Monday, February 22, 2010

Abortion: This Libertarian/Anarchist's Opinions

Updated 2-22-2010

Abortion is an issue that is only good for one thing: dividing people. I have read libertarian positions on both sides that were absolutely adamant that their position was right, and that the other side were monsters. The libertarian debate centers on just a couple main points: is the embryo a human being with all its rights intact, or is it a part of the mother's body, or is it a human being, but if not wanted, a trespasser? I am convinced that if abortion is wrong, it would still be wrong even in cases of rape or incest. The embryo had no choice in the matter, and many really good people began in horrible ways.

First off, I will say that no one, including me, knows for certain if abortion is right or wrong, they just think they do. That is because there is not enough scientific data to make a truly rational decision. Emotions on both sides cloud the mind and make coherent thought difficult.

Still, a few thoughts occur to me. I can not tell a human fetus from the fetuses of several other creatures by looking at them. I would bet that even the experts would have a very hard time telling a chimpanzee from a human until late in the pregnancy. A fertilized egg is life, but not a separate life. There are religious ideas of when the embryo becomes a separate life-form from the mother, but not really any convincing scientific proofs. I do know that once a baby is born it is a separate life-form, a person, with all its human rights intact. I can't remember anything that happened to me before I was around 2 or 3 years old. I went through some traumatic experiences that I can't recall at all, so it really doesn't concern me that they occurred. I would not care if I had been aborted. I wouldn't miss me at all.

Almost no one claims that a simple fertilized egg is a person, and almost no one claims that a full-term baby isn't one. The true dividing line is somewhere in between those extremes. No one knows for sure where it is, though many people "believe" they know where. In case of doubt I would tend to side with the mother, whom I can easily recognize as a complete, sapient human being who undoubtedly has all her rights functioning.

I feel that when the day comes that embryos can be transplanted or put into an artificial womb at any stage of development it will make abortion, as a divisive issue, fade away. So why do "pro-life" activists not spend their time, money, and talents on designing this technology? I think it is because they prefer to tell others how to live their lives instead. It is harder to use unwanted pregnancies to condemn a person's sex-life if the pregnancy is not a burden. In a great many cases, and from personal experience, I do think a desire to demonize sexual activity lies behind much "pro-life" activism".

This brings us to the religious objections. Almost all objections to abortion are at the core religious objections, which is fine until you try to impose your religion on someone else who does not share your religious views. Murder is wrong, but opinion is divided if abortion qualifies as murder. Not that "majority opinions" should decide any issue for anyone. It seems to come down to whether or not you believe humans have "souls". And if they do have souls, are those souls installed at conception or sometime later?

The issue of souls brings up another question in my mind. Just say that the conservative Christian claim that humans have souls and that they get those souls at conception (which is the claim I was raised with) is correct. Then assume for a moment that their other claim is also correct and that there is only one very specific way for those souls to go to Heaven. I was also taught that aborted and miscarried fetuses, babies, and young children got a free pass into Heaven because they did not yet understand "right and wrong", so were still innocent. That would mean that almost everyone (based on percentages) in Heaven would be one of these "free pass" souls. Aborted babies would almost certainly end up in Hell if they weren't aborted, considering that parents who would abort would not train their children in the proper way (once again, according to the conservative Christian position I was raised with). So, it seems a bit cruel to send all those people to Hell just to promote your agenda.

I would not use public funds to finance abortions or any other medical procedures, because there is no such thing as "public funds"; it is all stolen ("tax") money.

I think the best intellectual exercise for thinking about this is what L. Neil Smith asks: Say you are right and abortion is murder. How do you propose to regulate it? Do you make all pregnant women register to make certain that their pregnancies are not terminated? What if you can't yet tell by looking that they are pregnant? Should all women and girls of reproductive age submit to a monthly pregnancy test to keep tabs on them? Where do you come up with the new bureaucracy, "The Department of Reproduction", to regulate pregnancy? Who pays for it?

I am not a woman and can't get pregnant, so for me to pretend that I am an expert on pregnancy or abortion would be dishonest. I do have another thought that does concern men even more directly, though. As long as abortion is legal, men should be able to legally terminate any financial or parental responsibility for a child that they do not wish to father. After all, that is what abortion does for women. If it is right for one person, it is right for everyone.

I would never send government or its agents after a person who seeks an abortion. Mostly, it comes down to my attitude of "keep your filthy government off of my life!"

So, what is my personal opinion? I don't really like abortion, but would not forbid it to people who feel differently than I do about it. I do not think abortion is a good first choice for birth control. There are so many other options that are easier and cheaper. I have obviously never had an abortion, nor have I ever encouraged anyone to have one, even in cases where it would have been very bad for me if a pregnancy had occurred. In this way I have done my part to not add to the number of abortions. Keep your own house in order and mind your own business. It's the way of Liberty.