Sunday, June 18, 2006

Abortion and the fate of Liberal Democracy

Ramesh Ponnoru's new book "The Party of Death" continues to spark intense debate over the ways in which the Western liberal tradition and its Judeo-Christian heritage live uneasily with each other. We discussed one debate between Ponnoru and John Derbyshire here. At the American Scene, Ross Douthat has been carrying on a very insightful discussion on the same topic. See here, here, and here. His posts are long, and it is hard to choose excerpts that summarize the gist of the discussion. Read them in full, they are very good.

The most thought provoking part of the discussion surrounds the question of whether the liberal tradition's focus on rights, as opposed to duties or obligations, is sustainable. Here is some of the discussion:
If you're not sick of rights-and-fetuses argumentation yet, here are Daniel Larison's comments on the "right-to-life" approach to abortion:

Casting the entire argument in terms of competing rights, as "RTL" inevitably and really mistakenly does, has already let the horse of autonomy out of the barn, empowering the very logic of "choice" that brought us to our current predicament, and ultimately forces some external authority to adjudicate the competing claims of the rights of the different agents. RTL has mainly been aimed at trying to have the "rights" of the unborn child recognised and protected by law (and certainly I agree in the strongest terms with the practical goal of protecting the unborn from the ravages of abortion), but even once this is done the contest between the competing claimants will be profoundly uneven, as the unborn will always need advocates to affirm their "rights" against their immeasurably more powerful opponents. The recourse to rights language is a function of widespread aversion to thinking in terms of obligation--it would undoubtedly be less "effective" on the hustings to speak of the obligations women owe their children, for example, the obligations children owe their aged and infirm parents or the obligations men have before God, even if it would be more coherent as a moral argument--but the use of this language simply feeds the sense of autonomy and entitlement that talk of rights will produce.

And since it's "put up long quotes from Noah Millman" day around here (as every day should be), here are some related thoughts that he posted in the comments section:

. . there are perfectly good religious positions on abortion that are neither Christian nor rights-based. I don't recognize a concept of "rights" in Judaism. I don't think that's unrelated to the fact that Judaism approaches abortion very differently from Christianity. Judaism is not rights-based but wrongs-based. There is no zone of autonomy within which you have the right to do what you like, but rather every decision in life is rule-bound, and the rules ultimately revolve around avoiding doing wrong or causing wrong to be done through inaction.
...
Let me put it this way: you might convince me that abortion is always and everywhere wrong. You are not likely to convince me that a fertilized egg in a petri dish has a *right to life* in any meaningful sense. All that asserting that it does have such rights convinces me is that the very concept of rights *as such* has gotten out of hand, and that we need to be reminded, as Matthew Arnold reminded us, that there *are* no rights as such; what we think of as rights are only the reciprocals of duties. And the thing about duties is that they are *never* absolute, but always proportionate.

A wrongs-based, duties-based approach to abortion would not focus on debating whether an embryo is a rights-bearing entity, or at what miraculous point it becomes one, but would ask what our duties to that entity are. It seems obvious to me that *even if* we don't think an embryo is morally equivalent to a human child, that we have *profound* duties of care towards that entity, that it is not mere *property* to be disposed of as we will.
...
This is, I think, what is bothering people like Berkowitz about Ponnuru's argument. It's unfortunate that the way he's articulated this aversion is by recourse to "hidden law" or "moral instinct" because these things are historically contingent. The real objection is that the concept of rights is just as much a totem and a myth as anything else; you can certainly reason from the premise that we are bearers of absolute, inalienable rights to the pro-life position, but the premise itself is not reasoned in any meaningful sense.


I'm pretty ambivalent about the concept of rights myself, and I certainly didn't mean to suggest that because the concept derives, in some sense, from Christianity that Christianity itself requires such a concept. Rights are, as Noah says, "the reciprocal of duties," which is why it was a relatively easy leap for first Protestant and then later Catholic Christianity to accept the political move from "thou shalt not kill, because human beings are made in the image of God," to "human beings have a right not to be killed, because they are made in the image of God." But rights-talk ultimately opens up a whole language of choice and autonomy (in which God and Nature get thrown out, and people "claim" rights as a means to self-fulfillment) that is ultimately alien to monotheism, and that explains the widening fissure between liberalism and Christianity.


We're often told by conservative Christians like Orrin Judd that our American conception of inalienable rights is unthinkable without Christianity, and that a secularized culture could not long maintain its support for liberal democracy, but must inevitably devolve into statism. The comments of Ross Douthat, Noah Millman and Daniel Larison shows uneasy this marriage of covenience between monotheism and liberal democracy really is. I find it ominous to hear such grumbling on the part of conservatives over the basic foundational principles of our American way of life. Much has been written about the threats to liberal democracy from the Left, but up to this point any talk of a threat from the Right has been written off as secular fearmongering. The Christian Right has, for the last 30 years, pursued a Constitutional strategy to revive a socially conservative culture that is, in their eyes, the original conception of this nation's founders and the fullest expression of a classically liberal constitutional order. Ponnoru's critique of the Party of Death is in that tradition. Having not acheived their goal over that period, it appears there is a fundamental rethink occuring on the Right that may presage a radical change in direction away from liberalism. If this continues to develop, look for major inversion of the political scales, with the Right becoming the radical ideology and the Left regaining its position as the defender of mainstream American values.

24 Comments:

Blogger Susan's Husband said...

The Left defend American values / liberalism? That would require a bigger shift in attitudes than the one you fear on the Right. The Right may well be incidentally hostile to liberalism, but the Left is explicitly and deliberately hostile.

June 18, 2006 9:22 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

sh
When tectonic shifts in the political landscape occur, the whole center of gravity shifts and the center moves to the least radical side of the spectrum. From the 30s through the 60s the Right was the home of extremists and radicals, and the Left was the home of the Middle. Wherever the Middle goes it drowns out the fringe element of that side.

So if the Right becomes too radicalized by its skepticism of "rights talk", then the Middle may just abandon it.

You have to realize also that radical traditions are generational in nature. The current brand of lefty radicalism began in the 60's, and is getting rather long in the tooth. It is not replenishing itself from the college campuses as it once did. College students are more conservative than their professors nowadays.

June 18, 2006 9:34 AM  
Blogger David said...

I would say that the shift, if it is a shift, has already happened. The left is the reactionary party and the right is the radical party. However, given the broad acceptance of American exceptionalism, which is at heart a religious doctrine, the mainstream right is not likely to turn away from the Constitution's classical liberalism.

I agree that the rights theory of abortion has some unhappy effects. That is undoubtedly because the pro-life side is more concerned about life than rights, and uses rtl rhetoric mostly as a argument to convince those in the middle. I am convinced, though, that abortion politics has warped the left much more than the right (look at how much of an outlier American abortion law is in the world).

On the other hand, I'm also convinced that the left has lost the abortion wars, which are all over but the shouting.

June 18, 2006 3:32 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

David:

I'm not sure what constitutes "losing" the abortion wars. If by that you mean communities have de facto reached their own consensus position, then that is true. However, if one cares to consider how widespread is the acceptance of some degree of choice, then there has been a profound shift in the direction of choice.

If, or when, Roe v. Wade is overturned, I predict that very little will change at the local level. Those communities that greatly restrict abortion through de facto means will continue to do so, and those that don't, won't.

In keeping with irony being the driving force of the universe, I expect the eventual overturning will be a donnybrook for the RTL groups. Until that happens, they have the luxury of railing against the Supreme Court.

Afterwards, they will be in the position of attempting to impose their vision on society. Their absolutist position will alienate all but the absolutists, and their hypocrisy won't play well, either. (Why is it that all laws criminalizing abortion put the doctor in jail, but never the woman?)

The desire to impose sectarian beliefs upon women whose ownership of the pregnancy is indissoluble is, in its way, as much a threat to Liberalism as anything the Left has concocted.

By all means RTL groups should attempt to persuade others; but the intrusion of government in these matters is precisely the statism that conservatives decry.

June 18, 2006 7:51 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Skipper, there are two ways a group can "impose their vision on society". One is to gain executive or legislative power and impose all manner of intrusive laws without regard to history, constitutional tradition or consensus. The second is for a minority to declare its views "inalienable rights" no legislature can touch and thus thwart majority opinion through the judiciary. You and Duck seem highly and admirably sensitive to the threat of the first and completely oblivious to the second.

After several years of debates here and at Brosjudd on issues from freedom in Iraq to cars and guns to telemarketers to Sunday restaurant closings in airports, it is hard for me not to conclude that "rights" are the glory and bane of American politics. They are the source of your freedoms and the fierce sense of injustice that drives you to such sacrifice, but they also tie you up in bitter, controversial knots over the damnedest little things. We all know that neither side of the abortion debate is speaking to the majority with all their rights- based talk, so why fear talk about duty and obligations that might lead to the "impure" and even irrational saw-off most people want. Rights are abstract ideas, Skipper, not freedom-fighters.

Maybe you have to come from a country where everybody thinks it is cool that a powerless queen is the repository of all power to think this way.

June 19, 2006 5:53 AM  
Blogger David said...

Skipper: Losing the abortion wars consists of having the majority of
Americans reject the position of the pro-choice wing and adopt the position of the pro-life wing.

I predict that, after Roe is overturned, abortion will be largely banned except in those states where the state courts preempt democracy.

June 19, 2006 1:20 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

David,
I don't agree with your assessment. I think that most states will enact some restrictions on abortion based on trimester, but I would bet that none of the Blue states will pass an outright ban on abortion starting with conception. I'd call it a tie.

June 19, 2006 2:06 PM  
Blogger David said...

Duck: If you look at the polling, there is a widespread and stable consensus against abortion after the first trimester and in favor of parental consent. You could probably get support in most states for a restriction even in the first trimester to the life and physical well-being of the mother.

June 19, 2006 3:43 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Peter:

Your two ways of imposing vision are not the same. One uses the coercive power of government to impose a particular choice, the other leaves it up to individuals to make their own decision. In the latter, the requirement is to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. I happen to think that, all in all, Brown v. Board of Education was a good thing, despite frustrating the legislature and majority opinion.

Perhaps it doesn't help any to talk about "rights," but rather discuss where government belongs, and where it doesn't.

I am a minimalist. In most personal realms, life is simply too complicated for intrusive government fiat. The consensus David cites against abortion breaks down very quickly when people are asked to back the absolutist RTL position. People, by and large, are in favor of allowing a woman impregnated through rape or incest (about 32,000 cases/year) to decide whether to continue the pregnancy. Equally, people are loath to prohibit choice if the fetus is suffering severe birth defects. Ultimately, the qualifiers (what is severe? how much of a threat to the mother's health) destroy the RTL position.

What's more, that position is itself guilty of hypocrisy, more than what I cited above. By what standard do you justify allowing a Jehovah's Witness to decline a life saving blood transfusion, while insisting that a woman carry a Trisomy-13 baby to term? You simply cannot use religious liberty on the one hand, while denying it on the other.

A "rights" based position is weak, but so is an "obligations" based position. For then one must decide to whom the greater obligation is owed, because in all manner of cases obligations can be mutually exclusive.

Consequently, RTL decisions are properly left to individuals. This has nothing to do with rights, or obligations, but rather taking fully on board that in these realms, life is simply too complicated for government to impose one choice upon everybody.

David:

As with Duck, I disagree, and for the same reasons. Pro-choice advocates should have long since agreed to restrictions after the first trimester, and advocated parental consent. That would provide a symmetry with end-of-life decisions, yet still allow people autonomy over their own lives.

If RTL people had the courage of their convictions, they would let God sort it out.

June 19, 2006 8:32 PM  
Blogger David said...

Skipper: I'm not sure how your disagreement isn't complete agreement. Your suggested regime, not too much different from mine, is anti-abortion.

June 20, 2006 10:01 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

David,
It seems we all three agree. I'd call that position the "tie". The RTL position, it seems to me, would ban all abortions after conception, either with or without exceptions for rape, incest and the health of the mother.

June 20, 2006 10:45 AM  
Blogger David said...

Duck: There are some people who take that position, although I doubt they are a majority in many states. We'll see what North Dakota does in the fall.

I note that Democrats and the death lobby refer to anyone who expresses doubts about late term abortion as far right extremists -- and they don't seem to mean it as a complement.

June 20, 2006 6:52 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

One uses the coercive power of government to impose a particular choice, the other leaves it up to individuals to make their own decision. In the latter, the requirement is to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

You are a lost man, Skipper.

June 21, 2006 5:03 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

David:

My position excludes the state where it has no business being. The state devolves end of life decisions to individuals. It should do the same with beginning of life decisions. This is simply a symmetry argument, where sentience, either where it has not yet existed, or will no longer exist, is the focal point.

So my position provides room for individuals to make their own decisions regarding both the beginning and end of life, and deprives the sorely exercised from imposing their choice to the exclusion of all others.

Duck:

The RTL position, it seems to me, would ban all abortions after conception, either with or without exceptions for rape, incest and the health of the mother.

The moment the RTL faction adopts a rape/incest exception, its position immediately collapses into incoherence, and a health of the mother exception does scarcely less damage.

Just as I noted above, and no one has countered, it simply isn't possible -- while maintaining intellectual integrity -- to adopt a RTL position while ignoring Jehovah's Witnesses who effectively commit suicide rather than accept a blood transfusion.

Peter:

I'm a lost man? Hardly, I'm a Liberal.

June 21, 2006 7:08 PM  
Blogger David said...

Skipper: The next fetus that agrees to be aborted will be the first.

June 22, 2006 1:28 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

David:

As will be the next fetus to get born.

Or suffer Trisomy 13.

Or get conceived, but fail to implant because the rythym method does a far better job of preventing the latter than the former. (Irony meter is well into the red on this one.)

Until a fair way along, a woman owns her pregnancy entirely. She can't give it to you, or your wife, or society.

We should acknowledge that fact by giving her some choice in the matter, even if we don't necessarily like the choice.

June 22, 2006 8:01 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Until a fair way along, a woman owns her pregnancy entirely.

Preganancy ownership? You secularists are just so cute. When reason and science stop taking you where you want to go, you just invent a brand-new cool abstract.

June 23, 2006 2:41 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

We secularists do not all agree on this issue. I, for one, don't see any logical inflection point between conception and birth where you can draw a clear line and say "now this thing is a person". The objective rule has to be that a person is a person from the point of conception onward. The only thing to decide is how far society should compromise that objective rule in light of the diffuculties in trying to enforce perfect objective morality on imperfect people.

June 23, 2006 7:07 AM  
Blogger David said...

Let's notice Skipper's nice inversion point. The state devolves end of life decisions to individuals. We do? Since when? If you try to jump off a bridge, or shoot yourself in the head, the state will try to stop you. More to the point, if you try to push someone else of the bridge, the state will try to stop you and punish you if you succeed. One state is running the experiment to see if we should let even the critically ill choose to be killed, and frankly it's not working out that well.

We do allow people to choose not to be kept alive after hope is gone and, if they don't make provision for that, we do allow substituted judgment from either a loved one or a Court. The substituted judgment is, as much as humanly possible, to decide what the person to be killed would want in that situation.

So, when saying "let's apply to fetus the rule we apply to death", he's palming two cards. First, we don't really apply that rule to death, except where all hope is gone. But all a fetus has is hope.

Secondly, the person making the decision is not at all supposed to be deciding what the fetus would want. She is deciding what she wants, for whatever reason or for no reason (she doesn't want to live on Staten Island and shop at Costco, for example).

So, unless we're going to adopt a rule that healthy people with everything to live for can be killed out of hand by the heirs, or those who are supporting them, I don't really see the symmetry.

Finally, are you really suggesting that these people deserve to be killed out of hand?

June 23, 2006 10:33 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Duck said:

I, for one, don't see any logical inflection point between conception and birth where you can draw a clear line and say "now this thing is a person".

Exactly. And it is for precisely this reason that women should be able to choose based upon where they, not you, or Peter, or David, or I happen to draw that line.

Because to do so very much makes a choice. The only coherent options on offer are morally repellant: do any of you wish to force a woman who has been raped to take the resulting pregnancy to term? If not, on what basis does it make sense to allow that choice, but foreclose a host of others?

This is much more than attempting to enforce a perfect objective morality (which is unobtainable even with respect to abortion), but rather acknowledging that there is a great diversion of deeply held opinion on this matter, and an additional plethora of competing circumstances.

Contra Peter, a woman very much owns a pregnancy. She makes 100% of the physical investment, and can't possibly give it to anyone else. If that doesn't constitute ownership, then nothing does. Nothing abstract about it, Peter.

David said:

The state devolves end of life decisions to individuals. We do? Since when?

Since now. We allow to Christian Scientists and Jehovah's Witnesses to effectively commit suicide by declining medical interventions that not only would save their lives, but in many cases would restore them to perfect health. You simply cannot allow that sort of decision, while forbidding others like it (indeed, I doubt that suicide is against the law in very many places).

Of course we will punish those who push others off bridges. The victim was undoubtedly capable of forming intent. What's more, the pusher did not completely own the pushees life.

I could have typed more clearly: the symmetry I was talking about was with regard to sentience. On one end of life, sentience gone forever, and on the other, sentience that has yet to exist. Those are material considerations, which give people room to come to their own moral conclusions without being subjected to someone else's theological diktat.

Finally, are you really suggesting that these people deserve to be killed out of hand?

Please re-read what I have written. I believe you will not find anywhere what I suggest people should do. What's more, your link doesn't seem to include pictures of babies born with their organs outside their bodies, condemned to a few hours of sheer agony before an unavoidable death. Why is that?

I'm not saying what people should do, merely noting that some just might find it morally reprehensible to carry such a pregnancy to term. Are you willing to use the law to ensure they do?

As I said above, the RTL case runs into itself before it gets out the door. Any attempt at coherence leads to results many would find ghastly -- as I suspect any poll that asked the question honestly would quickly demonstrate. And that is before it allows some to kill themselves for religious reasons.

Are you willing to force a Jehovah's Witness to undergo a blood transfusion?

The essence of Liberal democracy is giving people room to make their own decisions, including one's you may detest. Regardless of your opinion of abortion, the consequences of the choice are very much localized to the woman making it. Combined with her absolute ownership, and the rampant contradictions riddling the RTL argument, what are you left with to justify imposing your choice upon others?

(No anti-abortion law penalizes the woman in any way -- a sure sign of an absolutist position built upon sand.)

June 23, 2006 6:36 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

Exactly. And it is for precisely this reason that women should be able to choose based upon where they, not you, or Peter, or David, or I happen to draw that line.

No, that's not the implication of what I said. Since there is no logical place to draw a line, you have to assume that a person is a person from conception. We can't give individuals the option for choosing personhood, there would be no basis on which to assert the rights of anyone to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is the same issue with gay marriage. If we allow anyone to determine what marriage means according to their own definition, then the idea of marriage becomes a useless concept.

A woman has to bear the physical burden of carrying a developing fetus to birth. That's just a brutal fact of life. It doesn't negate the obligations that she and society owe to the person developing in her body. I can't agree with you on this notion of ownership of a pregnancy.

June 23, 2006 8:27 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Duck:

You have conflated two concepts in your response, the inability to draw a line between life and non-life, and the ownership of a pregnancy. They simply have nothing to do with each other.

The implication of what you said is very clear, whether you like it or not. Clearly, the line is difficult to draw (please note the irony I noted above -- natural family planning unavoidably makes a distinction between conception and implantation; the former is less "life" than the latter, for NFP entails a huge number of abortions due to less than optimum timing leading to expulsion rather than implantation).

What you have done is adopt the precautionary principle, by asserting the earliest possible moment as the line. Ok, that's fine, and defendable.

Now, defend the consequences, which boil down to this: you must advocate prohibiting abortion in every case except where the death of both the mother and the baby are certain.

If you conclude otherwise -- for instance, allowing choice in the event of rape or incest -- then you have gutted beyond recognition your own precautionary principle. Should you be capable of implementing that as law, then you would have succeeded in imposing choice -- yours.

So, please be straightforward and declare yourself an absolutist, or acknowledge that there is no avoiding drawing a line. In that event, the only argument is whether civil law is the appropriate place to draw that line and, if so, where it should be drawn.

A woman has to bear the physical burden of carrying a developing fetus to birth. That's just a brutal fact of life. It doesn't negate the obligations that she and society owe to the person developing in her body.

That brutal fact is fundamental: the totality of investment and risk absolutely determines ownership. Society has an interest, and may hope to exert control, but it does not have ownership.

Further, your assessment of obligations is simplistic, as if this obligation exists in a vacuum, completely independent of any other pre-existing obligations.

June 24, 2006 7:18 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Should you be capable of implementing that as law, then you would have succeeded in imposing choice -- yours.

The only way I can implement this as law is as a member of a majority. That is the reality that we all live under. Our societal norms are the norms of the majority, and such norms impose choices on unwilling minorities. There is no way to run a civil society without such imposed choices. Our consitiutional framework of rights imposes some restrictions on the powers of majorities to impose choices on minorities, but it doesn't, and can't, eliniminate all such powers. And it shouldn't.

Now, defend the consequences, which boil down to this: you must advocate prohibiting abortion in every case except where the death of both the mother and the baby are certain.

If you conclude otherwise -- for instance, allowing choice in the event of rape or incest -- then you have gutted beyond recognition your own precautionary principle.


No, it is not gutted beyond recognition, it is realizing the need to make practical choices in light of the impracticality of enforcing the absolutist position.

To use another example, we recognize that innocents will be killed in any major military operation we undertake. Do we accept this reality because we see the victims of collateral damage as less human, or not human? No, of course not. We have not redrawn the line of where these people stand with respect to their humanity. We recognize that they are going to die as a consequence of a struggle to impose a greater good on the world.

Now by making a concession to this reality are we gutting beyond recognition the precautionary principle that we should strive to only kill enemy combatants in our war? Of course not. The fact that we are forced to accept some unintended casualties does not open the door to the option of inflicting massive civilian casualties when we have the capacity for restricting those casualties. Now that we have the ability to win wars with the very precise application of munitions, the option of resorting to carpet bombing or nuclear bombing of cities is morally unavailable to us in the face of all but the most dire of threats.

I'm sorry but when we are talking about personhood, concepts like ownership go out the door.

June 24, 2006 9:56 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Duck:

Duck:

This discussion is difficult enough without including inapt analogies. Gay marriage was only glancingly related. However, your invocation of collateral damage is wholly inappropriate in at least three ways, which I am sure you will quickly identify.

So lets stick to the problem at hand, which has these issues, and no need for analogy:

You assert that personhood is established at the moment of conception, with all the attendant rights, and the claim to absolute obligation.

Unfortunately, neither rights nor obligations exist in a vacuum, and, in their variety, combine in a nearly infinite number of ways.

Beyond that, if your assertion is correct, then the Catholic Church, through NFP, is the world's foremost abortionist.

As if that isn't enough, your assertion of personhood really is flexible, but only on your terms. A fetus is a person if conceived consensually, but otherwise, not. In the West, we have moved away from inherited guilt, but not here, apparently.

You then go on to usurp the woman's complete ownership of the pregnancy. Not only is that, in and of itself, a threat to Liberal democracy, but. as in so many other respects, the argument runs head on into itself with the first step. Let's say a pregnant Jehovah's Witness woman is involved in a car wreck, and requires a blood transfusion to survive.

Are you going to force her to undergo that transfusion? If not, why not? If you are, then how much damage have you done to religious freedom? If you do force her to undergo the transfusion, are you then going to subsequently charge her with attempted murder? If not, why not?

If you assert society owns her pregnancy, then society also owns her beliefs. If you allow her beliefs, then you have relinquished ownership of her pregnancy, while simultaneously acknowledging the precedence of her rights over that of her baby's.

I'm sorry but when we are talking about personhood, concepts like ownership go out the door.

Unfortunately, as the preceding demonstrates, concepts like ownership most assuredly do not go out the door. But even if they did, I would hope for a better argument in favor of society deciding it can usurp individual ownership.

Unfortunately, it isn't there. I assert that abortion imposes absolutely no cost whatsoever on society (NB -- in considering cost, I am explicitly excluding the cost to women themselves). In other words, if medical confidentiality were absolute, you would never know an abortion had ever happened.

On the flip side, it is demonstrable that abortions have a net material benefit to society through reduced crime (see Freakonomics for a very persuasive discussion).

NB, again, I am not attempting to justify abortion because of some social good. Instead, I am attempting to assert that society has no basis for claiming ownership over pregnancies for which it makes no investments, nor bears any risks.

Saying it is so doesn't make it so.


Which is why I am pro-choice. RTL arguments are a hopeless mess that allow society to impose upon individuals in ways antithetical to Liberal democracy. Beyond that, the usurpation of ownership -- theft, in other words -- fails to note one of the great historical lessons of the post-Enlightenment period: things are almost always cheaper bought than stolen.

In the absence of prohibition, RTL proponents are left with one out: doing what they must to create conditions such that women choose as frequently as possible to carry their babies to term. In a human world, with all the complexities and viewpoints afflicting RTL/pro-choice, it seems to me that allowing women to choose, with RTL proponents force to put their money where their convictions are, is the best possible outcome.

That still leaves the Catholic Church as the world's leading abortionist, though.

Ironic, isn't it?

June 25, 2006 2:06 PM  

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