it, "having a right to life does not guarantee having
    either a right to be given the use of or a right to be allowed continued use of another person's body-even if one needs it for life itself.
  • Cloudbuster||

    Your belief, however, is wrong. Right to Life does not confer a "right to [your] support".

    Your use of the term "wrong" is wrong. What you mean is "Your belief, however, doesn't comport with my belief."

    There are rational limits to libertarian philosophies of self-ownership. Responsibility toward the children one has created is one of those limits.

    That's a philosophical point, to me. A first principle. Thus, it is possible for you to disagree with it. It is not possible for it to be objectively "wrong."

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Your belief, however, is wrong. Right to Life does not confer a "right to [your] support".

    Do you include child support payments in this definition?

  • tz||

    There is a second subtle legal point.
    Most, if not all Libertarians would say I have the right if not the duty to defend innocent 3rd parties from aggression, e.g. an elderly lady being attacked by a mugger.
    Normally, the Mother isn't doing the abortion, she hires an assassin.
    Is it proper to stop assassins from murdering?
    This is where there can be no individual opinion, merely war. One defends the baby by stopping the assassin, the other considers the person doing the stopping an assassin.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Is it proper to stop assassins from murdering?"

    It's extremely hard to talk about abortion from the pro-life side without begging the question. The good news is that the pro-life side of the debate doesn't and shouldn't depend on the question of whether the fetus is a human being with a right to life.

    The questions are whether the mother willingly took on the responsibility to bring her child to term and whether the government forcing women to bring that child to term is a legitimate function of government.

    Make your case in those terms, and you avoid that begging the question trap.

  • Sam Haysom||

    You understand that by their nature hypotheticals often have to beg the question. In fact that's kind of what a hypothetical is. You've been snared here don't dodge the question he asked.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It's a red herring.

    The question of whether the fetus is conscious or human pales in significance compared to the question of whether the mother accepts moral responsibility for the choice she willingly made.

    Whether life begins at conception is unimportant--if moral responsibility begins at conception.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Well, then one can argue that in all cases but rape, the mother is implicitly agreeing to the responsibility to bring a child to term by having sex.

    That may not be the intended result of the sex, but it's a recognized potential liability.

    In Ohio, by statute, whenever one engages in equine activites (extensive statutory listing of what that includes), one is implicitly accepting the inherent risk of harm such activities entail. In other words, when you go horseback riding, you aren't intending to get bucked off and break your neck, but such an outcome is an inherent risk of the activity and you accept it simply by participating in the activity.

    Pregnancy is an inherent risk of sex. Don't want to accept that inherent risk and the resulting 18 years of responsibilities? Then don't have sex.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Pregnancy is an inherent risk of sex. Don't want to accept that inherent risk and the resulting 18 years of responsibilities? Then don't have sex.

    OR...one could simply take responsibility for the action by removing the unwanted lump of cells.

    /devil's advocate

  • Cloudbuster||

    That pre-supposes that we are in legal agreement that it is, in fact, "a clump of cells" not a person. As you say in another comment to me:

    "While I agree that a definition of personhood is required to solve the issue, cb, there is no way in hell you could pass such an amendment. Look how split people are here."

    I don't disagree with any of what you say, in any part. Indeed, we are in no way close to being able to pass a personhood amendment. But until we have the courage or consensus to do so, people with difference conceptions of the proper dividing line will continue to flail around at each other on subsidiary issues rather than on the big question.

    Oh, well. It gives us something to argue about on the internet.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Yep.

    Personally I think personhood starts somewhere in between conception and birth (no idea where). I'd be willing to make a deal and arbitrarily define it at half way just to see EVERYONE pissed off. ;-)

    But that, of course, will never float. The SoCons won't be happy until it's illegal and the Progs won't be happy until you can abort three year olds.

    And everyone thinks they are absolutely, positively correct on the issue based on their ability to conclusively know the unknowable.

    Just scan the comments here and count how many people simply make declarations...

    e.g.

    It is a human person at conception.
    There is no "allegedly" about it.

    And many doing so are completely rational on any other topic. It's amusing to me.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    The moral debate centers on whether the mother willingly consents to preserve the life of a fetus--when she willingly engages in activity that may result in the creation of a fetus.

    Wrong.

    The moral debate centers on when rights begin and whose rights take precedence when they come into conflict.

    Libertarian principle (mine at least) dictates that:

    1. A woman has the right to do as she wishes with her own body.
    2. A person has the right to live.

    Does a the right to live outweigh the right to free will? I'd argue yes, it does (some will argue no as both rights are inalienable, which is a legitimate argument).

    If so, when does a lump of cells get rights? There are terrific arguments to be made, on both sides of that question. None are objective proof.

    SO then, in order to make policy, one must be in favor of limiting someone's rights based upon subjective opinions, which are likely wrong.

    How to decide? Consensus? You don't have one. Majority rule? Evil. Overwhelming majority? Better but you don't have one.

    Based upon the likelihood of getting it wrong, I choose not to decide...AND I still have made a choice.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "The moral debate centers on when rights begin and whose rights take precedence when they come into conflict."

    Because you say so?

    Mens rea is a precondition for crime.

    The question is in the state of mind of the perpetrator--not the state of mind of the victim.

    In criminal prosecutions, the question is whether accused intentionally committed a crime. The choices are first and second degree murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, or not guilty--depending on the state of mind of the accused.

    In contract disputes, the question of what one party's responsibilities are is likewise a question of what that party consented to in the contract. If the woman never consented to anything (because she was an underage incest victim or a rape victim, for instance), then she can hardly be held responsible. If, on the other hand, she did something willingly that might result in the creation of a fetus, then she has accepted some form or responsibility for that fetus. ...just like if she were driving down the street and hit someone's car, she has willingly accepted the responsibility for causing that damage.

    Whether the car is a person or owned by a corporation or the government is beside the point. The question of her responsibility is a function of her willing choices.

    Yeah, I suppose I should make a new word for myself. I'm not pro-life, and I'm not pro-choice--I'm "pro-responsibility" on the moral question. And on the legal question, I'm "pro-freedom".

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Because you say so?

    No...from first principles. The NAP. My tenets.

    If you want to state an argument based upon responsibility, tell me what your first principles are and how you get from one to the other.

    Somewhere in your argument, you presume a fetus has rights and those rights outweigh the rights of the mother. I don't necessarily agree with that premise.

  • Ken Shultz||

    If you willingly engaged in an activity despite a clear risk of consequences, then you are morally responsible for those consequences.

    That you shouldn't be held responsible for things you didn't do willingly is so obvious, we hardly even talk about it--but it's central to every legitimate crime in the form of mens rea.

    And yet the fact that we ARE morally responsible for the things for which we willingly accepted responsibility is even more obvious than that.

    Get your head out of your formula book and think for yourself!

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    If you willingly engaged in an activity despite a clear risk of consequences, then you are morally responsible for those consequences.

    Fine. Agreed.

    I was fucking my girlfriend and the rubber broke, I give her a ride to the clinic and pay for half the abortion. I've lived up to my responsibilities.

    The premise that my only option (read responsibility) is to take the zygote to term and raise it until it's 18 is, quite simply, false. Your assumption is that the zygote has rights. That's what's in question. You are not defending your assumption. You are simply declaring it to be true.

    For what it's worth, if the zygote has rights, I agree with you. Your responsibility is, clearly, to care for the child. If it has no rights yet, it is your (the woman's) option.

  • See.More||

    The moral debate centers on whether the mother willingly consents to preserve the life of a fetus--when she willingly engages in activity that may result in the creation of a fetus.

    Rothbard said it better than I can:

    It has been objected that since the mother originally consented to the conception, the mother has therefore "contracted" its status with the fetus, and may not "violate" that "contract" by having an abortion. There are many problems with this doctrine, however. In the first place, as we shall see further below, a mere promise is not an enforceable contract: contracts are only properly enforceable if their violation involves implicit theft, and clearly no such consideration can apply here. Secondly, there is obviously no "contract" here, since the fetus (fertilized ovum?) can hardly be considered a voluntarily and consciously contracting entity. And thirdly as we have seen above, a crucial point in libertarian theory is the inalienability of the will, and therefore the impermissibility of enforcing voluntary slave contracts. Even if this had been a "contract," then, it could not be enforced because a mother's will is inalienable, and she cannot legitimately be enslaved into carrying and having a baby against her will.
  • Ken Shultz||

    Again, that's like saying that I'm not responsible for the damage I caused to your parked car because there is no contract between us. Heck, I never even met you! How can we have a contract?

    Actually, I willingly accept the moral responsibility for any damage I may cause to any car the moment I pull out into the street. There doesn't have to be a legal contract--certainly not for moral responsibility. I'm engaging in risky behavior, and I'm responsible for the risks I willingly take.

    We are all morally responsible for the choices we willingly make.

    Whether the government should hold us criminally responsible, however, is another question entirely.

    Again, if you cheat on your spouse and lie about it, I'm going to say you are morally responsible for whatever the consequences are to you and your family, but whether the government should start prosecuting people for adultery is another matter. It is entirely possible that elective abortion is morally wrong like that--but that the government has no business criminally prosecuting such behavior.

  • Win Bear||

    Morally, there is no difference for women. Morally, you are responsible for what you willingly do.

    True.

    The legal debate centers on whether the state has a responsibility to compel women to carry a fetus to term against her will.

    Yes, and one can argue that government in general can make laws restricting abortion. But those laws are in a different category from laws pertaining to murder. When it comes to the US, however, it is unclear to me what Constitutional basis the US federal government would have for legislation either supporting or prohibiting abortions.

  • Cloudbuster||

    It's more than just "feelz." It's different conceptions of personhood and when it starts. Unfortunately(?) this is a philosophical argument and not an argument you can win simply by having someone peer through a microscope and see "There! There's the official personhood microstamp! Case solved!"

    I've often said that we need to take a step back from the abortion argument in particular and have an official personhood amendment, because clearly the common law definition of person doesn't have sufficient universal consensus anymore. Changing mores and scientific advances have muddied the waters.

    Just get it down in an amendment, what constitutes a person for legal purposes. Whether the consensus is birth, viability, conception, or 18th birthday, once there's a clear line drawn, everything else falls into place.

    Alternately, let each state define personhood. Laboratories of democracy and all that.

  • tz||

    It is a human person at conception. The only reason for muddying things is when that makes it inconvenient to murder. Definitions cannot be the whim of whomever is doing the defining - you cannot define red to be blue.

  • Cloudbuster||

    I respect your position there, and there's a lot to say for it, biologically. But, obviously, there are a lot of people who disagree with you passionately. So, let's get that personhood amendment out there. You make your best arguments, other people will make theirs, and we'll get it down in black and white.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Put a personhood amendment out there, and watch the Pro-Anortion people loudly and publicly lose thier minds. As with a lot of political issues, there is a large faction that really wants to say "Hey! We won the last round, no fair starting the next one!"

  • Cloudbuster||

    Also, to add. Red vs, Blue is something that you can define scientifically, more or less, by specifying a range of frequency vibrations, But, realistically, I've been standing there with people, looking at some paint on a railing and we're disagreeing about what color it is. "It's green!" "It's slate gray!"

    Otherwise reasonable people disagree about boundaries. That's what the law is for. To set boundaries and definitions.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    It is a human person at conception.

    Nice subjective opinion. So noted. tz feelz it's a person at conception.

    I feelz it's not.

    My feeling is as much garbage as yours is.

  • Win Bear||

    No, it is merely a human being at conception, not a person. Personhood requires agency and consciousness, and a fetus lacks that. It's also unclear why personhood should require human biology.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Just get it down in an amendment, what constitutes a person for legal purposes.

    While I agree that a definition of personhood is required to solve the issue, cb, there is no way in hell you could pass such an amendment. Look how split people are here.

  • Win Bear||

    I don't see how personhood changes anything: the woman still has a right to remove another "person" from her body.

  • ThomasD||

    "...nothing more than FEEELZ...."

    At best that is simply lazy thinking.

    Children have always been a problem for libertarian philosophy. They are human beings who, by their nature, are not amenable to liberty. If they were not essential for the continuation of the species they would be afforded no more protections that those given to a monkey or a lawnmower.

    So the question will always be: What is to be done with them (and similarly, how to define them.)

    We accept legal definition(s) on the line between childhood and adulthood (be it chronological, or by emancipation.) Yet we struggle at teh other end of the spectrum.

    Yet here, we have some apparent standards being considered - those of viability, which are based upon the capabilities of modern medical practice.

    Not exactly what one rational and reasonable might consider FEEELZ, unless one was looking to avoid the discussion entirely.

  • ||

    whether Star Trek is better than Star Wars

    Is this a joke? STAR WARS SUCKS

  • anon||

    Well played, Warty. Well played.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    STAR WARS SUCKS

    Don't force me to force you to my will! I'll do it, NAP be damned!

  • Atlas Slugged||

    That's it! Pistols at dawn, Sir.

    *slaps with glove*

  • ||

    You must be new. *adjusts crotch*

  • WTF||

    Run, Atlas, RUN!!!

  • Mx Trshmnster of the Dumpster||

    Deating with the commentaries on a few occasions has sharpened my sword when it comes to arguing with brain dead TEAMers. I've certainly focused my beliefs based on the discussion on HampR.

  • MacDaddy81||

    Was recently asked what the "libertarian" position on abortion was. My answer, "There isn't one." Seen opinions from all over the spectrum.

  • WTF||

    It all depends on what point you want to consider an unborn child a "person" which therefore has natural rights such as the right to life, where violating it would violate the NAP.

  • MacDaddy81||

    Exactly. I have no idea when life begins. Given that, I choose to err on the side that has no ability to voice an opinion.

  • Mx Trshmnster of the Dumpster||

    Life begins at conception. Personhood is where the question lies.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Life begins before conception, unless you think that ova and sperm aren't alive.

  • MacDaddy81||

    Poor wording on my part. Personhood is what I was getting at.

  • See.More||

    It all depends on what point you want to consider an unborn child a "person" which therefore has natural rights such as the right to life, where violating it would violate the NAP.

    Rothbard, _The Ethics of Liberty_, Chapter 14:

    Another argument of the anti-abortionists is that the fetus is a living human being, and is therefore entitled to all of the rights of human beings. Very good; let us concede, for purposes of the discussion, that fetuses are human beings ... But what humans, we may ask, have the right to be coercive parasites within the body of an unwilling human host? Clearly no born humans have such a right, and therefore, a fortiori, the fetus can have no such right either.

    So... a coercive parasite within the body of an unwilling host is trespassing upon that host. Therefore, the host reserves the right to self defense.

  • Pulseguy||

    That argument of Rothbard is a perfect example of taking an interesting position to an absolutely stupid place without the arguer even noticing how far off beam they have gone.

    A fetus is not a 'coercive parasite'. This reminds me of progs calling humans a virus on the planet and then citing all sort of similarities between viruses and humans. We're not a virus. A baby, or a fetus is not a coercive parasite. It's a fetus.

    And....See More...self defense? Is the Mother about to die? If someone is stealing some of my food and I have more than I need it is not self defense to kill the other person.

    Anyway, that is asinine. It is a fetus, or a baby. Not a parasite. And, it isn't self defense to kill it. It is the process of child birth which enables human life to be that we're talking about.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Whenever someone starts in with that "parasite" language, I find it hard not to check out. Well answered. Or, at least as well as you can answer when dealing with people so divorced from actual human experience that they think unborn children are parasites. Rothbard repels me when he starts in on that vein.

  • Win Bear||

    A fetus is not a 'coercive parasite'.

    Rothbard deliberately uses loaded language to get you to think. But, indeed, from a biological point of view, a "fetus" has many of the features of a "coercive parasite". The only thing that makes the relationship symbiotic is the fact that the fetus carries half the mother's genes.

    But loaded language or not, you still haven't explained where a hypothetical fetus-person would derive its right to coerce its mother to carry it to term.

  • ThomasD||

    Where N is the number of libertarians N will be the number of libertarian positions on anything.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Correction:

    Where N is the number of libertarians N^2 will be the number of libertarian positions on anything.
  • bassjoe||

    Ah, nothing gets wannabe libertarians' panties in a bunch like a good old "abortion is a right" article. Libertarians only on issues they think they are impacted by regularly and not on issues they think won't ever directly affect them.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    You can still be a libertarian and acknowledge that the debate over abortion is a bit more complicated than "it should be allowed all the way up to when the baby starts crying" and "abortion should never be allowed for any reason whatsoever."

  • SugarFree||

    Eddie's only 1/6ths of the comments on this thread. Only 1/6ths. You're really letting the unborn down Eddie. How many precious angels have to be dismembered until you finally step up and do something about it, coward?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Incidentally, I have trouble distinguishing you from sarcasmic. Which one of you does the Wary porn?

  • SugarFree||

    Unborn Justice Keyboard Warrior.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Yes, I'm fighting a lone crusade - nobody agrees with me, but I continue on regardless.

  • SugarFree||

    All that murder happening and you aren't doing a thing about it. Tiny arms torn off, brains vacuumed out of skulls and you just sit there, a mere internet warrior.

    Is this what the Brave Knight of Malta has been reduced to? Are you crippled, Eddie? Or do you just not care enough to go out and do what it takes to really stop the killing?

    God's own coward.

  • Xeones||

    What are you, an FBI agent?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Gosh, SugarFree, you sure know a lot about me! Or maybe you're confusing me with a character in one of your stories.

    May I ask what you're doing about police abuse, the national debt, regulatory overreach, etc. other than posting on the Internet?

  • SugarFree||

    So, nothing, right? Just tip-tapping away on a computer while murders occur. Murders you could help stop if you weren't a rank coward.

    The dead are wailing, Eddie. Can't you hear them? Or are you typing too loudly to care?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    The angry boyfriend who attacked me and accused me of meddling with his decision to get his girlfriend an abortion certainly didn't think I was doing nothing.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Now I expect you to shift ground and, without any segue, to start attacking me for this incident, ignoring everything you said before about my doing nothing.

  • SugarFree||

    No, I'm just going to call you a liar. Because that's what you are. You are far too much of a coward for this to be true.

  • SugarFree||

    Cool story, bro.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    I'm glad you monitor my every move and can tell what I'm doing or not doing at every moment, otherwise I'd be compelled to the conclusion that you're utterly full of shit.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    But you're a storyteller - tell us about the risks and sacrifices you made to oppose police brutality, the national debt, and regulatory overreach.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Poor SugarFree, he's desperately trying to tell us of all the sacrifices he made for liberty, but apparently the squirrels won't let him post :)

  • SugarFree||

    I don't monitor you, I just observe. Nothing about your demeanor or behavior points to you being anything other than a slimy little coward; so, so brave behind the keyboard, but a weakling when it comes to actually doing something about murders that you know how to stop.

    The slop buckets filled tiny bodies overflow with blood and you think hanging around here and shitting up as many threads as possible with the same tired whining is going to save.

    Poor little Eddie, all his fetid dreams of power and control and he can't even save one baby from the dread D&C.

    Coward. Weakling. Your God would be ashamed if he existed.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Gosh, SugarFree, I'm starting to think you don't like me.

    But at least you take risks to defend your libertarian positions!

    You do, don't you? You have been kind of shy about answering that question.

  • Derpetologist||

    "The dead are wailing..."

    If they are, they're not really dead yet. And they most likely do not want to go on the cart.

  • SugarFree||

    I'm gonna go have tacos for lunch. Deep dish tacos.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    A bold and courageous action! I wish I were as brave as you.

  • Duke||

    "Regardless of where you stand on that, the point is that libertarians see an important distinction between moral arguments and legal arguments. One is mostly about volition, and the other is about the legitimate function of the state. Being able to see those distinctions clearly may be a necessary precondition for being a libertarian."

    Lot's of sophistry here NGKC. And personal attacks to-boot. I'm with you though.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    You realize, of course, that you're quoting Ken Schultz, not me?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Shultz

  • Duke||

    yes, I do know that NGKC. I was agreeing with you and pointing out the sophistry of those who didn't. Peace brother.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Pointing out that there are important distinctions between legal obligations and moral obligations is sophistry?

    Pointing out that libertarians--maybe uniquely--can make the distinction between moral and legal obligations is sophistry?

    Pointing out that whether abortion is morally wrong and whether it is legally wrong are two different questions--that amounts to sophistry?

    You're using that word. I'm not sure the word means what you think it means.

  • anon||

    I'm gonna go have tacos for lunch. Deep dish tacos.

    English is such a great language. I've never read "I'm going to go shit myself" in such flavorful terms.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    SF and NGKC: Y'all need to get in that tent and break the back of that mountain!

  • anon||

    "Precious Angels" made me lol.

    I've worked at a game store on Christmas. A lot of those "precious angels" were very close to being aborted by me.

  • anon||

    Ok, I think I have a stance that both TEAMS of aborshun can agree with:

    If you let the federal government become involved, they will certainly fuck it up. Leave it to the states.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    (1) the federal government needs to clean up the mess it caused with Roe

    (2) the federal government has the right and duty to protect the right of all persons to due process and equal protection.

  • anon||

    Yeah, because the Federal Government has done such a *GREAT* job to date!

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    The problem is they're so busy trying to deny sick people access to cannabis that they don't seem to have time to protect person and property from state-sanctioned violence.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    That and making sure none of Disney's copyrights ever expire!

  • Xeones||

    An abortion article by Dalmia? There just ain't enough popcorn in all the world for this comments section.

  • anon||

    Might break 500!

  • Swiss Servator, Switzier!||

    Better if it had been abortion of the unborn illegal undocumented immigrants. By Sheldon Richman. Would hit 1300+.

  • Derpetologist||

    Take your pick:

    I see no difference between abortion providers and Adam Lanza.

    I see no difference between abortion protesters and Adam Lanza.

    It's the battle of the century! Coat hangers vs. Dead baby posters!

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Derpetologists,

    It's the battle of the century! Coat hangers vs. Dead baby posters!


    Except the Coat Hangers have the higher body count: 50+ million against... zero.

  • Derpetologist||

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0aNxzF7MAk

    Abortions for some...miniature American flags for others!

    YAAAAAAAAAAY!

  • ||

    ABORRRRRRRRTIOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNN THREAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD

  • OldMexican||

    how could government regulate one of the most tragic choices mothers face without compounding the tragedy?


    Can the abortionists make up their fucking minds already, or at least get their stories straight? If a fetus is "just a clump of cells"; if the moral justification is "my body, my choice", then how can the decision to abort be tragic? Why even qualify the decision as "tragic"? Is it a decision that is consistent with morality? Yes or no?

    Why involve emotions to what should be a straight logical argument? And why the contradiction? Are we now supposed to believe that a mother aborts a child out of necessity only, that she had no other choice? So much for "my body, my choice"! Give me a break.

  • Sam Haysom||

    In fairness eight or ninth or wharver wave feminism we are on now doesn't go in for this kind of equivocation. Abortion is just another you go girl issue.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Here is the tragedy.

    Suppose a girl finds a bikini that she wants to wear for the summer. But then she becomes afflicted with pregnancy, which means that the baby bump will ruin her figure.

    How is this not a tragedy that abortion could alleviate?

  • OldMexican||

    how could government regulate one of the most tragic choices mothers face without compounding the tragedy?


    Can the abortionists make up their fucking minds already, or at least get their stories straight? If a fetus is "just a clump of cells"; if the moral justification is "my body, my choice", then how can the decision to abort be tragic? Why even qualify the decision as "tragic"? Is it a decision that is consistent with morality? Yes or no?

    Why involve emotions to what should be a straight logical argument? And why the contradiction? Are we now supposed to believe that a mother aborts a child out of necessity only, that she had no other choice? So much for "my body, my choice"! Give me a break.

  • Tony||

    I think the anarchist who thinks the federal government should force women at gunpoint to give birth against their will has a bigger problem with consistency.

  • Free Society||

    Was she forcibly inseminated too?

    The anarchist who thinks the federal government should do anything except curl up and die probably isn't an actual anarchist. Not that you know what that is to begin with.

  • Tony||

    Was she forcibly inseminated too?

    It happens. If the fetus is a human with rights, then government must force the mother/rape victim to give birth to a rape baby against her will.

    In which instances do you think you should be forced by government to push an 8 pound mass through an orifice in your body?

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    If the fetus is a human with rights, then government must force the mother/rape victim to give birth to a rape baby against her will.


    That would require the government be omnipresent. You don't even read your own arguments.

    Government can't even force people t register their guns, and yet you argue government could force a woman to have a child she does not want?

    In which instances do you think you should be forced by government to push an 8 pound mass through an orifice in your body?


    Oh, yes. Biology is such a burden. If only we were all perfect, body-less beings...

    Why do you make such statements? Why do you think it is a burden to carry a baby? Your mommy didn't seem to think so (or maybe she did which could explain a lot of things... who knows?)

    Women who are raped can and do receive a progesterone shot at the hospital to reduce the risk of pregnancy. There is such a thing as the Morning After pill which doctors can prescribe. Most women already take birth control which reduces substantially the risk of pregnancy if they're sexually attacked. These cases of pregnancy by rape are so rare TODAY that it lands in the box labeled "non-starter".

  • ||

    "Your mommy didn't seem to think so (or maybe she did which could explain a lot of things... who knows?)"

    His mommy probably didn't but his father did.

    Tony how old were you when your father abandoned you ?

    Own up to it kid. It will explain the chip on your shoulder and why you are mad at the world.

  • Vincent Milburn||

    If I ever get pregnant, the government should make me do just that. For the record, I'm a dude.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    I think the anarchist who thinks the federal government should force women at gunpoint to give birth against their will has a bigger problem with consistency.


    Who is talking about government, you prevaricating tool? Can't you read? I am pointing out to Shalmia's logical inconsistency.
    We don't need no stinkin' government. I told you: You can publicly shame a person if the person commits a reproachable act. You can refrain from engaging in exchange with that person. Goons with guns are completely unnecessary.

  • OldMexican||

    Dalmia's logical inconsistency.

  • Tony||

    Goons with guns are completely unnecessary.

    But inevitable. Or will they go away in response to shaming as well?

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    But inevitable.


    They're not inevitable.

    Or will they go away in response to shaming as well?


    See: Ferguson. The Police just left the city to the looters. So they're NOT inevitable.

  • Cloudbuster||

    So if a group of people, let's call them Sumlims for sake of argument, decides that children and women don't have full personhood, so they feel free to kill their daughters and wives if they "dishonor" them, government has no business stepping in? Don't need no stinkin' government? Maybe one marries your daughter, and she keeps insisting on dressing too sexy out in public so he throws acid in her face, cuts off her fingers and beats her within an inch of her life. You'll just "shame" him and all the Sumlims will see the error of their ways, and no Sumlims will be beating and murdering their wives anymore. That'll work.

    After all, each person gets to decide on their own definition of person, right? We just have to shame the ones with definitions we don't like.

  • OldMexican||

    Re; Cloudbusters,

    government has no business stepping in? Don't need no stinkin' government?


    Excuse me, C: Since WHEN is "stepping in" the same as "needing them"? Don't equivocate. Government can surely step in. That does not translate to "needing them."
    *I* don't think or believe that killing my wife is honorable or moral, so *I* don't understand why would *I* need government to tell ME it is wrong to kill.

    If *YOU* need government to stop YOU from killing your wife (or whatever), first, God help your neighbors —you must be a ticking time bomb. Second, you would imply you can't control yourself.

  • anon||

    how could government regulate (insert literally anything here) without compounding the tragedy?
  • Derpetologist||

    Slightly OT: In Texas, it's illegal to divorce a pregnant woman. Thanks, so-cons! I'm sure there's no way that law can be abused.

  • anon||

    I'd bet a lot of money that over half of recorded laws make zero sense. I'd bet slightly less that 75% of laws are useless if not downright harmful to society.

  • Derpetologist||

    "Before, we suffered from crime. Now we suffer from laws."

    -some ancient Roman guy

  • lap83||

    "How the Pro-Life Movement Endangers the Unborn"

    That is some epic concern trolling. I'm in awe.

  • anon||

    Pro-league shit, son.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    So, at what point does it become a government function to discourage murder?

  • anon||

    Never.

    It's the government's function to punish murder.

    Murderers generally aren't swayed by things like rational thinking and logic.

  • Derpetologist||

    Laws do not stop crime. They define what it is. Only action can prevent crime.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    How did anonbot get downthread like this?

  • Cloudbuster||

    It is hubris to think that the government can improve on the moral choices of mothers.

    It is hubris to think that the government can improve on my moral choices! If I kill someone, they needed killin'. The government just has to understand that.

  • Pulseguy||

    I usually enjoy Shikha's columns, but this one is ridiculous.

    The issue is, and always has been, when does life begin. If we all agree it has begun sometime before 20 weeks gestation then it is perfectly okay to ban abortion after that. Even Libertarians accept there is some validity to having a State protect its weaker citizens.

  • Mx Trshmnster of the Dumpster||

    I usually enjoy Shikha's columns

    *looks quizzically at Pulseguy*

  • Mx. F. Stupidity, Jr.||

    I usually enjoy Shikha's columns comment sections

    Fixed it.

  • dpbisme||

    I think the article is much more reasoned than the by-line would suggest. Since I am not a loony-lefty I have the ability to emphasize , (or at least understand), the concept that the Pro-Lifers hold dear,,, that you are "murdering a human being, an innocent baby". I hate to admit I have some eugenicist tendencies (since I think most eugenicists are monsters). But I see no reason to bring in to the world a flawed human. "Flawed" is a hard word to use.... I am though against killing a viable human being.... I mean really at some point in the womb it becomes a human and should have some rights...

  • Mx Trshmnster of the Dumpster||

    But I see no reason to bring in to the world a flawed human. "Flawed" is a hard word to use.... I am though against killing a viable human being.... I mean really at some point in the womb it becomes a human and should have some rights...

    Good luck finding a remotely convincing definition of "flawed," unless you think killing perfectly happy, but disabled, kids is cool.

  • mfckr||

    Good luck finding a remotely convincing definition of "flawed," unless you think killing perfectly happy, but disabled, kids is cool.

    I don't know that mere 'happiness' is a sufficient standard for life. If I became irrecoverably senile or mentally handicapped via head injury, etc. I'd hope someone would be humane enough to end me.

  • tz||

    This is like complaining that branding property is bad, post Dredd Scott.
    Kill the disabled?
    If you did toma kitten what is done to babies, yoi'd be arrested.

    But feel free to argue for the broad legalization of vivisection. For more than just unborn human babies.

  • JFree||

    I think the moral 'dilemma' you pose is both artificial and evil. I am firmly pro-choice in that I believe the decision MUST always rest in the end with the mother and she really cannot have restrictions on that decision. I am firmly pro-life in that I believe that every single abortion - without exception - is in fact homicide. That separate life begins at conception. This is not a religious view. It is simply biological reality. Ending that life is homicide. That life may be completely dependent on the mother - but it does not mean it is not a separate life. It may not be legal homicide - but it is most emphatically actual homicide.

    It is ludicrous to argue that mothers have the most direct interest in safeguarding their future children. If they are contemplating abortion, then they are killing them. It takes serious moral spaghetti to argue that safeguarding=killing. That certainly doesn't mean the decision can be anyone else's but the mothers. But Keerist - is our society so freaking morally bankrupt that we can no longer be honest about what is actually happening?

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Somebody without an axe to grind. Refreshing!

  • tz||

    One more inequality. If a Man is raped - either doesn't give consent at all or didn't consent to the pregnancy, ought not the man have the right to terminate the pregnancy? Why os the "rape exception" only for the woman?

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    You'll have to ask Warty about this.

  • inannas7||

    Are we SERIOUSLY still arguing over abortion? Really? This issue, along with birth control, has been decided, its here to stay, get over it. It is not my business what a woman decides to do with her doctor. I am so tired of these stupid social arguments distracting people from the important issues out there. Unless we stand up against the creeping and ever frightening socialism movement in this country none of this shit will matter anyway.

  • Mx Trshmnster of the Dumpster||

    I am so tired of these stupid social arguments distracting people from the important issues out there.

    You do realize that the pro-life side literally believes that abortion is legalized murder for convenience, right? That makes it pretty damn important to them.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    And if you are looking for people opposed to creeping socialism, chances are you'd have better luck at a prolife gathering than at an abortion-rights march. There's a bit of an overlapping Venn diagram between the prolifers and the anti-socialists.

    And if you're looking for socialists, conversely, you'd find more of them at an abortion-rights march than at a prolife meeting.

  • Tony||

    They may claim they do, but I seriously don't think their heart is in it. Even though anti-abortion crusaders are part of the patriarchal tradition, I don't think any except the most insane among them thinks the federal government should a) force women to give birth against their will, then b) imprison all women and their doctors who engage in abortion on first degree murder charges. Do you?

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    Even though anti-abortion crusaders are part of the patriarchal tradition [...]


    Not killing is sooo my father's thing...

    Idiot.

    We don't need the federal government to do anything. Public shaming, avoiding exchange with those individuals —women who kill, the doctors who help them— would be enough of a deterrent. If a bunch of gays were able to publicly shame an individual to lose his job only because he gave a few hundred bucks to a political campaign, enough people can publicly shame abortionists to achieve the same result. It is just a question of will, that's all.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: inannas7,

    This issue, along with birth control, has been decided, its here to stay


    Birth control and abortion are like birth control and infanticide - meaning, they're not the same, either. Birth control is meant to stop a pregnancy from happening. Abortion, like infanticide, is meant to destroy a human life that already exists.

  • Duke||

    "He who made us would have been a pitiful bungler, if he had made the rules of our moral conduct a matter of science. For one man of science, there are thousands who are not. What would have become of them? Man was destined for society. His morality, therefore, was to be formed to this object. He was endowed with a sense of right and wrong merely relative to this. This sense is as much a part of his nature, as the sense of hearing, seeing, feeling; it is the true foundation of morality... The moral sense, or conscience, is as much a part of man as his leg or arm. It is given to all human beings in a stronger or weaker degree, as force of members is given them in a greater or less degree. It may be strengthened by exercise, as may any particular limb of the body. This sense is submitted indeed in some degree to the guidance of reason; but it is a small stock which is required for this: even a less one than what we call Common sense. State a moral case to a ploughman and a professor. The former will decide it as well, and often better than the latter, because he has not been led astray by artificial rules." --Thomas Jefferson to Peter Carr, 1787. ME 6:257, Papers 12:15

  • waffles||

    Abortions for everybody!

  • Mx Trshmnster of the Dumpster||

  • psCargile||

    Yeahbut...Banning late term abortions means an increase in Freak Show applicants. A real freak is good entertainment, but a normal person in a latex mask is fraud.

    And...

    You can have your abortions if we can keep our guns...and death penalty.

    And...

    Who's getting abortions anyway? Certainly not a lot of pious Christian women. I say let those that wish to diminish their numbers diminish away. Why force a liberal woman to raise five of her brats to be liberals when she can just raise one? Or none. I mean my God, if abortion were illegal, we'd be swamped by a growing number of liberals--sure some will eventually evolve into Libertarians or conservatives, but not before their voting damage has been done. Liberal/Progressive population control is in our best interest, especially when they control it themselves.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Ha ha, your satire is in the tradition of Swift's Modest Proposal.

    It *is* satire, right?

  • FloridaProf||

    What a pathetic article. There is no "allegedly" about it. Babies, let's stop calling the fetuses, are indeed viable in many if not most cases after 20 weeks, thanks to advances in modern medicine. SCOTUS in Roe v Wade specified that abortions could be banned altogether during the third trimester, recognizing the viability of the infant outside the womb. Are we to allow the murder of a child simply because the mother finds it "inconvenient" to raise a child with Down Syndrome. What an absurd and tragic argument. Apparently, it is perfectly acceptable for a woman to exercise a"moral" right to kill, if she so chooses, in the name of reproductive rights. Why not extend the window and let a woman kill the baby immediately after birth? I find the extreme libertarian position that we as a people through our legislative process can't legislate morality patently absurd. We do it all the time.

  • ace_m82||

    There is something deeply discomforting about "abortion on demand" — a society in which women can use the procedure as birth control.

    Why? If it's not a "person", and by your definition, it doesn't have rights, then why would it matter?

    Why do you insist on pointing out what your conscience says and then ignoring the logical ramifications of it?

  • TimothyLane||

    In essence, you think taking the lives of unborn babies sometimes improves them. How logical. Your argument could also be used to oppose banning homicides.

  • Marlin_Man||

    So you guys at Reason are down with the whole baby killing thing?

  • garyg||

    Start making cash right now... Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8596 a month. I've started this job and I've never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here...
    www.jobnet10.com

  • See.More||

    In _The Ethics of Liberty_, Rothbard addressed this in Chapter 14.

    Another argument of the anti-abortionists is that the fetus is a living human being, and is therefore entitled to all of the rights of human beings. Very good; let us concede, for purposes of the discussion, that fetuses are human beings-or, more broadly, potential human beings-and are therefore entitled to full human rights. But what humans, we may ask, have the right to be coercive parasites within the body of an unwilling human host? Clearly no born humans have such a right, and therefore, a fortiori, the fetus can have no such right either.

    If there is no right to be a coercive parasite within the body of someone else without their consent, then being such a parasite is trespass and removing the trespasser, even if it is a person, is a legitimate act of self-defense.

  • Duke||

    "Parasitism is a non-mutual symbiotic relationship between species, where one species, the parasite, benefits at the expense of the other, the host."

    An unborn child is not a parasite. The fetus is the same species as the mother and the relationship is not only mutually beneficial, it is beneficial to the survival of the human race.

    "I witnessed… the abortion of a fetus that weighed approximately two pounds. It was placed in a bucket, crying and struggling to breathe, and the medical personnel pretended not to notice. Soon the crying stopped…

    That same day… an early delivery occurred and the infant born was only slightly larger than the one that was just aborted. But in this room everybody did everything conceivable to save this child’s life. My conclusion that day was that we were overstepping the bounds of morality by picking and choosing who should live and who should die…" -- Ron Paul, MD

  • mfckr||

    An unborn child is not a parasite. The fetus is the same species as the mother and the relationship is not only mutually beneficial, it is beneficial to the survival of the human race.

    Ethical imperatives obliging us to benefit 'the human race'? Fuck that.

  • mfckr||

    This isn't essentially different from any statist dogma asserting that individuals ought to be sacrificed for the glory/benefit of 'the nation'.

  • ||

    Actually it is exactly the opposite.

  • See.More||

    Furthermore:

    In short, it is impermissible to interpret the term "right to life," to give one an enforceable claim to the action of someone else to sustain that life. In our terminology such a claim would be an impermissible violation of the other person's right of self-ownership. Or, as Professor Thomson cogently puts it, "having a right to life does not guarantee having either a right to be given the use of or a right to be allowed continued use of another person's body-even if one needs it for life itself.
  • Vincent Milburn||

    Abortion is generally an active killing, not mere passively allowing the baby to die. The default activity of a woman's body is to bring her baby to term.

  • Christopher DeVito||

    So, I think you are bordering on eugenics when you justify murdering the unborn based on the existence of birth defects. I have several friends who have these birth defects and yet are capable of living and enjoying life. I have a friend who has spinal biffida another with cerebral palsy. They are both confined to wheelchairs, and yet are some of the happiest people I know and both are married with children. Essentially you are claiming that 2 of my good friends should have been murdered before they had a chance to live lives and enrich the lives of those around them because they are somehow inferior.

    Eugenics... Such a great libertarian position, right?

    I actually agree that some of those who are of the eugenics crowd will likely abort earlier based on poorer quality tests. However, this is merely the result of an insufficient protection for human life.

  • Christopher DeVito||

    Essentially this boils down to whether the government has the responsibility to ban murder or not. If they don't have that responsibility then your argument is pointless as it is not a matter of which lives they protect, but that they are trying to protect any life at all. If they do have that responsibility then the question is not whether this is wrong because it will cause more to be aborted earlier, but rather whether this law is adequately protecting all lives or not.

    Either murder is wrong, or it is not. Either the government ought to protect lives, or it shouldn't. The question of which lives should never be the discussion. One might debate what counts as a life, but should not debate whether different humans should have different rights. At very least that should not be the discussion on a libertarian forum.

  • BambiB||

    Seem to recall that the authors of "Freakanomics" found that abortion on demand was the major factor in the reduction of crime over the past 40 years or so.

  • BambiB||

    Seem to recall that the authors of "Freakanomics" found that abortion on demand was the major factor in the reduction of crime over the past 40 years or so.

  • Kevin47||

    "But that's not really what conservative legislation tries to combat."

    Regardless of your position, this is utterly disingenuous. It is not uncommon, nor is it unreasonable, to craft legislation addressing a small percentage of a problem because addressing the entire problem is not feasible.

    This whole piece is more or less a coalition of pro-choice talking points with no insight or argument behind them.

  • AmberTheRed||

    The problem here I see isn't the effort to protect the unborn, but the use of the federal government instead of the state governments. If murder and the death penalty are state issues, than abortion, being in the same category, should be a state issue.

    Personally, I love seeing the culture change back to appreciating that abortion isn't a reproductive right but the death of an individual human being. I hope more people, even the "pro-choic" people, see it for what it is, and not see abortion as a means to solve societal problems.

  • ||

    Fortunately a great many libertarians do not believe liberty should include the freedom to end an innocent life. Whether the child has yet been born does nothing to alter the fundamental question.

  • Tionico||

    What is needed is for Congress to grow a spine and pass a bill that clearl recognises that human life begins at cnoception and ends at NATURAL death. Simple, plain, any dummy can understand that. Our founding documents name and guarantee the protection of certain natural rights, amongst them being LIFE........ if LIFE is clearly defined to begin at concepttion, then the taking of life any time after that point will be the denial of a natural, or civil, right. If the right to life can be named and protected in our founding documents, then the definition of that one word LIFE can also be done at the national level. THEN it will be up to each state to deal with the fallout. Some, such as Massachussetts, New York,California, etc, will most likely determine the murder of that unborn life is just fine. Other states, Kansas, Missouri, Georgia, Texas, will likely make it real simple.... since LIFE begins at conception, the deliberate taking of it without due process of law is already illegal.

    One thing that MUST end, however, is the funding of the murder of the unborn by any public tax dolllars, starting at the Federal level.

  • MSimon||

    Jews would disagree.

  • jdog777||

    Why does REASON hate black people so much?? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wC3gS9KlzLw

  • Sky Captain||

    I'm sorry, but this whole argument is a wrong and illogical. You're saying the state should not regulate what women can do, right? And republicans are doing that, right? Well then should the state interfere when a mother dumps her 6 month old in the river, since they can't handle taking care of it? O, that's murder... yes, I can hear you...!

    So, my friend was born very prematurely at 400 grams and is a healthy adult with two children of her own. How many people have to be born at 22 or 23 weeks to prove that a unborn baby is viable at that age?? And why is it not murder to kill an unborn child? Oh, the silence...

    The state should not interfere, I fully agree. But if the utterly selfish women just want to think of themselves, yet don't bother to make sure they don't get pregnant when they have sex, the state should not legislate for them to kill their baby. We already have common law dealing with killing another human. So rather than kill the baby, kill the mother, then we solve the problem. The mother won't kill her babies anymore, she won't have a burden to carry a child, and society may be better off without these people.

    Don't come with ridiculous arguments about conservative laws, when the liberal laws caused the problem in the first instance.

  • MSimon||

    The state should only regulate Christians. Jews should be free.

  • bowmanlilly91||

    Starting Free, free, free. Unbelievable, but true. Register free and get your Bicoins for FREEEEEE!!! No questions and no excuses. Again! It´s free. Yes, free. No risk. Just fun. It´s free.

    .................. www.Times-Report.com

  • ||

    Nathaniel . although Stephanie `s rep0rt is super... I just bought a top of the range Mercedes sincee geting a check for $4416 this last four weeks and would you believe, ten/k last-month . no-doubt about it, this really is the best-job I've ever done . I actually started seven months/ago and almost straight away started making a nice over $79.. p/h..... ✹✹✹✹✹✹ www.netcash9.com

  • ||

    Nathaniel . although Stephanie `s rep0rt is super... I just bought a top of the range Mercedes sincee geting a check for $4416 this last four weeks and would you believe, ten/k last-month . no-doubt about it, this really is the best-job I've ever done . I actually started seven months/ago and almost straight away started making a nice over $79.. p/h..... ✹✹✹✹✹✹ www.netcash9.com

  • MSimon||

    According to Jews it is not a human until 1/2 the body (breech) or the head exits the womb. these laws are religion centric.

  • thinkmore||

    The basis of these arguments are like all other moral and political ones come down to one central argument. Absolutism versus Relativism; however people hope someone can think of some ethical principle to guide a secular society (which no one has and in my opinion will not). Many libertarians believe that John Stuart Mills' idea of the 'good of the many outweigh the good of the few' minus, of course, the collectivist route that that takes one. People have been trying to not use absolutism since there were humans but much more so since more or less the Enlightenment, reasons are obvious to anyone with a brief understanding of history and society. Relativism is a natural progress but since that means, after much refinement, 'I can do whatever I want' (destroy the planet, other individuals, cultures, endangered animals) relativism cannot be used as a moral guide either. Mills' or any other principle will not work either ( I have taken many philosophy classes on this). Pro-choice arguments are unsubstantial because they boil down to relativism. The 20 weeks or later or viability arguments do not work either because they too are shaky in many situations since society does not want to prosecute someone for murder or condone murder when science or some discovery could alter what is viable.

  • thinkmore||

    Which brings the argument to absolutism. Many arguments are made, falsely, on religious grounds, and for a secular government this is unacceptable. However we should consider another aspect of absolutism, that authority to govern does not come from law but from people; something akin to natural law. This leads to the next question; why or where does this authority come from to enter into a person? This can be troublesome to an atheist, another religion or just a secular government. The answer should be, just like with abortion, we do not know or at the least fully understand, except that we know we will never fully understand, and accept that outcome which is most likely to comply with what we think we know. We are not just animals to be ruled by power but have individual rights that begin at some point to which we do not know but in order violate the least of these rights we as a society must choose to protect life and comfort the loss of liberty. A mother carrying a child loses some liberty for a little over nine months but so that another individual can have all of their liberties and life forever. As a society as a whole, government, family, churches, other organizations, and individuals we must choose to protect the innocent except allowing a mother to protect herself from bodily harm.

  • e.eileen||

    Start making cash right now... Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8596 a month. I've started this job and I've never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here...
    www.gowork247.com

  • robert30255||

    Start making cash right now... Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8596 a month. I've started this job and I've never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here...
    www.gowork247.com

  • iinez13||

    Start making cash right now... Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8596 a month. I've started this job and I've never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here...
    www.jobnet10.com

  • RustyShack||

    As more and more Americans begin to embrace libertarian thought - and they are thanks in part to the efforts of Reason - and their understanding of natural law begins to inform their decisions on issues like abortion, the opinions expressed by Ms. Dalmia will fall further into the minority.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online