Writes Dr. Ellen Kenner, “If you have had an abortion and are struggling with guilt – I want you to know that there many individuals who would love to help you see that the guilt you are carrying is totally unfounded.” Read the rest at ABORTION: A MORAL CHOICE.
Edward Cline levies some excellent criticisms of Daniel Greenfield’s post at Sultan Knish: Violence On Their Behalf.
Women do have the right of ownership of their bodies; unconscious, dependent fetuses do not own the bodies of their hosts. You can argue the subject from an emotionalist perspective – and then it’s not arguing, but just shouting – or you can calm down and examine the issue scientifically, rationally, from a medical perspective. And also argue for getting the government out of the issue entirely. But then we live in a political atmosphere in which the government or society or demagogues claim that everyone belongs to the state and exists for the state. How do you reconcile individual rights and collectivism? You are not doing it here, because it can’t be done regardless of the subject.
And again later, Cline:
What is your attitude towards women as individuals? This latest essay of yours shows a tendency to stereotype women — “Sarah Lawrence grads”, “activists”, poor teenagers with vague “dreams”, etc. — while shifting the focus to the imagery of dead fetuses.
Do you understand why an individual woman may conclude that having children is a poor choice for her on grounds of temperament, ambitions, and other personal preferences? What do you think supersedes that? Why do you conclude that her rights are suspended in the instant she conceives? Are you hostile towards sex for reasons other than procreation? Do you define “human being” in the mystical sense of a “soul” implanted by a god at conception – when it is merely a drop of unconscious protoplasm in a vagina – or are you open to a rational definition?
Do you at least recognize that an impregnated woman may disagree with you about the mystical “soul” and that your faith is not conclusive on the issue?
I ask these questions because your implicit position on women seems to parallel that of Islam, that women are merely to serve as obedient baby-factories whose nature doesn’t permit individual minds, choices, or lives. This emotionalist take on women and in particular the issue of abortion (and perhaps even on contraception) beggars my esteem for you as one of the most rational observers of contemporary issues and culture. You seem to harbor a very serious conflict in premises and conclusions.
Well said Mr. Cline.
In cases of a “botched” abortion, once delivered outside of the woman all efforts must be taken to support the newborn assuming it is viable. This is a far more complex issue to deal with (as opposed to the clear cut case of an abortion, say at one month into a pregnancy). But as in the case of “partial birth” abortions this is a woman’s right.
Capitalism Magazine writer Ed Cline had this to say on the recent controversy where it is claimed that “Planned Parenthood Official Argues for Right to Post-Birth Abortion“:
Here we have in this video (which I watched in its entirety) a woman being literally badgered by politicians asking her loaded questions (e.g., that hoary old chestnut of a courtroom question, “When did you stop beating your wife?”). Every one of them tried to coax out of her a confession that she condones “murder.” Not one queries her about the term or trimester in which an abortion has been performed. Was it at four months? Six months? Seven? Eight? And what is the physical condition of the “baby on the table”? Is it damaged? Is it an unsalvageable “preemie?” Was it going to be born defective, mentally or physically? Is it crying? Is it really a “patient on the table,” as the one snarky lawmaker remarked? There are a multitude of other issues appended to the abortion issue. But obviously the legislators weren’t interested in facts, not even medical facts. They were only interested in indicting the woman and abortionists and women who want an abortion for “murder,” who were all deemed guilty before the hearing convened. This was a witch hunt, not a civil enquiry.
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
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.’ “
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.
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.