28 Jul 2010

Poll results -- choices

Hey! There's a new poll (are you what you eat?) to the right ---->
A mother should be free to choose...
...when she wants to have an abortion 21%24
...where she sends her kids to school 20%22
both 58%65
neither 1%1

I am (obviously) in the category of "both." I am guessing that the "where to school, but NOT abortion" crowd are right-to-lifers (even if they are intellectually inconsistent*), but I am wondering about the "abortion but NOT where to school" people. Are they teachers defending their sinecures?

Please comment.

Bottom Line: Pro-choice people should not add caveats.
* Yes, I think that a mother has the right to kill her unborn child. First, because it can often be a question of it vs her (involuntary servitude). Second, because unwanted children are not often happy children (utility). Third, because consciousness and pain are functions of social context and expectations, which babies do not have.


  1. Anon writes: "How are pro lifers intellectually inconsistent? Schools and life are mutually different categorires. If I am against the killing of the unborn but want support the right to send them to one schooll or the other where's the inconsistency? Yoou r arguments for abortion arent the most persuasive have ben dealt with fatally by Francis Beckwith."

  2. Yeah, David, I'm going to have to agree with Anon here... though I wish they'd give a name!

    Do you believe in the right to kill someone without just cause? Do you believe in the right to choose a shower stall or a bath? If you believe in one and not the other, you aren't being intellectually inconsistent, either.

    Libertarianism must be split on abortion, because a libertarian must believe in inherent rights. What you (and many other libertarians) are doing in supporting abortion is using utilitarianism as the ethos, not libertarianism, and also beginning by denying full human-hood to the baby in utero.

    I'm on the fence about abortion, myself. Mostly, I'm only in favor if there is a danger to the physical health of the mother. However, if I were a libertarian, I daresay I'd have to be against abortion... competing rights and all that (life vs. happiness, which one gets to win?)

  3. @Josh -- the question is "who is someone?" I think that rights -- as many things -- begin at birth. If you want to go pre-birth, then you either go back to the IDEA, which means a baby who's been thought of has rights, or you go to the point of taking over a mother's body before she can affect her baby. That version of fascism starts with an abortion ban but extends to a ban on smoking, drinking, eating meat, watching bad TV, ad nauseum.

    I don't like murder, and abortion is a type of murder, but the alternative is worse, from a libertarian OR utilitarian perspective -- and I am not really a utilitarian in the sense of "kill 1 to save 20"...

  4. David, I know you aren't a hard-core utilitarian, but it is the de-facto direction many libertarians take when there actually is a paradoxical case concerning rights before libertarianism. Granted, there aren't many, but pregnancy is one of them.

    What does the trigger that causes labor and birth have to do with rights? For example:

    A baby one day before labor begins is exactly the same as the day labor begins; or,

    A mother cannot, ethically, simply leave a baby to die immediately after birth, right?

    You simplify the growth process inside the mother (as if in utero the baby is an unthinking 'it', or just an idea, but once outside, it has its own inherent rights). The actual event is much more complicated.

    Also, is murder of a two-year old preferable, if, say, a parent becomes disabled and can no longer care for the child? How about murder of a two-day old, for the same reason? And if it isn't preferable, then how is it ever preferable? In none of these examples does the baby meet your criteria for okay-ing an abortion (no real sense of future).

  5. @Josh -- I am going straight for cost/benefit TO THE MOTHER here. As George Carlin (I think) once quipped: "why is it that conservatives are SO interested in a fetus but NOT a baby, until it's old enough for the army."

    I'd be willing to let you stop a woman from choosing abortion if YOU had to carry the baby and YOU had to raise it, but that's IMPOSSIBLE and UNLIKELY, respectively. Thus, I think that the mother gets to choose -- one week, day, year -- how to handle her baby. As you know, 99% of mothers are far better protectors of their own children, so I rely on their standard of care. Some may harm babies that do not deserve harm, but they are a (sensational) minority.

    If you want fewer abortions, then give MORE free birth control and MORE free adoptions/orphanages.

    And we (society) has clearly drawn a few arbitrary lines -- you are a person when born, a legal person when 18, etc. They are arbitrary but useful.

  6. I agree with all of your comments here (although you don't know if I'm a man or a woman, frankly). But, none of them address my previous comments - they merely strike a defensive tone and angle off.

    My question wasn't about harm, but about killing. You talk about the rarity of harm, but that definition has changed quite a bit, while killing has stayed the same. For example, would a man hitting a woman for misbehaving be considered harm? Absolutely - but, historically, this is a very new (and better) definition of the term.

    But, I questioned your reasons for allowing abortion but not (I presume) for killing a two-day old baby, even if the mother becomes unable to care for the baby. Babies require care for their survival, just like fetuses. The physicality that babies need is almost akin to the physicality of a fetus (esp. in later months), it's just that the job can be set aside for a bit, and is able to be shared by others.

    And the law is not clear on when a person exists - there are late-term exceptions for abortion that blur the line.

    I was merely pointing out that, if I were a libertarian, I'd have to be against abortion because of the inherency of individual rights and the fact that the right to living outweighs the right to pursue happiness. I also added that utilitarianism is where many self-professed libertarians go when they consider abortion, and they do so by ignoring the inherency of rights that is a principle of their libertarian ethos. I did not say it was wrong, necessarily. In fact, I don't know.

    As for our arbitrary legal lines: most of this blog is you railing against some horrible legal line that you declare is unethical and needs to be changed... it's odd that you would hide behind the lines here.

  7. George Carlin speaks in bumper-stickers, and when people quote him as if he's saying something wise, rather than simply something funny, it makes me question their moral seriousness. Now, David, I know you're morally serious, so I hope you'll think twice before you quote George Carlin again in support of one of your positions.

    By what possible criterion can conservatives be said not to care about children? That's absurd.

    Your libertarian argument for abortion rights is equally stupid. What is it about the six six inches from uterus to midwife that instill children with a moral claim to rights? Or are you okay with infanticide, too? (That's a rhetorical question, obviously.)

    If you believe a fetus at three months isn't a person, that's fine, but please, no nonsense about trusting the mother's judgment. Either it's a person and it needs protecting or it isn't. If it isn't, then the mother's care is irrelevant. If it is, then a mother who is about to kill the baby is manifestly not caring for it!

    Libertarians get so screwy when it comes to kids.


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