Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision, allows states to ban abortions after a fetus is viable outside the womb. But in the past three years, states have gone significantly further. North Dakota’s ban, at six weeks post-conception, is the earliest in the nation. The Washington Post as an interactive map chartingthese restrictions, using data from the Guttmacher Institute to map all the laws that ban later-term abortion in the United States.
Sometimes the truth is a strange as fiction. As an example take a proposed legislation in Arizona (SB 1376) that is eerily similar to the scenario presented in the fiction novel, Living Proof.
Writes Jodi Jacobson on In New Push for “Personhood,” Arizona Anti-Choicers Push Bill to Track Every Embryo:
An Arizona group seeking to establish legal personhood for fertilized eggs and embryos is proposing a new way for the state to keep tabs on the personal reproductive decisions of its citizens: Embryo tracking.A bill quietly wending its way through the Arizona legislature would create a database to track every embryo in the state created through Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), defined in the bill as: “Any procedure, treatment or medical or scientific intervention provided for the purpose of formation of a human embryo with the intent to produce a live birth.” It has nine Republican co-sponsors.[…]CAP also opposes the practice of assisted reproductive technology for couples or individuals struggling with infertility, and so their answer is to pry into the lives of those seeking such assistance and making all details of their medical treatment public. Similar to portions of SB 1361, another bill from the 2012 legislative session, this newer bill seeks to capture and make publicly available information on the disposition of every embryo created in the process of in-vitro fertilization, and the results of every treatment involving ART. The information required is largely redundant to the statistics and information submitted to the CDC, most of which is publicly available.According to a source who works in communications in Arizona but spoke to us without attribution, “each legislative session since 2010 we have seen bills seeking to eliminate or reduce the ability of Arizonans confronted with infertility to utilize ART to build their families. These attempts have always included severe penalties for the physicians who treat these patients in our state.” CAP, according to the source, also has been:“…trying and failing for full personhood that would ban abortion by, basically, making doctors and women guilty of murder. They have failed to date, thankfully, which is why CAP has altered their approach. Instead of coming after personhood head on, they are now taking smaller steps that seem somewhat innocuous. In addition to the redundant and unnecessary reporting, much of which is already required by the CDC, this is merely the beginning of a constant chipping away at the choices available for Arizona families.
If passed, SB 1376 would threaten the practices and licenses of reproductive endocrinologists in Arizona. Failure to file reports or filing a false report on embryo creation, transfer, destruction, or movement from one facility to another would be a criminal act and result in an automatic determination of an act of unprofessional conduct. Facilities that violate the requirements are subject to discipline by the state Department of Health Services and also to civil penalties.
This bill requires all “ART” facilities to report annually (either electronically or in written form) the following information to the State Department of Health Services, which in turn would make it publicly available:
- Total number of live births achieved
- Rate of live births per transfer
- Percentage of live births per completed cycle of egg retrieval
- Percentage of transferred embryos that implant
Information regarding the safekeeping of embryos including:
- Number of embryos formed
- Number of embryos transferred
- Number of embryos preserved
- Number of embryos deemed not viable for transfer or preservation and destroyed
- Number of embryos deemed not viable for transfer or preservation and used for training
- Number of embryos not deemed viable for transfer or preservation and used for research
- Number of preserved embryos destroyed
- Number of preserved embryos used for research
- Number of preserved embryos donated to any person for research
- Number of embryos donated to another individual for transfer
- Percentage of pregnancies resulting in multi-fetal pregnancies broken down by number of fetuses
- Percentage of live births having multiple infants
- Number of selective reductions performed, broken down by number of embryos transferred before the reduction
- Percentage of selective reductions resulting in miscarriage
- Percentage of birth defects per single and multiple births
Penalties for non-compliance include:
- Failure to file a report results in automatic determination of an act of unprofessional conduct
- Filing a false report is a Class 1 misdemeanor (just below felony in the law)
- In addition to individual penalties, any organization or facility that violates the reporting requirements is subject to discipline by the Department including civil penalties.
Apart from intruding on the decisions of couples or individuals struggling with infertility, SB 1376 seeks to achieve other means, including intimidating doctors who practice assisted reproductive technology and eventually to shame those who rely on it to become pregnant, as well as a stepping stone to establishing “personhood” for fertilized eggs and embryos.
The Ayn Rand Institute has just released the first episode of their new podcast Eye to Eye which focuses on Abortion and Roe vs. Wade.
From their website:
On January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court handed down the decision on the landmark case of Roe v. Wade. With a 7-to-2 majority vote, the court struck down state bans on abortion, prompting a national debate that continues forty years later. That decision — as well the subject of abortion itself — remains divisive. Activists on both sides debate whether and to what extent abortion should be legal, how the Supreme Court shapes the law on issues of constitutionality, and the role of morality and religious views in the political sphere. On this episode of Eye to Eye, ARI’s new podcast, hosts Jordan McGillis and Amanda Maxham sit down with Dr. Onkar Ghate, ARI’s senior fellow, and Tom Bowden, legal analyst, to discuss the political, legal and moral questions surrounding abortion.
Some of the topics covered include:
- Ayn Rand’s view on abortion and the Roe v. Wade ruling
- The legal basis for the Roe v. Wade decision
- The state-level attempts to undermine Roe v. Wade
- Abortion and individual rights
- The labels “pro-life” and “pro-choice”
- “Personhood” amendments
- Ayn Rand’s view on the nature of sex
- Health care, abortion, and contraception
- Abortion and the Tea Party movement
- The separation of church and state
- The morality of abortion
- Objective legal interpretation
- The future of the Roe v. Wade decision
Good criticism of religious conservatives like Rush Limbaugh on why they are wrong to oppose a woman’s right to her own body.
The two key issues to focus on are: the nature of a fetus, and the nature of individual rights.
The first issue to grasp is the difference between potential and actual. A fetus is not an actual human being, but is human tissue. A fetus is only a potential human being, just like an acorn is a potential oak tree. That a fetus is potential human being, does not make it an actual one. Once you grasp this point, you need to grasp a much more complex point — which is not self-evident — about the nature of rights.
The second issue to grasp is that rights only apply to actual human beings. Rights only apply to human beings; they apply to human beings because man survives by reason. Men do not survive — at least for long — like animals do in the jungle. Rather then hunting for food like an animal, man grows it. He builds houses to protect himself from hurricanes and storms. He creates clothing to keep warm. He discovers drugs to kill bacteria that may cause him harm. He manufactures refrigerators to keep his food fresh. This is why man has rights — and animals do not — to leave his mind free to think, and his body free to act on that thinking. As a fetus does not use reason to survive; but, rather it survives on the sustenance provided by the body of its’ host, a fetus has no rights, and no need for rights. A fetus has no right to life, liberty, property.
The key issue in this context is that a fetus has no right to be inside the body of another human being, because no such right exists. Yet, this is the only kind of ‘right’ it requires to exist. To grant the fetus such a right, would make its host — the pregnant mother — a slave. Slavery is not a right.
This in essence is the case for a woman’s moral right to abortion: a fetus is not an actual human being, but is only human tissue inside the body of an actual human being. Rights only apply to actual human beings (whether a new born child, or a hundred year old grandfather, or a pregnant woman), as they require freedom to act by the use of their mind.
What motivates women who crusade against abortion? I’ve always wondered this.
I think the American philosopher Ayn Rand identifies their motivation. It is not love, but hatred. Writes Rand:
“I cannot project the degree of hatred required to make those women run around in crusades against abortion. Hatred is what they certainly project, not love for the embryos, which is a piece of nonsense no one could experience, but hatred, a virulent hatred for an unnamed object…Their hatred is directed against human beings as such, against the mind, against reason, against ambition, against success, against love, against any value that brings happiness to human life. In compliance with the dishonesty that dominates today’s intellectual field, they call themselves ‘pro-life.’ “
Writes Onkar Ghate on the relationship between individual rights as the basis for a woman’s right to abortion:
Religious conservatives like Paul Ryan have to distance themselves from Rand’s philosophy. Theirs is an inconsistent position. Ryan, for instance, wants to be seen as an advocate of individual rights while simultaneously making a mockery of a woman’s right to the pursuit of happiness by proposing to force her to bring a pregnancy to term even in the case of rape.
Rand rejects such medievalism. Precisely because raising a child is a personal and immense undertaking, a woman must have the freedom to judge whether and when to have children. To equate an embryo with a human being, a potential with the actual, and then to declare the willful ending of a pregnancy murder, is to abandon reason and science in favor of mystical Church dogmas. No government, Rand argued, should have the power to dictate to a woman in such matters; it’s her life and her decision. [“A Liberal Ayn Rand?“, 11 November 2012, Onkar Ghate]
A fetus does not have a right to be in the womb of any woman, but is there by her permission. This permission may be revoked by the woman at any time, because her womb is part of her body.
Permissions are not rights. There is no such thing as the right to live inside the body of another, i.e. there is no right to enslave.
Contrary to the opinion of anti-abortion activists (falsely called “pro-lifers” as they are against the right to life of the actual human being involved) a woman is not a breeding pig owned by the state (or church).
Even if a fetus were developed to the point of surviving as an independent being outside the pregnant woman’s womb, the fetus would still not have the right to be inside the woman’s womb.
What applies to a fetus, also applies to a physically dependent adult. If an adult—say a medical welfare recipient—must survive by being connected to someone else, they may only do so by the voluntary permission of the person they must be connected to.
There is no such thing as the right to live by the efforts of someone else, i.e., there is no such thing as the right to enslave.
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Former President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, recently expressed these views on abortion:
“I never have believed that Jesus Christ would approve of abortions and that was one of the problems I had when I was President, having to uphold Roe v. Wade, and I did everything I could to minimize the need for abortions. I made it easy to adopt children, for instance, who were unwanted and also initiated the program called Women and Infant Children, or WIC, a program that’s still in existence now. But except for the times when a mother’s life is in danger or when a pregnancy is caused by rape or incest I would certainly not or never have approved of any abortions.”
“I’ve signed a public letter calling for the Democratic Party at the next convention to espouse my position on abortion which is to minimize the need, requirement for abortion and limit it only to women whose [lives] are in danger or who are pregnant as a result of rape or incest.
I think if the Democratic Party would adopt that policy that would be acceptable to a lot of people who are now estranged from our party because of the abortion issue.”
I don’t agree with Jimmy Carter’s position on abortion. I actually agree with Ayn Rand, who wrote:
“An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born. The living take precedence over the not-yet-living (or the unborn). Abortion is a moral right—which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?”
However, I have to “respect” Jimmy Carter’s consistency. Carter, unlike Ayn Rand but like all liberals and Democrats, favors a welfare state in which government forces some to be responsible for others. For example, Carter believes that government has both the right and responsibility to force people who had nothing to do with a woman’s choice to have a child to pay for that woman’s child. That’s what the WIC program (also supported by Republicans) does.
People ask me, “How can you be a therapist and not be a liberal?” My reply is to project a situation in which a client tells a therapist the following: “My next door neighbor, whom I don’t know very well and don’t especially like, has a seventeen-year-old daughter. This daughter just got pregnant. The neighbor and the daughter knocked on my door and told me I’m responsible for helping them finance this child. I asked them what they were talking about, and they told me that I make a good salary, so I should help them. And they threatened to call the police if I didn’t hand over the money.”
If this scenario took place, I would tell the client, “This neighbor of yours is irrational and completely out of line. Call the police all right, but to inform them of this threat.” I’m willing to bet that just about any psychotherapist who IS a liberal Democrat (most of them are) would say exactly the same thing. The difference between these liberal therapists and myself is that I’m consistent. What applies in the personal context applies in the social and political context. In other words, if an everyday person says something that’s plainly irrational, it doesn’t suddenly become rational just because a politician or government official says so.
But Jimmy Carter is consistent. He wants to regulate people. He wants to control people. He wants to impose the force of what he considers moral judgment on the masses. In Jimmy Carter’s moral judgment, abortion is wrong. Therefore, he claims, his judgment must be imposed on the masses.
It should be made illegal, other than in the case of a rape or incest.
Jimmy Carter wants his Christian ideology to be imposed on everyone, across the board. I oppose the religious right. But how is the religious left any better, or any different? Both support tyranny.
I don’t understand why more Democrats don’t take Carter’s position. Many liberals will disagree with Carter on abortion, but they’re happy to impose their moral judgments on others in just about every other circumstance: What you eat, how much you save for retirement, how much profit you keep if you’re successful, whether you can build on your own property if endangered insects or rodents reside there…the list of what liberals seek to control is literally limitless. Why not reproduction too?
Jimmy Carter is consistent. Just as he holds the opinion that abortion is wrong, he also subscribes to the ethical claim that we are all our brother’s keepers. It’s America, and of course he’s entitled to that position. He’s entitled to practice that philosophy, and to be fair, he has spent some of his private life making efforts to do so. At the same time, he wants to impose this philosophy on the masses. He wants everyone to practice the approach to ethics implied by the crazy neighbor in my bizarre example. “You make more money than I do. Hand over some of it to take care of my pregnant daughter — or else.” Why or how is it any different when Obama, the IRS, Mitt Romney or some billionaire Hollywood celebrity fighting for the expansion of the welfare state advocate the same thing?
“Liberal” in the original sense of the term referred to a philosophy of government and society in which people were left alone. Government was only to intervene when and if a person physically threatened another, or broke a legally binding and voluntarily entered into contract. Today’s liberals (and conservatives too) love to talk of a “social contract.” A social contract is a contract which you’re born into, that you never asked for, and that was indeed imposed on you the moment you were born (nine months before you’re born, if Jimmy Carter and Rick Santorum get their way). It’s not a contract into which you’re allowed to voluntarily enter, or decline. In other words, it’s not a contract at all.
Jimmy Carter is the only high-profile and consistent advocate of a social contract. He says you’re everyone’s keeper, under the law, whether you choose to be, or not. He might not advocate your neighbor showing up on your doorstep and demanding that you give her money, merely because you have more than she does. But he does advocate your neighbor voting into office someone who will do the same thing, only under the pseudo-respectability of legal authority. He won’t have you tell that woman, “Get lost. How dare you make this claim on me?” Instead he’ll tell her, “Just vote for us. We’ll make sure you get the money, and much more.”
It makes eminent sense that the modern day “liberal” who wants your wallet or pocketbook would likewise claim control over your womb, your genitals, or anything else pertaining to your body and mind. Jimmy Carter sees nothing wrong with this. It’s late in his life, and he’s not afraid to finally admit the truth. That he favors total dictatorship, not just partial.
— Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, life coach and author of “Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)” and “Grow Up America!” Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.