Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Its really quite simple....

If you don't think abortion is right, don't have one.

If you want there to be less abortions, you can work to ensure that abortion is not the option chosen by making the other options more attractive. That might mean supporting charities and organizations that provide education, housing, and care for pregnant women during pregnancy and long after the child is born. That may mean advocating on behalf of women who choose to give birth. That may mean simply not being a judgmental ass who considers single women or teenage mothers sluts or whores.

If you want to be taken seriously in your opposition to abortion, be intellectually honest. Considering that 92% of all abortions in Canada happen before 12 weeks, before any brain activity, it is dishonest sensationalism to argue against abortion with pictures and posters of late term fetuses. It is lying. Even more so when one considers that abortion after 20 weeks is so rare that it only takes place if the mothers health is in danger. Even Henry Morgantaller won't perform them on demand.

If you want there to be less abortions, you may have to accept that people, including teenagers, have sex even when you tell them not to. You have to accept that abstinence only doesn't work and that proper sex education and access to good birth control will prevent a lot of aborted children from being mistakenly conceived in the first place. Defence in depth, as we call it in IT security. Teach your kids that they shouldn't have sex before marriage if you wish, but also teach them better safe than sorry and get them either on the pill or used to condoms, preferably both.

But you must also accept that you do not own anyone else. You cannot control their bodies. You have as much right to prevent a woman from having an abortion as you do to force a man to donate a kidney against his will - none at all. Part of being free is accepting that people are going to do things you find repugnant and abhor. So long as they don't harm you while doing it. Anything other than this is support for slavery.

It really is just that easy.

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At 12:21 AM, Blogger Cliff said...

Check this out. A group of anti-choicers being confronted with an obvious question - that apparently none of them had ever considered before.

At 12:29 PM, Blogger KevinG said...

I think it is only that simple for you and people who have similar views Mike. It is probably just as simple for Suzanne but she has drawn an entirely different conclusion.

Even the strictly libertarian basis for your argument is open to different interpretations. If you believe that a fetus is a human at conception then an abortion is a violence against a person. Voluntarily defending another person against violence to their person is entirely consistent with libertarian principles.

Are many of anti-abortion activists over the top? Sure.

As for me, I'd be happy if late term abortions were Illegal. At some point during gestation the unborn is more than a cluster of cells. But, that's just my view and I think reason can allow different conclusions.

At 12:49 PM, Blogger Mike said...


I agree, but my point is rather that you can believe and act how every you want, so long as it causes no harm to another person. So if you believe that a fetus is a human from the moment of conception, you should conduct yourself accordingly, but it doesn't give you the right to force your views on others.

I have read libertarian view on abortion that state that if a fetus is a person from the point of conception, then in an unwanted pregnancy it is a trespasser on the property of a woman - her body. A woman having an abortion is evicting a trespasser by the only means necessary. Yes, its over the top, but I have seen this.

For me the big difference it that the ant-abortion people want to control other peoples body and the pro-choice folks merely want to control their own. On that basis, its fairly easy to see where a libertarian would fall.

As for late-term abortions, that is a red-herring. They are exceedingly rare, almost never happening. When they do, it is almost always due to the health of the mother or severe deformation of the fetus. Even then, some women choose to NOT have an abortion. So, in my opinion, "At some point during gestation the unborn is more than a cluster of cells" is a state already recognized by the mother anyway, without the need for coercive law.

I also an trying to call out the anti-abortion side to state their goal, their real goal. If it was to stop abortions, I'm curious why they don't give away condoms, put their daughters on the pill and donate millions charities that support children and families. No, I suspect is is far more authoritarian - we must believe what they believe and the anti-abortion fight is merely an means to that final end.

If you want real freedom, you need to accept that people should be free to do things you wouldn't or don't agree with.

At 12:53 PM, Blogger Raphael Alexander said...

The best argument for or against abortion I've heard, I wrote on my blog a while back, concerning "potentiality".

Even if you do not read my views, read the philosophical article of Russell Blackford linked within. In it he discusses that in terms of abortion, the potentiality of human life becomes more actualized as the fetus progresses. I think due to the low potentiality of a first trimester fetus, the argument for abortion is much stronger.

I tend to fall in pro-choice ranks, but in the first trimester only or in medical emergency. And I think fetal interference should be an indictable offense.

At 1:06 PM, Blogger Mike said...


On a personal level, I agree with you. But I don't think the full force of law should enforce my personal beliefs on anyone.

So I would, if I was ever in that position (and my penis informs me it won't ever happen) have an abortion in the first trimester, but never in the last. But that is what I would do. Others may choose differently - either to never have one ever or be fine with a third trimester. And they are welcome to do so, even if I personally disagree and would not do it.

In short, picking one particular set of mores in regards to this is the cause of our problems. Don't pick any and let people live their own lives and accept their the consequences of their actions.

At 1:20 PM, Blogger Raphael Alexander said...

And what about kicking a pregnant woman in the stomach causing miscarriage? Is that assault? Or assault and murder?

At 1:49 PM, Blogger Mike said...

An attack on an in utero fetus, against the mother's will and without her consent is always an attack on the mother. It is a physical impossibility to be otherwise.

Therefore, it is an assault on the mother. I would posit that such an assault would be so vicious as to be considered at the very least aggravated assault but more likely assault causing grievous bodily harm, both far more serious charges.

It is murder if the mother dies. By your own reasoning of 'potentiality' even late term, the fetus is still only a 'potential' human. it cannot be said to be a full human until it is born and is a fully physically separate entity from the mother. Anytime before this, the fetus could die or the woman miscarry. Or the woman could die.

Ironically, in this, the Bible, in Exodus 21:22-25 is on my side:

"If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe."

In short, if it causes a miscarriage but doesn't severely harm the woman ("mischief"), he gets a fine. If he causes mischief, such as death or other sever harm, he gets capital punishment. The severest penalty is reserved for harming the mother, not the fetus.

I'm sure you find this unsatisfying, but given what I have said and the long held customs that that particular Bible passage represents, I think we can dole out severe punishment to the attacker in your hypothetical without resorting to granting personhood to an entity that is physically a part of another, and calling it murder. This would still recognize that the crime is more than just an assault on the mother and punish it without taking away the mother's right to control her own body.

At 2:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently re-read a book by L. E. Modesiit, Jr., Adiamante. In it he visits several themes about structured societies.

The book is set in the far future, post-apocalyptic society and all that. Earths society loosely governs itself with two simple (yet powerful) ideals, The Paradigms of Power and The Construct.

The themes expressed add context for me to the ongoing abortion debate. One concept is that society functions best when a moral consensus is reached. Which we obviously haven't. However the some-what logical conclusion that since "Morality rests on consensus and requires the use of power to remove those who will not accept that consensus" is troublesome, and goes against what Mike is advocating.

Of closer relevance is the concept that "Attempts to re-define principles into written rules of conduct reflect mistrust and are doomed to failure" seems to dove-tail directly with the idea Mike espouses here, especially in this debate.

Did I make any sense? I answered 4 phone calls while typing this, and might have lost my train of thought.

Anyway, I'm still conflicted about the whole issue. I can't accept the simple solution as Mike states, but yet I know that "remov(ing) those who will not accept (my desired) consensus" is no answer either.

At 9:09 PM, Blogger Ron said...

Mike: I'm reading this post of yours with interest. You noted this argument:

"I have read libertarian view on abortion that state that if a fetus is a person from the point of conception, then in an unwanted pregnancy it is a trespasser on the property of a woman - her body."

I have to poke a bit of a hole in that argument.

There is nothing "trespassing" about the baby's relationship with the mother. If human beings have inherent rights from conception, then the contract to support those rights for the term of the pregnancy, including the right to life, is originally and volitionally put into place by the mother when she chooses to engage in the only act that makes human beings, and especially and specifically by doing so while being the only type of being that can get pregnant. Regardless of intent, there is simply no other way--barring rape--for the baby to be there, except by a woman's choice. Certainly, men are involved but (again and always: barring rape) the final decision in the chain of events that leads to pregnancy is *always* consent by the mother; at best, a man's decision to become a father is actually (and properly) nothing more than a request for permission and assistance.

This is not at all to say that I think "the law" is useful for effectively dealing with the issue. Centuries of known history prove that women who wish an abortion will get one; and also that a "preventative" law will have little effect except to make that process covert and/or dangerous (which is hardly a solution).

That also means, then, that I don't disagree with the main "prescriptive" thrust of your post; I think it's best if the government just leaves individuals to their own devices on this issue.

Mind you, if laws that outlaw abortion are futile (and I think they are), it is also clearly wrong that people who think abortion is murder should be forced through taxation to pay for them; but that's just another instance of wrongheaded oppressive legislation.

At 9:17 PM, Blogger Raphael Alexander said...

Removal of medical services to such procedures would lead to Sally rottencrotch getting the coathanger in the back alley at 15, and thousands just like her. So a medical services withdrawal is a de facto ban of abortion.

At 9:29 PM, Blogger Mike said...

"I have to poke a bit of a hole in that argument."

Just so you know, its not an arguement I subscribe to, but I have seen it made. I'm merely pointing out how far some people will go.

And yes, I agree about forced taxation as well.


I don't think Ron, or I is advocating the withdraw of medical services, but that those who wish to use that service pay for it. I for one would also donate to clinics that perform these procedures. So would a lot of people.

Its a matter of choice.

Again, the pill and condoms is much cheaper than an abortion, so perhaps that is really where the focus should be - prevent the need for the procedure in the first place.

At 10:05 PM, Blogger Ron said...

Yeah, I am absolutely not recommending a withdrawal of services, except by those who do not wish to provide it.

Those who do wish to provide it should be free to do so, and for the reason (among others) that Raphael noted.

And, Mike, I knew that wasn't your argument--but it's also not a good argument.

At 12:00 PM, Blogger Charles Anthony said...

What penalty should be imposed on people who throw litter on the side of the road?


Cliff posted a video with a question for the anti-abortion crowd. The question asked in the video was "If abortion should be illegal, what penalty should women receive if they have an illegal abortion??" The video is a montage of clueless anti-abortionists who have never thought about such a hypothetical penalty.

From a libertarian perspective the answer is simple: the "criminal" may be shunned or ostracized. The only thing that matters is where the abortion occurred.

From a non-libertarian perspective, the question is stupid because there is an unlimited variety of things that a state can impose as a penalty without any rhyme nor reason. Generally, you can humiliate ANYBODY by asking them to justify penalties imposed by the state.

At 1:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you think murder is wrong, don't murder anybody.

At 2:37 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I think the issue missing in your argument is the issue of violence. I see abortion as a violent act, not simply a medical procedure. Just like many other are. That doesn't inherently make such procedures wrong or unethical. But doesn't often make their way into the debate.

However, the difference between a kidney and a fetus is that a kidney cannot grow and be its own, sentient, independent entity.

I never met a woman whose had an abortion who didn't live with feelings of regret and loss. Despite the accusations thrown around by some right wing Christians, no one LIKES abortion.

My feminist wife sees the current abortion debate as a feminist issue. She says that the way peoples have been talking about the fetus and the mother puts the two in opposition to each other, and even puts the mother in opposition to her own body. There's something bad in her body that needs to be gotten rid of.

But the abortion debate isn't about moms, unborn children, or anything else. It's about sex and control. That's where I think you're right. Some right wing Christians or so-called "social conservatives" have a puritanical view of sex and want to punish woman for having the "wrong" kind of sex. And/or they hate the fact that women are making their own bodily decisions.


At 3:43 PM, Blogger Mike said...


Great point, and you are right, I didn't make it.

I think the fact that no one LIKES abortion is also one that is not being made. Instead we are in the realm of myth-making about women who are casually using abortion for birth control rather than the pill or a condom. People forget that it is far cheaper and easier to use the pill rather than abortion, a mess and invasive medical procedure.

If I can find it, there was research done a few years ago that showed that most women who had abortions were women between 25 and 35 who were married and already had at least one child. They were women who made this tough decision not as the kind of "slutty abortion-as-birth-control" women you hear of (and don't really exist), but mothers making decision about the welfare of their family and other children.

As I have said elsewhere, the main difference between pro-choice and anti-abortion sides it that the pro-choice side want to control their own bodies and the anti-abortion side wants to control everyone else's. It is no coincidence that the anti-abortion side are also the side against sex ed, birth control and anything else to do with sex and sensuality.

Thanks for the comment.

At 7:37 AM, Blogger Nastyboy said...

What we always have to keep in mind in the abortion debate is that good people choose to have abortions and other good people are pained by that decision.

At 7:48 AM, Blogger Mike said...

I agree nasty, but part of living in a free society is letting people make painful decisions you would not make.

At 4:45 PM, Blogger Chimera said...

"If human beings have inherent rights from conception, then the contract to support those rights for the term of the pregnancy, including the right to life, is originally and volitionally put into place by the mother when she chooses to engage in the only act that makes human beings, and especially and specifically by doing so while being the only type of being that can get pregnant."

Putting aside, for a moment, the wrong idea that personhood and rights begin with conception, my, but doesn't that sound like blaming the victim? "She screwed so she's screwed" type of thinking? How dark ages are we going to get about making pregnancy a punishment for having sex while female?

Then there's the reality that a contract can only be enforced if all parties to it are in agreement with it. You cannot force a contract upon a woman if she does not want it. You cannot attach a social contract to sexual freedom. And there is no contract in the world that does not have an escape clause.


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